Best Minimalist Running Shoes Reviewed and Tested

The minimalist craze is certainly set in stone within the running industry; thereby, these best minimalist running shoes are particular in their design and aren’t going anywhere soon. Studies show that minimalist running shoes have the ability to provide benefits for the runner, making them a fantastic addition to have on hand. With each step, you submerge into a vibrant world bringing a wonderful, more-natural feel to your feet. Moreover, there’s a chance of improving your overall foot health.

For those preferring a natural run, without the clunkiness of conventional running shoes, we have you covered with the top-rated minimalist running shoes of 2018.

Featured Recommendations

Nike Free 5.0+
  • Nike Free 5.0+
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Flywire Cables System
  • Flex Groove Outsole
  • Price: See Here
Merrell Vapor Glove 2
  • Merrell Vapor Glove 2
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • TPU Upper
  • M Select Fresh
  • Price: See Here
Tesla Knit Pattern
  • Tesla Knit Pattern
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Knit-grip Outsole
  • PU Upper
  • Price: See Here

Barefoot shoes,  five-finger toe shoes, and everything in between; this is where less is more. Dive into the world of natural running and get the best shoes on your feet. We’ve done hours of research and collected data from thousands of wear testers to make sure the best minimalist shoes see the light.

 

 

15 Best Minimalist Running Shoes

 

 

1. Nike Free 5.0+

This pair of best minimalist running shoes from Nike is built in balance. The Flex Groove outsole is deep-cut to allow flexibility but, also, keeps your feet far enough off of the ground for protection. Additionally, a Flywire Cables system is in place to provide a custom, glove-like fit during your stride. Lastly, with an 8mm heel-to-toe drop, your feet will have a natural feel to them.
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Flywire Cables System
This system involves soft cables which wrap around your midfoot area (including your arch) from underneath. In doing so, these minimalist shoes offer a glove-like fit which, also, adapts to your stride. Moreover, you will experience a custom fit for your feet.

Flex Groove Outsole
Both vertical and horizontal deep-cut grooves within the rubber allow you to remain flexible. In addition, this design helps to provide a natural range of motion within your stride. Furthermore, this outsole is designed to help maintain a balance between flexibility and protection.

Cost and Value
This pair of best minimalist shoes is midrange to upper-high, in terms of cost. This may not be an ideal situation for a starter pair, as it were. For the serious minimalist, however, they would make a great addition to your footwear.
Pros
  • Natural Barefoot-like Feel
  • Sock-like Fit
  • Textured Mesh Inner Sleeve
  • Stride Adaptability
  • 8mm Offset
Cons
  • A bit pricey
  • Minimal Color Variety

2. Merrell Vapor Glove 2

These are both light and breathable and have been designed particularly for runners who want to experience minimalist barefoot running. It offers a very, secure fit and the flexibility mimics the natural movement of the feet. Its toe is well protected; making it perfectly suitable for running on rugged trails
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Breathable Upper
The upper unit of this pair of shoes has an air mesh which is highly breathable and lightweight. This allows a runner to go for miles without experiencing hot or sweaty feet. Moreover, you will do so with lower fatigue levels when compared to the norm in running shoes.

Responsive Midsole.
Since minimalist shoes are not known for much cushioning at the midsole, the Merrell Vapor Glove 2 offers a durable cushioning for the underfoot. Even though the traction is not like that of working boots, it features a lightweight molded EVA foam for flexible support to the feet.

Cost and Value
Keeping in mind the appearance and fit, responsiveness, high-quality outsole, grip and traction, and the comfort offered by the Merrell Vapor Glove 2 shoe, the value is way above the cost.
Pros
  • Maximum Toe Protection
  • Good Ground Feel
  • Lightweight
  • Good Temperature Control
  • High Breathability
  • Attractive Design
Cons
  • A low volume toe box that may not fit wide feet runners
  • Delicate upper material

3. Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO

The Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO is a minimalist running shoe that offers the best combination of protection and surface connection. The grip and traction are outstandingly perfect, especially for people who are getting into barefoot running. These shoes are very light and give a runner that feeling of running on bare feet. For instance, the men’s size 10 weighs 4.9 oz. They can be easily folded up for packing in small areas while travelling or hill climbing.
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Protection
These shoes are not designed for running on rugged trails. Unlike the Bikila Evo WP, precaution should be taken by runners running on rugged terrains off-road, as medium-sized rocks and roots can be felt by the foot.

