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The Pregnancy Challenge: Minimalist Running Shoes

For those lucky enough to be able to run throughout pregnancy, lightening the load with the help of featherweight, high-design, minimalist running shoes is tempting. But there are some points to consider that go beyond choosing the hottest style.

For some guidance, we turned to the Running Performance Program, a project at NYU Langone Medical Center that offers runners a personalized, in-depth analysis of everything from biomechanics to nutritional needs. The first thing to remember is that switching up kicks isn’t always easy. James Koo, a physical therapist at NYU Langone, explains that the most common aches and pains associated with wearing lighter shoes are Achilles tendon issues, patellar tendinitis and plantar fasciitis. (And sometimes a new model simply doesn’t feel as good as its predecessor.)

A pregnant body might be dealing with enough already. Weight gain, hormones (hello, relaxin) and postural changes (arched spine, wider stance) can all affect on-the-run mechanics, slowing down pace and cadence and shortening stride. If you want to take the plunge, the key to minimizing discomfort is to transition slowly: minutes versus miles in the beginning, advises Alison Peters, an exercise physiologist at NYU Langone. It is sound advice for those who aren’t pregnant, too; when we made the move to a lighter shoe pre-pregnancy, our calves were sore for days after the first few (too many) miles in them.

And don’t forget that the biomechanical changes associated with pregnancy don’t normally disappear the minute the baby is born. If you experience ongoing difficulties with said changes postpartum, make sure to address them before experimenting with what’s on your feet. To schedule an appointment with the Running Performance Program, call 646-501-7109 or visit

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