Evoskins - a type of minimalist shoe

Minimalist or barefoot shoes are intended to closely approximate barefoot running or walking conditions in comparison to traditional shoes. Minimalist shoes are defined as providing "minimal interference with the natural movement of the foot, because of its high flexibility, low heel to toe drop, weight and stack height, and the absence of motion control and stability devices."[1] Minimalist shoes provide more sensory contact for the foot on the ground while simultaneously providing the feet with some protection from ground hazards and conditions (such as pebbles and dirt).[2] Research shows that wearing a minimalist shoe can help improve running economy,[3] foot strength and arch function.[4]


Huaraches are a type of minimalist shoe

In their 2018 paper for the Journal of Sports Sciences, Devon R. Coetzee their co-authors defined minimalist footwear as having a sole and upper that weighed 200-gram (7.1 oz) or less and were highly flexible, a heel height of 20 millimetres (0.79 in) or shorter, and a "heel-toe differential" of 7 millimetres (0.28 in) or less.[5]

Generally, there are two types of minimalist shoes:[6]

In recognition of the barefoot running movement, major companies also started producing shoes targeted at this customer segment. However, these shoes do not usually meet the requirement of a minimal or barefoot shoe. Examples include the Nike Free, which has a 17 mm heel and is marketed as minimalist running shoe, but this designation is disputed.[7] In contrast to 'barefoot' and 'minimal' shoes, one of the marketing terms repeatedly employed for this product segment is 'natural running'.


Although running injuries are more common during the first period after adopting minimalist footwear, there is a lack of evidence about the long-term injury potential of minimalist shoes compared to standard ones.[8] A 2022 review found that minimalist shoes increase the size and strength of the foot muscles in healthy individuals.[9]

A 2020 systematic review found that "minimalist shoes can improve running economy and build the cross-sectional area and stiffness of Achilles tendon but also induce greater loading of the ankle and metatarsophalangeal joint" compared to non-minimalist shoes.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Esculier, Jean-Francois; Dubois, Blaise; Dionne, Clermont E.; Leblond, Jean; Roy, Jean-Sébastien (2015-01-01). "A consensus definition and rating scale for minimalist shoes". Journal of Foot and Ankle Research. 8 (1): 42. doi:10.1186/s13047-015-0094-5. ISSN 1757-1146. PMC 4543477. PMID 26300981.
  2. ^ Francis, Peter; Schofield, Grant (2020-04-01). "From barefoot hunter gathering to shod pavement pounding. Where to from here? A narrative review". BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine. 6 (1): e000577. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000577. ISSN 2055-7647. PMC 7202747. PMID 32405429.
  3. ^ Ruiz-Alias, Santiago A.; Molina-Molina, Alejandro; Soto-Hermoso, Víctor M.; García-Pinillos, Felipe (2023-03-04). "A systematic review of the effect of running shoes on running economy, performance and biomechanics: analysis by brand and model". Sports Biomechanics. 22 (3): 388–409. doi:10.1080/14763141.2022.2089589. ISSN 1476-3141. PMID 35748066.
  4. ^ Miller, Elizabeth E.; Whitcome, Katherine K.; Lieberman, Daniel E.; Norton, Heather L.; Dyer, Rachael E. (2014-06-01). "The effect of minimal shoes on arch structure and intrinsic foot muscle strength". Journal of Sport and Health Science. 3 (2): 74–85. doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2014.03.011.
  5. ^ Coetzee, Devon R.; Albertus, Yumna; Tam, Nicholas; Tucker, Ross (2018). "Conceptualizing minimalist footwear: an objective definition". Journal of Sports Sciences. 36 (8): 949–954. doi:10.1080/02640414.2017.1346816. PMID 28686085. S2CID 4628364.
  6. ^ Marchena-Rodriguez, Ana; Ortega-Avila, Ana Belen; Cervera-Garvi, Pablo; Cabello-Manrique, David; Gijon-Nogueron, Gabriel (2020-01-01). "Review of terms and definitions used in descriptions of running shoes". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 17 (10): 3562. doi:10.3390/ijerph17103562. ISSN 1660-4601. PMC 7277478. PMID 32438717.
  7. ^ Hein, Tobias; Grau, Stefan (2014-06-01). "Can minimal running shoes imitate barefoot heel-toe running patterns? A comparison of lower leg kinematics". Journal of Sport and Health Science. Special Issue on “Barefoot and Minimal Shoe Running”. 3 (2): 67–73. doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2014.03.002. ISSN 2095-2546.
  8. ^ Perkins, Kyle P.; Hanney, William J.; Rothschild, Carey E. (2014-11-01). "The risks and benefits of running barefoot or in minimalist shoes: A systematic review". Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 6 (6): 475–480. doi:10.1177/1941738114546846. ISSN 1941-7381. PMC 4212355. PMID 25364479.
  9. ^ Xu, Jennifer; Saliba, Susan A; Jaffri, Abbis H (2023-05-01). "The Effects of Minimalist Shoes on Plantar Intrinsic Foot Muscle Size and Strength: A Systematic Review". International Journal of Sports Medicine. 44 (5): 320–328. doi:10.1055/a-1908-8867. ISSN 0172-4622. PMID 35878616. S2CID 251067602.
  10. ^ Sun, Xiaole; Lam, Wing-Kai; Zhang, Xini; Wang, Junqing; Fu, Weijie (2020). "Systematic review of the role of footwear constructions in running biomechanics: Implications for running-related injury and performance". Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 19 (1): 20–37. ISSN 1303-2968. PMC 7039038. PMID 32132824.