A minimalist shoe is a true-to-foot shoe that has been designed with the natural characteristics of a foot in mind. They are supposed to make your feet stronger, minimalize injuries and overall, be a more efficient shoe.
The idea of the minimalist shoe is to take your feet back to the organic shoe-wearing experience – actually, the non-shoe-wearing experience. Minimalist shoes are supposed to give the wearer more flexibility, control and stability.
Even within the “minimal shoe” category, there are some that are more so than others. Which minimal shoe you wear will depend on use, style and, most importantly, personal comfort. Shoes are rated on an index of 0-100 with 0 being the most complex shoe and 100 being the most minimalistic.
The index takes a look at five main parts of a shoe’s design:
The flexibility test is to see how well the shoe moves with your foot. The shoe is tested at every angle and evaluated on how bendy the material is. The more flexible the shoe, the higher the minimalist shoe rating.
Pro tip: Conduct the test by folding up the toe of the shoe toward the heel and by twisting the shoe lengtheise
Minimalist shoes want to be as close to not wearing a shoe at all. Appropriately, the shoe is weighed to see how much it’s going to add to your shoe wearing experience. The lighter the shoe, the higher the minimalist shoe rating.
Pro tip: use a digital scale that measures in grams to test your shoe
The stack height is just a measurement of the heel thickness. This measures the distance between where your foot is resting and the part of the shoe that touches the ground.
Minimalistic shoes aren’t meant to add height to your stature, they should be as absolutely natural as possible. The lower the stack height, the higher the minimalist shoe rating.
Pro tip: Use a digital caliper to measure the heel’s thickness by having one end inside the shoe and the other outside the shoe; both ends right in the middle of the heel.
Stability and motion control technologies
As you may have guessed, minimalist shoes aren’t supposed to have a bunch of bells and whistles. This test of minimalist shoes is to measure the simplicity of a shoe’s design. The fewer technologies a shoe is made with, the higher the minimalist shoe rating.
Pro tip: there are five main technologies on a shoe that will lower its minimalistic rating: multi-density midsole, reinforced midsole, rigid heel counter, thick insoles and medial flare (the sole of the shoe flares out).
The “drop” on a shoe measures the amount of space between where your heel and the ball of your foot rest in the shoe. This part of the index is built in to make to the shoe is as close to standing on the ground as possible. The closer this number is to zero, the higher the minimalist shoe rating.
Pro tip: a digital caliper can be used to measure this as well though is it usually obvious to tell if there is a drop just by looking at the outside of the shoe.
Check out: How to wear shoes without socks