Are We Built To Run Barefoot?

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Jun. 8, 2011
  • Updated Feb. 19, 2013 at 8:46 AM UTC
A recent symposium asked if humans were built for barefoot running . Photo: Getty Images

A recent symposium asked if humans were built for barefoot running . Photo: Getty Images

It depends on who you ask.

There was a symposium called “Barefoot Running: So Easy, a Caveman Did It!” at the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting this year. The crux of the presentation was to answer the following question: Does barefoot running increase or decrease skeletal injury risk?

According to Dr. Stuart J. Warden, associate professor of physical therapy at Indiana University, the answer is “probably both”.

Thanks to Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book “Born to Run” barefoot running is all the rage. Though the subset of barefoot runners is small compared to the overall population of runners worldwide, those who believe in barefoot running are arguably the most passionate and evangelical.

Daniel E. Lieberman, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard, himself a barefoot runner, says that “there are people who are convinced that barefoot runners never get injured.”

However, in the past year, more and more anecdotal evidence is mounting that an increasing number of barefoot runners are getting injured after shedding their shoes.

For More: The New York Times Blog

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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