Responsiveness
These shoes, particularly, shine in this category. There is a maximum connection between the runner and the surface, as this shoe features a minimal-construction responsiveness; only comparable to that of the best lightweight shoes available.

Cost and Value.
Having in mind the value offered by this shoe, its cost is nothing to think of. The responsiveness, protection, and comfort far outweigh the associated cost. Moreover, this pair of best minimalist running shoes is certain to please.
Pros
  • Very, Minimal Construction
  • Extremely Lightweight
  • Quick-lace System
  • High Breathability
  • Easily Washable
Cons
  • Not good for rugged terrains
  • Not ideal for extreme weather conditions

4. Merrell Trail Glove 3

4. Merrell Trail Glove 3
The Merrell Trail Glove 3 is among the best running shoes prescribed for adventure running. These minimalist shoes are for runners who want comfortable running while feeling that natural pleasure of running on barefoot; even during winter. The heel-to-toe drop is low, and the Vibram outsole is well-designed for greater ground sensitivity; as well as, flexibility.
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Outsole
It features a durable Vibram outsole which is mainly known for its guaranteed excellent grip on many minimalist shoes. There is a unique trail-protect plate on the sole for shielding your feet while running on both rough and stonier surfaces.

Upper
The upper is a durable air mesh for maximum ventilation while running for long hours.it has an anti-microbial footbed that plays a big role in keeping the foot dry and prevents it from smelling.

Cost and Value
At an average cost, you can get this best of all Merrell Running Shoes available today. With maximum comfort and durability assured, there is nothing to regret about these shoes, because they give the desired comfort to the feet.
Pros
  • 0 mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
  • 10.5mm Stack Height
  • Wet and Dry Surface Traction
  • Omni-Fit Lacing System
Cons
  • Minimal color variety
  • May not be suitable for narrow feet

5. Tesla Knit Pattern

5. Tesla Knit Pattern
These shoes are great. They are lightweight, provide excellent breathability, have great multi-surface traction capabilities, and are budget-friendly. Furthermore, the heel loop band allows you to put these shoes on without crushing and/or damaging the heel counter. In addition, there are full-length insoles in place to ensure a comfortable day. Moreover, these shoes have a nice visual aesthetic to them and have a wide-range of color availability.
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Constructed Using Vamp
Vamp material is a step above your average knit. This allows an improved environment conducive to further breathability. With this pair of best minimalist running shoes, you will remain cool while you enjoy your run.

Hydro-grip Outsole
With these shoes, you do not have to worry about traversing multi-terrain types. They are designed, specifically, for both wet and dry surfaces. Moreover, the multi-directional groove pattern helps to promote stability when transitioning.

Cost and Value
These minimalist shoes are very, budget-friendly. Furthermore, they are ideal for multi-terrain types and have a beautiful style to them. As such, these shoes are worth the purchase price. This pair of best minimalist running shoes would make a great addition to your footwear.
Pros
  • Flex Groove Outsole
  • Multi-surface Traction; wet & dry
  • Multi-directional stability
  • Knit Vamp
  • Budget-friendly
Cons
  • Size may run larger than normal

6. New Balance MT10V1 Minimus

6. New Balance MT10V1 Minimus
These shoes can be a wonderful addition to any runner's arsenal. They are lightweight, have a 4 mm drop, and are ready for rocky terrain. With a Vibram outsole, Acteva midsole, and a midfoot wrap, you are taken care of within the areas of comfort and stability. Additionally, this pair of best minimalist running shoes has bungee lacing; security within the tie.
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Midfoot Wrap
The midfoot wrap and lightweight foam work in conjunction to provide you with both comfort and the added bonus of a personal fit. Furthermore, this pair of shoes takes stability into consideration; at least, with regard to transitioning.

Vibram Outsole
The Vibram outsole is created with the trail runner in mind. There are flex grooves and lugs to help with the demanding pressures of rocks under your feet, per se. Moreover, this design helps to promote better traction and stability.

