If you’re a runner, odds are good you’ve heard about minimalist running shoes in recent years. Chances are also good you might be wondering what exactly they are, and why some runners make the switch.
Minimalist shoes differ from traditional footwear in several key ways. They have very little midsole cushioning, and their heel-to-toe drop is typically much lower than that of other running shoes. Their main purpose is to mimic the experience of running barefoot while also protecting your feet from any hazards that might be on the ground. As human beings have been running barefoot for most of our history, some believe this is more natural (and safer) than running in today’s shoes.
Thinking about giving minimalist shoes a try? If so, the points here will help you better understand why you should, and what you should look for when choosing a pair.
The Benefits of Minimalist Running Shoes
It’s worth noting that the benefits of running in minimalist shoes aren’t merely theoretical. Studies have confirmed running in them can strengthen your legs and feet. This improves your performance and guards against injury.
The low heel-to-toe drop of minimalist footwear also promotes a gait in which you are more likely to land on your midfoot than on your heel. Additionally, they make it easier for you to feel the surface you’re running on. Some runners believe this is key to improved performance and safety.
On top of that, minimalist shoes are simply lighter than most supportive sneakers on the market. That means you don’t need to use as much muscle strength to lift your feet while running.
Choosing Minimalist Shoes
Choosing the right minimalist shoes for your needs is all about accounting for where you tend to run. For instance, if you prefer to run offroad, you need a pair with grips on the soles. On the other hand, if you run on the road or treadmill, look for a sole that’s smoother.
Don’t assume all minimalist shoes resemble the barefoot style that was popular a few years ago. It’s now entirely possible to find minimalist shoes that also look relatively stylish. Choosing a pair that looks good ensures you’ll be more likely to actually wear them often.
Making the Switch
Running in minimalist shoes takes getting used to. Don’t expect to ditch your old running sneakers entirely the moment you get a new pair. It’s better to gradually incorporate new minimalist shoes into your routine.
Some people start by running in minimalist shoes once or twice a week. Over time, they increase the frequency. However, it’s often best to try walking around in these shoes before running in them. This helps you build up your comfort level slowly and safely.
Most importantly, listen to your body when trying out your new footwear. If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, take a break. Eventually you’ll reach a point where running in minimalist shoes comes naturally. In the meantime, exercise some basic caution.
Making the switch is worth the process. Running is a great physical activity, but you can’t run if you’re injured. Choosing the right footwear may be key to preventing that.
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