Amazon: Running Shoe Deals - click here to view current selection.
Running Warehouse: Great prices on closeout shoes! View current selection.

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella’s Reply to Jeff Galloway’s Views on Minimalist Running Shoes and Injuries: Thoughts From a Minimalist Shoe Store Owner

With all his books, coaching experience, training methods, racing achievements, and Ironman-like durability with just over a half-century of miles on his legs, Jeff Galloway is a respected fixture in the running community. And along with many other runners, I’m a subscriber to his email newsletter.

But his take on minimalist running shoes in his most recent newsletter is not one that I share. Here’s what he wrote:

“Many runners who own one of the minimal and exotic shoes that have popped up on today’s market will tell you that these shoes have solved their running problems. I hear the other side of this issue, about every day, from those who have been injured (often severely) by using these products or by running barefooted. Many have to stop running for 4 to 6 months. Thousands have reported significant problems.

I’ve seen this fad come and go 5 times during my 52 years of running. Something will come out in the media about minimal support/barefooted running, and thousands will try it. About a third of those who try it run for short distances and like the tingle of the feet so they run more. Without support, the distance or the surface of the run will often cause an injury–including a number of serious ones such as stress fractures. Each fad cycle ends when those injured tell other runners about their experience–so that very few want to put themselves at risk.

Minimal shoe/barefooted running has its place if the foot can handle it: Short runs when running on a safe surface can give the foot a bit more strength and develop a lighter touch. Unfortunately, there are lots of risks on most running surfaces: pieces of glass, medal or rock–hidden below even the most groomed grass surfaces. There are also lots of surface irregularities that can produce serious trauma injuries in one step.

Today’s shoes have decades of orthopedic research behind them and can protect the foot from most of the problems due to running surface. Go to a store with trained and experienced staff members, like my Phidippides stores in Atlanta, and get the best advice.”

Here’s my reply to Jeff:

I am curious about the runners who are showing up everyday claiming to have been injured as a result of minimalist shoes. Over a year ago in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, I opened the first footwear store in the nation purely devoted to minimalism and sold no shoes with traditional elevated heels. Two Rivers Treads was only the first store of its kind. There are now six new stores in the country who have embraced minimalism – and all are partners with the Natural Running Center (, where I am also its executive director. All of these stores are completely aligned with the education message of teaching good form, prescribing more functional footwear, and the progressive adaptation to more natural running.

At Two Rivers Treads, we just don’t sell shoes; we have a discussion with each and every customer regarding their running, injuries, goals, and some simple and clear instruction on how to reduce impact loads on their joints. We have sold over 3,000 pairs of shoes in a year and only five customers at most have returned with an injury and blamed the shoe. This is far less than Galloway’s daily experience. Are the injured runners just going to the doctor instead of back to us? I doubt it as we would be the first place they would return to if they felt it were the shoes. Do I have scientific data for all this….no, we are a small business.

Maybe we are doing something different when we sell minimal shoes. So just what are we doing? The following educational information is included on our store walls and handouts.

Let’s first define how we interpret minimalism, a minimalist shoe, the risks, and the gradual progress.

What is Minimalism?

Free the foot to develop naturally

Look for the least amount of shoe you can safely wear now

Work toward reducing the amount of shoe necessary through strengthening the foot and improving your stride

Running is a natural movement of the body, rather than an unnatural act that requires artificial support to perform safely

Embraces the notion that the beefier the shoe, the more a runner’s natural stride is inhibited

What is a Minimalist Shoe?

Complements natural foot function

Heel to toe drop is very low

Material under the foot is thin….allowing maximum ground feel

Upper is Soft and Flexible

Light Weight and Flexible

Effects of a Modern Running Shoe?

Impairs your natural bounce

Promotes heel striking

Alters your natural lever (heel lift)

Creates unstable base

Causes loss of sensory input

Causes skin atrophy

Creates unhelpful movement memory

What are the Risks of Minimalism?

Foot is NOT guided into running stride

Feet need to do some of the work and need to get strong

If form is incorrect and you are not strong in the right places you may develop soreness….so listen to your body and progress gradually

How to go Minimal?

Take it slow at first

Add distance gradually

The more minimal the shoe the more adaptation it will take

Progress through the stages of Shoes from Neutral/Transition to Minimalist to Barefoot Style

Do some barefoot running and walking

For early adapters who are weak in their foot and hip stabilizers a minimal shoe may be what we call a “neutral –transition shoe”, such as a Newton Isaac or Altra Intuition.