Cost and Value
These minimalist shoes range from mid-to-upper with cost association. With that being stated, these shoes are well-equipped to handle rockier terrains and the quality of materials high. As such, this pair of best minimalist running shoes is worth every penny; especially, if you are considering rocky trails for your runs.
Pros
  • Bungee Lacing
  • Antimicrobial Treatment
  • Acteva Midsole
  • 4 mm drop
  • Vibram Outsole
Cons
  • Minimal Color Variety
  • Size may run smaller than normal

7. Vibram Spyridon MR

7. Vibram Spyridon MR
This pair of best minimalist running shoes is perfect for mud runs. They are designed to be off-road and give you the best performance possible while doing so. With multi-directional and multi-surface traction capabilities, these shoes are well-built. In addition, this pair of minimalist running shoes is made with a zero drop; a minimalist's delight.
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Megagrip Traction
The traction is based on the concept of you traversing wet and dry surfaces. Moreover, this traction is created to give you the best stabilization when moving multi-directional. In addition, your mud runs will never be the same.

3.5 mm Vibram Sole
3.5 millimeters of awesome between your feet and the ground; natural wonders. These shoes are made to give you the best of both worlds; running minimalism and the security in knowing your feet are safe from debris.

Cost and Value
If you are in the market for a pair of best minimalist running shoes for mud runs, these shoes are for you. The cost ranges in the upper-high range, but these shoes are specific for the task at hand. As such, this pair of shoes is a great choice for those interested in mud runs.
Pros
  • 3.5mm Vibram Sole
  • 3D COCOON Technology
  • Megagrip; Multi-directional Traction
  • Zero Drop
Cons
  • Better for mud runs
  • Minimal color variety

8. Merrell Bare Access Arc 4

8. Merrell Bare Access Arc 4
The Merrell Bare Access Arc 4 is one minimalist running shoe featuring a hyper-responsive insole. This insole gives the runner full control during exercise and/or while running. Regardless of its few drawbacks, it still manages to give a satisfying, comfortable ride. It is well cushioned; thereby, making it one of the best shoes for daily running.
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Comfort
This shoe boasts of a mesh lining and a mesh upper. This upper is breathable and does not irritate the skin; thus, comfort is assured while running.

Cushioning
Much has been invested in the cushioning technology employed on this pair. This cushioning give ground-to-foot feedback which enhances faster movement over the terrain.

Cost and Value
With the cushioning technology employed and the mesh lining and upper, the cost of this shoe is nothing to complain. It is, definitely, worth the value and very affordable.
Pros
  • Breathable; TPU Upper
  • EVA Midsole
  • M-select FRESH Treatment
  • 0 mm Drop; 8 mm Heel Cushion; 12.7 mm Stack Height
  • 2 mm Lug-depth; Traction Wet and Dry
Cons
  • Might not be suitable for wide feet
  • Minimal Color Variety

9. Vibram FiveFingers Bikila Evo

9. Vibram FiveFingers Bikila Evo
Originally, designed for long-distance running, the Vibram FiveFingers Bikila Evo serves equally well for long walks and daily use. With their minimalistic design, these shoes boast of a bundle of great features; making them admirably unique, lovable, and trustworthy. Moreover, they are zero-drop and are equipped with an anti-microbial Drilex sockliner.
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Comfort
These shoes ensure your feet are kept dry and comfortable all through your exercise by the taped seams and its waterproof properties, as it is difficult to find running shoes that are waterproof.

Quality and Durability
These shoes perform quite well in wet terrains. However, prolonged heavy use of this shoe may have an effect on its longevity. The waterproof membrane construction performs well until exposed to prolonged heavy use.

