Before I started wearing minimalist shoes, my feet looked and felt frail. They were skinny, bony, veiny, and not to mention, my bunions were not a beautiful touch. Now that I have been a minimalist runner for 4 years, the physicality of my feet have changed dramatically, including the size of my bunions, in that they look and are much healthier.
Minimalist Shoes Gives You Better Looking Feet
My feet have gained a considerable amount of muscle volume and strength from wearing minimalist shoes. My forefoot is wider mainly because my toes are spaced farther apart and my bunions have reduced in size. My feet have become more ‘meaty’ and my arches have grown in height. The reason for this is that minimalist running shoes stimulate increases in foot muscle volume, changing the shape of your foot.
Inline with my experience, a study by Miller et al. 2014 found that habitual traditional running shoe wearers achieved greater increases in flexor digitorum brevis volume after 12 weeks of running in minimalist footwear. Another contributing factor for the increase in foot strength is that minimalist running shoes often encourage a forefoot strike landing which increases contractions in the muscles that aid in lowering and rising the arch as compared with heel strike running. This contraction helps build foot muscle in forefoot running.
- The reason for this contraction in forefoot running is to help stiffen the arch to help with the load transfer of the weight of the body during stance and it also helps pull the metatarsals closer together to allow for greater muscle stabilization (Miller et al. 2014).
This is why you should expect to see changes in your foot’s structure that range from added arch height to thicker metatarsal head fat pads. Some skeptics of minimalism will tell you that it is impossible to run long distances in minimalist footwear because the feet are less protected and thus injury-prone, yet the above data challenges this notion since you are more likely to have stronger feet by wearing minimalist shoes vs conventional running shoes.
Here are my other articles that look at how minimalist footwear fosters a stronger, healthier body for running:
References: Miller et al. The effect of minimal shoes on arch structure and intrinsic foot muscle strength. J Sport Health Sci, 2014, 3, 74-85.
BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.