Now how do we define shoes? This too is on our store walls, and the shoes are displayed this way in the Natural Running Center Shoe review section

Barefoot-Style Shoe

Your feet “feel” the ground

Thinnest layer of protection between foot and ground

Heel and toes are level

Land on the midfoot/forefoot


Minimalist Running

Some cushiony comfort

Little to no heel-to-toe drop

Enhanced ground feel

Soft, flexible shoe moves with feet

Ideal for all surfaces– road, trail, track


Similar protection to most running shoes but without elevated heel

Little to no heel-to-toe area drop

Foot is in natural position

Encourages midfoot/forefoot landing

Ideal “starter” shoe for transitioning runners to minimalist/barefoot-style

The real folks making this happen in a small community such as Shepherdstown are my lead employees, aka the Shoe Guys, Tom Shantz and James Munnis. Tom and James lend some practical and philosophical advice on the topic.

Here’s Tom: “We give verbal warnings to all minimalist shoe buyers. I have been adapting for a little over a year now. It’s a slow process. What I have found that works best is to have two pair of shoes. One that is ‘flat’, zero drop, and one that has a drop of 5mm. One should transition into the 5mm shoe first. It should take approximately 2 weeks. The zero-drop shoe should take you approximately three months to transition into. Once you have transitioned into both shoes you should continue to slowly increase your distance in the zero-drop shoe. The 10% week rule is out the window. Try 1% increase in the zero-drop shoe. For a younger runner who has been in racing flats the transition is much shorter.”

Now here’s James: “It’s still funny to me how three million years of evolution is still considered a fad by some folks. Nobody who has ever followed our advice on gradual transition has ever been injured from the act of running completely barefoot, or in minimalist shoes. Many do have the usual fatigue and discomfort over a period of up to a year or so trying to undo the weakness and atrophy of the most excellent foot that has been caused by horrible traditional footwear for everyday wear and for running. Mother Nature has given us a foot that is very endurable and survivable, despite our very recent efforts to screw it up with the many ridiculous features of a traditional running shoe. Would anyone please tell me one single reason to elevate a human heel above the forefoot for anything, or to interfere with our natural suspension system with arch support, and especially for running?”

So there you have it: Two Rivers Treads’ Shoe Guys have spoken. And as their informal comments reflect, it is not about the shoe, but the education. An example of one of the fun educational sessions hosted by our store is the recent Natural Running Roundup with Chris McDougall on the home page of the Natural Running Center.

Here’s to healthier running,

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella

Track and Field Shoe Sale at Running Warehouse!

Running Warehouse Track Shoe ad
Running Warehouse Runblogger Sidebar

Save $$$ On Shoes Gear:
Running Warehouse: Great prices on closeout shoes! View current selection. 25% or more off clearance running shoes - click here to view current selection.
Connect With Me On:
Facebook - Runblogger | Twitter - @Runblogger | Instagram - @Runblogger

Recent Posts By Category: Running Shoe Reviews | Running Gear Reviews | Running Science
About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. dinosoles shoes says:

     Thanks! These are all noted,Good thing that you share details about this running shoes it feeds us a lot.

  2. “It’s still funny to me how three million years of evolution is still considered a fad by some folks.”

    Thousands of appendectomy patients are sure to agree.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Would you recommend that every individual get a preventative appendectomy at a young age to avoid the risk? Should we make all kids wear glasses from age 3 because their eyes might go bad at some point? That’s essentially what the current shoe philosophy is – put kids in cushioned, controlling, heel lifted shoes at a young age because some think it might prevent an injury. Only problem is there is no data to support this. No data to support reduction of injuries barefoot/minimalist either, but as an evolutionary biologist, I tend to think my default state is a better option from the outset than a heavily controlling shoe with no scientific basis for it’s utility. Particularly when we know quite well that ill-fitting shoes can alter the anatomy of our feet and legs with chronic use.

    • Noone,
      for fun and interest…we are all still searching for the truth and none of us will ever get there completely


  3. Everything comes and goes in cycles..I wouldn’t totallly disregard what Jeff is saying..

  4. A Kakapo's Lair says:

    Jeff Galloway – Lord of slow half-hearted runners.  Ok, sure he’s gotten a lot of people to be able to complete 6 hour marathons, but his run/walk schtick is not really running, and people utilizing his methods are never fast.  There are some classic internet threads on his ridiculous claims about the speed of his “athletes”.

