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The Truth About Minimalist Running Shoes



Published on: November 22nd, 2020

  • What’s the truth about wearing minimalist running shoes?
  • Is there any benefit to wearing minimalist running shoes?
  • Is it better to run in minimal running shoes, normal running shoes, or run completely barefoot?

This articles dives into the science behind running in minimalist shoes vs. all other reasonable options.

Let’s get started…

Why use minimalist running shoes?

Truth About Minimalist Running Shoes Bunch of Minimal Shoes Mystic Future

Minimalist running shoes are designed to conform to the natural shape and mechanics of human feet.

Good minimalist running shoes start with the fundamentals of running in mind:

Your feet work perfectly on their own. There’s no need to change the mechanics of how your feet work.

The purpose of minimalist running shoes is to provide your feet with a minimal amount of protection and comfort for running on potentially dangerous surfaces.

If you run on concrete like myself, you might occasionally come across sharp objects like small rocks or shards of glass that can obviously cause major issues for your feet.

This is especially true if you run anywhere near a major city.

In the city center of Dallas, I occasionally see glass and various other objects that I don’t want to step on.

Minimalist running shoes provide you with a base layer of protection.

You won’t have to worry about potentially stepping on dog poop, glass or worse.

As an added bonus, minimalist running shoes also build the strength of your feet rather than weaken them.

Oftentimes, minimalist running shoes are also highly-breathable and made with similar materials that are used to manufacture “aqua shoes” or “wet shoes.” This is a good thing.

This means minimalist shoes are usually capable of getting rid of sweat and wetness.

While I prefer to wear ultra-thin socks most of the time, I wouldn’t mind going sockless in a good pair of minimalist running shoes.

The big problem with normal running shoes

After running in minimalist, ultra-lightweight running shoes, I can assure you that I’ll never run in normal running shoes ever again.

The big problem with normal running shoes is simple:

Normal running shoes try to change the mechanics of how your feet function.

Ordinary running shoes literally cause you to walk differently. They aren’t compatible with the natural motion of human feet.

All you have to do is look at the heel of an ordinary pair of running shoes, and you’ll see a massive difference between normal running shoes and minimalist shoes.

Normal running shoes change how you run in a way that is unnatural and unhealthy.

Normal running shoes also squish your toes together.

This is because normal running shoes almost always have a narrow toe box.

Narrow toe boxes are an old relic of the shoe industry.

Narrow toe boxes look nice from a fashionable perspective.

But narrow toe boxes feel terrible for the person wearing the shoe.

I could go on, but I think you get the gist by now.

Normal running shoes might look nice. But they don’t feel nice.

They squeeze, restrict and harm the potential of your feet.

The case for running barefoot

Whenever possible, it’s best to run barefoot.

This is a well-known secret in professional running.

When you run barefoot, you build the strength of your feet more-so than any other option.

This makes perfect sense when you think about how our human ancestors probably spent much of their lives running and hunting barefoot.

Their feet adapted to the environment surrounding them – even if the ground was jagged and rocky at times.

Human beings always adapt.

Now, I’m not telling you that you have to go back to living like a tribesman.

I’m just saying that whenever you have the option to, you should try running barefoot, and see how you like it.

Whenever I stay beachside, I’m always shocked to see how common it is for people to run with running shoes.

Why would anyone run on the beach wearing running shoes?

Run barefoot whenever the environment is suitable!

If there’s a possibility you’ll encounter glass or any other sharp objects on your run, running barefoot probably isn’t worth the risk.

This is the reason why you won’t ever catch me running around barefoot in downtown Dallas.

How to choose a good pair of minimalist running shoes

Truth About Minimalist Running Shoes Bunch of Minimal Shoes 2 Mystic Future
Altra Torin 4 Plush (Two Pairs) + Generic brand (WHITIN) Minimalist Running Shoes

There are a few well-known brands of minimalist running shoes:

  • Altra’s
  • Vibram FiveFingers
  • New Balance Minimus

I prefer Altra’s.

You can read my full review of the Altra Torin 4 Plush minimalist running shoes here on Mystic Future.

I like Altra’s because they literally feel like running on air.

Minimalist Running Shoes Altra Torin Plush 4 Black
Altra Torin 4 Plush

Altra’s also specialize in wide toe boxes. Altra’s have never squished my toes before.

On the contrary, I can actually move my toes around freely in Altra’s. It feels amazing.

There’s also a relatively popular generic brand of minimalist running shoes on Amazon called WHITIN.

I couldn’t find much information about the WHITIN shoe company. So I published a review of WHITIN minimalist running shoes as well, after testing them out myself.

Cheap Minimalist Running Shoes WHITIN Brand Mystic Future
Super affordable WHITIN Minimalist Running Shoes

The big benefit of WHITIN’s is they’re dirt cheap. Yeah they’re an overseas shoe company. So I can’t vouch for the quality or durability of WHITIN’s.

But they feel very comfortable.

They’re cheap.

They conform to the natural shape of your feet.

If you need an easy way to try out minimalist running shoes for yourself at the lowest price point possible, I don’t think you can go wrong with WHITIN’s.

If you want the highest-quality minimalist running shoe, go with any pair of Altra’s, Vibram FiveFingers or New Balance Minimus.

Don’t overthink it – as long as you have two feet, you’ve got almost everything you need…

You don’t exactly need anything to start experiencing the magical benefits of running.

As long as you have two feet, and a suitable environment, you can start running today if you like.

Most of the time, I wear minimalist running shoes when I go running. There are a few different reasons for this.

I live in the city.

I don’t want to get hassled by people who assume a barefoot homeless man is sprinting around.

And I also like the peace of mind that comes with knowing my feet have a base layer of protection from sharp and potentially dangerous objects.

Thanks for reading…

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There are plenty of people out there who can benefit from stepping outside their home or apartment, and going on a twenty-minute run.

Minimalist-style running shoes are definitely optional. But they do help in most cases.

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