What’s All the Talk about Barefoot Running?

It’s summertime and runners are taking to the streets and trails to get outdoors! Barefoot running has become the topic of many controversial discussions in recent years. Is this just a fad or is it for real? Vibram USA (a minimalist, barefoot-simulating footwear manufacturer) reported a sales increase of 300% a year since 2006 and were approaching $70 million in 2011.

Researchers have been studying whether barefoot-simulating footwear has any reduced risk of running-related injuries versus the standard running shoe (and the associated differences in running mechanics). However, the research proves to be undecided and controversial. Minimalist shoes or barefoot running might work for some people but it might not work for others. If you’re thinking about changing your running gait or shoe type, first and foremost, get informed and do some research!

Here are some topics to think about with barefoot vs. standard running shoes:

–          Beginner and experienced runners should consider appropriate changes in their gait mechanics before switching from standard shoes to barefoot-simulated; using more of a forefoot striking pattern.

–          If thinking about changing shoe types, all runners should also change their training program to avoid excessive overload and risk of injury. This would include reducing the volume and intensity of running and proper progression.


Haniuk, E. et al. Minimalist footwear: A risky switch for runners? Lower Extremity Review. May 2012: Vol. 4, Num. 5.

One response to this post.

  1. Dr James Stoxen DC, President, Team Doctors The Barefoot Running Doctor

    Doctors don’t seem to know how to restore but many know how to put more braces like motion control shoes, orthotics, arch inserts, canes, walkers, wheelchairs until you are bedridden.

    If you want to be a barefoot runner, the key is to strengthen the muscles that resist the impacts which I call the landing muscles, the spring suspension system muscles or the pronation supination cuff muscles

    Here are my last three articles you might find helpful:

    How Does The Body Spring Back Safely From Impacts Of Running and Walking?


    Self-Tests & Exercises To Reduce Over Pronation and Over Supination From Impacts During Walking and Running


    Video Tutorial #174 Barefoot Running? What If I Step On Something?


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