While writing this article on minimalist running shoes, I wondered how many people even know what this really means? Many have heard the term minimalist running shoes or minimalist shoes and think this is probably some new style or some fad that’s here today and gone tomorrow.
Barefoot running or natural running are terms you run across when discussing minimalist running shoes. You can use a variety of terms to describe minimalist running shoes but the terms fad or style of the day are not good descriptions.
How to Pick the Best Minimalist Shoe
Most people looking for minimalist shoes are looking to improve their running form and possibly correct past problems caused by conventional running shoes such as joint and ankle injuries or over-pronation problems for people with flat feet.
In general, any minimalist shoe will help improve these conditions but you have to find the right shoe that gives you the most comfortable fit and works best with your body to help give you the proper running form.
No one shoe will work the same for everyone and it may come down to making the best choice based on comparison of different styles and brands. Customer reviews are also very helpful in making a good determination.
The following steps will help you in making an educated decision when choosing the right minimalist shoe:
1) Decide which features you absolutely need. Keeping true to the minimalist form, the following features should be present:
- Zero-drop or near-zero drop heel,
- Toe box wide enough to allow toe splay, shoe big enough so toes do not touch front of shoe.
Below are the most preferred features, but not absolutely necessary:
- Adequate ventilation
- Sockless liner
- Flexible sole
Nice to have, but you can do without
- Easy to slip on and off,
- Easy to adjust lacing,
- Minimal toe spring
Through experimentation, you will find what works best for you and you’ll be able to make a better decision as to what shoe or shoes you want to own.
2) How do you plan to use your minimalist shoes?
Will you be running on hard flat surfaces or natural trails? Long distances? Rain or snow? Some minimalist shoes simply won’t work for all tasks.
Some people own at least a couple of pairs depending on the surface they will be running or walking. You will need to consider factors such as traction, durability, ground feel, insulation, and ventilation.
3) Try all different minimalist shoes.
Since your feet are unique some shoes will match all the criteria you are looking for, but the fit won’t be quite right. Others will fit perfectly. The best way to decide is by trying them all on at some point.
Trying them in a store is helpful, but testing them in actual conditions is ideal. How do you accomplish this? Try out some of the most popular brands such as the New Balance MT20v2 minimus or Vibram five fingers first and see how they work out for you.
Customer reviewers can also be very helpful in describing any given shoe’s characteristics. Reviews can give you a great idea of which shoes you can eliminate.
However, when it comes down to the final choice that third step is your responsibility. You are the only one who can decide what is the best minimalist shoe for your needs.