Questions & Answers

Minimalist injury?

Well I've injured my foot and feeling a bit glum about it. Anyone else experiencing any injury possibly caused by going barefoot? Anyone have experience in needing to do less bare footing?

So here's the background info. I've been barefoot/minimalist for 2 1/2 years now. I generally believe I have strong well developed feet and never wear traditional shoes these days. I work on my technique to be a mid foot striker with knees betpnt etc.

Recently I've significantly increased my level of activity from normal hiking to some long days hiking fast and hard for an endurance event I'm working on. Training involved hiking 60ks mostly in off track country and running 5-16ks. When I push hard on longer trips I am getting some strong pain under my big toe which I believe to be Sesamoiditis. After resting for a couple of weeks the pain goes away. Unfortunately it came back when I did a 13k run yesterday (merrel road gloves).

I'm finding it hard to find some information that understand why we go barefoot/minimalist. Most health professionals I've spoken to and sites I've visted believe in padding, arch support and orthotics.

I plan on letting my foot recover and then to try and do something in slightly more traditional footwear. I'm not sure if this will help.

Any comments, help or recommendations welcome.


Answers and Replies


Sounds like you're straining your flexor hallucis longus - which is your big toe muscle that flexes when you push off on it, in normal pronation. When someone increases their training too quickly and in essence, overtrains, the tibialis posterior muscle, which supports the major arch of the foot, begins to fail and this puts more stress on the big toe - so you overpronate. So you end up irritating the area under the big toe and even the sesamoid bones as you note.

So whatcha wanna do: Check out the plantar fasciitis video because in it I show how to find the trigger points in the tib post - hopefully this will relieve your problem or at lease help. And as I note - the tib post is closely related with training too hard, so it's not a coincidence that it gets worse when you "push hard" as you mention. Video here >>



as always you are right on. also on rough trails you may want a bit more protection for the longer distances while staying level. there is a lot of work in oure minimal shoes and difficult trail, esp if going fast.

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella


Thank you both for you contribution. That does make sense.

I believed that I was increasing my activity incrementally enough with hard training hikes of 40ks + (with lots of hills and rough tracks thrown in for fun) but the off track difficulties experienced during the initial event (and the fast pace) seem to have strained the tendon.

So I'm now resting the foot. I don't plan on anything really for 2-3 weeks maybe 4. Is this long enough? I'm feeling a bit impatient, but I know that I need to let it heal and fight the urge to get out running/hiking even for a short period.

I'll then experiment with a less minimalist shoe for off track and harder work that has a little bit less flexibility than my Innov-8 bare grips and X-talon 190s.

I'll work to increase the strength of this tendon/muscle group. I'm not 100% sure how to do that yet as I have quite strong arches already. I do a lot of barefoot and minimalist rough trail walking and the issue has only occurred when I do the really extended days off track at race pace. I guess I just have to get out there more :)

Thanks again. Geoff


I think perspective will help. Lets say your 25yr old. You've been baring footing for two and a half years. So for 22.5 years you were in shoes, probably started walking in baby shoes. How would our foot strength compare to someone who never wore shoes. On top of that most of us here are going back to barefoot as an adult with adult weight not as children slowly adding weight as our foot develops. I have a feeling even 5 years will not give us a strong foot compared to the shoeless nomad. Point being..... take your time before pushing into heroic feets (haha)

That video was great by the way. I was a little tender when getting out of bed with no hint of upper leg pain but felt along the bone right below the knee and hit a tender spot.

Geoff (as well)


Yup! I had serious pain in the front ball. This moved to my arch, and is now in my ankle. It's been about 6 months since the first injury. Ankle's been killing me for the last 4 months.

I was so excited about this whole minimalist walking/running so I went right into it. I bought myself the Merrell ones. I found out later that I gotta take it slow.

So now I'm back to my regular shoes trying very unsuccessfully to recover. My ankle swells when I'm sitting down and kills like a sprained ankle when I put weight on it. The pain subsides when I take a light walk but quickly gets stiff if I walk too much.

I've been to doctors but nothing shows up on ultrasound or x-rays. I have good days and bad days. I try to massage it whenever I can.

But to answer your question again...Yes. Conclusion? Like most people would say, ease into it, otherwise you'll end up on the bench like me. :)


I think the telling word in your description could be push. When running barefoot or using a minimalist shoe you don't want to be pushing off the get your foot off the ground. Try lifting your foot by raising the knee instead of pushing off and see if that helps. The idea is to place your foot on the ground and lift it up. Hope that helps.

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