Cost and Value
The cost of purchasing these shoes is worth the comfort and responsiveness it gives back. Its average cost is perfectly at par with the waterproof membrane construction.
Pros
  • Abrasion-resistant Tricot Lining
  • Great Grip; even on ice
  • Flexible Stretch, Waterproof Fabric.
  • Zero-drop
Cons
  • Minimal color variety

10. New Balance 10v4

10. New Balance 10v4
This pair of best minimalist running shoes is ideal for those interested in traversing light trails. With lace-up closures, a REVlite midsole, and debris-free construction, you are certain to have an enjoyable experience while you run. Additionally, these shoes create a breathable environment; allowing you to remain cool.
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Trail-ready
These shoes are trail-ready. They have an outsole pattern conducive to the promotion of lighter anti-debris situations. They are not, however, designed to withstand some of the more extreme trail environments. So, if you need a light-trail running shoe; then, these shoes are perfect.

REVlite Midsole
This midsole is created with the trail runner in mind. It promotes comfortability and stability, but without compromising the need to feel as though you are not wearing clunky-based running shoes. Moreover, this midsole adds the right amount of structure to a minimalist environment.

Cost and Value
The cost associated with this pair of best minimalist running shoes is average. Designed for light trail work, these shoes can be a great addition to those who love running trails.
Pros
  • REVlite Midsole
  • Low-profile
  • Lace-up Closure
  • Trail-ready
Cons
  • Better for trail running
  • Minimal Color Variety

11. Vibram V-Run

11. Vibram V-Run
The Vibram V-run is created with you in mind; the minimalist. The EVA anti-microbial Drilex sockliner is only 2 millimeters thick. Furthermore, the EVA VI-Lite midsole is 4 millimeters thick. Upgraded from the Bikila Evo, these shoes improve in their minimalistic design. Moreover, this pair of best minimalist running shoes is ready for the marathon.
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VI-Lite Midsole
The midsole is both lightweight and thin; comprising of 4 millimeters of thickness. Furthermore, the midsole provides both comfort and stability in multi-directional situations. This allows you to securely race your way in minimalistic style.

XS Run Outsole
The outsole is designed to give you a better grip while, simultaneously, allowing your feet to feel as though they are touching the ground. With minimalism in mind, these running shoes utilize a rubber compound to further their ability to grip.

Cost and Value
These best minimalist running shoes are a bit pricey. They do, however, have high-grade material makeup and are well-designed. As such, this pair of shoes can be a good addition to your serious collection of best minimalist shoes.
Pros
  • VI-Lite Midsole
  • XS Run Outsole
  • Polyester Lycra Stretch Mesh
  • Adjustable Pull Tab and Cord Closure
Cons
  • Runs one size too large
  • Maybe better suited to narrow feet

12. Inov8 TerraClaw 220

12. Inov8 TerraClaw 220
The Terraclaw 220 is one minimalist running shoe whose performance is great on the widest range of trails you can imagine. Its lug is uniquely made to release debris and grit, while at the same time, ensuring maximum protection to the runner. Weighing just 220g, this shoe is the most flexible footwear for running. It is very comfortable and the durability factor is nothing to worry about.
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Optimum Grip
The Inov-8 TerraClaw 220 features a Dual-C rubber sole which is sticky and made of hard rubber; enabling it to grasp even slippery terrains. It has a multi-directional lug pattern that perfectly complements the natural movement of the foot.

Lightweight
At only 220g, this shoe has been designed for speed during racing. Its drop is just 4mm and it has been made using a lightweight material.

Cost and Value
The cost of this shoe is averagely at par with the value. Given the synthetic sole, lightweight mesh upper, lug design, and the sticky rubber outsole, the value actually exceeds the cost. It is worth buying.
Pros
  • Comfortable Fit
  • Impressive Design
  • Dual-C Rubber Outsole
  • High Breathability
  • Anti-debris Tongue
Cons
  • Moderately high pricing
  • Limited color choices

13. Mizuno Wave Universe 5

13. Mizuno Wave Universe 5
This shoe provides the best blend of lightweight performance and minimalist cushioning. It is very useful, as a minimalist shoe, in providing strength training for the ankle and feet muscles. This shoe is tested and guaranteed to improve your running speed as a barefoot runner. It has, also, been voted among the best Mizuno shoes.
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Midsole
As is always the case with Mizuno shoes, they employ wave technology in the midsole, which refers to the inclusion of an extended wave plate made of flexible thermoplastic material.

