Fifteen Reasons to Wear a Maximalist Shoe

  1. You would rather say “maximal” than “minimal” when pointing to anything below your waist.
  2. You’re a trend-follower. Now that maximalist shoes are more popular than ever, you’ll follow suit. You’re secretly hoping that your favorite brand comes out with a glitter model since that’s in style now too.
  3. The minimalist thing just didn’t work out for you. You gave it a shot, but your feet are sensitive and they hurt, just like your feelings while reading this.
  4. You want to prove that muscle atrophy does not exist.
  5. Essentially you wanna get what you’re paying for. For only about $30-$40 more, you can get twice as much shoe as those flimsy barefoot-style models.
  6. You also wake up bruised due to the pea under your 17 mattresses.
  7. You just want to be taller.
  8. The surface below you is just not compatible with your unique physiology. Gravel, stones, and even grass just aren’t as comforting as ethylene vinyl acetate and polyurethane.
  9. You desire to run in races that are way above your current ability.
  10. Your ankles were already unstable so you figure by adding instability to instability you’ve got nothing more to lose and maybe by some Grace of God you’ll benefit from new technology.
  11. Your maximalist model is low or zero drop and plenty of room to wiggle your toes, so who cares that it’s 2” off the ground? It’s still “barefoot” technology.
  12. You didn’t win the eBay auction for Buzz Aldrin’s moon boots, so you want the next best thing.
  13. You want to experience lower back and other pains and hopefully have a reason to sit more in your Golden Years.
  14. You day dream by looking at the clouds, so why not put them on your feet.
  15. You want your footwear to say, “Yes, I’ll buy anything.”

Special thanks to Steven Sashen of XeroShoes and Nick Pang of MinimalistRunningShoes for their help and humor with this fun post.


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  1. Susan says

    LOL #7 (Actually I do want to be taller!) The main problem is availability and choice. Oh how I would love more feminine and work appropriate minimalist shoes for wide feet. Lems comes closest (most of Vivobarefoot are still too narrow for me) but this market is dominated by mostly male running shoes that come in hideously bright and mostly awful colors. Then there is also the winter thing, as we wait for our 12 inches of snow to fall tomorrow…

  2. mark moody says

    I’m 52 yrs old, my knees started killing me somewhere between my 15 th IM, and my 30 th Marathon. I have to say those last 15 reasons, came from someone who doesn’t know sh– but what else is new

  3. Kerry says

    I’d hazard a guess that #11 = Altra shoes. Kinda odd that they don’t really have a minimalist offering. Too bad, because I really like the shape of the toe box.

    • Stephane says

      Altra is currently launching their products in France and I keep on bugging them about the fact they used to make shoes with close to no cushioniing (look at the Adam and the Samson) and I want to know what made them change their view over time. And all their french representative on FB can reply is that their view has never changed and that they’ve always thought zero drop and cushioning is the right way to promote proper running form (when common sense makes you conclude that cushioning is precisely what will prevent you from stopping to heel strike.) I have a hard time trusting a brand that either can’t remember models they produced two years ago or choose to lie about it.

      • Stephane says

        I guess Altra don’t like to be shown their inconsistencies: today they’ve decided it would be a good idea to prevent me from stating my point of view on their french FR page.
        I guess if you don’t think running on 2 inches of marshmallow is a good idea, you might as well shut up, right?

  4. Jean-Serge Cardinal says

    #3 made me cry (almost), but fortunately I couldn’t go back to maximal shoes, I got injured when I tried. So I’m staying with minimal (VivoBarefoot EVO) and I’m finally getting use to them, I now at 35K/week. Thanks for your input.

  5. Howie says

    Fair enough. But after having recovered from a pilon fx of R ankle, Hokas are what allow me to keep running. Maybe, just maybe with time I can move to minimalist shoes again. Until then I run on.

  6. says

    #10 is crucial. People are trying to fix a thing by putting another (rather unnatural) thing.

    Suggestion to those people: read Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragile and his explanation of Via Negativa. Less is more.

  7. Derek says

    The Tarahumara wear CAR TYRE soles on their ‘minimalist’ sandals. Cushioned zero drop is not a new fad. #justsayin.

  8. Stig says

    Great post! It’s a pity everyone got so preoccupied with running shoes when the barefoot movement started. Everyone was so preoccupied with how bad running shoes were that they forgot that the real cause of their foot, lower/upper leg, hips and lower back weakness was actually in large part due to what they were wearing the vast majority of their lives when they were NOT running. Why do we think a built up heel is important in a shoe? Most people never question it.

