The right amount of cushioning in running shoes mostly depends on the preference of the runner. Various studies over the years have shown the benefits of using different types of running shoes, but none can be objectively considered as the superior option as each type of running shoes have its pros and cons. Today, we will talk about the ins and outs of the minimalist trail running shoes.
The Big Difference
Minimalist shoes are different from traditional shoes in the sense that they give runners the closest feeling to being running barefoot without compromising on the safety of the feet. These types of shoes have the bare minimum cushioning, particularly on the heels. Traditional shoes usually have a 12mm difference in the cushioning of the heel and the toe, whereas this difference drops down to less than 6mm in minimalist shoes. In some shoes, there is absolutely no difference at all between the heel and the toe. These types of shoes are known as zero-drop running shoes.
The lower drop of the toe from the heel in minimalist shoes helps the runners to land their feet on forefoot instead of the heel. Landing on the heel is considered to have a higher impact on the foot than landing on the forefoot, which can be more injury prone. The landing of the foot can’t be changed overnight, but minimalist shoes can be a good starting point.
These shoes also give the runners a feel of the ground underneath the shoes and make them a bit nimble footed. The lightweight of minimalist shoes is another big plus as the runners would need less muscle strength to lift their feet in each stride, which can prove to be productive in long runs.
Not Always The Best Choice
Minimalist shoes might not be the best choice for the people having flat feet, tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, hammertoes or bunions, so it would be safe to have a check-up by a doctor before trying these shoes. If you get a nod from the doctor, then you’ll have to choose between the barefoot shoes and minimally cushioned shoes. As the name suggests, barefoot shoes are made for the closest experience of running barefoot. These are zero drop shoes with a really thin layer between the foot and the ground. Minimally cushioned shoes are a mixture of traditional and barefoot shoes. These shoes can be the perfect gateway to get into the world of shoeless running. Also, an ideal fit is a must for minimalist shoes.
Transitioning from traditional shoes to minimalist shoes isn’t an easy thing to do. You should first walk in minimalist shoes to get used to them before trying to run. Short distance runs on soft surfaces should be your next step. Length of the strides is a crucial factor in this transition; bigger strides should be avoided to land on the forefoot. Try increasing some distance every week to run long races. And the most important thing is never to force your body too much. If there is any pain or discomfort in your body, stop.