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Barefoot Running: Biomechanics and Implications for Running Injuries

Altman, Allison R. PhD1; Davis, Irene S. PT, PhD2

doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31826c9bb9
Extremity Conditions: Section Articles

Despite the technological developments in modern running footwear, up to 79% of runners today get injured in a given year. As we evolved barefoot, examining this mode of running is insightful. Barefoot running encourages a forefoot strike pattern that is associated with a reduction in impact loading and stride length. Studies have shown a reduction in injuries to shod forefoot strikers as compared with rearfoot strikers. In addition to a forefoot strike pattern, barefoot running also affords the runner increased sensory feedback from the foot-ground contact, as well as increased energy storage in the arch. Minimal footwear is being used to mimic barefoot running, but it is not clear whether it truly does. The purpose of this article is to review current and past research on shod and barefoot/minimal footwear running and their implications for running injuries. Clearly more research is needed, and areas for future study are suggested.

Supplemental digital content is available in the text.

1Biomechanics and Movement Science Program, 301 McKinley Lab, University of Delaware, Newark, DE; and 2Spaulding National Running Center, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Spaulding-Cambridge Outpatient Center, Cambridge, MA

Address for correspondence: Allison R. Altman, MS, Biomechanics and Movement Science Program, 301 McKinley Lab, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716 E-mail:

Supplemental Digital Contents are available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal’s Web site (

© 2012 American College of Sports Medicine