Using Minimalist Sneakers: Not For Everyone

My current  sneaker choices are the  New Balance Minimus and Vibrum Five Fingers.  Along those same lines, yesterday I bought two new pairs of New Balance’s but not the minimalist version again.  For me, ( I say “me” because many misuse the barefoot concept after going ape s##t about it) the Minimus still remain my favorite shoes to train in.  However, for sprinting, cutting, and even some jumping, minimalist shoes might not be the best option.  There are a few thoughts that need attention when it comes to wearing minimalist shoes.  There are better options or ideas  for athletes/clients especially those who think running on concrete is the next best thing for running effectively.

#1 Barefoot training is not for everyone

People’s feet can differ from one another.  If you have a structurally flat foot, wearing minimalist footwear is probably not the best option.  Sometimes people buy Vibrums and find that their ankles and calves really ache badly after prolonged periods in them.  The aching is probably a good sign for you to buy a shoe with better support.  However, many people have the appearance of a flat foot in standing but they actually have “weak” muscles of the feet from terrible footwear.  Imagine putting a cast on your foot (aka bad footwear),

Not training sneakers

this would prevent any of the muscles of your feet from working thus causing the appearance of a flat foot (along with having weak hip external rotators!).  Those that have weak muscles of the feet (and concurrent weak lateral hip musculature) can benefit from teaching them how to first, create the arch in their foot, then keep the arch while performing primarily hip dominant lifts and the basic single leg work ( split squats, rear foot elevated split squat).

#2 Incorporate barefoot training slowly

Two easy ways to help our athletes get out of bad footwear and to feel for how they should perform certain lifts are (1) perform the dynamic warm-up barefoot and  (2) perform deadlift variations barefoot (SLDL, trap-bar deadlift, 1-leg SLDL, etc…).  It’s a great way to get some strength and proprioception (something that typically lacks in those with ankle problems) back.  You would be amazed at how quickly athletes lifts become better because of that awareness.  Do not forget that going barefoot in hip dominant decreases the distance the bar has to travel and allows the athlete the ability to shift their weight back a bit more (2 things we absolutely want).

#3 Footwear choices besides the bare minimum shoe

I have not used the exact ones, but I know that a bunch of other coaches are raving about New Balance Crosstrainer Minimus (just enough of minimal and support)

Today I started wearing the running version and they feel awesome to me and have more support then the trail minimus (first picture)


Nike Free is still a good shoe but would advise  if you need to do a bunch of lateral sprint/jump work (the shoe folds over easily), but for simple training it does the job




Categories: Injury Prevention

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2 replies


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