Traction
The G3 sole ensures maximum traction which prevents you from slipping while running. An array of dots has been placed in the forefoot region for efficiency while running.

Cost and Value
The cost of this shoe is fairly placed. This price has been attributed to the breathable synthetic upper material, the wave-technology midsole, and the G3 sole.
Pros
  • Extra Flexibility
  • Comfortable Fit
  • Breathable Upper
  • G3 Traction Outsole
  • Mizuno Wave Energy-dispersion
Cons
  • Little support or stability
  • Designed for performance running

14. New Balance 730v3 Flexonic

14. New Balance 730v3 Flexonic
This pair of best minimalist running shoes takes away the need for socks; that is, these shoes are barefoot-friendly. Finally, a shoe is created (through design) which removes the necessity for socks. Well, at least, you have the option to go sockless. Additionally, these shoes have an EVA outsole, bootie construction, a 4-millimeter drop, and are great for road-surface running.
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Barefoot-friendly
Do you like to run in shoes with your bare feet? Well, we have the shoes for you! This pair of New Balance minimalist shoes is perfect for running in your bare feet. With their airy and light design, they are made for warmer days during your run.

EVA outsole
The contact outsole is ethylene vinyl acetate or EVA. Equipped with rubber pods, this outsole is designed for road surfaces. As such, these shoes are perfect for running on sidewalks, asphalt, and concrete.

Cost and Value
This pair of best minimalist running shoes is fairly priced; that is, they are budget-friendly and are made well within their construction. Furthermore, these shoes only have a 4 mm drop.
Pros
  • Barefoot-friendly
  • EVA outsole
  • Bootie Construction
  • 4 mm Drop
  • Road-surface running
Cons
  • Size runs half-size too small
  • Minimal Color Variety

15. Vibram FiveFingers KMD

15. Vibram FiveFingers KMD
While many Vibram shoes focus on the common running shoes, the KMD Sport has positioned itself as a multi-sport shoe. Its ability to resist tough terrains and its lightweight makeup is among the most appreciated features it has in store. It perfectly accommodates runners and weight trainers all the same. It is machine washable and boasts of stretchy uppers and innovative toe pockets.
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Traction
The minimalist running is not designed as a trail running shoe. However, it performs well on a soft trail. It is, also, not very good for use under cold and extremely wet terrains.

Comfort
Just like any other barefoot running shoe, these shoes are well designed with comfort in mind. Cushioning is added to the footbed for running on rugged terrains. These shoes, also, boast of the strap system whose main function is to keep the feet in place while running and/or working out.

Cost and Value
Vibram uses new technology in all their products and particularly on this product. The price is, also, set accordingly and competitively. In general, the quality here is worth the cost incurred.
Pros
  • Lightweight Design
  • Enhanced Footbed
  • Stretchy Uppers; Flexible
  • Comfortable Toe Slots
  • Anti-microbial Treatment
Cons
  • Not good for cold and extremely wet weather conditions
  • Not very durable

 

In conclusion, if you ever want to get yourself a perfect pair of minimalist running shoes consider the cushioning, comfort, breathability, weight, stack height, flexibility, transitioning, heel-to-toe drop, and the absence of motion control and stability. Oh, and of course, pricing. You should, also, consider the surface on which you are going to use the shoes. Some specific minimalist shoes are perfectly adapted for wet conditions; whereas, others work in dry and rough trails. With all of these factors in mind, be sure to get a perfect pair of Minimalist running shoes from the list above. After all, these minimalist shoes made our ‘best of’ list for a reason.

 

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Minimalist Running Shoes

best-minimalist-running-woman running

Weight

Minimalist running shoes should be 125 grams (4.4 oz) and not over 325 grams (11.5 oz). Although ‘running’ sandals do exist, you should avoid the idea of ‘running in sandals,’ as this can cause your risk of injury to elevate. You should, also, exclude any excess utilities and gimmicks which may appear in other running shoes; that is, minimal is better. The ‘foot gloves’ are a good example of how light the minimalist running shoes can be.