  5. Ken Skier says:

    I also subscribe to Jeff Galloway’s email newsletter, and as a barefoot runner I was appalled by what he wrote–especially this:

     “there are lots of risks on most running surfaces: pieces of glass, medal or rock–hidden below even the most groomed grass surfaces. There are also lots of surface irregularities that can produce serious trauma injuries in one step.”

    Of COURSE there are hazards in a grass surface. That’s why barefoot runners avoid grass!  We run on smooth asphalt, or smooth concrete–where there are no hidden hazards.  Anyone who has taken up barefoot running and bothered to research the subject, or to speak to an experienced barefoot runner, knows this.  But evidently Jeff Galloway does not.  If he is ignorant about this most basic element of barefoot running, it is hard to consider him knowledgeable about any other aspect of barefoot running.

    I admire and respect Jeff enormously, and often recommend his run/walk plan to other runners.  I will continue to do so.  He is clearly an expert on marathons and marathon training.  And I hope he will learn more about barefoot running….perhaps by trying it himself, on a good smooth asphalt road or bikepath.

    • Ken,

      thanks…i respect Jeff too.  he is an Olympian and getting folks to get off the couch and achieve a goal. they are reducing their risk of disease.  i respect his opinion too.  i am trying to give a safe, clear, and understandable definition of what “minimalism” is.

      yes barefoot on smooth pavement is the safest place


      • Ken Skier says:

        Mark–your reply was excellent!!  I agreed with all of it, and was glad that you had taken the time to respond so thoughtfully to Jeff.  But your comments were focused (appropriately, given your extensive experience with minimal shoes) on minimal shoes…and as a barefoot runner, I just wanted to draw attention to one part of Jeff’s email that revealed what I thought was a very sad ignorance of barefoot running.

        My hope is that Jeff will run one day with an experienced barefoot runner.  I know how much he loves to run, and with the right introduction I believe he will find there is much to love in barefoot running, too. 

        BTW, I am don’t urge ANYONE to take up barefoot running just because I love it, or because they find it intriguing.  My first words to anyone who asks me about it are always: “If you are running now without injury, don’t change a thing!  Stick with your shoes, your socks, your training program. Don’t start barefoot running just out of curiosity.  But if you are getting injured running in shoes, barefoot running might be worth looking into.  It’s a very low-impact form of running.  But don’t take it up if you’re running now without injury.”

        Congratulations on the success of your store!  Any chance of your opening one in the Boston area?

        • Ken,

          we are 100% aligned.  Colin Peddie at Marathon Sports in Boston is a great resource.  look him up. 


  6. Ironman x's 8 says:

    I am one of the many runners who suffered an injury due to minimalist shoes.  I had a stress fracture in my right foot that took me out for about 6 months.  In answer to the authors question “Are the injured runners just going to the doctor instead of back to us?”.  No I did not return to the store that I bought them from. I returned to a store that had much more selection and knowledgable staff.  Why wouold I return to a store that sells the same product that I got injured in?   While the minimalist shoes may be a great shoe for SOME runners, there are a lorge number of runners that NEED a cusioned shoe.

    “It’s still funny to me how three million years of evolution is still considered a fad by some folks.”  It’s funny to me that three million years ago women didn’t shave their armpits or legs.  We didn’t have transportation, air conditioning, medicine, etc…  I’ll take progress and research thank-you very much.

    • Ironman,

      agree with your sentiments.  our staff gives education and like the post says for many a “minimalist” shoe is not a thin shoe…it is the safest place they can go to learn better form , get the foot level, adapt gradually, and learn better form.  Example is Newton Isaac. the barefooters  do not like this shoe…they are already there.  but the 95% of runners who are relearning how to run find it an excellent and durable shoe, it gives protection, but is is not soft and mushy on impact….which impedes the bodies ability to stabilize itself in midstance.

      all the best,


    • Robert Osfield says:

      Could you tell us about the history behind your injury and the way you went about transistion?   What shoes do you have before transitioning and what minimalist shoes did you attempt to transition too?  How quickly did you ramp up milage in the new shoes?  What advice did you follow when transistioning?

      The more we learn about those who do get injured and why the better we can educate others to avoid the same mistakes.

