Sep. 22, 2014 - CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Ever increasing in popularity, the reputable outdoor gear review website, OutdoorGearLab has recently published a minimal and barefoot shoe buying advice article designed to help consumers in the process of transitioning to and choosing these types of products.
Gear review Editor, Jimmy Elam, a lifetime long track and cross country runner, tested seven popular minimalist products including footwear from New Balance, Merrell, Vibram and Nike in the areas of comfort, weight, foot protection, ground feeling, warmth and traction. Elam tested the seven contenders for over fifty miles in each pair while training in the sometimes oxygen deficient elevations of the Sierra Nevada mountains. After all of the testing and scoring was complete, Elam wrote this article to help OutdoorGearLab followers make the best transitioning steps to wearing and finding the right product for their particular needs.
Elam begins his article by listing the distinguishing factors that define a minimalist design. These factors include; a four millimeter or less heel to toe drop, a low overall height, thin cushioning (if any) and an outsole that is flexible and lightweight. This type of product eliminates all the added frills and extra cushioning in the soles of traditional running shoes and sticks to a very simple and lightweight design made to increase the wearers’ sensitivity to feeling the ground.
Another characteristic of this type of footwear is that it is possible to roll it into a ball due to its high level of flexibility. Elam warns that some products might have some of these defining attributes but not all of them, and others might barely even qualify. Some might be best for transitioning to a minimalist shoe and others might be for those that have already transitioned and are ready for full-fledged ground sensitivity and for strengthening their feet and legs. Elam suggests starting out with wearing this type of shoe for short periods of time like during a warm up, before moving on to using them for longer periods of time.
Next Elam explains the differences between barefoot and minimalist products. He points out that this can be challenging especially when a barefoot product falls into the same category as a minimalist one. He makes it clear that both categories have much thinner soles than traditional running models that allow the wearer to really feel the ground but when wearing a true barefoot design a person can feel the ground even more because they are more sensitive than minimalist products, which are sometimes designed with higher stack heights that can inhibit this sensitivity.
Finally, Elam goes over the advantages of using this type of product over more traditionally designed ones. He points out that clunky traditional footwear for running changes one’s running gait and can restrict a person's feet from functioning to their true potential and best natural movements and this in turn has the potential to lead to even more problems like feeble calf muscles or worse, plantar fasciitis. Elam reports that these new more minimalist models are not unlike the designs of the 1960’s that were used for racing. He leaves it up to the wearer to decide after trying them, if one type of product is better than the other for their particular needs.
In conclusion Elam discusses helpful ways to transition into using a more minimalist product for running. He offers suggestions like taking short walks around the block or using your new product for your warm up session before diving into using them full time. He also suggests a few particular products that he thinks work particularly well for the transition process and advises that the best overall way to make the change is by listening to what your body says after trying them out, in regard to how long the process will take and whether or not this type of product is best for you.
Elam’s buying advice guide is accompanied by a full-length comparison review that evaluates seven pair of top rated minimalist shoes. Elam ranked each product and chose winners from the highest performing models. Each product has a detailed individual review in addition to the best in class comparison review.
OutdoorGearLab LLC is a company headquartered in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Dedicated to creating world’s best outdoor gear reviews, the company performs side-by-side testing of outdoor gear and publishes the results in comparative reviews. Each product is scored across a range of weighted categories, competing products are graded, and top performing products receive awards. The company’s web site www.outdoorgearlab.com, is a free resource for people who love the outdoors and participate in activities such as hiking, climbing, backpacking, and camping.
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