Are Minimalist Shoes Bad for You? The Facts and Misconceptions

What are they?

Minimalists are low heel-to-toe drop shoes with minimum cushioning and support. They are lightweight but so flexible. Some define a minimalist shoe as just protective clothing that allows your foot to act and function like a barefoot when it’s inside the shoe. 

Minimalist shoes have the following characteristics.

  • They are entirely flat sole from heel to toe 
  • You can twist or bend its sole in many directions 
  • Lightweight 
  • Wide for box design allowing natural toe display

Minimalist shoes help strengthen your feet. The natural design on the shoes gives the feet the space it requires to move freely, like when you are barefoot.


History of minimalist shoes

Minimalist shoes started many years ago. It began with Chris McDougall, who wrote the book Born to Run. In 1905, they were journals written about the health benefits of minimal footwear.

We have evidence suggesting that we started to cover our feet around 40000 years ago. It began with soft wrap-around leather shoes, sandals, or moccasins, and this is how footwear evolved. 

History has it that shoes have been used to symbolize freedom and power, even wealth. Some cultures believe removing your shoes before entering a place of worship or entering a home is a sign of respect. Around the 16th century, Louis XIV popularised high-heeled shoes. These high-heeled shoes were seen as a demonstration of wealth and power. 

Since the 1950s, many shoe designs have become possible with emerging rubber and synthetic material. Manufacturers continue to make improvements on their footwear, incredibly athletic shoes. A lot of modification is happening on athletic shoes. 

Nike Zoom Runners designed the Nike runners, which have helped Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s most excellent marathon runner, run two hours for the marathon. The shoes are said to have contributed about 4% to his performance.

The first minimalist shoes emerged in 1977; running shoes called racing flats. The Nike -free team started getting interested in designing minimalist footwear, which became most popular on the shelves around 2005.

Many manufacturers are designing their versions, which have seen shops scattered with every type of minimalist shoe. Some of the extreme examples include the Vibram Five-finger running shoe, which, when worn, is close to being barefooted.

Health benefits

Minimalist shoes improve leg and foot strength. 

Barefoot shoes allow restoration of muscle strength on feet and legs. The feet can naturally move like barefooted because minimalist shoes have very low to zero cushioning. 

Good strength gives you comfort and creates the well-being you require when standing, walking, or running.  A lot of support on our feet weakens them.

Combat pain

Minimalist shoes help realign muscle fibers. The ankle stability helps relieve lower back pain and reduces pain from injured knees and hips. There’s an improvement in the range of motion in the ankles, toes, and feet. 

Stimulation of neural function is essential to balance and agility. 

Improves the body posture by eliminating heel lift to align the spine. 

Allowing you to walk and run naturally

The cushioned shoes do not have a natural design of the feet. The realistic poster offered by the barefoot shoes improves proprioception and body awareness, enhances foot health, and reduces lower back pain and injuries.

Anatomy of human feet

The feet consist of flexible structures, bones, soft tissues, joints, and muscles. These allow us to move freely, walk or run. Three sections make up the human feet anatomy, and these are

The five toes are called phalanges, and the five longer bones are the metatarsal found on the forefoot. 

Next is the midfoot, a pyramid-like collection of bones forming the arches of the feet. These are cuneiform bones, cuboid and navicular bones. 

And lastly, the hindfoot consists of the heel and ankle, with the talus bone supporting the leg bones, and that is the tibia and fibula of the ankle. The heel bone called the calcaneus is the largest in the feet. 

We get the needed motion and balance from muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Running, walking, or standing on the toes is possible because the Achilles tendon connects the heel to the calf muscle.

Some of feet conditions include:

  • Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament. You feel the pain in the heel and arch. 
  • Osteoarthritis is caused by age, wear and tear, leading to wearing out of the cartilage in the feet. You can feel pain and swelling or deformation in the feet.

The problem with minimalist shoes

Some argue that walking with little support on the ground leads to foot collapsing and strain on the rest of the body. If the foot pronates during the gait cycle without permission, the spread of biomechanics and pressure is changed. 

Foot problems can occur, such as bunions and hammertoes, causing pain in Achilles and arches.

Doctors see more patients visiting for medical attention concerning minimalist running shoes causing injuries. Some people complain about experiencing more injuries wearing and running in minimalist shoes. 

Minimalist shoes are said not to absorb the shock of your foot, leading to poor strength in the muscles, especially when you slam your foot. 

Proper minimalist shoes should not include motion control that interferes with your feet’ natural purpose. The purpose of the minimalist shoe is not to disturb the natural posture of the feet but acts as a protective layer between you and the ground. 

So getting a suitable minimalist shoe will help with a healthy gait whenever you walk or run. There should be the encouragement of forefoot striking or lower impact midfoot. 

The purpose of the forefoot striker is to allow the spread of forces associated with a bipedal movement that will assist in preserving the integrity of your joints and other tissues.

Some researchers examined that runners complain about minimalist shoes causing many injuries. The examination concerns the effects of increases in footwear minimalism on the damage. The research focused on all the shoes with heel drops between  0-10mm. 

Some of the runners complained about feeling greater shin and calf pain. 

The conclusion is that minimalist shoes can affect the shin and calf of the foot. That is, there’s an increasing probability of injury and pain.

Misconceptions about minimalist shoes

However, there are a lot of misconceptions concerning barefoot shoes. Some say that minimalist shoes cause plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis. The truth is even running with padded shoes can lead to those foot conditions. 

When everything is overdone, it becomes a disaster. There’s a need to take it easy when using minimalist shoes, especially for the first time. Injuries are bound to happen, but the question is how they happened and what caused them—taking it slow helps reduce or minimize foot injuries. 

Another misconception is that some people aren’t born to go barefoot or use minimalist shoes. That is a nay, barefoot running or walking helps the foot to get the natural posture it was created for. The strength of the muscles and ligaments that use barefoot shoes is incomparable to cognitive shoes. With hundreds of humans who used to walk barefoot, there’s just a need for practice. Otherwise, everyone can start the barefoot method.

Doctors’ misconception of seeing many patients complain about injuries isn’t to focus on. Injuries can happen even when you have cushioned shoes. 

If you do not have information concerning those running in minimalist, especially the total statistics, then the static is meaningless. 

If doctors mention the number of injuries, what of those not having problems running in minimalist shoes.

How to get the most out of your minimalist shoes

To get the most out of your minimalist shoes, you need practice. Practice the slow movement yet make progress. Walk shorter distances monitoring your progress, and avoid overdoing everything. 

Give yourself time to heal from any pain and injury and proceed when you feel better. Get the right minimalist shoes for you. Choose those that go well with your feet and enjoy the minimalist shoe challenge.

Are barefoot shoes suitable for you?

Barefoot shoes have their pros and cons. The best part of these shoes is maintaining the natural alignment and purpose of the foot. Also, health benefits include reducing lower back pain and enhancing foot health. 

However, some researchers say that barefoot shoes can also lead to injuries caused by slamming, and having a prolonged period standing on them can lead to foot pressure.

Are barefoot shoes good for being on your feet all day?

It all depends on personal interests, but the bottom line is you can choose to wear barefoot shoes all day. You can wear minimalist shoes in the office.

However, if you feel any pain, you can still avoid spending the whole day wearing them. It would help if you practiced using barefoot shoes for a long time before spending a lot of time with them. 

Mind your foot health and that you get all the comfort you need.

Hi there. This is Clare. Dave and I manage this site. We are outdoor enthusiasts. Most of the content is about products that we love using or have researched.
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