    • Snaggletoth says:

      A stress fracture in the foot doesn’t take
      you out of the game for six months, it takes you out of it for six weeks, four if
      you’re a professional soccer player with access to daily treatments.


      But of course, if you are the type of person who
      doesn’t listen to the signals of your feet then you might push on through the
      pain too long and hence prolonging an injury problem for up to six months or
      more, but then again being that type of person who doesn’t listen to your body
      and always pushing on through the pain is likely to give you that kind of
      prolonged injuries in various parts of your system no matter what kind of shoes
      you come like.

  7. William says:

    I have to wonder to what extent shoes with good cushioning, ie. Acics Nimbus, are more suitable for “heavier” runners, shall we say, while minimalist shoes are better for leaner runners? If so, I think this could explain why some Galloway runners –many of whom are overweight (or in the process of losing weight)– would have bad experiences with minimalist shoes. (For the record, I respect Galloway, and think that his run/walk theories have merit…ie see Noakes’s confirmation of it in Lore of Running). 

    • here is a good answer from Dr. Casey Kerrigan


    • Ken Skier says:

      I’m a heavy runner (215 lbs) with bad knees…but when I run barefoot I feel great; it’s only when I run in shoes that I get injured.  When you run barefoot, your body naturally adopts a very low-impact stride, and that is even more important for a heavy runner, I believe, than it is for one who is not carrying the extra lbs.

  8. Jamoosh says:

    Sadly, Galloway provides no scientific data in his post and any numerical data is based on his perception and bias. 

    It’s OK to have an opinion, but in my mind, this post is reckless and only harms his standing in the running community.

  9. Anon Runner says:

    I’m not against the minimalism movement by any means (as a high mileage guy, I view it as more of a supplemental thing), but it bothers me a little that most pro-minimalist anecdotes say that switching shoes helped prevent injuries. People always seem to be ignoring the fact that the recommended slow mileage increases, such as 1% as suggested above, could be the reason for the lack of injuries. If runners were doing that kind of slow increase in regular shoes, they would also probably be less likely to get injured. I realize it’s difficult to deconvolute the two issues, but it just be nice for minimalists to acknowledge this.

  10. Mark U. says:

    As a runner who started wearing ‘conventional’ high-heeled running shoes (Brooks Adrenaline’s) with a corresponding heel strike landing, I’ve had a successful transition to landing on my mid-foot with the help of minimalist shoes (the Nike Free, Saucony Kinvara and Vibram Five Fingers, and the Newton Stability Trainer), Newton’s natural running clinic and the very helpful “Evolution Running” DVD.  While many individuals have doubtless been injured while wearing minimalist shoes, I suspect similar to Dr. Mark Cucuzzella’s experience the injury rate is far, far lower amongst those runners who have been appropriately cautioned to transition gradually, and who have been fitted professionally at a specialty running store.

  11. Therunnerssole says:

    Hello All: Rick Meyers here. I own The Runner’s Sole located in Chambersburg, PA. I started this store nearly 3 years ago and had all of the traditional shoes with the bulky heels. I didn’t take the minimalist approach upon opening only because I wanted my store to succeed. However, with time and the minimalist movement well under way, I have reduced the amount of shoes in the traditional sense and put more minimalist shoes on my wall. I am a 100 mile guy and I wear Newtons for most of my races including Old Dominion 100 last month. I spend nearly 20 minutes per customer educating them in the minimalist movement and how things will differ from the traditional shoe to the minimalist shoe. I explain to them the need for patience and gradual progression of going minimal but the advantages of doing so. I allow them to try on traditional shoes and run on my in-store treadmill as well as the minimalist shoe for the same length of time and at the same speed. Finally, I encourage them to run on the treadmill completely barefoot for the same time/pace. Then I allow them to make the decision of what is best for THEM. Most of those who come into a running specialty store are educated people who knows their bodies/feet better than anyone else does. More often than not, the traditional shoes are left behind and the minimalist shoe finds a new home. I encourage them to read and continue to educate themselves on this movement with regards to running biomechanics. I also tell them to be very patient and allow their feet to strengthen to withstand the less supportive shoe. For each person this is obviously going to be at different time frames for adaptation. I also educate them to take careful stock of their bodies/feet and to back off if they are experiencing unexplainable injury or soreness. We are a nation of “everything now” and I have found that this approach to the minimalist movement is cause of injury that Galloway cited. Since I have taken this approach to educating customers, I haven’t received any returns in shoes or customers who have experienced injury. I can’t seem to recall anyone who has purchased traditional shoes blame the shoes for injury, but as my customer data base shows, those customers who purchased traditional shoes are either moving to a less bulky shoe with each new shoe purchase, or have gone minimalist completely. I appreciate Galloway’s attempts of getting people moving during this time of the obesity epidemic and I also understand the approach of the shoe manufactuers building oversized shoes, because let’s face it, we are an overbuilt nation. The shoe that most are running in isn’t as important as getting people up as Mark has said, and I would rather see someone running in their old KISS 8″ platform boots than developing the medical complications of obesity. But the minimalist movement has reduced traditional injury and I feel that overtime, there will be more people running, injury free, more often, and turning the obesity epidemic around. Run on!!!

