Section content:


A variety of research is now being conducted on barefoot running.  This should all be approached with caution, as none of it will answer simple questions like “is barefoot running better than shod running?” The simpler the question, the harder it is to answer. The mechanics of running are too complex, with too many variables for one study to answer it outright.

Real science tends to focus on individual aspects of the differences and will seek to compose experiments that reveal these details one at a time.

So any study should be read with care and their findings heavily scrutinised. Peer review, even by you, is a fundamental aspect of good science.

Noted studies

Foot callus thickness does not trade off protection
for tactile sensitivity during walking”
Nicholas B. Holowka, Bert Wynands, Tina J. Drechsel, Andrew K. Yegian, Victoria A. Tobolsky, Paul Okutoyi, Robert Mang’eni Ojiambo, Diresibachew W. Haile, Timothy K. Sigei, Claudio Zippenfennig, Thomas L. Milani &
Daniel E. Lieberman
Published: June 2019, Nature
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1345-6 | Article | Cached (PDF)

Running in highly cushioned shoes increases leg stiffness and amplifies impact loading”
Juha-Pekka Kulmala, Jukka Kosonen, Jussi Nurminen & Janne Avela
University of Helsinki
Published: November 2018, Nature
DOI:10.1098/rsif.2016.0174 | Article (full text)

Logical fallacies in the running shoe debate: let the evidence guide prescription”
Christopher Napier, Richard W. Willy
University of British Columbia
Published: October 2018, British Journal of Sports Medicine
DOI:10.1136/bjsports-2018-100117 | Article | Cached (PDF)

Shoes alter the spring-like function of the human foot during running”
Luke A. Kelly, Glen A. Lichtwark, Dominic J. Farris, and Andrew Cresswell
University of Queenstown, Australia
Published: June 2016, The Royal Society
DOI:10.1098/rsif.2016.0174 | Article | PDF (cached)

Body Mass and Weekly Training Distance Influence the Pain and Injuries Experienced by Runners Using Minimalist Shoes: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Joel T. Fuller BSc, Dominic Thewlis PhD, Jonathan D. Buckley PhD, Nicholas A.T. Brown PhD, Joseph Hamill PhD, Margarita D. Tsiros PhD
University of South Australia
Published: January 2017, PubMed
DOI:10.1177/0363546516682497 | Article | PDF (cached)

Orthopaedic Perspective on Barefoot and Minimalist Running
Roth, Jonathan MD; Neumann, Julie MD; Tao, Matthew MD
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Published: March 2016, Journal of AAOS
DOI:10.5435/jaaos-d-14-00343 | Article | PDF (cached)

Effects of stride frequency and foot position at landing on braking force, hip torque, impact peak force and the metabolic cost of running in humans
Daniel E. Lieberman, Anna G. Warrener, Justin Wang, Eric R. Castillo
Harvard University
Published: November 2015, Journal of Experimental Biology

Strike type variation among Tarahumara Indians in minimal sandals versus conventional running shoes
Daniel E. Lieberman
Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology
Harvard University
Published: June 2014, Journal of Sport and Health Science
DOI:10.1016/j.jshs.2014.03.009 | Article | PDF | Author’s Website

Foot speed, foot-strike and footwear: linking gait mechanics and running ground reaction forces
K. P. Clark, L. J. Ryan and P. G. Weyand
Published: March 2014, The Journal of Experimental Biology
DOI:10.1242/jeb.099523 | Article | Cached (PDF)

Foot pronation is not associated with increased injury risk in novice runners wearing a neutral shoe: a 1 year prospective cohort study
R. O. Nielsen, I. Buist, E. T. Parner, E. A. Nohr, H. Sorensen, M. Lind, S. Rasmussen
Published: June 2013, British Journal of Sports Medicine
DOI:10.1136/bjsports-2013-092202 | Abstract

Variation in foot strike patterns among habitually barefoot populations
Kevin G. Hatala, Heather L. Dingwall, Roshna E. Wunderlich, Brian G. Richmond
Published: 9th January 2013, Plos One
DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0052548 | Abstract

Foot Strike and Injury Rates in Endurance
Runners: A Retrospective Study
Adam I. Daoud, Gary J. Geissler, Frank Wang, Jason Saretky, Yahya A. Daoud and Daniel E. Lieberman.
Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Department of Athletics, Harvard
University, Boston, MA; University Health Services, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; and Baylor Health Care System, Institute of Health Care Research and Improvement, Dallas, TX
Published: June 2011, American College of Sports Medicine
DOI:10.1249/MSS.0b013e31 82465115 | Full Text (PDF)

Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners
Daniel E. Lieberman
Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology
Harvard University
Published: 28th January 2010, Nature
DOI:10.1038/nature08723 | Article | Author’s Website

Walking, running and the evolution of short toes in humans
Campbell Rolian1, Daniel E. Lieberman1, Joseph Hamill2, John W. Scott3 and William Werbel1
1Department of Anthropology, Harvard University,
2Department of Kinesiology, University of Massachusetts, 3School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University
Published: 1st March 2009, The Journal of Experimental Biology
DOI:10.1242/jeb.019885 | Abstract | Full Text | PDF | Author’s Website

Is your prescription of distance running shoes evidence-based?
C.E. Richards1, P.J. Magin, R. Callister
School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Australia.
Published: March 2009, British Journal of Sports Medicine
DOI:10.1249/MSS.0b013e31 82465115 | Abstract | Full Text (PDF) | Cached (PDF)

Barefoot Running
Michael Warburton
Gateway Physiotherapy, Capalaba, Queensland, Australia.

Published: December 2001, Sportscience.
This paper is too old to have a DOI or an Altmetric rating | Full Text | Full Text (PDF) | Cached (PDF)

Conclusions Drawn from a Comparative Study of the Feet of Barefooted and Shoe-Wearing Peoples
Phil. Hoffmann.
M.D., St. Louis

Published: October 1905, American Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery
This paper is too old to have a DOI or an Altmetric rating | Full Text (PDF) | Cached (PDF)