Barefoot running: should you ditch the shoes?

Should you try barefoot running?

I'll admit it. As I watch people in my neighborhood run down the hot, gravel strewn streets of my neighborhood without shoes, I think that barefoot running is one of the craziest trends to hit the fitness world yet.

Not surprisingly, barefoot running remains controversial, and studies on its benefits have been small. But scientists, whose study was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise have released another small study that indicates barefoot running may prevent injury in female runners. When women run, they commonly exhibit 3 patterns that lead to knee injuries and IT band issues. These patterns include excessive hip adduction, internal hip rotation, and a pelvic drop, a term used to describe how the hips sway side to side during a run.

Researchers wanted to see if running barefoot impacted female gait and the likelihood of developing these common injuries. 23 women took part in the study. They ran both barefoot and with sneakers on. Researchers analyzed their gait and noticed that they had a forefoot strike when barefoot and a heel strike when wearing sneakers. The difference in gait minimized the commonly seen hip adduction, rotation, and pelvic drop.

Should you ditch your running shoes? Remember, although compelling, this is a small study. Keep your eye out for more research to come, and ask your trusted physician what he or she thinks.

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