The Minimalist Shoe

Vibrams Vibrams

When most people think of the minimalist shoe they think Vibram five-finger shoes, but Vibram’s are not the only game in town. There are two types of “minimalist” shoes out there currently. Minimalist to me, means zero drop. Zero drop means that there is 3 mm or less drop from the heel to the toe of a shoe. Most running shoes out there are anywhere from a 9 mm to a 12 mm drop. I can only guess at the reason that shoes are made this way, and my guess would be to add more cushion to the heel of the foot, which is where first touch down especially when you are walking.


I believe all of the top selling brands of running shoes have a minimalist type of shoe out there. Altra and Hoka are the only high cushion “minimalist” shoe. I say minimalist because they are zero drop. So even though they have a ton of cushioning the heel to toe drop is 3 mm or less.

hoka Hoka One One

Whenever you switch to a zero drop or minimalist shoe, your transition has to be very slow. These types of shoes are not for everyone and put extra stress on the tendons and muscles of the lower leg, foot, and ankle by causing you to extend the tendons by more than what they normally have to do.


People with high arches have to proceed with even more caution as they tend to be over pronators who need a good amount of arch support to start with. I recommend spending about a month strengthening your lower legs, ankles, and feet before you begin your transition to a zero drop.


Then slowly transition into the zero drop or minimalist shoes with something like this: every other day run one mile in zero drop/minimalist shoe then change shoes and finish run. Do this for one week. If you don’t experience any soreness in your tendons (Achilles most of all), then increase to 1.5 miles the next week every other day. If there is no soreness, increase to 2 miles every other day for a week. Continue in this fashion until you are running full time or at least as much as you want in your minimal/zero drop shoes. If you do have soreness, wait until it is gone and keep up the strengthening of your lower leg, ankles, and feet.

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One thought on “The Minimalist Shoe

  1. meridethcohrs June 10, 2015 / 3:54 pm

    I am forever in love with my Altras. They were my first experience with a ‘barefoot’ shoe and now I do the vast majority of my running in them – trail and longer distance road. Great article!

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