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Are minimalist sneakers a good idea?

Most people think minimalist sneakers give minimal correction, but EVERY shoe gives suggestions to the foot. And depending on the shape of your foot, how rigid your joints are, and how dominant your patterns are, you may or may not move in the way the shoe suggests. Sometimes your muscles get stronger and a new movement pattern is born. Other times tendonitis, joint pain or even bone injury occurs. If you are thinking of trying this type of shoe, know that this is the risk you are taking.

Here a few trending minimalist shoes, each with their own version of guidance:

The Nike free motion (the red shoe, up above) adds cushion for shock absorption, while its arch support comes from a strap & a high ankle which in essence creates an ankle brace. This is probably the least supportive of the list, but it still has restrictive properties. . Some shoes, like the New Balance sneaker on the left, create support by curving its sole like a C, forcing the big toe to create an arch. Overly flat or overly rigid feet may cramp, but people in the middle and strength athletes seem to like them. Strapping, strategic plastic & laces also serve to reduce pronation. So yes, there is correction in this minimalist shoe too. . 5 finger shoes spread the toes and make you grip more there. Stitching, plastic supports etc are all here too. I know lots of people who swear by them, but people with pain at the front of their foot may actually have more pain. . By the way, sneakers can also hide support in its sole. The last pic shows 2 sneakers that look incredibly similar but one is much more rigid. Soles that are stiff add side to side stability, limit toe motion and encourage your hips to work more. But if you notice your heel slips out or your arch cramps, you may be fighting this shoe’s suggestion & need a more flexible sole. . So do I recommend minimalist shoes? Well... yes: minimalist sneakers are great for walks around town, great for most gym exercise, and great for experienced runners training to run faster in speed drills.

But for MOST runners, no: Buying new sneakers every 4-6 months, staying consistent & having a cross training program that addresses impact control is MUCH more effective for reducing pain & improving efficiency.

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