One of the simplest and most profound changes you can make for your whole body health is to wear shoes that allow more natural movement. Ideally you want your shoe to interfere as little as possible with the variety of movements of the foot. This means you want to look for shoes that have little to no heel drop, a wide toe box, and a flexible sole.
That said, if you’ve been wearing supportive shoes or heels for most of your life, you will need to allow your feet time to transition. Corrective exercises (such as those in Whole Body Barefoot) and being mindful about shoe choice allow you to make the transition safely.
The following shoes are my recommendations for people just starting to transition to minimalist shoes. These will likely have some heel (though very little), be somewhat stiffer, and have more padding than most minimalist shoes.
Merrell sells both minimalist and non-minimalist shoes.
Altra is across the board a good option for the athlete. They are available locally at Body n Sole
An indigenous-owned Canadian company, these shoes feature leather uppers, vibram soles, and good flexibility. These have a more conventional toe box. I’ve worn their canoe shoes for years and recommend them.
The shoe the started the minimalist trend. There are more options than the fivefingers out there, and many minimalist shoe companies use their patented material for their soles.
With their sturdy construction, flexible sole, and the widest toe boxes on the market Lems are a good all around choice for those who want a reliable and versatile shoe. They have options that are good for men’s office wear or even a contractor site (no steel toe), and all the shoes accommodate toe spreading devices. Their Primal 2 line is my favorite for hiking and gardening. Be aware that their Trailhead line have a slight heel and stiffer sole than I would recommend.
Xero’s sole flexibility rivals that of the Vibram Fivefingers. Their lightweight sandals are fantastic for the minimalist enthusiast, and the customer service is unparalleled. Now that they have shoes as well as sandals my household tends to wear Xero year round. Their expanded shoe options make Xero a great choice for almost any situation.
Unshoes are another popular option in minimalist sandals. With a DIY kit available they are also a very affordable option.
Vivo Barefoot offers high quality truly minimalist shoes. They have an extensive vegan line, as well as shoes that are great for the tri-athlete. Additionally Vivo is highly recommended in the minimalist shoe community for hiking.
Drifter Leather creates custom minimal shoes, which means they are ideal for those with hard to fit feet. Additionally they have the widest selection of office-appropriate minimal shoes on the market.
Handmade in the US, Softstar shoes have options available for all ages.