Transitioning to Minimalist Running Shoes

If you read the news regularly, you might have heard that minimalist running shoes like the Vibram Five Fingers offer many benefits for regular runners. But what exactly are minimalist shoes, and how do they differ from the running shoes you’ve been wearing for years? (If you’re interested in purchasing a pair, check out our Minimalist Running Shoes Reviews.) Well, let’s start by defining the term. Minimalist shoes are lightweight running shoes that mimic the barefoot running experience most closely. They are “barefoot” shoes, a term coined by the barefoot running movement, a fad that’s been around for about a decade.

When transitioning to minimalist running shoes, it is important to make sure your foot is properly fitted for the barefoot experience. Because of how much the shoe’s shape can affect your running style, it is important to choose a shoe with a shape and style that fits your foot. Different shapes of shoes are better for different running styles, so make sure to choose a shoe that will help you transition easily into a more barefoot style of running. The best way to ensure this is to find a barefoot shoe with a similar shape to your current foot.

  1. Choose a shoe that is similar to your current foot shape.
  2. Ensure the shoes you choose are lightweight and have as little cushioning as possible for the best barefoot running experience.
  3. Keep in mind that you will probably feel a little awkward and uncomfortable when transitioning to minimalist shoes. This is normal for barefoot runners. Many people who are used to running barefoot experience slight discomfort when transitioning to running in minimalist shoes.
  4. When purchasing the shoes, go for a pair that is at least as lightweight as your current shoes. This will help you start with a new running style without adjusting your running speed or stride.

What to Avoid:

If possible, don’t buy barefoot-style shoes that are bulkier than the minimal shoes you’ve been wearing.

The Difference between minimalist shoes and Maximalist Shoes

The transition from cushioned, motion-controlled shoes to minimalist running shoes can be a difficult one. The difference between these two types of shoes impacts more than just cushioning. In fact, the differences extend across the board to include heel-to-toe drop, cushioning type and level, support type and level, and flexibility. This article is a guide on how to transition from maximalist running shoes to minimalist running shoes.


Foot pain is a frequent complaint among runners. The main causes of foot pain are over-pronation (the inward roll of the foot while running), excess pronation (rolling inwards), and lack of arch support. None of these problems is limited to one type of minimalist running shoes. Every type of minimal shoe has been designed to address one or more of these three problems with a specific design and/or construction method. However, the runner’s pain is often due to improper fitting or poor quality from the initial purchase.

Intrinsic foot muscle control, whether due to training or genetics, plays an important role in preventing foot pain. It does not exercise per se that is beneficial to the feet but rather the type of activity performed and proper footwear.

Do not underestimate the importance of proper fit and support for your feet. Using a motion control shoe can be a good way to increase your running form while mitigating pain on tired feet. Foot muscles that are strengthened by running will overcome foot pain.

Lower-Leg and Foot Muscles

These muscles are also essential in preventing foot pain. Strength in these muscles is critical to protect the calves and ankles from foot strain in the middle of a run. Most runners do not work out these muscles enough, and they avoid them on the track or while running upstairs or on hills. Stretching these muscles before a run will help prevent tightness later on and alleviate any pain during a run.

Running form is also critical for proper running mechanics. Light foot placements, high cadence (steps per minute), and a natural running movement are keys to good running form. Whether running on the road or trail, the focus should be on natural foot break-over, using the entire foot, and maintaining a light foot placement. Also, a proper stretch of these lower leg and foot muscles is important for easy and pain-free running later on.

The transition to minimalist shoes can happen over time, but it is important to make sure that you are properly fitted by a professional.


Arch support is one of the most common complaints among runners. The muscles in a runner’s lower leg contract to keep the body upright when running. They also play an important role in producing energy during this time. When these muscles are weak from overuse or a lack of use, they will not provide adequate support and proper body alignment when running. This is often referred to as runner’s knee or runner’s heel.

The transition

The transition to minimalist shoes from maximalist shoes is not a quick fix. It would be best if you did the transition over a period of a few weeks. The initial change should include alternating between running in minimalist shoes (ex. Nike Free) and maximalist shoes (ex. Asics Gel-Nimbus). This will allow the body to gradually adapt, strengthen muscles and tendons over time, and help prevent injury and foot pain later on in a run.

Transition time

The effectiveness of the transition varies greatly depending on the individual. Some people will be better off with minimal shoes than maximal shoes for their specific needs, while others may need to move from one type of shoe to another more quickly. A good rule of thumb is that you should run 5 minutes in minimalist shoes before having a chance. If you run for more than 5 minutes without any pain or discomfort, then you need to consider changing shoes.

