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Foot and Ankle Injuries in the Barefoot Sports

Vormittag, Kara; Calonje, Ronald; Briner, William W.

doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e3181b9e3be
Section Articles

Playing sports barefoot has been contested since the very beginnings of athletic competition. Even today, some data suggest that shoes may limit the adaptive pronation that occurs after footstrike during running gait. This pronation likely protects runners from injury. Boardsport participants who perform their sports barefoot on the water seem to be at risk for foot and ankle injuries. The high-impact forces in gymnastics place participants at risk for foot and ankle injuries, as well. Swimming and diving have a low rate of foot and ankle injuries. The risk of ankle sprain in beach volleyball, which is played barefoot, seems to be lower than that for indoor volleyball, played wearing shoes. Martial arts place competitors at risk for injuries to the foot and ankle from torsional and impact mechanisms. Athletes who hope to return to barefoot competition after injury should perform their rehabilitation in their bare feet.

Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, IL

Address for correspondence: Kara Vormittag, M.D., Lutheran General Hospital, Sports Medicine, Park Ridge, IL 60617 (E-mail:

© 2009 American College of Sports Medicine