At its core, the best minimalist running shoes have barefoot-like feel yet offer the best support.
If there’s one type of shoe that can rapidly improve your running form, it’s the minimalist shoe. Typically, an excellent minimalist running shoe can encourage your lower leg muscles to work and strengthen which can deliver greater balance and help prevent various foot problems that can dramatically reduce physical capability.
But minimalist shoes are not for everyone because they have more contact with the ground and don’t deliver excellent arch support. So, it’s best to try it if you’re a runner with neutral foot motion (or neutral pronation) and no known foot problems. Supinators should avoid minimalist shoes, especially if they experience foot pain because supinators are prone to having pain in the heel and forefoot because of the lack of flexibility in their feet.
If you tend to overpronate, you will not like the minimalist experience because they don’t have that needed arch support for overpronation. Shifting to a minimalist shoe may also require a slow transition to avoid getting injured. If you’re new to a minimalist running shoe, gradually increase your mileage but be ready to stop and not go any farther if you experience muscle pain in your foot, shin, and calf.
RELATED: Best Neutral Running Shoes
What are the best minimalist running shoes?
The best minimalist running shoes are significantly lighter than any conventional shoe. The minimalist shoe has a support system that can give you the freedom and empowers your natural stride with a protection from road debris and road imperfections.
The best minimalist running shoes can also be used on light trails. The best part is when you get used to a minimalist shoe, shifting back to a cushioned shoe won’t be a problem.
Best Minimalist Running Shoes
Here’s a list of the best minimalist running shoes (in no particular order):
1. Merrell Bare Access Arc 4
2. Merrell Vapor Glove 4
3. Merrell Pace Glove 3
4. Merrell Bare Access Flex
5. Vibram KMD Evo
6. Vibram KSO Evo
7. Vibram FiveFingers V-Trail
8. Topo Athletic ST-2 (Best in test, Men’s Running)
9. Newton Tri-Racer MV3 (Best in test, Men’s Running)
10. Saucony Endorphin Racer 2
Another minimalist running shoe to consider is On Cloudflash which is best in test according to Men’s Running.
You can get more muscle power, more endurance, and more muscle oxygenation using engineered gradient compression clothing.
If you have difficulty shifting from conventional to minimalist shoes, use New Balance REVlite foam cushioning – this technology sits between conventional and minimal designs. Great examples of New Balance running shoes with REVlite foam compound are:
- New Balance 890v6 (Best update, RW)
- New Balance W3190V2
- New Balance 1400v6
- New Balance FuelCore NERGIZE
- New Balance Minimus 20v7
- New Balance 996v3