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How do minimalist shoes differ from barefoot running shoes?

Barefoot shoes try to exactly mirror the contour of the foot, whereas minimalist shoes provide a low level of padding but minimize the lift on the heel and allow a more natural foot strike. The benefit of minimalist shoes over barefoot shoes is the padding helps protect the foot (skin, bones) and helps absorb some of the force of foot impact on the ground while not overly adjusting the natural movement of the foot. The benefits of minimalist shoes over traditional running shoes are increased foot and leg strength, more efficient foot and leg turnover, lighter weight, and decreased impact forces. However, it must be said that not everyone has the right anatomy or running mechanics to be a minimalist or barefoot runner.
Minimalist shoes are actually synonymous to barefoot running shoes. Major brands are now designing and manufacturing this type of shoe since they are becoming more and more popular.  Minimalist/barefoot shoes are different from regular shoes because they eliminate a lot of the cushioning regular shoes provide. They encourage you to absorb most impact with the fore-foot rather than the heel which is how people are supposed to run. Some shoes separate all the digits of the foot, some only a few, and others keep them together just like a regular shoe. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.