So You've Just Bought Your First Minimal Shoes, Now What?

Hi movement lovers, Hannah here!

I have been fitting people for minimal shoes at Cool East Market for about 2 years now, and my focus here is customer service, which involves a lot of education for those who are trying minimal and barefoot shoes for the first time.

One benefit our in-store customers have is that I check in about their experience level with minimal shoes and ensure that they have the all the information they need for when they get home and start wearing their new kicks.

While personalized advice isn't possible in blog format, we can at least make the standard How To Get Started info available here. Think of this post as the Quick Start version of our original series of transition posts by Ivan.

Without further ado, here's the spiel!

Take them home in the box, then wear them indoors for a few hours. The reason is twofold:

  • This allows you to double check that you're satisfied with your purchase; once you wear them outside you can no longer return them.
  • This will give you a sense of your starting point with minimal and barefoot shoes.

    After wearing them for a bit, you may notice signs of your muscles working in new ways such as cramping, muscle fatigue, or that type of mild discomfort.

    If you notice this tiredness after two hours, start with wearing your new shoes for an hour, or an hour and a half per day. If you start noticing tiredness after five hours, wear them for four hours a day to start, etc. If you can wear them all day and not feel any discomfort, then you can wear them freely in most cases.

    After you've reached your current endurance limit for the day, take your minimal shoes off and wear what you usually wear: bare feet, slippers, your old shoes, whatever is comfy. It's ok to go back and forth. During your transition, your feet are working out! After a workout your body needs time to rest so it can get ready for the next day.

    After a week or two, or even a month if you want to take things slow and gentle, do your duration test again to see if your endurance has grown, and increase your wear time gradually over a few months.

    I always advise our customers to walk before you run, literally. If you're a regular runner and want to use your minimal shoes for your runs, ease into it even more gradually! It can take 6 months to 2 years to transition for runners, truly. Impatience can lead to injury which slows down your progress, so don't rush it.





    If you feel pain, that could indicate that you've pushed past your current limits. Minimal shoes should not hurt. You may need to alter your transition schedule, do some prep exercises, or try a different model. Feel free to contact us about this, and if it seems like something we're not qualified to answer, we'll hook you up with a movement teacher or health professional.


    Mild discomfort on the other hand is one of the ways your body is signaling to you to change things up. Consider the old adage: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is unrealistic. One of the key elements of transitioning to minimal shoes is that your gait will change over time, so experiment with slowing it down and listening to that feedback.

    Sidewalk and Paved Surfaces

    While we are learning a barefoot style gait, which could be considered more natural, we're not always moving on natural surfaces. Walking (and especially running) on grass, wooden boardwalk, and other surfaces from nature will be more forgiving than walking on paved surfaces.

    Gait Help

    If you're looking for some direction, feel free to experiment with these ideas:

    • slow down
    • try to land your foot closer to underneath your body (avoid crashing your heel down way out in front of you)
    • try shorter, high frequency strides
    • try walking as if you are moving stealthily (soft and quiet steps)
    • try a guided walking meditation audio to bring more awareness to your body

      Doing The Work

      Exercises, stretches, and tissue manipulation (massage and rollouts) can help ease (and often hasten) your transition to minimal shoes. Take a look at our Accessories section for resources and tools or ask us for a recommendation!


      What Comes After Transition?

      Once you've transitioned into a forgiving minimal shoe, you may decide to use these tips to transition a second time from a thick soled minimal shoe to a thinner soled minimal shoe: one that feels even more like being barefoot. It's the same process, but usually easier and shorter since you've already got most of it down. Or, you may decide that you've reached your happy feet place and just stay there, and that's good too!


      Minimal and barefoot shoes are so comfy, once you get used to them you may never want to go back!