Back to top

Treating pain while transitioning to minimal shoes

Whether you’ve tried to wear minimalist shoes and have pain, got injured while wearing minimalist shoes or have never tried them and don’t know how to start. Below is a guide to transitioning to minimalist shoes and a few exercises to get you started on wearing them.

  1. Start slow. If you would like to wear your new shoes for exercise starting with shorter workouts or splitting your workouts between your old exercise shoes and your new minimalist ones to give your body time to adjust to the new strength and mobility requirements can be helpful.


  1. Create a schedule. Similarly, you can start with a wear schedule, meaning wear your new shoes for an hour and your old shoes for an hour, alternating to give your feet a chance to adjust, but also rest. You can also do this by wearing your new minimalist shoes full time but alternating between on your feet time and rest time.


  1. Be consistent. Being conscious of your wear environment can help alleviate or prevent pain. Our gait cycle begins with a heel strike. Some people have heavier heel strikes than others, meaning when their foot lands in walking the impact may be hard. Since minimalist shoes do not have added heel cushioning some adjustment time may be required. Choosing specific ground environments to walk on when beginning to wear minimalist shoes can be important. Grass and dirt are more forgiving compared to asphalt and concrete.


  1. Exercise your feet. Exercises to get a jump start on healthy minimalist shoe ready feet
  1. Toe yoga
    1. While seated keeping your both feet flat on the ground lift just your big toes and hold for 5 seconds. Lower your big toes then lift all your smaller toes and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat this cycle 10 times.

  1. Single leg balance
    1. From standing lift one leg as if marching and stand and hold with both hip and knee bent in this position. Try to maintain balance for 30 seconds then switch sides. To make this more difficult it can be performed on a foam square or folded up yoga mat as a progression.


  1. Calf stretching
    1. Stand facing a wall with one leg behind you. Keeping your back leg fully straight and the toes of your back foot pointed towards the wall and firmly on the ground lean forward towards the wall until you feel a stretch in the calf of your back foot. Ensure you keep your heel on the ground the whole time. Hold this position for 30 seconds and switch sides.



  1. Calf Strengthening
    1. Standing on a step or a curb with your heels off of the edge push up onto your tip toes then slowly lower yourself letting your heels drop down below the step or curb you are on hold for 3 seconds at the bottom and repeat this motion. Perform 3 sets of 10 of these. If this is too easy you can perform this exercise on a single leg as a progression.




If you are struggling with the exercises above or you have had unresolved pain during your transition to minimalist shoes or have had foot ankle or shin pain for over 2 weeks its probably time to give us a call to setup an appointment, or schedule through our website. Either our office in downtown Washington, DC between Dupont Circle and Farragut Square, or at our office in Navy Yard and Capitol Riverfront, just a few blocks from Capitol Hill DC has the best area physical therapists who are capable of getting you on the track to recovery. One-on-one appointments at Rose are about one-hour with a physical therapist, never a technician. And Rose Physical Therapy in Washington, DC accepts most private health insurance so that the best physical therapy is also affordable for you based on your insurance plan.