My Unsuccessful, Then Successful Transition To Minimalist Footwear

Standing strong in my new boots.

Resources I’ve found to be useful:

This past week I’ve been listening to Peter Attia’s interview with Irene Davis on the evolution of the foot, running injuries and minimalist shoes. The interview is tremendous, and I would highly recommend it. I also thought it would be useful to share my multiple foray’s with minimalist shoes; what worked for me and what didn’t. 

I’ve always been rebellious with wearing shoes, preferring to play my backyard sports barefoot growing up – or preferring to do my squats and deadlifts without shoes in highschool. Then in 2015 after being convinced to run a half marathon by my friend, Colin, I got the audio book of Born to run by Chris McDouggal. His book highlights this tribe of runners in Mexico who all run barefoot and makes a strong case that this is how we are all meant to run. I already had a pair of Vibram Barefoot shoes, so I strapped those on and knocked out my 3 mile run…and was then sore in my lower leg for about a week. I wasn’t able to keep up with the soreness and the training so I switched back to my regular running shoes. 

Fast forward to 2018 and I’m now the weird guy in the office who likes to take his shoes off when at his standing desk. I met up with two of my camping buddies, Mike and Spen, that March to hike the BATONA trail in Wharton State Forest in NJ. As with any good march we had long meandering conversations on what changes have been made to our lives. Mike, a resident at a hospital who is on his feet all day, said he recently switched to a barefoot style boot for his standing marathons at the hospital. I immediately ordered a pair and began wearing them instead of freaking people out in my socks at the office.This was big, because it also meant I was now walking barefoot. 

After a year of only standing and walking in these shoes my feet looked visibly stronger (and felt stronger too). This was the critical step I missed in 2015. When you wear arch support for years the muscles in your feet atrophy, and can’t immediately go back to running without the support. You need to slowly transition, much like if you are transitioning from using any other type of brace. Then in 2019 after strengthening my feet via standing I got myself a pair of training shoes and hiking sandals to round out my barefoot activities. Now I have no problem lifting, running, hiking, doing plyometrics, etc. in minimalist footwear. 

So what I have learned is that if you are planning on making a transition is to start slow and play the long game, it takes time. Listen to Irene Davis’ full interview, since she is the real expert here.

Minimalist Footwear Products I’ve Enjoyed (*note* these are Amazon affiliate link):

Stand Strong!


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