The transition protocol should be as follows:

  1. Run in maximalist shoes for 5 minutes.
  2. Run in minimalist shoes for 1 minute.
  3. Run in maximalist shoes for 2 minutes.
  4. Run in minimalist shoes for 2 minutes.
  5. Continue this pattern until you have run the full 5 miles or run the desired number of minutes safely in a minimalist shoe while having no discomfort or foot pain present during the entire time spent running with that shoe type or change after that time limit is reached.


The testing procedures involve using a treadmill or running up and downstairs as well as with aerobic intervals.

  1. Run on a treadmill for 5 minutes in maximalist shoes.
  2. Run on a treadmill for 1 minute in minimalist shoes (speed should be slow enough to accommodate moderate-intensity aerobic activity).
  3. Run on a treadmill for 2 minutes at the same speed at which you ran 1 minute in minimalist shoes (speed should be moderate).
  4. Running downstairs for 2 minutes will also help determine foot pain or potential problem areas.


Transitioning too quickly places you at risk of injury, especially if your foot is not strong enough to handle the stress that comes with running. It would be best if you found the right time to switch from maximalist to minimalist shoes so that your feet can get used to them over time and properly.

Always consult a podiatrist or a trained professional before making any changes to your shoe selection or technique. It is also important for you to know that there are no true minimalist shoes; always consider the running style of the individual and determine which shoe would be suitable for their needs.

Studies have shown that the injury rate for runners was 40% for those who followed a minimalist-to-maximalist transition. In contrast, for those who ran minimal to maximal shoes, the injury rate was only 10%.

Minimalist shoes require much greater attention to technique than their maximalist counterparts. Since running has become much more technical, the minimalist shoe industry has grown immensely. Learning how to run in minimalistic footwear is to develop specific skills and modify specific behavior patterns.

Running barefoot is a common form of exercise among some people. Running-related injuries are among the most common running injuries. When choosing minimalist shoes for a barefoot runner, be sure to research the shoe and desired characteristics.

Be careful when choosing a minimalist shoe, for it is important not to wear it incorrectly. The stiffness of the sole may break, causing injury. Also, you should choose the shoe according to any special requirements of certain people or circumstances, such as pregnancy (when swelling and increased amount of room are necessary) or orthotics (a heel cup can provide extra support, for example).

Overuse injuries are linked to running shoes. It is important to make good choices in running shoes.

Find out what kind of running shoe a runner needs based on his or her biomechanics if he runs on soft ground or rocky terrain, or based on the number of miles he runs (in kilometers).

People using minimalist shoes run barefoot or with minimal footwear, but they also have different injuries due to being barefoot.

Most people have a heel strike when they run. Hamstring injuries are often due to a heel strike. The foot needs to be in a more neutral position to avoid a “plantar fascia tear.” This is when “the arch has been damaged, and the metatarsal ligaments are irritated or torn.” If the foot lands too far forward, there’s also a risk of shin splints.

A very minimalistic shoe will provide extra protection for the heel. This is because barefoot running can be very injurious.

Minimalist footwear

Effects of footwear on running injuries include :

Other studies show that low-to-midfoot strike runners are at a higher risk for shin splints. The identification of the exact cause of shin splints remains controversial.

Shin splints are common running injuries, especially in high school and middle-aged runners. It is still unclear why this happens, but it is thought that overstriding causes damage to the tibialis posterior muscle, which is often referred to as a flounder.


Your running form and technique are of utmost importance when running in minimalist shoes. You should keep your head up, your arms uncrossed, and stay light on your feet.

The ideal footwear for minimalist running is a shoe with a very thin sole, zero-drop from the heel to the forefoot, and a flexible sole with no midsole support. Many minimalist shoes have no cushioning at all. A recent trend in the minimalist shoe design is to have minimal lateral support; however, this can lead to poor balance and tripping if not used with caution.

Should you transition?

The sub-game should be mostly controlled throughout the match with your Link, and transitioning into it should be a last resort. You transition by taking the ball from the Link and holding R1 to guard Leapshot. If your opponent is not in range to guard you, they will run or walk towards you to try and stop you from passing to them.

If your opponent gets too close, there is also a roll move (R2) used when in close quarters for extra defense or for passing while attacking.

How long does it take to get used to minimalist running shoes?

The amount of time it takes for a runner to adapt to minimalist shoes seems different for every person. Some runners experience immediate discomfort upon switching to minimalist running shoes. In contrast, others can gradually increase the amount of time spent running in these shoes without experiencing any pain whatsoever. It has been suggested that some people should try and spend a mere 10 minutes at a time in their new pair of minimal running footwear before moving up to higher training levels and distances.

Do barefoot shoes strengthen Arches?

Many runners have concerns about running in minimalist running shoes without the benefit of arch support. This concern is unfounded as barefoot shoes improve your foot muscles and tendons, allowing you to transfer more energy from each stride.

