The minimalist shoe is reborn! Tell your injured running friends, ex-barefoot runners, cross-fitter; spread the word!
It’s that time when shoe companies begin to release their Spring/Summer shoes. What’s very noticeable is a move away from a true barefoot platform by the big running shoe brands. I’m guessing the same people who jumped on the barefoot shoe bandwagon are quickly jumping off after injuries. The industry folks noticed and have moved quickly to redefine what “minimalist” is and offer shoes that aren’t completely bare.
What we’re seeing is a move to a cushioned platform with a flatter heel/toe differential. Most shoes being released tout a heel/toe differential of 12mm or less. So, yes, it’s possible to have both a zero drop shoe along with a higher platform height for cushioning.
The marketing standard of the new “minimalist” shoe is to “get the best of both worlds” or something like that. The shoe, in most bulleted texts about the new shoes, is to have the benefits of barefoot movement and feel with some cushioning and support. Hey, I think Brooks got it right the first time with the Pure Series.
Saucony, for instance, leads the way in its “Geometry of Strong” campaign. They’ve built their whole line of shoes around the idea of a cushioned and/or support shoe that sits flat (8mm drop or less), giving the runner the benefits of a natural running motion without going totally “minimal” (zero drop, no cushioning). Every brand has their own version: Mizuno, New Balance, Asics, SKECHERS!
The industry has grown past the “Born To Run” phenomenon and have redefined what “minimalist” is. This is good for their core customers who are recreational runners who don’t have the time and patience to fully embrace the barefoot movement. These same people also happen to spend the most amount of money for running products. Yes, I’m talking to you 10 mile a week couch to 5k runner!) Wise move shoe companies! — BTW, I’m supportive of anyone new to running, just not barefoot, please! I don’t care what Barefoot ____(Insert generic first name) has to say about how it’s worked for him.
I like where things are going. It’s a shame we had to go through the barefoot phase that alienated some potential runners to our sport. Hopefully the shoe companies can keep in mind who their customers are and act responsibly with each new running fad that may arise.