  12. cody r. says:

    after i got over mononucleosis last june, i have been going minimalist and even though my redemption track season didn’t go as planned, it’s because 6-9 months isn’t enough for getting strength back, however, it’s been 13 months now and i’m starting to REALLY get into the swing of things and now i feel stronger than ever and other than some sorenesses due to adjusting, i’ve never even been injured once, not even the slightest of shin splints

    if there had been fads like this before….
    going back to basics this time WILL NOT DIE

  13. Lisa H. says:

    After years of injuries, I decided to ditch my motion control shoes and orthotics and try the minimalist approach. Since doing that, I was able to run a full year without injury–the longest in my running career.

  14. Pete Larson says:

    Thought I’d add this comment taken from the Runblogger Facebook page:

    “All I know is that with my transition to minimalist and barefoot
    footwear (using the kinvara as my intro shoe) on a slow and steady plan,
    my feet, legs and core have never felt better or stronger. I no longer
    have ITB issues or knee pain. I no longer feel trapped into having to
    wear 14 ounce super cushioned shoes on my 6’1″, 240# frame because that
    is what big guys have to do to avoid injury.”

  15. As a physical therapist and runner, the barefoot running “trend” is very interesting to me. And I know it works to prevent injury, I’ve done it myself. As mentioned, thousands of years of evolution can’t be wrong. Anthropologically, anatomically, and biomechanically IT JUST MAKES SENSE! Unfortunately it is not what we are commonly taught, though our education has little scientific background and could just be rooted in years of propaganda. (that’s a whole other issue) 

    I also find it interesting that the perspective from people that sell shoes is usually negative, they are going to make more money on shoes with more cushioning or “gadgets” I have been promoting and teaching “barefoot running technique” to hundreds of runners over the past 3 years and have had minimal to no complaints of increased injury. I also have NOTHING to gain from how I teach a patient to run, I teach what works best (actually I could buy into Galloway’s perspective and just have runners to treat the rest of my career) And to the comment regarding the weight or build of the runner, if you run the way your body was designed to, it will cushion itself. No need for the external support. As per Vibram 5 fingers quote “20,000 years ago  people who didn’t believe in barefoot running GOT EATEN!”

    There will always be naysayers and critics, but look carefully at who is calling this out. It is probably someone who stands to lose some income from people not buying into the need for technical running shoes, like shoe companies, shoe stores, or professions making custom shoes/orthotics etc.

    • Laurie,
      Great reply.  tons of conflicts of interest in all that is out there.  I have not made a nickel off this and am putting my kids education on the line to promote this ideal in a town of 3000 and to a rigid medical community.  We employ 5 folks and host 4 races all volunteer non-profit with the goal to help create a healthy community.
      Thanks for taking a stance in the medical community.
      Several health care folks already on board
      drop me a line…would love to get your take on how to better educate health care providers.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks for your comment Laurie, always great to get perspective from someone
      who spends their time treating injured runners.


  16. runninmontana says:

    Don’t forget, some of us minimalist runners don’t agree we have evolved to run this way but were created too…..  Holds just as much water at least.  No new can of worms here, just sayin….  cheers

    • True…”natural” running is what comes naturally. Dr. Lieberman showed that shod individuals evolve to run in a different patern than unshod.  In my belief we were created to run in a pattern of the unshod.  Most of us have evolved to run in a different way that we did as kids…good point.


  17. Snaggletoth says:

    “It’s still
    funny to me how three million years of evolution is still considered a fad by
    some folks.”


