Are you a runner looking for ways to build foot muscle strength and guard against injury? Consider making the switch to minimalist shoes.
Unlike traditional footwear, which can restrict the movement of key muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments, minimalist shoes are designed to recreate the experience of natural barefoot movement while protecting your feet from any hazards on the ground. A recent study indicates these shoes can help runners build foot muscle strength to the same degree as regular exercise.
Minimalist shoes have soft soles, allowing you to feel the ground conditions more accurately with your feet. They also let your toes move to a much greater degree than most running shoes do. Over time, this may boost your stability when running thanks to a widened platform.
Additionally, these shoes have a low heel to toe drop, which is used to describe the distance between the heel and the toe. This helps prevent injuries related to heel striking and is one of the things all runners should look for in their footwear.
That said, not all minimalist shoes are the same. While you may be used to wearing supportive sneakers for running, they should be worn less frequently. Choosing the right minimalist or barefoot shoes for your goals requires keeping certain factors in mind and knowing your own running style. These tips will help.
Determine Where You Run Most
Different types of minimalist footwear are ideal for different types of running. Decide how and where you typically run when considering your options. For instance, if you run on off-road trails, you need shoes that have strong traction. Look for soles with grips. On the other hand, if you tend to run on roads or a treadmill, it’s best to find something with a smoother sole and a more fashionable appearance.
Again, running in minimalist shoes is supposed to mimic the experience of running barefoot. That’s why you should prepare to make the switch by starting to run barefoot some of the time.
Don’t try to completely switch to barefoot running, though. Odds are very good you won’t be comfortable (or safe) doing so. However, you may consider beginning the transition by walking barefoot. As you get more comfortable with barefoot walking, you can bring your sneakers with you when running, trying to go half a mile or so before putting them on.
Gradually work your way up to running longer distances in your bare feet. This helps you prepare for the differences you’ll notice between traditional and minimalist footwear.
Try Different Styles
Remember, when choosing minimalist shoes, you want to pick those which are designed for your style of running. You wouldn’t run in even your most comfortable sandals, would you? Make sure to research what shoe type fits your running style and needs best.
That’s not to say those are the only ones you should buy. There are also minimalist shoes that can be worn when walking around town, the house, or even at work in some cases. Consider buying a few pairs so you can wear them in different situations. The more you wear minimalist shoes, the more you’ll benefit.
Runners who’ve made the switch often find these types of shoes improve their gait, strengthen their muscles, and help them avoid injuries. This makes sense when you consider people have been running barefoot for most of human history. If strengthening muscle and remaining injury-free appeals to you, use these tips to choose the perfect minimalist footwear.