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Bare Necessities: Learn About Minimalist Running Shoes

Run the way you were meant to. Minimalist running shoes support the natural mechanics of your gait cycle and offer a nearly barefoot experience as you log miles.

Generally, minimalist running shoes fall into these two categories:

Minimalist and barefoot running shoes come with a variety of features that help runners make the most of every course. Choose from different uppers, traction pattern and levels of support for the footwear that’s right for you. Explore the entire collection including men’s minimalist running shoes and women’s minimalist running shoes.

Shop minimalist running shoes the brands experienced runners trust, including Brooks®, Nike®, ASICS® and Merrell®.

Buying Tips

Just as their name indicates, minimalist running shoes are designed only with the bare necessities. These shoes offer only the basic levels of support and underfoot protection. Many runners believe that shoes with minimal cushion and stabilization promote a more natural stride, which helps stave off common running injuries.

So consider the level of support you desire in your running shoes, and consult product information to learn more about the construction of your minimalist footwear. Most minimalist running shoes have little to no arch support and a minimal heel height of just 4 to 8 mm, which promotes a natural running motion. Barefoot running shoes are built for a “zero drop” from heel to toe, encouraging a natural heel-toe during your gait.

These shoes typically feature a low-profile upper that fits close to the skin and a wide toe box for your toes to splay in a natural position.

Expert Advice

Always consider the outsole of your minimalist running shoe. Trail and off-road runners require footwear with more substantial outsole traction patterns. Abrasion-resistant materials in the upper and gusseted tongue provide added protection for courses off the beaten path.

It’s okay to choose minimalist running shoes with extra cushion—look for footwear lined with a light EVA or polyurethane midsole or insole, which will provide some added shock absorption. Shoes with an inner sockliner promote comfort and better fit.

For many runners, training with barefoot or minimalist running shoes is an adjustment. Take time to transition into this brand of footwear to avoid discomfort while you run.