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What is the definition of 'maximalism' and 'minimalism' in running shoes?

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Craig Payne, May 13, 2014.

  1. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator


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    From teh thread on the adidas boost:
  2. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    I do not think that there is nor can be a definition of either (despite being a participant in the delphi mentioned above); they are just extremes of a continuum.

    Running shoes have a range of design features:

    The characteristics or design features of a typical minimalist running shoe is lightweight, low or zero drop, minimal or no cushioning, flexible, wide toe box, lack of gimmicks, etc

    But is it still a minimalist shoe if it has all those design feature, but has a lot of cushioning (eg the Altra Instinct)
    The Hoka are typically considered a maximalist shoe, but they have a low drop, but a high stack.

    Each of the design feeatures that go into a shoe exists on a continuum; so to define one as minimalist or maximalist is fought with dangers - they may be minimalist on some design features but not on others, so are they still minimalist - same for maximalist.

    For now I go with Thurgood Marshall's definition of pornography .... "I know it when I see it"
  3. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    The extremes of maximalisation and minimalisation? Easy.

    The extreme at the minimal end of the spectrum is pretty well represented by "the king is in the altogether". My assumption being that the skin is never "uncontaminted" and whatever that minimal contamination is, eg a bacterium, a molecule of sand, etc that minimal contaminatin represents the minimal footwear.

    At the other end of the spectrum maximal is even more easy to define. If we define, in anatomical terms the upper limit of footwear and for the sake of argument lets say that it is the lower aspects of the malleoli. Go out into the back garden dig a hole big enough to cover your feet up to the malleoli and then fill in the hole. Now take the camera in your head and pull back. No - far further than that.

    Now you are out in space and you can see the earth in front of you and there you are in your back garden with your feet buried. Take the pcture. Click. Look at the picture and you will notice that the world and everything in it now cnstitutes your footwear. OK, you've got both feet in one shoe but hey what the hell - nobody's going to ask you to run. Maximal footwear. Job done

    If I can help somebody as I travel on my way then my living shall not be in vain.

  4. Blaise Dubois

    Blaise Dubois Active Member

    The Delphi Study will not just have a definition. You will have the rate (How minimalism or maximalism is your shoe according to criteria bring by the consensus)

    Intra and inter-reliability will also be done by the study

    Also, a consensus is rarely 100% :)

    Agree for the continuum. For the moment I used the TRC rating (made some years ago): http://www.lacliniqueducoureur.com/blog/2012/09/definition-du-minimalisme-defining-minimalism/

    you can ring the result of the calculation for most of the minimalist shoe here. http://www.therunningclinic.com/en/runners-information/recommended-shoes.php?road

    This rating is principally made by Stack, Drop, Flex and weight. Confort is personal so 10/10 was according on our web site... price have pretty no influence on the rate
  5. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    I did not want to say much about the process until its published. Any idea when that might be?
  6. Dr. Steven King

    Dr. Steven King Well-Known Member

    Mahalo Craig,

    I understand your concept of a continuum but it does not help define the continuum.

    As scientists and researchers we are often required to define something that we truely do not have an answer for, otherwise why would have Newton invented calculus?

    If i ask you what the color green is you could just say that it is just part of the visible spectrum/continuum of light. Would it not be more helpful and scientific to define the color green as the wavelength of light between apx. 500-550 nanometers?

    Somethings are dependant on this definition.

    It ain't easy being green, or whatever color it is,,,
  7. Blaise Dubois

    Blaise Dubois Active Member

    intra inter-evaluator reliability this summer and after it will be to the editor (process are sometime long.
  8. Blaise Dubois

    Blaise Dubois Active Member

    Minimalism start at 70% TRC rating... but you need more than 75% to increase the probability that the shoes doesn't interfere to much with your biomechanics.
  9. Dr. Steven King

    Dr. Steven King Well-Known Member


    When will we recognize the importance of foot protection in our descriptors of footwear? Is it less important than comfort?

    Blaise could you please tell me why your TRC ratings include comfort but not puncture protection, stability or energy return?

    "Minimalism start at 70% TRC rating... but you need more than 75% to increase the probability that the shoes doesn't interfere to much with your biomechanics.

    I think maximalism would be just the opposite of the continuum where we try to influence aborant/pathologic or inadequate gait for the task.


    A Hui Hou,
  10. Blaise Dubois

    Blaise Dubois Active Member

    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.

    - puncture protection: important but noting to do with biomechanical changes or tissus adaptation. At different degrees, pretty every shoes offer a protection to puncheon.
    - stability: ... just lost by the shoes. Marketing thing
    - energy return: ... just lost by the shoes. Marketing thing
  11. Dr. Steven King

    Dr. Steven King Well-Known Member

  12. Dr. Steven King

    Dr. Steven King Well-Known Member


    Blaise i am sorry for venting my frustration in your direction. As a practicing foot doctor, i have to treat these feet for puncture wounds that you claim are being adeqately protected with the current shoe systems. So your arguement rose some hairs.

    As stated before on this website,

    Before we make judgement on the proper definition of "maximalism" perhaps we could apply a scientific approach to defining the term.

    One of the bigger issues our fellow foot care providers have had with the minimalist shoe trend has been a reduction of the protective qualities. If Maximalism is to be the contrast/inverse to minimalism then maximalist shoes must be designed with significant and testable safety features such as increase in puncture protection. The American Society of Testing Materials and SATRA has accepted safety test standards currently in place and for the safety of our patients we should start to use them on more of our footwear choices.

    Energy efficiency of gait needs to be addressed when defining this term. If minimalism restricts the use of exterior influences of footwear maximalism will embrace it. The Orthotics and Prothetics Industry has done wonders with the new advanced designs using advanced composite carbon fiber enough to enable bilateral leg amputees to compete in the Olympics. Future maximalist designs should also include powered gait systems. Maximalist footwear must be able to significantly enhance the efficiency of gait.

    Stability of gait will also need to be addressed. Maximalist footwear must test significant improvements in the stabilization of the user during gait and stance.

    Dr. Steven King
    Maui Hawaii

    American Society of Testing Materials
    F13 Footwear Safety and Traction Committee Member
    E54 Homeland Security Applications and Body Armor Committee Member
    Managing Member Kingetics LLC
    Co-Principal Investigator SBIR A11-109 "Advanced Composite Insoles for the Reduction of Stress Fractures." US Department of Defense and Army Medical Research and Materials Command."
  13. Dr. Steven King

    Dr. Steven King Well-Known Member

    "Maximalism in footwear and gait systems must show significant and testable improvements in energy efficiency, stability, physical safety and greenability.
    It is the inverse of minimalism." S. K.

    It is what us doctors strive for when our patients require it.



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