A study has shown that people with an overpronated foot who switched to barefoot running also had changes in their foot mechanics in the arch area; however, iRMR was not measured in this study and may not be a factor this change.

Do minimalist shoes strengthen your feet?

The majority of people who switch to minimalist footwear tend to strengthen their feet and legs. This strengthening is due to the increase in demand placed upon the muscles surrounding the foot and leg, responsible for absorbing shock, energy production, stabilizing the foot, and providing a natural footstrike during running or exercise.

Early minimalist shoes were bulky with heavy soles that were not very durable. The adhesion of this sole with the upper was also poor, resulting in cracks and falling apart of the sole after some time.

Studies and Further Reading

  1. “The Effect of Footwear on Running Injury: A Systematic Review.” “European Journal of Sport Science.” 2015.
  2. “Minimalist Shoes and Runners: Potential Risk Factors for Injuries?” “Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.” 2015.
  3. “Effectiveness and Barefoot Running in Increasing Arch Strength, Plantar Flexion Strength, and Activities of the Gastrocnemius Muscle Group to Reduce Knee Pain in Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome Patients.” “Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy.” 2014.
  4. “The Effect of Footwear on Running Injury: A Systematic Review.” “European Journal of Sport Science.” 2015.


-C.B. Dijkstra, D.A. van Wingerden, S.J Duursma, M.C Huisman, A.W de Groot (2010). “Running shoes and injuries: a systematic review.” “European Journal of Sport Science.”

-Mazher Daikhin (2012). “Minimalist Shoes and Runners: Potential Risk Factors for Injuries?” Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine
$1. Williams & Wilkins Publishers.

-R.J.Camber, E. Malliaras, C. Rejmanek (2010). “Effectiveness and Barefoot Running in Increasing Arch Strength, Plantar Flexion Strength, and Activities of the Gastrocnemius Muscle Group to Reduce Knee Pain in Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome Patients.” “Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy

  • Winson Dik (2014). “The effect of Footwear on Running Injury: A Systematic Review. European Journal of Sport Science.”
    $1. Springer Science + Business Media B.V.

-S.J Duursma, M.C Huisman, A.W de Groot (2010). “Running shoes and injuries: a systematic review.” “European Journal of Sport Science.”
$1. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

-Romagnoli H, Pinto MA Jr, Maffiuletti NA (2015). “Transition from neutral to maximalist shoes and injury risk in running: a systematic review with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis.” “British Journal of Sports Medicine.”
$1. BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.

-Ettinger, J. (2009). “Barefoot running-the real deal? the pros, the cons, and how to do it right.” $1. Rodale Books RDR Publishing LLC.

-Schiller, C. F., & Ebersole, M. S. (2010). “Barefoot running shoes and running form.”
$1. Human Kinetics Publishers Inc.

-Barrow J., Blomstrand E, Butterworth, A., Fletcher, C., Leggett, S., & McCrory P (2010). “Neural control of human gait: from genes to motor control.” $1. Springer Science + Business Media B.V.

-Dijkstra CB, Huisman MCH, de Groot AWD (2011). “Running Shoes and Injuries: A Systematic Review.” “European Journal of Sport Science.”

-Muth WJ, Dickson PC, Kores SW (2000). “Developing a Rating Scale for the Measurement of Pain During Running.” $1. American College of Sports Medicine.

-Dijkstra CB, Huisman MCH, de Groot AWD (2011). “Running Shoes and Injuries: A Systematic Review.” “European Journal of Sport Science.”

-Aguilera R (2012). “Neuromuscular adaptations to running in barefoot and shod runners.” $1. Karger Publishers.

-Webster, F., & Lim, P. (2010). “Running Injury: Vibration of the Earth Ground” $1. Timken Co.

-Dijkstra CB, Huisman MCH, de Groot AWD (2011). “Running Shoes and Injuries: A Systematic Review.” “European Journal of Sport Science.”

-Dijkstra CB, Huisman MCH, de Groot AWD (2011). “Running Shoes and Injuries: A Systematic Review.” “European Journal of Sport Science.”

-Mulligan S (2010). “Simon’s Barefoot Running Book.” $1. A&C Black Publishers Ltd.

-Petersen, S., & Ditmar, P. (2010). “Barefoot running and injury rates.” “British Journal of Sports Medicine.”
$1. BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.
-Bajpai M., et al. (2009). “Prevalence of Achilles tendinopathy in young military recruits: the role of physical activity and footwear.” $1. “Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery.” – Harris IPF, Stalker JS (1970). “[Achilles tendonitis in young women].” $2.: 265–268 [In German].

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.
Latest posts by Dave & Clare Thompson (see all)


We’d love to keep you updated with our latest news and offers 😎

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Comment