With increased media attention on minimalist and barefoot-inspired footwear, many runners are left to wonder whether they should ditch their kicks. While minimalism isn’t for everyone, if you are interested in experimenting with a lesser shoe, it’s important to make the transition gradually.
“We suggest first wearing a ‘step-down’ shoe that is fairly minimal, but there is still something to the midsole,” said Robert Smith, owner of Robert’s Running and Walking Shop in Huntington, W. Va..
Runners shouldn’t go directly from a stability shoe to a minimal shoe, as the change is dramatic and may lead to injury. With minimal shoes, your bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments need time to strengthen and adjust to the new training stimulus. Even once you have fully transitioned to this type of footwear, most coaches advise against wearing them every run.
“We always tell our customers not to replace their everyday training shoes with a minimal shoe,” explained Smith.
Keep in mind that while proponents of the minimalist movement point to the fact that feet can be strengthened and gait improved through the use of such footwear, it certainly won’t work for every runner. As with any training, listen to your body and respond if it’s telling you to back off.