Minimalist Running: The Ultimate Guide to Pain-Free and Natural Running
Minimalist Running

Note: This is a summary and follow-up article to a couple longer pieces we wrote last year about minimalist shoes & transitioning to minimalist running. We also did an article and video on transitioning to barefoot shoes and a brief review of some shoes I’ve tried myself. 


Spring is upon us. That means many people who have stayed huddled in their homes all winter now plan on getting back to their favorite outdoor activities and exercises, like running.

Running continues to be one of the most popular and accessible forms of exercise. But it boasts one of the highest injury rates. Studies show that up to 80% of runners get injured every year, often due to the repetitive impact of running on hard surfaces.

But what if there was a way to run that was not only more efficient but also less injurious?

Enter minimalist running.


What is Minimalist Running?


Minimalist running involves a natural running style that emphasizes a forefoot or midfoot strike rather than a heel strike. It also involves using footwear that provides little to no cushioning or support. This type of running came about as a way to try and prevent the ever-increasing number of running injuries that runners experience. The thinking was that humans evolved to run barefoot or with minimal footwear, and that modern shoes with thick cushioning and support disrupt the natural biomechanics of the foot and lead to injury.


Benefits of Minimalist Running


Research has shown that this type of running can offer numerous benefits to runners, including:

  1. Improved running efficiency: Minimalist running promotes a shorter stride length, increased cadence, and a more upright posture, which can lead to more efficient running mechanics and improved performance.
  2. Reduced risk of injury: By encouraging a forefoot or midfoot strike, minimalist running can reduce the impact forces on the lower extremities and help prevent common running injuries such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and knee pain.
  3. Enhanced proprioception: The lack of cushioning and support in minimalist shoes allows for greater sensory feedback from the feet, which can improve balance and coordination and reduce the risk of ankle sprains.

Now, I’ve gone through these in depth both in the Natural Runner eBook, available on Amazon and on the two previous articles that are linked at the top of this page.

Getting Started


If you’re interested in trying minimalist running, it’s important to start slowly and gradually build up your mileage. The Natural Runner: 8 Weeks to Pain-free Running Program is a great resource for those looking to make the transition to minimalist running. This program provides a step-by-step guide to building up your strength and flexibility, improving your running form, and selecting the right minimalist footwear.

Some key tips to keep in mind when starting minimalist running include:

  1. Start with short runs: Begin with short, easy runs in minimalist shoes and gradually increase your mileage over several weeks.
  2. Focus on form: Pay attention to your running form, especially your foot strike and posture. Try to land lightly on your forefoot or midfoot and maintain an upright posture.
  3. Strengthen your feet: Strengthening exercises such as toe curls, calf raises, and barefoot walking can help prepare your feet for minimalist running.



Minimalist running can offer a natural, efficient, and injury-free way to run. By emphasizing a forefoot or midfoot strike and using minimalist footwear, runners can improve their running mechanics, reduce their risk of injury, and enhance their proprioception. If you’re interested in trying minimalist running, be sure to start slowly, focus on your form, and consider using a program like The Natural Runner to guide you through the transition. Happy running!



  1. Harvard Health Publishing. (2014, May). Barefoot running: Is it for you? Harvard Health Blog. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/barefoot-running-is-it-for-you-201405067042
  2. Squadrone, R., Gallozzi, C. (2009). Biomechanical and physiological comparison of barefoot and two shod conditions in experienced barefoot runners. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 49(1), 6-13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19188889/
  3. Altman, A. R., Davis, I. S. (2012). Barefoot running: biomechanics and implications for running injuries. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 11(5), 244-250. https://journals.lww.com/acsm-csmr/fulltext/2012/09000/barefoot_running__biomechanics_and_implications.9.aspx
  4. Giuliani, J., Masini, B., Alitz, C., Owens, B. D. (2011). Barefoot-simulating footwear associated with metatarsal stress injury in 2 runners. Orthopedics, 34(7), e320-e323. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21717998/
  5. The Natural Runner: 8 Weeks to Pain-Free Running. Pro-Active Health. https://pro-activehealth.com/running-plan/

Are you dealing with pain?

We understand that struggling with the stress and strain of pain can be tough…Whether it’s waking up feeling stiff or severe tension after walking, running, or playing, no one wants to spend each day dealing with the soreness that pain brings. While many people choose surgery or injections for pain relief, at ProActive Rehabilitation & Wellness, we offer non-surgical therapies which prevents patients from going under the knife.


If you’d like to book a pain consultation now, with one of our top clinicians, click the button bellow or have your provider fax over a referral. We only book a limited amount of these consultations each month, so act quickly before they’re gone.

Rafi Salazar OT

Rafael E. Salazar II, MHS, OTR/L (Rafi) is the CEO & President of Proactive Rehabilitation & Wellness, as well as the Principal Owner of Rehab U Practice Solutions and the host of The Better Outcomes Show. Rafi’s career trajectory includes 10+ years of experience in healthcare management, clinical operations, programmatic development, marketing & business development. He even spent some time as an Assistant Professor in a Graduate Program of Occupational Therapy and has served on numerous boards and regulatory committees. Today, Rafi helps innovative healthcare companies humanize healthcare through his consulting workHe also leverages his experience as a professor and academic to speak and train on the topics around humanizing the healthcare experience.

Rafi also authored the book Better Outcomes: A Guide to Humanizing Healthcare