Maybe you heard that the barefoot boom has faded, but for those that want shoes there a few great minimalist shoes to be had.
Minimalism was born from the simple “less shoe, more you” idea where less cushioning and support from your shoes means more natural running or walking. Using your feet more and strengthening the muscle fibres in your feet that get neglected using high cushioned shoes.
Stronger muscles in the foot, injury rates were expected to drop and running efficiency would improve. the practice seemed to work for the impressive Tarahumara tribes that covered hundreds of injury-free miles in wafer-thin sandals. Many runners have benefited immensely from a barefoot approach and have found to be invigorating and revitalizing, both physically and mentally. Like many things, it is highly individual.
The popularity of minimalism has decreased since the boom 10 years ago, but there are still runners out there who find that it works well for them. Minimalism and the barefoot experience in theory should ultimately improve running form. However, as minimalism gained a wider audience there were mixed results. While strengthening muscles in the feet can be greatly beneficial to some runners, it requires a slow build up. Too many new minimalists stopped using their supportive shoes too quickly and many had injuries increase. Basically, going barefoot needs a bit more thought about what you are doing, and take time to work yourself into it. If you are curious and think it’s something you’d like to try, a very gradual transition to a minimalist shoe is your safest path. Try alternating runs between your usual shoes and starting with short runs will help to keep you free of injuries. It is very personal and dependent on experience on how minimalist you want to go in selecting your minimalist or barefoot shoes.
The Minimalist Index
Some shoes are “more minimal” than others. The Journal of Foot and Ankle Research gives an official definition of a minimalist shoe:
“Footwear providing minimal interference with the natural movement of the foot due to its high flexibility, low heel-to-toe drop, weight and stack height, and the absence of motion control and stability devices.”
They evaluate a shoe on a scale of 0 to 100 to determine a “Minimalist Index” where by it is given points across five categories: flexibility, drop, weight, stack height, and motion control/stability features. The higher the score, the more minimalist the shoe is.
We have not introduced the Index into our shop yet, but we are working to add the information soon.
If you are new to minimalism, but ready to try, then please ease them into your running routine gradually.
MINIMALIST AND BAREFOOT TRAIL RUNNING
Try on minimalist shoes in store in the Geneva or Aigle regions
We are a minimalist shoe specialist in Switzerland
If you would like to try on some of our minimalist shoes before you buy, we have two locations. One in the Geneva area which is easy driving or train ride from Morges, Gland or Nyon, and the other in Vaud in Yvorne, just of the motorway at the entrance to Valais.
Our Yvorne specialist running and outdoor store next to Aigle is at the bottom of the hill from Leysin and is easy to get from Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux, Monthey, Collombey and Bex and we often have customers from Fribourg and Bulle making the trip as well as from Martigny. It is a short 5km drive from the shopping areas of Villeneuve and is en route for the mountains and trails of Valais.
We will help you with your choice of shoes and you can run before you buy to see if a Merrell minamilst bare foot shoe gives you better underfoot feeling than say Xero HFS road running shoe or Xero zero drop sandal or if your foot fits better in an inov-8 TerraUltra trail shoe or Bare XF fitness shoe.