Making the Transition to Minimalist
You’ve seen them by now, the Vibram FiveFingers. Maybe you have even debated getting them but aren’t quite sure. Your friends have ranted and raved about their minimalist shoes. Finally, you have decided it’s time to break down and get a pair of minimalist running shoes. There are many choices out there so where do you begin?
First off, are you ready to make the jump all the way from the traditional running sneaker to a true barefoot shoe? A barefoot shoe is one that has a 0mm drop from the heel to the toe. If you have been running in traditional trainers your heel toe drop is 12mm. This may not seem like a lot but your calf and Achilles will feel the difference. A barefoot shoe will also have a lot less cushioning underfoot. This can be as little as only 2mm.
If you think you are ready to go from your traditional sneakers to a barefoot shoe like the FiveFingers or New Balance Minimus be prepared to make a slow transition. Recent studies are showing that a crop of bone bruising injuries are showing up in runners using barefoot shoes. This is not a complete surprise though. We see people come into our stores, get barefoot shoes, and get rid of their old traditional trainers. This is kind of like a football player getting rid of his pads, going out and playing, and then being surprised when he gets hurt. Your feet need to be conditioned to get use to this. You need to ease into using your new shoes. Wear them walking around first. Slowly go into jogging but only short distances. This transition should not be done in a week’s time.
Another option is to go with a minimalist shoe such as Merrell’s Mix Master. A minimalist is one that has a 4mm drop from heel to toe and usually gives you more cushioning in the midsole. You will still need to ease into using them but the transition should be quicker. Having more cushioning takes away some of that ground contact feeling but your foot is better protected. A minimalist shoe is also much lighter in weight then a traditional sneaker.
Whether you decide to go with a minimalist or go all the way to a barefoot shoe be prepared to have a transition time. Your body will be much happier in the long run.