Best Minimalist & Low Heel-Drop Running Shoes 2023

Expert Advice on Running Shoes
Best Minimalist & Low Heel-Drop Running Shoes 2023

What is minimalist running?

Minimalist Running, or Natural Running – as advocated by running form analysts such as Chi Running Instructors – lessens our dependency on highly cushioned, supportive running shoes. For a runner to achieve their best results they need to run efficiently. Building good running form technique is essential for this. Minimal and low heel-drop running shoes encourage this progression, and feel lighter and more flexible than their normal road-running counterparts.

Minimalist running shoes vs traditional

All minimal running shoes have a lower heel drop than conventional running shoes, which have a heel drop typically between 8mm to 12mm higher than the forefoot. In minimal running shoes the offset is between zero and 6mm, to discourage heavy landing at the heel and to move you towards a more mid-foot or forefoot strike.

Our range of options cover zero-drop, fully cushioned models to lighter and firmer low heel-drop running shoes, so you can choose the model that will offer the right level of protection for your running style.

Cushioned Road Running / Low-Profile / Trail Running

Best Minimal & Low Heel-Drop

Cushioned Road Running Shoes

Men's Saucony Kinvara 14

Men's Altra Torin 7

Women's Saucony Kinvara 14

Women's On Cloudflow
£130.00 £102.00

Best Minimal & Low Heel-Drop

Low-Profile Running Shoes

Men's Altra Escalante 3

Women's Altra Escalante 3

Best Minimal & Low Heel-Drop

Trail Running Shoes

Men's Saucony Peregrine 13

Men's Altra Lone Peak 7

Men's Hoka Mafate Speed 4

Women's Saucony Peregrine 13

Women's Altra Lone Peak 7

Women's Hoka Speedgoat 5

Women's Saucony Peregrine 13

How do I choose the right minimalist shoe for me?

There are several things to consider before making the decision to run in minimalist running shoes. Do you land on your heels? do you over-pronate? and just how minimal do you want to go? If possible, it's really a good idea to visit us, try on a variety of shoes, discuss your needs and get advice from qualified staff. Did you know more than 50% of runners are heel strikers?

A minimal running shoe typically has a heel drop between 0-6mm. If you're thinking to transition, switching from one type to the other can result in changes in running technique such as foot strike, stride length and even pace. It isn't uncommon to experience soreness and training difficulties while getting used to the new footwear.

What if my feet over-pronate?

If you've had an in-store or online gait analysis from a specialist running store and been advised that you over-pronate, then you need to be aware that the transition is going to take longer and require a mixture of patience and listening to your body. What happens when you you're overpronating, is effectively the surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments that would normally support the arches have become weakened, this eventually could lead to strains and pain to the foot and leg.

Get into a habit of strenghtening and stretching the areas around the foot. Over time the muscles and tendons in your feet will strengthen, and as the calves strengthen they will work harder to support you.

Will my running style change if I use minimalist running shoes?

How much your running style changes depends on how you're already landing and moving through your stride. Minimal shoes, as the name suggests are designed with less cushioning – to precisely replicate the way our feet move when we're running barefoot. They're less cushioned, have more torsion or flexibility throughout the shoe, and much lighter in weight, so incorrect landing/striking the ground could lead to more issues. The lower the heel drop, naturally means you'll be encouraged to land more mid-foot/forefoot.

Do I need a training programme to transition into minimal running shoes?

If you try to continue your training as usual with a new minimal running shoe, the chances are things won't go well. The lower the heel drop and the more minimal in cushioning, the more time you'll need for your body to readjust. Read here for more useful tips on how to transition.

How do I know if barefoot / minimalist running is it right for me?

Your body is clever in showing you signs when it's under stressed or not. Firstly everyone's different, what works for your friend won't necessarily work for you. Virtually everyone can benefit from using barefoot / minimalist shoes for walking and running. How far you can take your minimalist running – that's something that you'll discover along the way. It largely depends on how minimal you decide to go, and equally understanding your body and your foot strike will be most beneficial.

There's no right or wrong about traditional road running shoes versus minimalist running shoes. If you like the idea of trying something different then give it a go, but listen to your body!

Last word

Stretch, stretch and stretch again. Transitioning to Minimalist running shoes will test your calves, feet and Achilles. Make sure you prevent doing yourself damage by stretching.

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