    Bwahahahaha! :-)


    There’s an almost HHG2TG-esque quality to that sentence, I bet you are
    familiar with: “In the beginning the Universe was created, this has since
    made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move”.

    • My employees are VERY passionate …I’m just the owner of the store and still have my day job :)  Mark

  18. I did a search on Google and I found this picture of Jeff Galloway, Steve Prefontaine and Jack Bacheler training for the 1972 Olympics. The shoes he’s wearing look very minimal to me. Heck, everyone was wearing minimal shoes back then! What a horror!

  19. Danny Dreyer says:

    Thanks, Mark, for posting such a complete reply to Jeff Galloway’s comments on minimalist shoes. In EVERY class I teach, the subject of which shoes to wear comes up and I, like Rick Meyers, spend plenty of time talking about the benefits and history of the minimalist movement and what the “big bulky shoes” do and don’t do for you. It’s not a fad and minimalist shoes (just like the one’s Jeff Galloway is shown running in) have been around since the first running boom in the 60’s. The difference between a fad and a revolution is the resulting paradigm change… and we’re seeing it every day in the number of new and old shoe companies producing minimalist shoes.

    They’re here to stay. What needs to happen coincidentally is educating (as Mark says) runners about slowly transitioning into the shoes and adapting a running form that creates less impact to the body. 

    Thanks, Jeff, for keeping this ball rolling,
    Danny Dreyer

    • Thanks Danny,
      Your 10 years of experience in this area is huge.  Share back the links from your site on our ChiRunning survey data.  Yes folks can learn a better stride pattern and for those who try their injury and efforts decrease. 
      Danny when i first learned your technique I knew nothing about shoes. Cutting heels off shoes 5 years ago helped me get what you were teaching in a better way (my body felt it). As our most recent ChiRunning survey showed many Chi Runners naturally getting into less and more level shoes to help complement the form.
      We are telling them to do it…they try it and decide what is best for them.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Danny!

  20. Bkinggard says:

    I am not your typical runner. I recently lost a great deal of weight with diet and exercise and slowly added running into my daily walks. I was running less than 1 mile at a time when my searching lead me to Pete’s website. I had no idea what barefoot style running was or what it took for a shoe to be considered minimalist. But the positive remarks from Pete as well as other comments on these blogs convinced me that a more natural style of running was something I wanted to strive for.
    So, here I was a newbie to running, feeling liberated by losing weight and I jumped directly into natural running. I was cautious to take it slow, but my running was already slow and I had very little endurance, so the transition was none existent. I literally began my running days a natural runner. I would run barefoot on a treadmill to improve my form and ran on roads in the Kinvara. I do almost all my runs in a Merrell true glove now, with the Kinvara thrown in the mix as well.
    I am currently logging 25-30 miles a week, low by many of you guys standards, but I’m getting there. I have been running since Feb. and I have not experienced shin splints or any other major pain to derail my running. I truly feel this is due to the natural stride and low impact of my running. I ran this morning to beat the Memphis summer weather with an 8 mile run. I  even had the energy to play with my 2 daughters in the back yard afterwards. 

    I hope that other people can put aside their fears of natural running and give it a try, it has changed my life.

  21. One word:  perspective.  That’s what Galloway offers.  I think it’s wise to keep that in mind.  I wear VFF’s but have a hard time running very fast in them.  My running partner wears VFF’s and Lunas exclusively for training and has zero problems, just dropping PR’s.  But Galloway is no idiot.

    • Shawn,

      Agree that Jeff is an innovator and leader in the running community and my post showed respect for his contribution to the movement for health and fitness for all.  I’m a family doc in West Virginia and see the effects of inactivity and obestiy daily. I wish everyone followed his advice and got out to walk and run slowly. I stated my opinion on how to transition safely to a more functional shoe and stride pattern with education, gradual progression, and practice….as my friend Danny Dreyer relates below.
      Yes shoes are faster that barefoot of VFF if you are really racing.  I wear Newton Distance in races and now switching to new MV2 (5 ozs).  These shoes are FIRM on landing….not soft. This helps the foot help to stabilize the body in mid-stance.  Much dysfunction happens in mid-stance.
      See Pete’s pieces from Jay Dicharry . 




