Podiatrists warn of injury risks in response to popular barefoot running shoe reviews


By Jay S. Berenter, DPM, FACFAS

So-called “minimalist” running shoes are all the rage these days, with athletes and authors alike touting the benefits of emulating our ancient ancestors and running

au natural

  1. But despite the many positive

barefoot running shoe reviews

promoted by manufacturers and advocates of the trend, recent medical studies suggest that the shoes, as well as barefoot running itself, may contribute to a variety of injuries and harmful health conditions – not to mention reduced running efficiency overall.

According to a piece in the

New York Daily News

, researchers at the University of Colorado have found that conventional running shoes aid athletes when it comes to energy conservation, helping them expend 3-4% less energy than barefoot runners. While this may be enough to convince some competitive runners to stick with tradition, it is also only one of the many disadvantages associated with shoeless running. Researchers have linked barefoot running shoes to an increased incidence of stress fractures, blisters, Achilles tendon injuries, puncture wounds to the soles of the feet and shin splints.

To those who argue that running barefoot increases foot and leg strength and resistance to injury, I would say it’s like telling people with poor eyesight that they should simply read more instead of getting glasses. If you already have poor foot mechanics, running barefoot or with minimalist running shoes won’t change a thing: only an alteration to your overall running style will make a difference, and most recreational runners cannot master such a dramatic change on their own. As for professional runners, they too are susceptible to the risks related to barefoot running. In an attempt to capitalize on the purported power of barefoot running, the U.S. Olympic Team actually trained barefoot prior to the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 – only to abandon the plan after members of the team sustained repeated injuries. Ultimately, very few runners have perfect mechanics – and without the proper support and cushioning in the shoe, they are likely to suffer as a result.

Expert training and orthotics advice from a renowned Southern California podiatrist

After many years working with professional athletes at the Olympic Training Center here in San Diego, I have developed a thorough understanding of runners’ needs when it comes to foot and leg support and injury prevention. Proper footwear and

custom orthotics

can help athletes perform optimally while maintaining safety and structural integrity. And when it comes to fitness fads, it is always wise to consult with a medical professional before risking injury based on popular trends. To learn more about safe footwear, or schedule a consultation at our San Diego office, contact us today: