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Minimalistic Running Shoe Scale (MRSS)

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Dennis Rehbock, Jul 12, 2012.

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    See my attempt to develop a classification / index / scale of minimalistic running shoes.

    As this classification of minimalistic running shoes is not an exact science and not based on scientific factors, all information in this classification is from the individual running shoe companies and my own professional opinion.

    This classification only includes minimalistic running shoes that are available in South Africa.

    See it at the link below and tell me what you think.

  2. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Dennis - Good job! .... BUT .... I don't like the use of the term 'natural' when it comes to running. This is some of what I posted in another thread:
    It was in the thread on Rearfoot vs. Midfoot vs. Forefoot Striking Running: Which is Best?
  3. That's right. It's natural for me to wear shoes when I walk and run...and unnatural for me to walk or run barefoot. Let's not use the term natural when discussing running biomechanics or shoegear since natural is not only a poorly defined term but also is an ambiguous term.

    Is it natural for people to run naked through the streets? I would say it is rather unnatural for people to be running with no clothes on in public. Think about that fact when you hopefully revise your "Minimalistic Running Shoe Scale".
  4. Thank you to the esteemed Podiatry Arena members Craig and Kevin for your feedback.
    Natural was used because it is what some running shoe companies use to describe their shoes in this range. We all know who that is.

    I am thinking of another name for that category between 5.0 and traditional running shoes.

    Any ideas ?
  5. I'm not a big fan of the terms "minimalistic", "very minimalistic" or "extremely minimalistic" either. I think that a better way to do such a list would use the following four criteria:

    1. Thickness of sole of shoe under metatarsal heads.

    2. Thickness of sole of shoe under calcaneus.

    3. Heel height differential of shoe.

    4. Shoe weight.

    Then, using these four criteria, give each shoe a numerical value from each of these four criteria and then combine all four of these numerical values for each shoe to give an averaged or weighted value as to how "minimal" or how "maximal" the shoe is. This type of shoe classification would get away from the problematic issue of classifying shoes on a subjective basis and would eliminate using terminology that is ambiguous and poorly defined such as "natural" and "minimalistic".:drinks
  6. RobinP

    RobinP Well-Known Member

    Is your surname just coincidence? ;)
  7. yvonnespod

    yvonnespod Member

    thanks Dennis very useful
    After all its pod ref only cheers yvonnespod
  8. Blaise Dubois

    Blaise Dubois Active Member

    I have no problem with natural (to differentiate from 'normal', 'acceptable', 'good' or 'bad', ........)

    for your rate you can compare with
  9. There are big problems with the word "natural", Blaise.

    Would you consider it "natural" for people to wear no clothes (i.e. naked) when they are walking down the street in public? The police here in California would consider that "unnatural" behavior and arrest you for wearing no clothes in public. Maybe things are different in Quebec?
  10. Funnily enough the "naked rambler" was released from prison again today and wasn't immediately re-arrested. They're obviously becoming more liberal in Scotchland.

  11. Blaise Dubois

    Blaise Dubois Active Member

    Hi Kevin
    Running naked is more natural than with cloth (closer to nature...)
    I agree that is maybe not acceptable in a public area, maybe not the best when it's cold, maybe bad in a gala, maybe not comfortable (for sure, for me it's not!)... but it's more natural... like be barefoot.
  12. I just asked one of my patients if she thought it was "natural" to walk naked in the street and she said: "Absolutely not, it is more natural to wear clothes."

    So, Blaise, it is your opinion against my and my patient's opinion. You lose: 2-1.

    You may want to look up the word, ambiguous, Blaise. "Natural" is an example of an ambiguous term. Therefore, ambiguous terms, such as "natural", should not be used for scientific discussions. End of story.

  13. Blaise Dubois

    Blaise Dubois Active Member

    I just asked 2 of my patients if they thought it was "natural" to walk barefoot in the street and they said: "Absolutely yes, it is more natural to to run unshod."

    So, Kevin, it is your opinion (and your patient) against my and my 2 patient's opinion. You lose: 3 - 2.

