Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Balance Minimus Trail Shoes

My hiking friend Susie showed up with some cool new shoes she said her feet loved called New Balance Minimus Trail runners (Also available in road versions, but I'm addressing the trail model only). I went out the very next day to purchase my own pair. Her husband Jim bought some the next day too. Our feet LOVED them on the first step! The shoes cost around $100. They run slightly narrow. Men's come in the charcoal black and neon yellow above plus an orange version. Women's offer a black and baby blue trim model.

The New Balance Minimus "Trail" fits my criteria for foot-friendly shoes. It's a very flexible shoe with minimal heel lift. Less heel lift is important for the "barefoot" mechanics because it allows your foot to function like it does not have a shoe--more "natural" gait pattern. While I love the Nike Free shoes, some of the purist runners are critical of the Free's high heel lift which puts the foot and ankle slightly out of neutral--I get their point, but the Nike Free still works GREAT to eliminate foot pain with my clients, so I will continue recommending them. Alas, now there is another new option with the New Balance Minimus Trail shoes!

The Minimus Trail feels almost just like the Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs) but you won't have to worry about wearing the funky "toe shoes" with the Minimus because the toe box is closed. With the Minimus, many people can get away with wearing them in a work environment where the VFFs might be a bit much for certain corporate cultures at this point. Another advantage of the NB Minimus is that you can wear socks. While wearing socks is possible with the VFFs, you have to buy the special "toe socks" and these are a real pain to put on and get into the VFFs. If you don't wear socks with VFFs, you can get some pretty stinky feet. Problem solved with the New Balance Minimus because while they might not be 100% as foot friendly as going barefoot or wearing VFFs, they are pretty darn close, and when you consider the other advantages of a more socially acceptable appearance, ability to wear regular socks, and ease of putting on and taking off, the New Balance Minimus Trail Runners one of my new favorites and top recommendations for "foot-friendly" shoes. They are also very light. 

While called "trail running" shoes, I'm just wearing my Minimus shoes for casual use. I might try to run in them eventually, but I think these are GREAT shoes for everyday use. If you are having foot pain from wearing shoes that are not good neurologically for your feet and brain, take the New Balance Minimus Trail Shoes for a test drive. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Listen to your feet--they will tell you right away!

What's interesting about this particular shoe is that even with all my other "foot fitness" exercises, footwear, etc., for some reason these shoes seem to have reset my "foot posture."  I have become much more aware of my foot/ankle position even when wearing other shoes.  I think part of the reason was the nice "Foot Tripod" video post by Mike Robertson right before I got my Minimus shoes, but most of the postural reset is because of the shoe design I think...I have four good friends now that have all loved the Minimus from the very first step.  One of my good trainer friends Nikki has had some running issues with her knee.  She got a pair of the Minimus and hit the trail with NO knee pain.  She put on some different boots when she got home and the knee pain returned.  She was amazed as well, and this is a woman very knowledgeable about fitness training and corrective exercises, so I hope this share will help some of you reading that might be having foot issues of your own.

For more info on the NB Minimus and finding "Foot-Friendly" shoes, see below:
In Foot Fitness! Coach RJ


Mathew said...

I have never personally met you but you go to my Dad's work for trainings often and he has told me a lot about you. I just wanted to give you my imput on minimalist shoes. I have been using vibram five finger shoes which are even more minimalist than the nike shoes. I absolutely love them! I have had zero pain since running, climbing, hiking, rock hopping, athletics indoor and out in these shoes.

I am currently training for a half marathon next month with these shoes and have now ran 12 miles in them with no pain what so ever. I used to get shin splints and other things about just a mile and a half. It is a learning curve since you have to basically relearn how to run since you don't land on your heel any more but its worth it. Just wanted to provide some more feedback for you.

Coach RJ said...

Thanks for the nice feedback Mathew. Glad they are working for your feet and that the pain is now gone! Cheers, RJ

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