  9. Garrett says

    In regards to #11:

    This does seem directly targeted at Altra’s. However, in one of your videos I watched you are standing in front of an Altra background and actually make a plug for their product.

    So are they inherently bad, or do you view them as a “transitional” shoe on the way to full barefoot? I personally went straight from the “foot coffin” to a Merrill Barefoot and loved it. However, some rough terrain coupled with what I assess as an imbalance caused by previous ankle surgery has left me unable to run more than 20 minutes in them.

    Newton’s haven’t been any better, am now trying Altra’s due to my wife’s positive experience with them, and so far so good on sprint training, need to try a distance run to see what happens. Concerned now that I’m reading your site that I may have wasted money on them and/or worse, am setting myself up for further damage.

    So really just looking for some clarification regarding your views on Altras as you seem to endorse them in one video, but then discourage their use on this site.

    • says

      I don’t necessarily endorse them. They asked me to do a talk as part of their Runners World Series. Their most minimal shoe the Superior 1.5 is ok as a transitional shoe and possibly rocky terrain; I could see using that as it’s around 13mm drop w/o the insole. That’s not too think but it’s not “minimal”. But unfortunately like most “minimal” shoes out there today, they are adding more cushion since that’s what the market is dictating.

  10. Meg says

    Oh my! I thought I was on the wrong website when this story came up first! I seriously closed my browser and started over!

  11. frankie says

    Hey Doc,
    What are your thoughts on the Graston Technique for treating knee pain?Is it more effective then trigger point therapy?

    • says

      I think it’s okay but it all depends on the therapist. Some using Graston Tech will just strip the muscles down like crazy, creating a lot of pain and even new injuries.

    • says

      The Stick and Cane are typically devices you use on yourself. Although I’m okay with both, there’s often no substitute for hands-on. See previous comment/response re Graston.

  12. Frankie says

    I know,beyond a shadow of a doubt that my knee pain has been caused by my footwear.It wasn’t until about a year ago when I switched from Nike’s to Vivobarefoot Ra’s.My plantar fasciitis and knee pain has been getting better.I also get weekly full body chiropractic adjustments.Since I know how I received the knee pain can I start to isolate the 3 trigger points of my leg and start there?Along with some knee exercises like the roman chair and one legged squats?

  13. Frankie says

    Hey Doc,
    I’m not sure it I have IT pain or meniscus pain so I’m trying to treat both areas using trigger point therapy with a golf ball massage.I’m treating all of the points of both of my legs using a trigger point map from noticed that both of my legs were sore the next day.Is this normal?Any specific points I should target?Or stay the course?

  14. Frankie says

    Trigger point therapy is like stretching on streroids.So much better,and you can actually feel the areas that you worked.

  15. Jay says

    Hey Doc when you get a chance can you check out this video over at youtube?”itbs stretch knee pain guru”Placebo effect?Or real deal?

  16. Robert says

    do you have any references or suggestions for minimalist cycling shoes?

    I’ve just recently begun transitioning to minimalist shoes and now all my all shoes cramp my toes.

    I have merrell barefoot trail for running and Vivobarefoot Gobi for casual.

    I want to increase my cycling x-training and I know it would be silly to try and find minimalist for that also.

    thanks for your site and info.. its been very helpful!

    • says

      Would love to help you but I am out of touch with the cycling world lately. I last heard that Pearl Izumi was making one but not sure if that ever came to happen.

  17. Frankie says

    Hey Doc,
    Trying to save a few bucks. I know that a hands on approach is the best in dealing with trigger points. But until I get better acclimated I wanted to use a pvc pipe. Would that be as effective as using a golf ball,the cane, or the stick?Or even possibly a lacrosse ball? Thanks.

  18. Alberto says

    That was funny man! For me personally, to run in thin soled shoes, minimalist, zero drop is hands down the most exhilarating way to go out and train, or race. But I do have a thinned out heel fat pad after years of overweight (and probably also age ‘wear and tear’, being 52 ‘n all) and that’s where a couple pairs of maximalist shoes come into play on my longer runs/races. I just watched a very inspiring movie about the Vibram Hong Kong 100k race. Runners wore all kinds of shoes brands and models (nobody in Five Fingers, that I could see, despite the race’s main sponsor :). So who’s to say do this don’t do that? It’s tricky, imho. Peace

  19. Brennan Browne says

    Soc Doc, what are your thoughts on metatarsalgia/capsulitis/general ball of foot pain after rough trail run descents in minimalist shoes? And would you ever recommend maximalist shoes as an acute injury recovery tool?


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