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Three Misconceptions About Minimalist Footwear

  • By Jeff Gaudette
  • Published Oct. 15, 2013
  • Updated Oct. 17, 2013 at 2:22 PM UTC
Minimalist shoes are designed with little or no drop from heel to toe, like the zero-drop Bare-X made by Inov-8. Photo: Inov-8 www.inov-8.com

Minimalist Shoes Reduce Impact Forces And Prevent Injury

The misunderstood theory is that running in minimalist footwear decreases the impact forces on your legs because the lack of cushioning encourages you land on your forefoot and allow the foot to absorb more shock.

This isn’t quite how it works. It’s not your foot strike that is paramount to shock absorption, but rather where your foot strikes the ground in relation to your center of mass.

As we previously discussed, minimal shoes don’t automatically mean you land on your forefoot. More importantly, if you wear minimalist shoes and you don’t change where your foot strikes the ground (i.e. you continue to heel strike due to over striding), research shows that vertical loading rates can be up to 37 percent higher than heel striking in traditional shoes. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to realize that increasing your ground impact with each step by 37 percent can lead to some serious injuries.

RELATED: How Should Your Foot Hit The Ground?

What’s Really Going On
Again, it’s not about foot strike, but rather where your foot lands in relation to your center of mass. By landing with your foot closer to your center of mass (under you, rather than in front of you) you can dramatically reduce your impact loading rate.

One of the easiest ways to land with your foot directly under you is to improve your cadence. Minimalist shoes help improve cadence because, without the raised heel and additional shock absorption of traditional shoes, it’s easier to feel yourself over-stride.

But again, shoes are not a cure-all. It’s still possible to over-stride with minimal shoes. They key is improving your cadence by making a conscious effort to count your steps or by improving you hip flexor, glute and hip flexibility and strength.

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FILED UNDER: Shoes and Gear / Training TAGS: / /

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff has been running for 13 years, at all levels of the sport. He was a two time Division-I All-American in Cross Country while at Brown University and competed professionally for 4 years after college for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Jeff's writing has been featured in Running Times magazine, Endurance Magazine, as well as numerous local magazine fitness columns.

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