Educational Articles

Why Some Minimalist Shoes Are Not Foot-Healthy

Posted By Marty Hughes, DC

Disclaimer:

The above content is for educational or informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or augment professional medical instruction, diagnosis, or treatment. Read full disclaimer here.

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Comments
February 21, 2021
Marc Desrochers

There is no mention of how wide the shoes are, nor how high the arch is for a given length. Many people who go minimalist would also like to know what the other measurements are.

February 21, 2021
Natural Footgear

Hi, Marc,

Thank you for your comment. Those are indeed some good considerations that you mentioned, and they ought to be assessed—in person, if possible—when selecting footwear, including minimalist footwear.

Kind regards,
Marty Hughes, DC

February 21, 2021
Peter van der Hoeven

I wear Lems Boulder Boots and love them but … I was wearing them in the woods and the soft outer sole material allowed a stick splinter, about half the size of a pencil, to penetrate right through the sole. Fortunately, it didn’t penetrate my foot because it was on the edge. Is there something that can be done to beef up the sole to protect against such things? Or is there a foot-healthy boot alternative that could be suggested?

February 21, 2021
Natural Footgear

Hi, Peter,

Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about that incident with the stick splinter! I’m glad that it didn’t cause any foot issues for you. It’s true that footwear with relatively thin soles may be more subject to this kind of thing, though it’s generally quite rare, in my experience. The outsole of the Boulder Boot is made of a rather soft air-infused rubber, which makes it more lightweight (beneficial) but also more prone to punctures (not beneficial).

Other companies, such as Xero Shoes, produce hiking footwear that incorporates a denser rubber outsole that’s more protective, from the standpoint of preventing punctures of the kind you experienced. If you would prefer to stick with your Boulder Boots, you might consider adding a “rock plate” insert to give you a bit of peace of mind when it comes to punctures. But doing so will also add weight, reduce sole flexibility, and strip you of some of the tactile feedback you rely on to make proper footfalls (it may also make the in-shoe environment more uncomfortable). So, there are some real tradeoffs involved here.

Please let me know if you have any other thoughts or questions on this topic!

All the best,
Marty Hughes, DC

February 21, 2021
Nancy

Would you suggest the midfoot or forefoot strike when WALKING or just when running? The article is not clear: “A true minimalist shoe should also encourage healthy gait patterns during both walking and running, and it should help you step lighter too (i.e., the shoe should encourage a lower-impact midfoot or forefoot strike). A midfoot or forefoot strike helps your body better handle or disperse the forces associated with bipedal movement and will help preserve the integrity of your joints and other tissues.”

February 21, 2021
Natural Footgear

Hi, Nancy,

Thank you for your question. Ideally, what you want to experience is a midfoot landing when running and walking. The more minimalist your shoe is, the easier this is to achieve. Certainly, if you were to try walking barefoot, you would find that a midfoot landing is the default option.

Please let me know if you have any other questions!

Kind regards,
Marty Hughes, DC

February 21, 2021
Doug Christensen

I have been using Correct Toes for 5 months. I followed directions and used transitional shoes and slowly began to trim the Correct Toes to find max comfort. Then I decided to try my first Lems Primal 2s after almost a month of using Correct Toes in conventional running shoes that I had slit around the toe box. The Primal 2s were a dream. It took a while to stop landing on my heel, but finally, I adopted the midfoot landing and I immediately ordered more minimalist shoes. I now own four pairs of Lems Primal 2s, Mariners, and Boulder Boots, the latter of which are on my feet now. This orthotic/shoe combo has eliminated my foot pain, reduced my knee pain, and given me the freedom to travel and participate in activities I was losing. The only real downside has been offering my former shoes to others. I guess they are better than no shoes, but I feel a little guilty knowing what they did to my feet and skeletal system. Thank you all for your wonderful partnership!

February 21, 2021
Natural Footgear

Hi, Doug,

Thank you for your amazing feedback! It’s so great to hear about the foot health gains you’ve achieved since adopting a more natural approach to feet, footwear, and foot health. Please do keep us updated on any additional milestones you achieve on your journey toward optimal foot health!

Kind regards,
Marty Hughes, DC

February 22, 2021
Steve

When is someone going to make a lightweight and zero drop safety work boot for people with wide feet? The safety footwear industry is killing construction workers’ mobility over their lifetime.

February 22, 2021
Natural Footgear

That’s a fantastic question, Steve! And you’re absolutely correct that safety footwear is wreaking havoc on millions of sets of feet. Currently, the lack of a zero drop, wide toe box safety work boot represents one of the largest and most significant gaps in the footwear industry. An entrepreneurially-minded individual could do quite well (and help so many people along the way) by bringing just such a product to market. If something that fits the bill ever comes along, we’ll be sure to mention it in the Natural Footgear newsletter, which you can sign up for here:

www.naturalfootgear.com/pages/newsletter-courses

All the best to you, Steve,
Marty Hughes, DC

February 23, 2021
Glendon

Thanks for your article, Marty! I’m very interested in the connection between shoe weight and gait (i.e., heel strike, knee flexion, etc. vs weight near the extremity of the leg). Could you recommend any further reading or resources on this? Thank you kindly.

February 23, 2021
Natural Footgear

Hi, Glendon,

Thank you for your question. You might consider digging into the resources found on Dr. Dan Lieberman’s barefoot running biomechanics website:

www.barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu

This should be enough to get you started! You can then branch out from there to review more studies on this topic.

Kind regards,
Marty Hughes, DC

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