Minimalist Footwear

By Gary N. Friedlander DPM, FACFAS and Jay C. Larson DPM
August 17, 2015

Phoenix is a great location to be physically active. There are a number of valley wide events that promote health and fitness. P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, Ragnar Relay Series or even your local gym is a great way to stay active. Having proper footwear for these activities is very important for your foot health. Many people have tried or heard of minimalist, or zero-drop athletic shoes.  These shoes have become very popular and nearly every athletic shoe company markets a variation of this natural or minimal feel type of shoe.

The craze of minimalist footwear contests the idea that a supportive shoe may not be needed. The idea of minimalist running rests on the foot moving in a more natural and uninhibited way; however, this unchecked control in some foot types may lead to injury.

  • Cushioning and support – Some minimalist shoes have cushion that lacks the support, while others lack both cushion and support. Limited support, and repetitive use may magnify any imperfections in running or walking form leading to injury.

  • Flexibility – The minimalist style shoes are very flexible. It is important that the flex of a shoe occurs at the front of the shoe rather then the middle of the shoe. This will allow bending to occur more at the ball of the foot rather then in the middle of the foot. This is important for proper form while walking and running to prevent pain and injury.

  • Heel height – Many minimalist shoe types have little to no heel compared to traditional running shoes. With zero height difference between the back of the shoe and the front it is called a zero drop shoe. Running with a heel strike (when your heel hits the ground before the rest of your foot) in a minimalist shoe really adds to the stress on the body. As imagined, this is a potential cause of harm to your foot, legs, knees, and even your back.

It is important to think about the support your foot needs while being active. Too often inadequate footwear is the cause of many aches, pains, and injuries. If you notice any changes in your foot health please consider making an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona. 

 

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