 

The Thickness of a Sole (Stack Height)

The soles need to be less than 8 mm and not to exceed 32 mm. (Here’s a nifty measurement sidenote: An inch is about 25.4mm). Less than 8 millimeters, however, seems to be pushing it; especially, when considering a sharp object like a loose Lego piece, sharp nail, broken glass, and/or a wayward weed which could slice through your outsole and into your skin.

 

Heel-To-Toe Drop

The Heel-To-Toe Drop MUST be less than 1 mm. Minimalists want to be able to feel their whole feet on the insole as they hit the ground running. (This is a good opportunity to remind everyone that running in high heels is not good for your feet and lower legs overall.)best-minimalist-running-shoes-vibram fivefingers

The Absence of Motion Control & Stability

The idea of minimalist running shoes is to avoid relying on cushions; that is, you are training yourself to use the muscles, naturally, within the realm of shock absorption. So, any Michael Bay-directed explosive-sounding gimmicks, podiatristically loud bells and whistles, and/or futuristic athletic technologies will not exist in the best minimalist running shoes. In other words, they are minimal in design.

 

Flexibility

The shoes must be able to move as your feet do; folding at the metatarsal, turning with the toes, and having enough room for the toes to freely move. The minimalist running shoes come in many awesome styles and colors with high levels of breathability and sturdiness. Flexibility is not sacrificed; regardless, of whatever style you choose.

Flexibility can be described in the realm of pivoting. Without shoes on, you can pivot your foot up-and-down or side-to-side, generally speaking. Also, when you are standing flat-footed, you can shift your weight from heel-to-forefoot with generalized ease.

When it comes to flexibility in shoes, however, your foot becomes more-restricted just by putting them on. For example, a more-flexible shoe might be found in a ballerina shoe; whereas, a more-restricted shoe might be found in a pair of cowboy boots when the two are compared. Dependent on the job and the corresponding correct shoe, flexibility must fall into the correct mathematical amount. In other words, a cowboy boot which flexes like a ballerina shoe might cause more harm than good; especially, when the person wearing the shoe is knee-deep in their hard day of work and/or play. Likewise, I can’t recall ever seeing a ballerina team wearing cowboy boots.

The job dictates the type of shoe you need. Furthermore, the type of shoe dictates the correct amount of flexibility for security, comfort, and stabilization. The wrong shoe for the job, in essence, means the wrong amount of mathematical flex for your feet; thereby, negatively impacting your ankles, knees, and hips. The correct shoe for the job matters.

So, when it comes to the best minimalist running shoes and the corresponding flexibility
factor, we are searching for a shoe which naturally flexes. More so, a shoe which flexes in a barefoot-like manner while running barefoot. After all, the point of minimalism is to return to the roots of our ancestors; barefoot racing; only, without the sharp rocks cutting our feet.

 

Transitioning

Minimalist running shoes should not be considered a ‘magic bullet’ to cure any of your running/marathoning woes; like runner’s knee, shin splints, stress fracture, Achilles tendinitis, and/or muscle strain. Going from traditional running to minimalist running can cause problems for both your feet and legs; creating new problems and exasperating the problems you may already have.

So, follow these three simple steps:

  1. Check with a professional or an athletics doctor about your running form and how to best assess it.
  2. Strengthen your feet and legs by walking around barefoot first.
  3. Approach your progress, slowly, by walking around in minimalist shoes.

Mileages may and/or can have varying results from person to person. The most common rookie mistake is to push forward without knowing your limits. Painfully, before the realization sets in, you might push too far. This is why it is important to approach your progress slowly, and only after you are assessed by a healthcare professional. You matter, and so do your feet.

Barefoot Running Shoes - minimalist

 

Cushioning

“Barefoot running has a number of documented benefits. It has been shown that removing support (as provided by modern footwear) from the arch of the foot during running strengthens the foot. This is evidenced by an increase in the cross-sectional areas of both intrinsic and extrinsic foot muscles following a period of running in minimal shoes that mimic barefoot running,” this according to a research article written by the Journal of Sport and Health Science (2017. Vol. 6, Issue 2).

This article furthers the concept of minimalist shoes in that it is better for the overall health of our feet to run with an FFS (forefoot strike) upon harder surfaces. The problem for runners, however, is the fact that non-minimalist shoes can cause runners to run with an RFS (rearfoot strike, or heel strike), more times than not.

