The minimalist running movement has taken off in the past few years, and I get asked questions about it constantly. My personal opinion is that it’s not for everyone, but some runners definitely seem to thrive with a minimalist shoe or even barefoot.
If you decide to go all out and go barefoot or with some Vibram 5 fingers my advice is to take it SLOW, and ease your way into them. Bring your mileage down to maybe 1 or 2 miles and work up slowly to allow your body to adjust to the change in your gate. Basically the minimalist shoe has little to no drop, meaning the angle from your heel down to your toes. The less of a drop the shoe has the closer we are to being barefoot.
Want to try going into a minimalist shoe, but not quit sure about it? Well, there are several minimalist styles to choose from that still give a good deal of protection. The perk to some of these shoes are they are really light (we’re talking 4-10 oz.), and can range anywhere from a 3-8mm drop (normal shoes are 12-15mm). This transition although less extreme than barefoot running still warrants some modification in miles. Cut the miles down a bit to adjust to the change in gate.
So why has the minimalist runner revolution taken off like it has? It does make sense when you think about it. The less of a drop the shoe has, or let’s say the flatter the shoe, the closer we get to our natural gate which means less of a heel strike, and more an initial strike onto the forefoot. That heal strike is really like putting on the breaks, and sending shock waves up our body every single time we hit the ground, so it’s good to get away from that form no matter what shoes you wear.
Best advice I could give is to ease into it and STRETCH, especially the calves and Achilles when getting started.