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Orthopaedic Perspective on Barefoot and Minimalist Running

Roth, Jonathan MD; Neumann, Julie MD; Tao, Matthew MD

JAAOS - Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: March 2016 - Volume 24 - Issue 3 - p 180–187
doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-14-00343
Review Article

In recent years, there has been a movement toward barefoot and minimalist running. Advocates assert that a lack of cushion and support promotes a forefoot or midfoot strike rather than a rearfoot strike, decreasing the impact transient and stress on the hip and knee. Although the change in gait is theorized to decrease injury risk, this concept has not yet been fully elucidated. However, research has shown diminished symptoms of chronic exertional compartment syndrome and anterior knee pain after a transition to minimalist running. Skeptics are concerned that, because of the effects of the natural environment and the lack of a standardized transition program, barefoot running could lead to additional, unforeseen injuries. Studies have shown that, with the transition to minimalist running, there is increased stress on the foot and ankle and risk of repetitive stress injuries. Nonetheless, despite the large gap of evidence-based knowledge on minimalist running, the potential benefits warrant further research and consideration.

From the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Fort Belvoir, VA (Dr. Roth), and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Duke University, Durham, NC (Dr. Neumann and Dr. Tao).

None of the following authors or any immediate family member has received anything of value from or has stock or stock options held in a commercial company or institution related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article: Dr. Roth, Dr. Neumann, and Dr. Tao.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, or the US Government.

Title 17 U.S.C. 105 provides that Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the US Government. Title 17 U.S.C. 101 defines a US Government work as a work prepared by a military service member or employee of the US Government as part of that person’s official duties.

Received September 22, 2014

Accepted April 20, 2015

© 2016 by American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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