Minimalist shoes are shoes intended to closely approximate barefoot running conditions. They have reduced cushioning, thin soles, and are of lighter weight than other running shoes, allowing for more sensory contact for the foot on the ground while simultaneously providing the feet with some protection from ground hazards and conditions (such as pebbles and dirt). Research shows that wearing a minimlist shoe can help improve foot strength and arch function. 
Generally, there are two types of minimalist shoes:
- Barefoot Running Shoes are characterized by their zero drop from heel to toe. In other words, the heel has minimal cushioning and is at the same height level as the toe. The Vibram FiveFingers belongs to this category.
- Minimalist Running Shoes are in-between traditional running shoes and barefoot running shoes. They have a minimum heel height of about 4–8 mm. The Nike Free has a 17 mm heel and is marketed as minimalist running shoe, though this designation is disputed by some.
- "What are Minimalist Running Shoes?". Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- "Barefoot Running". Runner's World.
- Miller, Elizabeth E.; Whitcome, Katherine K.; Lieberman, Daniel E.; Norton, Heather L.; Dyer, Rachael E. (2014-06-01). "The effect of minimal shoes on arch structure and intrinsic foot muscle strength". Journal of Sport and Health Science. Special Issue on “Barefoot and Minimal Shoe Running”. 3 (2): 74–85. doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2014.03.011.
- "Barefoot/Minimalist Running Shoes: How to Choose". Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Hutchinson, Alex (2013-01-12). "Do Minimalist Shoes Really Simulate Barefoot Running? | Runner's World". Runnersworld.com. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
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