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What We Can Learn About Running from Barefoot Running: An Evolutionary Medical Perspective

Lieberman, Daniel E.

Exercise & Sport Sciences Reviews: April 2012 - Volume 40 - Issue 2 - p 63–72
doi: 10.1097/JES.0b013e31824ab210
Journal Club

Barefoot running, which was how people ran for millions of years, provides an opportunity to study how natural selection adapted the human body to run. Because humans evolved to run barefoot, a barefoot running style that minimizes impact peaks and provides increased proprioception and foot strength, is hypothesized to help avoid injury, regardless of whether one is wearing shoes.

Barefoot running offers insights on how evolution adapted humans to run.

Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge MA

Address for correspondence: Daniel E. Lieberman, Ph.D., Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 11 Divinity Cambridge MA 02138 (E-mail:

Accepted for publication: December 22, 2011.

Associate Editor: Walter Herzog, Ph.D.

©2012 The American College of Sports Medicine