I haven't been too interested in the minimalist running shoe trend because I LOVE my Asics and Mizunos. Plus, joining the minimalist or barefoot movement feels like such a big commitment to me because you really have to take the time to transition and give your body time to adjust to a new form. So I was a little hesitant when I received a pair of New Balance Minimus running shoes in the mail a few weeks ago. But I decided to go ahead and give them a try. For starters, the NB Minimus shoes score major points for their looks - you guys know I'm a sucker for attractive looking running shoes. Before I jump into my review, here are a few of Minimus' key features:
Drop - Drop is the difference between heel height and toe height. All NB Minimus shoes have a 4mm drop which provides a more natural foot position than traditional shoes.
Width - The wider forefoot in NB Minimus allows your foot to expand naturally on impact.
Height - To minimize distance from foot to ground, NB Minimus has no insert, minimal midsoles & outsoles, and is engineered to encourage a midfoot strike.
Weight - Because NB Minimus contains only what is necessary, it's almost 50% lighter than traditional lightweight shoes.
I've been running in the shoes for almost a months now. Here is my review:
1. Arch & Sole Support - I like Asics and Mizunos because they have a lot of support. So it was initially rather awkward to wear "flat" shoes. What I mean by flat is that the drop, or difference between the heel and toe height on these shoes is 4mm. To put this in perspective, the drop on most running shoes is 12mm. So, you can see there was a huge adjustment to make. According to NB the short drop "provides a more neutral foot position than traditional shoes." After a few runs, I have come to appreciate the short drop. I've also adjusted to feeling the ground more and running more on my toes as opposed to flat footed.
2. Midfoot Strike - I like that the shoes make you alter your form and run with a midfoot strike. New Balance believes that midfoot striking helps to minimize injuries. According to their website, "Landing on the midfoot, rather than the ankle, not only reduces impact on the knee – a common source of pain and injury – but also works with the other principles to encourage forward momentum for the body." I can vouch for the fact that these shoes help reduce injuries. I sometimes have nagging overuse pains in my knee, and I noticed that I have less knee pain and less tension in my achilles when I run with these shoes. To learn more about New Balance's Good Form initiative, click here.
3. Snug Fit - NB says that the Minimus shoes are designed to be worn with or without socks. I'm not sure that I agree - they definitely fit like they are designed to be worn WITHOUT socks. And to be honest, if you try to wear them with socks it's a very snug fit. I don't like running without socks because my feet blister easily. So the fact that I can't wear socks is the only real strike I have against the shoes.
Although I can't compare the Minimus to other minimalist shoes, because these are my first pair. If I had to grade them, I would give them a B+. The shoes have made for a comfortable running experience, and they live up to the injury reducing hype that most minimalist shoes tout. I think these shoes have been a great introduction into the minimal running experience. I'm not sure if I will completely pack away my Asics and Mizunos, but for now I'm keeping these NBs in the rotation for my shorter runs.
Have you guys tried other minimalist running shoes? What are you thoughts? I would also like to hear from the bare foot runners and vibram wearers as well.