Minimalist Running Shoes- Fashion or Function?

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Minimalist Running Shoes- Fashion or Function?

** This is a post I pre-wrote before my surgery!  I am getting better each day and I hope to write an updated health post soon.  For now though, I am following doctors orders and getting plenty of rest! **

Have you seen the Nike Commercial where a long distance couple decides to run across the country to each other?  The guy can’t keep running and quits before he is out of the city, while the girl casually crosses the country in her super cute new NIKE- FREE minimalist running shoes?


This makes me want to run. and run. and run. I miss running 🙂

I adore this commercial and it makes me want to have new cute, minimalist light running shoes.

The problem is my feet are pretty attached to my Mizunos (Wave Rider & Wave Precision) and I’m afraid to rock to boat by making a switch.  But even my Mizunos have been redoing their designs to make them a little lighter and match the new minimalist running shoe trend.

So, I’m curious?  What’s the deal with the new, lighter shoes?  Will they help my running?

So, I asked my friend Scott Socha, a Certified Pedorthist and co-owner of one of our awesome local running shoe store, Foot RX to help me out.

If you need running shoes you should get fitted by a running store like Foot RX!  You can prevent all sorts of problems by taking this simple step!

The following is a little Q & A on this new running shoe trend…

Julie: There has been a recent movement to make running shoes lighter and with less padding.  What is the idea behind doing this?

Scott: Lighter simply feels better and is easier on the body.

It used to be when I started in this industry that runners were weary of light shoes and viewed them as not protective enough.  Also the industry has had advances in manufacturing and materials over the years which has resulted in shedding unneeded ounces.

Julie: What’s the difference between the shoes with the actual toes built in and these new lighter minimalist running shoes?

Scott: The main difference is that with the toes being separated there is material between them.  Most brands now that do not wrap each toe individually offer an anatomically shaped forefoot and enough flexibility that each ray (a ray is a metatarsal bones and  toe together) individual movement.  So the difference is minimal and comes down to personal preference.

Julie: Are minimalist shoes for everyone?

 Scott: NO! I feel that our position is clear as we are not entrenched deep in either camp.  (support or minimalism)  It is our job to fit based on a persons activity, history in footwear, foot strength and capability, as well as their goals.

Example is if someone comes in with a diagnosis of Post Tibial Tendon disorder at a progressed stage then we need to support their arch to take tension off of that tendon.

However, we do believe that less is more if a person is up to it and are not quick to put people in a lot of support or orthotics with out a need.

On that note minimalism has many options and a lot of them offer some padding from the road and still protect that foot from impact.

We tend to like the shoes more often from the middle of the spectrum.  Light enough while still protecting our athletes.

Julie: What precautions do you need to take before switching to them?

Scott: The data collected and shared at the Pedorthic Footwear Conference pointed out the two main injuries which can both be avoided.

#1- achilles tendonitis.  When the foot lands mid foot or forefoot there is tension on the achilles tendon as it lowers the heal to the ground that is not there when you land on your heal.

For both heal stickers and forefoot strikers there is tension on the achilles as it raised the heal in the toe off phase.  This double action means double the work load on the achilles so if someone is changing form and shoes they should be advised to cut mileage back to less than half and then ramp back up slowly.

 #2- metatarsalgia (inflammation and irritation of the metatarsal heads)  This is a result of added impact on the bottom of the foot along the outside.  It is my strong opinion that surface (cement vs packed dirt) and milage are a direct result of this.

Julie: Many people are even running barefoot!  As someone who sells shoes, how do you feel about this?

Scott: I wouldn’t say “many”  but the few that do seem to draw a lot of attention.  The damage that can be done by this can be life long.  Injury, wounds, infection are all dangers.

In the book born to run they were not barefoot they wore simple sandals.  It is a crazy notion in my opinion and as someone who treats hurt feet for a living I do not recommend it.

Julie: What are some of the newest, lightest shoes you have for spring?  Anything cute?

Scott: Our selection of minimal product is ever increasing and colors are in more than ever.  Cute is hard for me to peg as I would defer that opinion to you as I believe  you to be an expert in that department.


