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Be Wary of Minimalism, it’s Dangerous!

                                 

 

The media have been giving it to minimalism over the last month. Indeed, RedOrbitDaily MailHuffington PostNY TimesThe Stochastic ScientistCanoeASO Challenge have all sounded the seven trumpets claiming that minimalism could cause serious injuries according to a new study led by Dr. Sarah Ridge (Foot Bone Marrow Edema after 10-Week Transition to Minimalist Running Shoes). Let’s get serious and show more thoroughness than have these medias, shall we?

 

Despite a few biases, this is a relatively good scientific research that was published in January 2013. The protocol was rather straightforward:

 

  • a feet MRI was administered to 19 experienced recreational runners who wore traditional shoes in order to analyze potential bone injury before and after a 10-week transition to extreme minimalist shoes (the famous FiveFingers – 90% TRC rating).

This group was compared to a control group of 17 runners who had kept their traditional shoes.

  • Ensuing results were all the more foreseeable. Runners who had proceeded to this quick transition to minimalism were more inclined to show foot bone marrow edema, which was the result of significant stress.

 

With good reasons, the conclusions reached by the authors were as follows:

 

  • runners interested in transitioning to minimalist running shoes, such as Vibram FiveFingers, should transition very slowly and gradually in order to avoid potential stress injury in the foot.

Such a conclusion was parallel to study results and to the literature published on that topic. However, had the protocol been different, another conclusion could have been drawn, such as: “minimalist runners interested in transitioning to traditional shoes such as the Asics Nimbus model should transition very gradually and slowly in order to avoid potential injuries in the knees and back.” :)

 

These transition periods have already been studied by other authors, including Dr. Schütte in a doctorate dissertation (The Effect of Minimalist Shoe Training on Lower Limb Kinematics and Kinetics in Experienced Shod Runners). Such conclusive evidence combined with 12 years of experience in prescribing minimalist shoes have led us to set up very conservative and safe transition periods as part of our recommendations to that effect as it is preferable for many runners to opt for a long-term transition to minimalist shoes.