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Sports Medicine

, Volume 43, Issue 11, pp 1131–1138 | Cite as

Barefoot Running: Does It Prevent Injuries?

  • Kelly Murphy
  • Emily J. CurryEmail author
  • Elizabeth G. Matzkin
Review Article

Abstract

Endurance running has evolved over the course of millions of years and it is now one of the most popular sports today. However, the risk of stress injury in distance runners is high because of the repetitive ground impact forces exerted. These injuries are not only detrimental to the runner, but also place a burden on the medical community. Preventative measures are essential to decrease the risk of injury within the sport. Common running injuries include patellofemoral pain syndrome, tibial stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendonitis. Barefoot running, as opposed to shod running (with shoes), has recently received significant attention in both the media and the market place for the potential to promote the healing process, increase performance, and decrease injury rates. However, there is controversy over the use of barefoot running to decrease the overall risk of injury secondary to individual differences in lower extremity alignment, gait patterns, and running biomechanics. While barefoot running may benefit certain types of individuals, differences in running stance and individual biomechanics may actually increase injury risk when transitioning to barefoot running. The purpose of this article is to review the currently available clinical evidence on barefoot running and its effectiveness for preventing injury in the runner. Based on a review of current literature, barefoot running is not a substantiated preventative running measure to reduce injury rates in runners. However, barefoot running utility should be assessed on an athlete-specific basis to determine whether barefoot running will be beneficial.

Keywords

Ground Reaction Force Stance Phase Plantar Fasciitis Orthotic Device Collision Force 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

No funding was obtained for the preparation of this paper. All authors declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this manuscript. The authors thank Eric Smith, M.D. and Tyler Skaife, M.D. for editorial suggestions for this manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelly Murphy
    • 1
  • Emily J. Curry
    • 2
    Email author
  • Elizabeth G. Matzkin
    • 2
  1. 1.Tufts University Medical CenterTufts UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Division of Sports Medicine, Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA

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