So, when we are discussing cushioning in the realm of the best minimalist running shoes, we are talking about the bare minimum. This is in order to provide you with sufficient protection from sharp and/or dangerous items you might, otherwise, pierce your foot with when running barefoot. But at the same time, there needs to be a likeness to barefoot running. This is to allow our feet to handle the cushioning factor. As such, our body becomes stronger and more efficient. Luckily, minimalist shoes (especially, those with a little-to-no drop) do help in returning us to our roots of an FFS; a method our ancestors have proven works well in maintaining healthy arches, stronger ankles, and an overall increase in foot health. 

 

Comfort

Comfort matters when doing anything; let alone, running. Running, in and of itself, can be a fun and enjoyable activity. With that being stated, running is capable of causing high-fatigue levels and other sorts of issues, if we are not careful (e.g. dehydration).

Comfort, in the realm of the best minimalist running shoes, offers us more than just a good feeling when first putting them on our feet. Comfort provides us with the ability to focus on our run, as it were. When we can remain focused on our favorite activity, we are more likely to catch the subtle hints our body may give us; those hints which say, ‘Hey, I am tired and thirsty. I am not ready for ten miles. We just started running, yesterday.’

As funny as that may sound, it is of vital importance we listen to our body. Again, as previously mentioned, running can take its toll on us. If we combine that with an addition of lowering our comfortability levels; then, there is an off-chance our body might scream about our feet more than our thirst-rate, for example. As runners know, ignoring your thirst-rate can yield very, poor results.

If a shoe is truly designed for rocky trails, let’s say; then, the comfort levels of running rocky trails will not be interfered with by rocks and such underneath our feet. If our feet hurt from the rocks, however, then the shoes are not adequate in the area of comfortability for rocky terrain. In other words, the shoes are not really designed for rocky trail running. In this case, no matter how painful it might be we purchased this particular pair of shoes, we must come to realize they are not trail-ready. Comfort does matter, and so do you. Listen to your body, it always knows best.

Comfort, also, is in direct relation to the fit of a shoe when placed on our foot. If a shoe is too big, there can be added stress placed upon our ankles. This, in turn, can cause ankle sprains and/or dislocations. Toe jamming is another negative with wearing too big of a shoe. As with shoes that are too small, big shoes can, also, yield skin irritations and bruises in the short-term. In the long-term, both can yield a change in our foot shape. In some cases, deforming of the foot can be the result (2012). In these situations, corns, calluses, bunions, and hammertoes can be the exchange for wearing improperly-fitted shoes. Sometimes, surgery may even be needed to correct the problem.

 

Breathability

Breathability is a term in relation to airflow. Those suffering from tinea pedis (Athlete’s Foot) can benefit highly from shoes which promote a breathable environment. Feet sweat. It is not the sweat, however, which causes smelly feet and/or tinea pedis. It is the resulting dampness left behind when feet do sweat; microbes enjoying their new environment, per se.

Runners are, especially, prone to foot sweat. Miles upon miles are being chased down; thereby, body heat remains elevated for long periods. Furthermore, sweat is pouring from your head down to your toes, in a literal sense. Therefore, shoes for runners must have high breathability; otherwise, an unhealthy environment is begging to take over your feet. Minimalist running shoes are no different, in this regard.

A breathable shoe will contain an element of airflow circulation within the upper. A highly-breathable shoe will contain a lot of airflow in the upper. Also, there may or may not be an element of breathability within the lining. Shoes, with a high-breathability factor associated with them, tend to implement both lining and upper as part of the airflow construction. In doing so, they create a shoe which promotes a healthier environment for your feet. Furthermore, a highly-breathable shoe can help raise comfortability factors, as well.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: Who should/can wear minimalist running shoes?
A: The ‘minimalist;’ those who want ‘less shoe’ for the sake of strengthening their ability to run but they still want enough of the shoe to protect their feet from the elements. And while this isn’t some magic bullet for the ailments suffered by those coming from more traditional running shoes, anyone who’d want an alternative to ‘running with absolutely nothing on their feet’ should understand they do have a choice.

