Minimalist Running Craze!


If you are not a keen runner yourself then you may not have heard of the term ‘barefoot running’. It might be something you do during a game of backyard cricket, but why would someone run a few k’s without any shoes on?

In terms of this article, we will refer to barefoot running as minimalist running, which refers to using a ‘minimalist’ shoe to run in. Due to the concepts’ increasing popularity, an international panel of experts got together a few years ago to define what a minimalist shoe is. They came up with an index, with more minimalist shoes being very light, having less sole thickness, being very flexible, and having less of the normal things running shoes have in order to provide support.

“But why would someone want less support for their feet?”

It has been shown that running in minimalist shoes can cause changes in someone’s running gait (technique), and various research has shown that these changes may reduce the risk of various injuries (Lenhart et al., 2014). Note; the injury risk is related to the technique, not the shoe.

“In my opinion- I’m against using/ transitioning to minimalist shoes”

A recent study (completed in 2017) has shown that the use of minimalist shoes increased the likelihood of calf related pain, as well as shin and ankle pain. They also found that people who were heavier had a higher overall running-related injury risk when using minimalist shoes (Fuller et al., 2017). This study was supported by another in 2014, which found that over a 12-week period, runners wearing minimalist shoes had 3 times more injuries than those wearing ‘neutral’ shoes (Ryan et al., 2014).

There are always limitations in research, and you may have no injuries if using a minimalist shoe. However, a lot of the research recommends being cautious when using these types of shoes. A major goal for runners and Physio’s is to prevent injury and providing the foot with the support it needs is one aspect of this.

If you are thinking about using a more minimalist shoe, or you are not sure whether your current or potential new shoe is providing the support your foot needs, the best option is to get an expert opinion from a Physiotherapist.

IF YOU’RE ARE SEEKING RUNNING ADVICE SIMPLY CONTACT THE CLINIC ON 5174 7250 or BOOK ONLINE with myself or one of our expert Physio's below. We can't wait to help get you back to your best!


Fuller, J., Thewlis, D., Buckley, J., Brown, N., Hamill, J., & Tsiros, M. (2017). Body mass and weekly training distance influence the pain and injuries experienced by runners using minimalist shoes: A randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Sports Medicine45(5), 1162-1170.

Lenhart, R., Thelen, D., Wille, C., Chumanov, E., & Heiderscheit, B. (2014). Increasing running step rate reduces patellofemoral joint forces. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise46(3), 557.

Ryan, M., Elashi, M., Newsham-West, R., & Taunton, J. (2014). Examining injury risk and pain perception in runners using minimalist footwear. British Journal of Sports Medicine48(16), 1257-1262.