    You may want to look up the word, natural, kevin. DEF : existing in or formed by nature (opposed to artificial). :drinks
  14. I did look up the definitions (plural) for natural:

  15. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    A few more criteria to consider:

    5. sole stiffness or flexibility from toe to heel
    6. level of support provided by the shoe upper material
    7. level of arch support
    8. built on a last that provides a loose or tight fitting forefoot
    9. presence of a heel cup
    10. durometer of the midsole

  16. CEM

    CEM Active Member

    how about rather than minimal or natural categorising shoes by the heel to toe differential
    the ultra minimal being 0mm drop conventional running shoes 9mm for example

    then you have the added complication of the 5-10 criteia
    materials could be graded 1-10......... 1 being the support of paper, 10 being very firm, fit could be narrow, med, wide, x wide
  17. efuller

    efuller MVP

    Now you've gone and made it too complicated.;) I won't be able to look at a number and tell if I will like the shoes. I'll just have to try the shoes on to see if I like the feel of one pair over another or if I prefer wearing the shoes to going barefoot.

  18. At which point do we measure stiffness?
    How do we measure "support"? Moreover, this will vary between individuals.
    How do we measure "support"? Moreover, this will vary between individuals.
    How do we measure "loose or tight fitting"? This will vary between individuals.
    Do you mean a heel counter?
    At which point do we measure durometer? While the midsoles resistance to permanent deformation is one characteristic of the midsole, I'm not convinced its more important than any other material characteristic of the midsole or for that matter the outer-sole (some shoes don't have a mid-sole, BTW) that could be measured.
  19. This is not scientific. Paper will support the weight of a flea with ease, supporting the weight of a mouse may be more difficult, supporting the weight of man? Which man? It depends on the thickens of the paper and the geometry it is folded into.

    Better to talk of the load/ deformation characteristics of a material. Viz. it's stiffness. As I intimated previously though, stiffness will vary from point to point across the surface of the shoe, so where do you measure it?
  20. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Simon, I'll assume you know you are hitting on my point. Even if there was agreement on how to measure a multitude of criteria, they are all along a continuum with manufacturers blending varying levels of each of the criteria to produce what they "think" is the ideal minimal shoe. I assume that "ideal" to a shoe manufacturers translates into sales figures rather than performance characteristics.

    I like Simon B's point of view that he expressed a few times in a different thread that weight is the MOST important characteristic. I know it is the most important to me and is the absolute first thing I look at when in the market for shoes. A given pair of shoes must weigh at or below a weight I know I am comfortable with. If the shoe is heavier, I will not give it another second worth of consideration, regardless of what color it comes in.

  21. CEM

    CEM Active Member

    Simon, paper was probably the wrong choice of "material" word, as for it not being scientific, whilst scientific would be all good and proper was the idea of the original chart not to give the consumer 1/2 a clue as to the differences between the products out there... whilst it is important that the professionals (podiatrists, pedorthists, shoe fitters) etc possibly need to know the technicalities joe public certainly does not, they need to know the drop, the fit and does it/will it work for them

    i think it is near impossible to measure all the variables as things like stiffness as you point out will not only vary from point to point but also dependant on how the shoe fits on the foot. as an example the ski industry has being trying to standardise the flex of ski boots for years, whilst the boots of one flex rating are all "similar" to each other they vary IMO vastly from brand to brand, even model to model.... that one should be simple as it is one parameter being looked at, yet it is a mine field
  22. Blaise Dubois

    Blaise Dubois Active Member

  23. Blaise Dubois

    Blaise Dubois Active Member

    Simon, Kevin, David... are you in vacation?
    I want to learn!
  24. Blaise:

    I have taken the liberty of copying your "minimalist formula" here so we can all better discuss it.

    First of all, to make your formula better, I would eliminate both the subjective rating of "comfort" and the non-physical/mechanical parameter of "price" from your formula since I think both of these factors weaken your rating system. Comfort may depend very much on foot morphology and, as you know, is extremely variable. Therefore, due to the morphological variability of human feet and how it determines "shoe comfort", I believe that "comfort" should be left out of your shoe rating system. For example, a shoe with a wide and deep toe box may be very comfortable for an individual with a wide, thick foot, but may be very uncomfortable for an individual with a narrow,thin foot. Let each individual decide, on their own, what is most comfortable since comfort is very subjective.

    In addition, price should be eliminated from the formula since it does not describe a physical/mechanical characteristic of the shoe. I believe the focus of your minimalist shoe rating system and formula should be to describe and weight the most important physical and mechanical characteristics of running shoes. Let the price not be a factor and let the price be determined by the marketplace.

    Next, as far as the relative weighting of the remaining four criteria, stack (S), drop (D), flexibility (F) and weight (W), I believe that, in order of importance, they should be weighted with shoe mass (W) being most important and S, D and F being of equal importance to each other.

