Running Biomechanics: Lightweight / Minimalist / Barefoot shoes are NOT the same thing

all right, let’s be clear so we all know what we are talking about:

Lightweight shoes, just like racing flats can be anything. High arch, high heeled, narrow fit, drops of 4mm or more, etc. It can be anything from 4 ounces to 10 ounces, anything, depending your needs (and size), and they usually have some degree of cushioning. They are just lighter.

Minimalist shoes are always lightweight but also they are always zero drop, that is, no height difference between the front and the back of the shoe (most shoes, even lightweight ones, have a heel). Minimalist shoes need to be very flexible but also have a very thin and dense sole, 4 or 3 mm or under. They need a wide toebox to allow the foot to splay out when collapsing on contact and they need to feel like you’re almost barefoot when you need some protection.

Barefoot shoes: there is no such thing. What part of bare feet are we not clear about?
(no, not even running sandals are barefoot anything!)

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12 thoughts on “Running Biomechanics: Lightweight / Minimalist / Barefoot shoes are NOT the same thing

    • I think the hattoris are zero drop and around 4 ounces too, which would make them minimalist. i can’t recall midsole composition, so if they’re springy the’y be just lightweight, otherwise, you can call them minimalist!


  1. I’ve been running in Nike Flex which the shoe company says are “minimalists” but are more like lightweight except they are super flexible and have a very low heel to toe drop. My other shoes are the Vivobarefoots which are about as “barefoot” as I want to get. I hear your point though but the shoe companies marketing plans have really started abusing the “minimalist” term.


    • that’s exactly why there is all these confusion, it’s cool for a shoe to be “minimalist”. People get on a shoe that 1 ounce lighter than their other shoes and they want to call it minimalist. Nike Flex: there is NOTHING minimalist about that shoe’ they’re just a bit lighter than their regular shoes


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