Minimalist | Barefoot Progression

Yes, you should be thinking about making a transition away from crazy stable, stiff, and over reinforced shoes. The minimalist movement is here for a reason.

The minimalist concept spans a range starting with a shoe with a lower heel height. Then you start to lose some cushioning as you get used to running more naturally. And finally, once your cushion is gone, the last step is to take off the shoe altogether. This last step is not for everyone. But, almost without exception moving to at least a flatter shoe is a good idea.

Most running shoes these days have a heel that is 12 mm higher than the forefoot! However, this trend is changing toward bringing us down to a flatter heel height which just makes sense from a biomechanics perspective. Running on a high heeled shoe just isn’t natural. It forces us to land with our foot and leg in an extreme position and unnaturally loads our joints and muscles as we run. And, it increases our risk for all sorts of injuries from ankle sprains to knee and back pain. Making this change isn’t always as easy as simply buying a new pair of shoes. While running stores are able to tell you whether a shoe has a 0, 6, or 8 mm heel rise, what can vary is how long your body needs to adapt to the change. This is where Merrill Performance comes in.

You’ve heard that transitioning to a minimalist or barefoot running style should take some time. But, that time can vary A LOT between individuals. Your relative level of strength, flexibility, stability, coordination, proprioception, ideal running surface, intensity, and mileage all play into the transition time. Additionally, foot type can play a huge role in what needs to happen before you start the process. Not every foot type is going to be able to tolerate minimalist running (see the “Custom Orthotics” section for more details) but the majority of folks will! Before you make the switch, and I encourage you to make the switch, let me evaluate the aforementioned variables and give you some guidance on how you can make sure you’re successful.