Because these companies have a vested interest in their shoe, they'll make great claims and sponsor studies and athletes to support their product marketing. In reality, the trend towards minimalist footwear is a step backwards in shoe design.
Here's why some people like the minimalist shoe:
- Weight: very light and compact
- Perception: shoe buyers perceive the shoe is good for their feet and has high cool factor.
- Direct Foot Power: there is no influence of the shoe in the push off portion of the stride.
- Ancient Ancestry: For the tens of thousands of years humans have been walking, we've been barefoot or wearing minimal footwear. Most of those ancient steps were on natural earth, not concrete, asphalt, tile or other types of uniform hard surfaces. Historically most humans didn't live long enough to reap the results of wear and tear on their bodies. Modern middle-age until just the past hundred years or so was old-age for most of human kind.
- Excellent Biomechanics: Only athletes with both excellent gait technique AND bio-mechanics can excel with minimalist running shoes. Young athletes may feel fine with barefoot style shoes not realizing that they are running out of their personal biomechanical "grace period" that everybody has. When that grace period is up, wear and damage to the body sets up conditions that may lead to chronic injury and joint conditions.
If you really want to experiment with minimalist footwear shoe technology, here are my suggestions:
- Gradual Break In: Depending on the mileage you are doing, the break-in time from standard supportive athletic running shoes to barefoot style shoes could be as long as 3 to 6 months.
- Running Surfaces: Avoid ANY hard unyielding surfaces. This includes natural surfaces such as rock paths.
- Age Related Option: If you're middle age and older and want to experiment with barefoot running shoes, only run on soft beach or desert sand.
So, if you want to authentically go retro when buying running shoes, buy some good, North American made moccasins. North American Indians are still making moccasins like they have for thousands of years, with a few minor alterations to their technology. Though you can buy very expensive, handmade custom moccasins, my favorite moccasin company is Laurentian Chief. The Laurentian Chief moccasin company, based in Quebec, Canada still employs some workers of indigenous ancestry to make their ancient style of minimalist footwear.
Remember, if you do get biomechanical strain, see me at www.Footform.com. I've experimented with making my own moccasins and used them with and without orthotics.
NOTE:Laurentian Chief does not sell direct to the public. One company I found on the web that is very invested in the Laurentian moccasin line is Get Outside Shoes in Toronto, Canada. They ship to the U.S.
If there are any other moccasin shoe companies that manufacture their moccasins in North America, let us know and we will add you to this blog entry.