My take on the Minimalist Movement
There is a revolution in the running shoe world and you’d have to be living under a rock to have not at least heard of the barefoot/minimalist movement. Some runners are avid believers in the science behind barefoot running while others choose to stick to their traditional shoes. Honestly, if you’ve been running for years in your thicker cushioned shoes and have very few problems with injuries, then why mess with a good thing? But if that isn’t you, then consider this scenario I found on The Running Clinic:
Modern running shoes and cholesterol
If profit-making companies were to introduce a category of pill to reduce blood cholesterol levels, and the pill became extremely popular, being sold to all hypercholesterolemic patients…
And, a few years later, it became clear that not only was the pill ineffective in reducing blood cholesterol, but it also caused several unpleasant side effects such as muscle pain and digestive problems…
What would you do? Pull the pill from the market, gradually to minimize withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, …and, above all, no longer prescribe it to newly diagnosed hypercholesterolemic patients.
If profit-making companies (1) were to introduce a category of running shoe to reduce skeletal stress (and therefore injuries) (2), and the shoe became extremely popular and was sold to all runners (3) …
And, a few years later, it became clear that not only was the shoe ineffective in reducing skeletal stress (4) (and therefore injuries)(5), but it also caused several unpleasant side effects such as increased strike force (6) and weakened feet (7) …
What would you do? Pull the shoe from the market, gradually to minimize withdrawal symptoms such as pain in the Achilles tendon (8), … and, above all, no longer prescribe it to new runners (9)!!!
Here is a picture of 2 years worth of running shoes:
There are three pairs of Brooks Adrenaline, two pairs of Newton Lady Issac, one pair of Newton Gravity, one pair of Asics Kinsei, and two pairs of New Balance Minimus. Missing from this photo are the many pairs of shoes that came in my earlier years of running. These include the Asics Kayano, Asics Nimbus, Mizuno Nirvana, and Brooks Glycerin. Holy cow that’s a lot of shoes! And in case these names mean nothing to you, just know these shoes range from the most expensive motion control shoe to the much cheaper and lighter minimalist shoe. One shoe has all the support and cushion you could imagine while the other has nothing but a thin barrier between you and the road. Now I wonder why I may get injured from time to time?
After 10 years of running, a stress fracture in my hip, swollen ankles, calf strains, and a few occurrences of runner’s knee, my New Balance Minimus are the light at the end of the tunnel. Finally, I feel like I discovered the way running should be. Easy, effortless, and pain free. Now don’t think I just bought some shoes one day and had my running world change the next. As with anything, there was a transition period and a few aches and pains along the way. I had to learn to use some new muscles and adjust my running form, but it was all worth it. There are still things I am learning and in January I will attend a Chi Running workshop (so excited!). But I am happy and proud to say that I am a minimalist shoe convert. It has saved my running.
My advice to anyone considering the transition – if you’ve been able to run injury free in your traditional shoes, then keep at it! Obviously that’s what works for you. However, if running feels hard, uncomfortable, and you suffer from injuries a little too often, then you need to reevaluate two things: 1) your running form and 2) your running shoes. Running shouldn’t be hard. It’s an amazing sport and it should always be enjoyed.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,
(If you’re interested in learning more about running form,, check out Good Form Running)