Q: Barefoot / Minimalist Running Shoes Vs Traditional Running Shoes
A: There’s more cushioning and sole layers added to the running shoes than minimalist shoes; all for the sake of comfort and such.Those who run barefoot or with minimalist running shoes tend to hit the ground with the balls of their feet. Those who wear running shoes, however, will hit the ground with their heel first. But by-and-large, it all depends on the type of person and exactly what they desire from their run.

Q: Is cushioning important?
A: Those who buy, or plan on buying minimalist running shoes choose some form of cushioning over the ‘barely there’ type of minimalist shoes. They wish for some sort of protection, because this is not the age of Rome, as it were. Anybody who gets a ‘runner’s high’ may stop paying attention to their surroundings. As such, they are more likely to step on some broken bottle glass, sharp object, or something even worse. Within this regard, cushioning is important.

Q: How long do they last?
A: Because of newer technology, the treading on the shoes (the material used for the shoes) tend to break down before the soles do. It’s been reported that minimalist running shoes can go for about 1700 miles before they need to be replaced. An impressive improvement from the 300-600 miles one can get from regular running shoes.

Q: Where can you buy minimalist running shoes?
A: Minimalist running shoes are considered ‘specialty’ shoes. So, you might find them in any mall-based specialty shoe store, any ‘brick and mortar’ store attached to a mall, or any ‘outlet’ store. Another choice is to go online where they can be specially made. Many of the start-up companies making minimalist running shoes take pride in creating the best shoes. When doing so, successfully, they better their chances of getting more clients. A fair warning, however, they’re pricey.

Q: What’s the best brand for minimalist running shoes?
A: Vibram seems to be a popular name brand. Other names include, but aren’t limited to Merrell, Inov-8, Saucony, Brooks, Nike, New Balance, ASICS, and VivoBareFoot. Again, be on the lookout for how and where they’re made, because mileage may vary.

Q: Best American-made minimalist running shoes?
A: Most of these companies are successful startups: Carson Footwear (based in Oregon); ToPo Athletic (helmed by the former CEO of Vibram USA); Xero Shoes (based in Colorado); Luna (based in Seattle, Washington); and California-based companies, such as Be Real, Earth Runners, and Altra.

Q: What are the trends for minimalist running shoes?
A: As of 2013’s writing; minimalist running shoes consisted of only 11% of all shoe sales in the US running shoe market. The people who mainly buy minimalist running shoes are those who are in need of guidance; people who, ultimately, care about ‘running mechanics’ and are looking to become better and stronger.

Q: Isn’t this all just a bunch of crock?
A: In 2009, Harvard’s Dr. Daniel Lieberman started a “barefoot running movement” via Christopher McDougall’s book: Born To Run. He stated there’s no scientific backing behind most of the excess bells and whistles placed in running shoes at that time. “You can have trampoline outsoles and laces made [from the hair of goddesses]. But 50% of runners and 80% of marathoners get injured each year.”

“You land on the cushions at the end of your feet, the shock from the landing will be absorbed in the wrong parts of the body. But if you land on the ground without anything covering your feet, the shock will be absorbed naturally; your muscles, tendons, and ligaments will absorb the shock.”

This realization had caught many a runner or marathoner off guard; ditching their running shoes altogether in exchange for barefoot running. Of course, what’s been going on had naturally and financially hurt the shoemaking industry. So, while they’re having press releases about how “running barefoot is actually bad for you,”  they, simultaneously, created ‘minimalist running shoes.’

And despite cries of: ‘This ain’t backed by science, either,’ people were buying them and doctors did recommend using them. The small heel-to-toe drop, lack of arch support, wiggle room for toes, and etc.; that’s what the American College of Sports Medicine stated as the requirement, but not the norm.

The panels about ‘minimalist running shoes’ and their practical uses were less “pitch-forky and lynch-mobbish” than one might assume. There was hardly any expert (or so-called expert) who was against running barefoot; at least, without the experience or research to back it up.

To answer the question, minimalist running shoes are just like everything else; a ride on the bandwagon by companies who don’t want to go out of business. But this bandwagon still manages to get success stories; albeit, though phoenixes are rising from someone else’s ashes.

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