      • Pete Larson says:

        I’ll add my 2 cents here as well. I ran my last 5K in Vibrams just for
        kicks, and knocked out a 19:30. Only about 40 seconds off my PR on a hot day
        and tough course. That being said, you have to be more careful when racing
        in a shoe like the Vibrams, particularly if there are any trail sections (as
        there were in my race). Stepping on any kind of rock can really hurt, and
        you can’t be as reckless with speed in a shoe like this.

        As such, for racing I prefer to have a bit more shoe underfoot, just as Mark
        does. I tend toward spikeless XC flats or road flats for 5K’s, and something
        like the Saucony Kinvara for the marathon. I think too often we polarize the
        debate as Brooks Beast vs. Vibram Fivefingers, when in fact what most of us
        want to see is greater variety across the spectrum of shoes. I don’t think
        I’d ever run all of my miles in just one type of shoe – personally, I find
        that rotating among 3-4 different types of shoe seems to help reduce
        repetitive stress.

    • Pete Larson says:


      I don’t think anyone thinks badly of Galloway here – I’ve read his books and
      have actually used his run-walk method in a marathon and did pretty well
      with it. He does a huge amount of good for a lot of people.

      Some of us just feel that potentially scaring people away from minimalist
      shoes could remove an option that might just allow someone to run injury
      free. What I found most disappointing is the fact that he referenced “years
      of orthopedic research” demonstrating the value of the modern shoe, when in
      fact no study exists showing that they reduce injury risk. In fact, existing
      trials show that assigning shoes based on indirect measures of pronation is
      no better than assigning them randomly, and motion control shoes come out
      very poorly.


  22. Steven Sashen says:

    Oy, where to begin dissecting Galloway’s “argument”? “Thousands have been hurt”? And the statistics to back that up are where? And the number of shod runners who’ve been hurt is how many?

    I’ve been on barefoot running panels where someone makes similar claims and I often respond by asking a few simple questions:

    a) Have you run, bare footed, on a street or hard surface, for at least a mile without pain? If not, why?
    b) When your client says they were running barefoot… were they BAREfoot or in something minimalist and, if so, what?
    c) Have you watched your client run to see if they have any form issues (typically overstriding, but there can be many), regardless of whether they’re in shoes or not?  (I’ve seen some barefoot runners do some SCARY things… that a simple correction can fix)

    Typically, their response to these questions calls into question their opinions.

    Now, look, I’m not saying barefoot running is the answer for everyone. It probably isn’t. But neither are shoes.

    And I agree with Mark that until we agree upon some terminology, the conversation is tricky to have.

    For example, is the Newton really a barefoot shoe like they say? What about our Invisible Shoes? We both use similar language to describe our VERY different products.

    And, clearly, we need to get some well-done research and some good statistical analysis. Until then, opinions substituting for facts isn’t helping anyone (and by anyone I mean the RUNNERS).

    BTW, remember back in the early 70’s when people made these EXACT SAME arguments against running shoes?

  23. Kyle R. says:

    Mark – you were spot on. Reminds me of a quote from Blaise’s conference – “There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.” Hippocrates

    Jeff’s comments seemed to be mostly opinion.

  24. Annedien Hoen says:

    Not having any data from your customers because you’re a small store sounds like a poor excuse for missing out on a great opportunity ;)
    Get their email addresses, check up on their progress, hear if and how it changes their lives, hear about injuries.

    What strikes me is that this discussion always deals with physical consequences. My barefoot experience has changed my posture and connection to my body, the way I walk this earth. That’s quite profound on a psychological level, in every area of my life.

    • Agree Annedien and thanks for the motivation to do this.  we did  short survey 8 months ago and will do it again now that we have a more robust email list.  Yes critical to get emails for feedback.
      What you say about how you “FEEL” is just as important is “ARE YOU HURT/”.  Why do we run?  For sustainability this must be a spiritual and relaxing practice.

  25. Runbloggers,
    Want to leave you with a great piece and video that sums this up…..I think?
    Rememeber the child and marshmellow experiment? 
    Enjoy and just go run!