    Shoe mass (W) will obviously be determined partially by the stack and drop with those shoes with the least stack and least drop having the least mass. Flexibility will also be affected by shoe mass since the shoe with the thinnest sole (least sole mass) will be the most flexible. I think that stack, flexiblity and drop should be equally weighted in the formula since, to me, they seem equally important to determining how "minimalist" a running shoe is.

    Therefore, as far as formula weighting, here is how I would portion out the value of the four parameters of a minimalist shoe rating system:

    MRSS = 0.4W + 0.2S + 0.2F + 0.2D

    I believe the above formula is a more scientific, less subjective and more meaningful method to rate how "minimalist" a running shoe is. By eliminating the subjective rating of "comfort" you will make the formula more objective. By eliminating "price" from the rating you will make the formula only based on mechanical and physical characteristics of the shoe. And finally, by giving shoe mass a 0.4 factor rather than a 0.1 factor from your original formula, I believe that you will be more heavily weighting the one physical characteristic of the shoe that most runners look for in a running shoe that helps them feel like they are running with no shoe at all.

    Hope this helps and good luck.:drinks
  25. Blaise Dubois

    Blaise Dubois Active Member

    Thanks Kevin for your comments
    Very appreciate.

    We all agree to say that comfort is the most important thing in the purchase of a running shoe (maximalist or minimalist). I am not talking about the perception of envelopment and softness that fills all empty spaces, such as an orthotic, but about fitting. Fitting is all about respecting the length, the width and the shape of the foot.
    The minimalism trend brought an essential characteristic in the fitting that seems to spread to other types of shoe now: the anatomic last of the forefoot. The specific shape of the front of the shoe allows the foot to move more naturally, to benefit from toes expansion when brought under charge and especially to avoid specific and irritating pressure or deforming points caused by a too narrow toe box. Comfort is therefore one of the most essential criteria for us and certainly one to integrate in the evaluation of “how minimalist” (the closest from barefoot) is our shoe.
    But I agree with one thing, the comfort criteria, which is subjective, will influence the rating. Therefore the final rate can be a little bit different from a person to another, for the same shoes. The question here : Is the shoe closer to barefoot than another.

    Price represents only 10% of the final score, the least important criteria, and the classic variable is from 3% to 5%. I integrated the price in the formula for one simple reason: how does a running shoe with least can cost so much? If we think minimalism which define itself as the least as possible, this should also reflect on the price… doesn’t it? And if a shoe brand from “giant stores” cost half of the price of a well known brand, I have no problem considering it more minimalist… at least over the price.
    Minimalist shoes have always been way less expensive than traditional/maximalist shoes up to the day the shoe companies took over and then it wasn’t a marginal market anymore… yes, minimalist shoes are nowadays sold at maximalist prices.

    OK in a physiological point of view... but not in a biomechanical and tissue adaptation point of view. The biomechanical changes (better impact moderating behaviour, reduce over striding and braking phase, ...) observed with the minimalist shoes have a lot less to do with weight than Stack (and D and F).

    I think that the drop, the flexibility and the weight are the most used factors by the traditional shoe companies to sell their new minimalist range that are not really. And they succeed to make us believe that these parameters were the most important. However, they don’t talk about stack which is a determining factor to me.

    In the past it was true... Now with all the new materials, the relationship is not always true ... between Stack, Ramp, Flex and shoe mass.

    Like you know we have no idea... (scientifically)
    The answer to all of these parameters is highly individual and varies from a subject to an other, even though general trends are taking shape.
    In my clinical experience having evaluated hundreds of runners, inducted biomechanical changes are first caused by heel protection (amount of protection that allows a heel strike), and this, way over the drop factor and a lot before the weight factor! Also, stack (with its firmness) has influence on stability, proprioception, amount of pronation, etc… that makes it the most important factor along with the fit!

    On my web site we give a rate of 10/10 for all shoes. This aspect don't influence the rating but "normalized" a little bit our final rating. At the end it's like if we don't include it.
    But for a runner specifically, he/she can rate all his shoes including comfort... because like you said, comfort may depend very much on foot morphology versus shoe morphology!

    I'm working and think on that formula since one years. Like every theory it's a work in progress. Maybe the formula will progress with new publications...

    I will be in LA for a course the sept 28th 2013 https://secure.therunningclinic.ca/fr/cours-conferences/nouveautes-dans-la-prevention.php?id=205
    Why not to organized a public conference (200-300 people) around the "running shoe" question (like we did with Craig in Melbourne... debate that he taped) :drinks
  26. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

    There is some more discussion of this scale at the Natural Running Center:
    Defining Minimalism and Running Shoes: Bringing the Hype Back to Earth

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