There’s a new trend in footwear: less is more! Manufacturers are just beginning to follow the lead of Vibram FiveFingers, which emulate the effects of barefoot walking/running yet protect the soles of your feet. Merrell and New Balance have both come out with fantastic new lines of shoes subscribing to the philosophy of “connecting” you to the terrain and providing the benefits of walking and running barefoot, yet protecting your feet from rocks and other potentially painful materials.
These collections may be minimalist in terms of padding, weight, and allowing your foot to move as if it had no shoe on at all, yet they are stylish and provide excellent traction and protection for the soles of your feet. The durable Vibram sole helps you resist slipping, but is also flexibile. These are not overcushioned, overbuilt shoes; they provide you with the ability to run off your arches, and land on your whole foot – thus diffusing the impact as you run. You’ll use muscles in the way nature intended, and will notice that your feet and leg muscles will become stronger.
Merrell’s Barefoot Collection has a variety of styles for men and women that are attractive enough to wear anywhere! I particularly like the Mary Jane-styled Barefoot Pure Glove in Lavender. I would have no qualms wearing it shopping, or even for a walk in the woods. They really let me feel in touch with the terrain, while protecting the soles of my feet. It’s an incredibly comfortable shoe.
Men have a variety of choices as well. A great shoe for everyday wear as well as running is the Barefoot Tough Glove in black. The laces secure the shoe to your foot, yet do not undermine the minimalist feel of the shoe. There have been numerous reports from runners as to how good this shoe feels when they run! And it transitions well for everyday activities too.
New Balance’s Minimus Collection is New Balance’s entry into the barefoot running shoe market. These shoes also allow you to feel the terrain, and are marvelous for trail running as well as casual wear. The Vibram outsole protects the soles of your feet, while the synthetic mesh upper provides lightweight support and comfort. Designed to be worn with or without socks, the Minimus is great for neutral runners as well as those with chronic injuries or gait issues. I particularly like the WT10GG in gray.
Note that an adjustment to Barefoot Technology can take time; using conventional shoes with their cushioning and stabilizing mechanisms may actually have weakened your muscles. You may need weeks or even months to get used to this technology, so start out gradually. As running shoes, these collections stimulate muscles, allows your feet to find their natural landing pad, and helps you attain a more efficient stride.
The Merrell Barefoot Collection and the New Balance Minimus Collection give you give you all the benefits of walking/running barefoot, in some stylish and incredibly comfortable shoes. Give them a try, and experience Barefoot Technology at its best!