The Barefoot Running Injury Epidemic

Reason and Irony

None of the medical professionals interviewed for this article is an anti-barefoot running partisan. All concede that the wrong shoes contribute to injuries and are willing to help patients whom they deem structurally capable of running barefoot do so successfully. “If a patient says they want to run barefoot, if they have a neutral or a high arch, I’ll tell them to go ahead gently,” says Pribut. “If they badly overpronate and I feel that their injuries came about because of that, I’m going to steer them toward shoes that I think are more correct for them.”

When Pribut spoke these words to me I next asked him if those individuals who are best suited to barefoot running are not also those who will tend to have the fewest injuries in shoes. “That is probably true generally,” he said.

So, if you don’t get injured often in shoes, there’s no need to switch to barefoot running, but you probably could get away with it. And if you do get injured in shoes, switching to barefoot running might be tempting, but it will probably only make matters worse.

If nothing else, the barefoot running injury epidemic is a story of many ironies.


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