Barefoot running: an evaluation of current hypothesis, future research and clinical applications.
There has been a plethora of interest and subsequent research into the area of barefoot running – particularly pertaining to the premise that it may provide a mechanism of reducing injury risk. Those supporting the concept claim our evolutionary roots as long-distance runners – which was imperative for our survival – as the foundation for innate ability to run naturally. Consequently, runners have been advised to run barefoot as a treatment modality, along with strength and conditioning. However, the current literature is somewhat limited regarding the mechanical, structural, clinical and performance effects of running barefoot.
At present, research acknowledges significant differences in numerous kinematic and kinetic variables when comparing barefoot to shod running – and subsequently these factors are inferred to contribute to both injury and performance. Unfortunately, no long-term prospective studies are able to verify such speculation as of yet.
Furthermore, it is widely acknowledged that most running-related injuries are multifactorial in nature – thereby presenting prospective researchers additional difficulties in designing high-quality randomised clinical trials to comprehensively evaluate the benefits of barefoot running pertaining to injuries. Although it is considered currently in its infancy, the claims that running barefoot offers superior protection against injury compared with shod running cannot be definitely concluded. Further research is required prior to the widespread implementation of natural running as a plausible treatment modality > From Tam et al., Br J Sport Med (2013) (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to BMJ Journals.
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Harvard professor Daniel Lieberman has ditched his trainers and started running barefoot. His research shows that barefoot runners, who tend to land on their fore-foot, generate less impact shock than runners in sports shoes who land heel first. This makes barefoot running comfortable and could minimize running-related injuries. See the video below and read the original article of professor Lieberman.