Let me first say that I am not a fan of minimalist running for the majority of my patients. Having said that, “just don’t do it” is not an acceptable directive to patients who are going to run in minimalist shoes in spite of what I recommend. Due to this, I have reluctantly learned to evaluate minimalist running shoes. Not surprisingly, the best way to do this utilizes some of the same principles used when evaluating non-minimalist styles.
First and foremost, does the shoe match the patient’s foot type? Unfortunately, most minimalist shoes only come in medium widths and none are available in narrow widths. This excludes up to 50 percent of the runners who need a narrow or wide width running shoe. Second, does the shoe make the runner’s stride, shock absorption and/or pathology better or, at the very least, not worse?
Armed with the answers to these simple questions, my colleague Samantha Gibson, Bsc(Hon) and I have evaluated over 50 models of minimalist running shoes on hundreds of runners with differing biomechanics, pathologies and foot types. Based on this, we have created a minimalist shoe list to give to patients to use as a guide and educational tool. It’s not a perfect list but at least these shoes have our preliminary seal of approval, which is important, given the constraints we are forced to deal with when recommending minimalist shoes.
Once the patient selects a minimalist shoe, I will evaluate the patient running barefoot, running in the minimalist shoe and running in an appropriately structured shoe. Based on this analysis, I will recommend whether someone is a candidate to wear minimalist running shoes or not.
Utilizing a stepwise, logical approach to recommending shoes goes a long way to foster trust and forge a collaborative partnership between practitioner and the minimalist running patient, who may otherwise be skeptical of non-minimalist shoe advice.
You can download the PDF of the minimalist shoe list at the link below.