Because conventional shoes can disfigure and weaken our feet, those looking to transition to minimalist shoes will need to go through a break in period.

Most people looking to make the switch seek to rebuild the strength in their feet, reduce injuries, and correct deformities, like bunions and hammertoes. 

Changing from conventional shoes to minimalist shoes without a transition period can result in injuries and extreme soreness. This article explains the steps for a safe transition to your new minimalist shoes to transition safely.

Start Slowly

Our feet have learned to behave and function in a certain way after decades of wearing traditional shoes. The muscles are weak, the ligaments and tendons are tight, and the arch is not able to provide full support.

Further, the sole of the foot is not accustomed to feeling closer to the ground, so thinner-soled shoes will feel uncomfortable as your sole adapts to the harder surface.

A quick transition can shock the system and lead to injuries like stress fractures, no matter how experienced you are as an athlete. 

Transition time varies from person to person, so pay attention to your body and let your feet tell when they’re ready to proceed to the next step.

Start the transition by wearing your minimalist shoes for 30 minutes per day around the house or at work. You may feel some soreness after the first few wears.

Once you start to feel more comfortable, then you can begin to increase wear in 30-minute increments. 

Conditioning Your Feet for Running

After wearing your new shoes around the house comfortably for several hours per day, you can start running in them.

Start with a quarter to half mile warm up, then switch back to your regular running shoes. Do this in your minimalist shoes every other day as you gradually increase the distance by a quarter to a half mile each time.

Remember to listen to your body and go at the pace that is right for you. Stop running if you begin to feel pain.

Helping with the Transition to Minimalist Shoes

While you transition your feet to the new style of shoe, there are a number of other things you can be doing at the same time that can strengthen your feet and bring them back to their natural shape.

Wear Correct Toes – Made by a podiatrist, Correct Toes are silicone toe spacers that help guide the toes back into their natural shape. Like with the transition to minimalist shoes, wearing Correct Toes requires a transition period as well, so you might as well do it at the same time!

Wear Injinji toe socks – You’ve likely seen these funny-looking socks, but they serve an important role for those wanting to switch to more natural foot-shaped shoes. The toes in the socks allow for the toes to splay better to work independently. 

Perform foot strengthening exercises – Traditional shoes teach our feet to adapt to the foot problems they create, like pronation and lack of arch support. This is because they don’t allow the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to do their jobs properly and they weaken over time. Performing regular foot strengthening exercises will help restore the feet back to natural form. 

What to Expect During the Transition

You’ll likely want to hit the ground running, but hopefully after reading this article, you’ll see why that may not be the best idea.

It’s likely that you will experience soreness in your feet, ankles, calves, and lower back. This is due to the muscles rebuilding and learning how to function as they were designed. 

Years of improper use caused the body to adapt to the improper alignment, and the soreness is a sign that your body is correcting itself.

You may also notice that your running gait has changed. This is completely normal and a direct result of wearing foot-shaped shoes. Runners who wear conventional shoes tend to heel-strike, where minimalist shoes will teach your feet to hit the ground first with the forefoot or the entire foot at once.

The gait change is natural and can take some time. If you experience discomfort, you can look into purchasing a pair of heel cups to help you transition further.

Who Should Switch to Zero Drop Shoes?

Just about anyone is a great candidate for zero-drop shoes. They have certainly increased in popularity over the years, particularly in the running community.

Those suffering with chronic injuries, deformities, and other foot pain are typically the first to look into switching to a more minimalist style, however that’s not the only reason to switch to zero-drop shoes.

Benefits include:

  • Increased mobility
  • Better posture
  • Foot returns to natural shape
  • Reduced injuries
  • Ankle, leg, and foot strength

If you’ve been thinking about making the switch from your traditional shoe to a more minimalist style, Lems is the perfect place to find your new favorite shoe!

Additional Articles

History of Shoes

As time has evolved, so of course has shoe design. Initially, athletic shoes became common, driven by comfort and performance. However, as shoes became fashionable, they became more impractical, driven by look over comfort.

Let’s take a deeper look into the history of footwear and understand how the design of today’s shoes has created a host of foot problems, including bunionshammer toes, and more.

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