Minimal lines include shoes from Brooks, NB, Merrell, Nike, Innov-8, Saucony, Mizuno. and more


CUTE?  I’ve got that covered!  How about these?Smile


THANK YOU Scott for helping us learn a little more about this new style of running shoe!  If you have ANY questions about which running shoes you should be wearing, make sure to check out a specialized store like FOOT RX!  HERE IS A LINK TO THEIR WEBISTE!


  1. Naomi June 6, 2013 at 8:18 am - Reply

    I use Vibram’s minimalist shoes for running and they are excellent. They really do get some attention too, long ago when I first got them I thought they looked odd but now they’ve grown on me.

    I’m thinking of getting NB minimalist shoes for every day walking.

  2. Becky @ RunFunDone April 5, 2013 at 5:32 am - Reply

    I’m making the switch to minimalist…on my physical therapist’s orders. Essentially, she felt that my injury (Posterior Tibial Tendonitis – chronic), was largely caused by overpronating + biomechanical issues. Switching my foot strike (and therefore my shoes) was the best way to reduce that injury by reducing the stress that I was placing on my tendons. That being said, changing running gait is incredibly frustrating and difficult. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t forced into it! 🙂

  3. Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections April 3, 2013 at 12:15 pm - Reply

    When I got my first real running shoes last summer, there were tons of minimalist ones out.

    I am prone to shin splints, so I worry that if I got minimalist shoes, that they would return or become a problem again. But who knows, maybe not. I would like a less bulky shoe, but I think I’d go for something lightweight over a minimalist for now.

    • JulieWunder April 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm - Reply

      They have some great lightweight but not minamalist options right not- I’m in the same situation as you.

  4. Bethany April 2, 2013 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    Julie, I switched from my Mizuno Wave Rider that I’ve worn since 2008! In fact, every year I just got the newest version. Last Fall, I moved to a Brooks PureFlow. It’s a minimal design with support. I did have knee trouble the last week and half of my training but I think there was another factor contributing to this, not the shoe.

    • JulieWunder April 9, 2013 at 2:52 pm - Reply

      Interesting! Because I’ve done the same thing with my Riders– we probably had all the same shoes!!!

  5. Kim @ Cooking in the City April 2, 2013 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    I couldn’t ever go with minimalist… I overpronate and get shin splints easily without support. I do see people running completely barefoot though. In the CITY. Last summer I ran past a ton of broken glass and then saw a man with no shoes on running in that direction. Crazy.

    Hope you’re feeling well!

    • JulieWunder April 9, 2013 at 2:50 pm - Reply

      That’s gross! I am way to accident prone… not to mentions germaphobe… to run barefoot!
      Thank you ! I’m getting better!

  6. Dan April 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    Not a fan…I have had tendonitis/fasciitis/ankle issues and overpronate like crazy. I’m not sure that these would be good, what about hazards like glass? Would it cut through and for trail running, forget it too many roots and rocks. I prefer my adidas and arch support and padding for when I land since I tend to land hard on one side of my foot and roll, I think the minimalist would cause me more problems. Can’t wait to see how much the Adidas Boost shoes are!

  7. [email protected] April 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    Hey Julie! I really like the minimalist shoes. I used to have hip and knee issues when I ran, but ever since I started wearing hybrid shoes I’ve literally had no pain. I think they force and retrain your feet/body to run the right way.

    • JulieWunder April 9, 2013 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      You had great luck with your shoes! and they are cute 🙂

      • Summer July 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm - Reply

        Julie & Sommer, same here! When I went minimalist years ago, my long-standing shin splints disappeared! They strengthened my feet & legs in ways bulky shoes never seemed to. Plus they’re way fun! I have Vibram 5 fingers & New Balance Minimus shoes but my faves are definitely NB. Considering Under Armour’s new minimalists next. Have you ever tried them?

        • JulieWunder July 6, 2013 at 2:16 pm - Reply

          It’s so crazy the way shoes can make such a big difference. I’m considering trying some lighter Mizunos’ the next pair I buy.
          Let me what you think of the Under Armour’s if you get them.

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