Barefoot Running: Choosing Minimalist Shoes for that Barefoot Feeling

Barefoot runners know that as much as they love running barefoot, there are some likely situations when it just isn’t practical. Sometimes the weather is too cold, your running surface is dirty or for some other reason, you need to have shoes but want to feel like you’re still running barefoot. The good news is that today there are more options than ever before to allow this. It all begins with a great pair of minimalist shoes.

These shoes are designed to protect your feet as you run while imitating the feel of barefoot running. If you want to get back to basics and the feel of running barefoot, these shoes may be for you. The first step is to talk to your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to make the switch. If your doctor gives you the go ahead, the next step is to determine which type of minimalist shoe is for you.

Type of Minimalist Shoes

When you’re ready to make the switch from traditional running shoes to barefoot running shoes, the first step is to determine which type is best for you. There are two main options to choose from and your choice is based mainly on personal preference.

The first choice is a hybrid shoe. These are a great selection for those who want to make the switch but they’re not quite ready to give up the look and feel of traditional running shoes. These imitate the barefoot feeling when it comes to motion and foot-strike pattern but they offer more cushioning than minimalist shoes and they look very similar to traditional shoes.

The other option is to go straight to minimalist shoes that are very thin and that completely imitate the feel of running barefoot. One of the most popular styles is Vibram FiveFingers Shoes. These are designed with five toe slots that help stretch the muscles in your feet when you run. They’re only 2 or 3mm thick and there is no cushioning in the heel pad.

Things to Consider Before You Buy

One of the main things that you need to consider before buying minimalist shoes is where you plan to run. This will determine the type of sole the shoes should have. If you run trails, you need a shoe that has soles designed for traction and coverage over the upper part of the foot to protect against abrasions and cuts.

If you run on roads and similar flat surfaces, a shoe with rubber soles are recommended because they are more slip resistant. If you run on both trails and roads, you can look for a style that offers good traction for both types of running conditions.

Tips for Switching to Minimalist Shoes

If you’ve been running in conventional running shoes and want to switch to minimalist shoes, don’t make the switch all at once. When the muscles in your legs and feet are used to running in thick, cushioned shoes and you make the switch, you run the risk of injuring your muscles.

Instead you want to ease into your new shoes gradually. Start out wearing your shoes for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. After you get used to this, increase the length of time you run until you are completely used to the new shoes. When it comes to fit, make sure your minimalist shoes fit snug. You don’t want any extra space from your toes or heels in the shoe like you have in traditional running shoes.