  26. Tom Lamphier says:

    Hello- I am a physical therapist from Coeur d alene Idaho that has run competively for over 40 years. I remember my first pair of running shoes were a pair of Brooks vantage followed up by Brooks vantage II.  As the years rolled by the shoes became markedly heavier with more whistles and bells. All my cross country friends and myself trained in what was available and coaches instructed us to wear. We did what we were told like all kids. I have read and admire Jeff Gallaway for many years and have instructed many beginning runners to purchase his books and training plans. Now here comes the although- The minimalist fad has come and gone five times. I must have fallen asleep for long periods of time. I cant recall one visit to any shoe store in the last 40 years were any minimalist shoes were available.  Tom Lamphier

  27. Thank you Mark and Pete for the insight.  What do you make of Galloway’s statement about him seeing this “fad” 5 times in his lifetime of coaching?  Is there any sound basis for that assertion?  I have been running for 20 years and have never come across the minimalism trend before, though I did run in Nike Huarache’s in the early 90’s (a thick soled “minimalist” creation) before I was told I needed “pronation control” and “dual density” midsole foam. 
    It seems like most folks I know who run barefoot or in VFF’s do not race in them (they race in Kinvaras or something similar).  Here’s the thing though, when I run on roads in VFF’s, I feel like I have to work a lot harder (read: expend more energy) to maintain such a fast cadence to go the same speed as I would in a normal cushioned shoe (in my case the Adrenaline GTS).  On trails, I can air it out and go nice and fast (longer stride) but on roads, running gingerly with a short stride I am going slower and expending more energy to go slower, not a good combination.  If barefoot runners need a Kinvara to race in (or something similar to Kinvara), doesn’t it hold true that when training, and wanting to train at high speed paces (tempo, interval runs), one would do well to wear the same footwear?  Personally I like to train fast so I can race fast.  But what I am hearing is train in barefoot/minimalist shoes and race in a kinvara or similar cushioned shoe.  I know that system works — my running partner follows it and his times are dropping like crazy, but it doesn’t seem to work for me, yet, probably because of my form.
    I think for me the VFF’s have their greatest utility in form work, on trails, and on grass.  They are horrible on downhills.  For me, I think something in between is the best solution — i.e. Altra Instinct, Innov-322, Somnio Nada, Kinvara 2, Mach 13, etc. 

    • Danny Dreyer says:

      Hi Shawn,
      I have found it to be very beneficial to train part-time in minimalist shoes and race in a racing flat which has a bit more padding. I’ve spoken with Mark Cucuzzella on this subject and we both agree that you can’t run your fastest speeds in the minimalist shoes. I’d love to hear what others have to say about this. There is no doubt in my mind (and in my body) that I can run downhill faster in something non-minimalist (especially helpful in steep, hilly trail races). I probably run the same speed with either type of shoe on the uphills. 

      One thing to be aware of is that running in minimalist shoes will strengthen your feet and ankles, and help your form, but it’s not a guarantee. A minimalist shoe can help change your form for the better, but for most of the runners I’ve coached, it takes more than simply changing shoes. It takes your lots of time to switch over to less of a shoe and to running with better running form. Don’t make the mistake of trying to keep up with your running partner and forget to allow your body plenty of time to transition.

      • Danny,

        Well said.  Agree you are slower barefoot but that is not the important issue when you are having fun, staying healthy, and training for fitness.  The barefoot activity teaches you to have good foot control and stabilize yourself in midstance…this is critical.  Be very progressive with this.  I run at least 1-2 minutes a mile slower when cruising barefoot, but i can guarantee this is in good form.  My feet tell me so as all is soft and balanced.

        For speed….there is a new shoe by Newton called MV2 which is light, firm, and fast.  When i want to run fast now i put that on, or if tough textured surface. 

        Readers, I read Danny’s book in 2006 and at that time started hacking heels off shoes….so this is 5 years of learning and practice.


      • Pete Larson says:

        I find that uphill running is easier in barefoot-style shoes, but downhill running is a lot harder. Personally, I think I’ll probably always regularly rotate several different pairs of shoes. I have the most fun running in something like the Fivefingers, but when performance is the priority, definitely opt for something a bit more. Same goes for long distance in most cases – generally have more shoe underfoot. I find that using a mix prevents me from getting stale, and stresses my legs in different ways. Hopefully that reduces the likelihood of an overuse injury.


  28. This foot-glove shoes are really helpful especially in running. I prefer using them whenever I join fun runs. It also reduce the possibility of injuries. 

  29. tinea pedis says:

    Hmm. Except for the last self-promoting paragraph, I see nothing in Galloway’s words that is patently false or misleading. I do agree, however, that too many of today’s shoes are overbuilt.

Shop Running Warehouse – Summer 2023

Speak Your Mind

 Notify me of followup comments via e-mail

You can click here to Subscribe without commenting