Barefoot running has become increasingly popular as an alternative to running with shoes. While anecdotal evidence and testimonials proliferate on the internet and in the media about the possible health benefits of barefoot running, research has not yet adequately shed light on the immediate and long term effects.
Barefoot running has been touted as improving strength, balance, and proprioception and promoting a more natural running style while reducing the risk of injury. Risks of barefoot running include puncture wounds, lack of protection from hard objects and increased strain to the lower extremity. Running in shoes, some argue, promotes muscle atrophy, decreases balance and proprioception and promotes an “unnatural” running style thereby increasing the risk of injury.
Currently there is a lack of well-designed studies regarding the benefits and/or risks of barefoot running. The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine serves to advance the understanding, prevention and management of lower extremity injuries and so until credible research has been published which documents the benefits and risks of barefoot running the Academy encourages the public to work with their sports medicine podiatrists from the AAPSM and other sports medicine professionals in making an informed decision on whether or not to incorporate barefoot running into their training program.