This isn’t an exhaustive list, but a quick skimming of the titles will provide an idea of the research that has been conducted that we know about. If you happen to know of any peer-reviewed published research covering barefoot running or related topics that ISN’T listed above, please leave the link and/or citation in the comments.
The sheer volume of this list would seem to suggest that science definitely supports barefoot and minimalist shoe running. It is important to note that most of these studies have limited sample sizes or other methodological flaws that limit their generalizability. Some are literature reviews. Some are published in questionable journals or websites. At the very least, it highlights the need for further research.
From a practical standpoint, a prudent consumer would approach barefoot and minimalist shoe running with a degree of skepticism. While some people experience a profound reduction in injury rates and a dramatic increase in the intrinsic joy of running, some people also experience overuse injuries and do not enjoy the feeling of the skin-on-ground contact.
My advice- educate yourself. Carefully examine anything and everything you read about barefoot and minimalist shoe running. I’ve written about some of these issues from a skeptic’s perspective:
If you do decide to start, be smart about it. Most people have to go through a transition period to allow their body to adapt to the new stresses of a changed running gait. The exact methods you choose to help learn can be a bit confusing, so I’d recommend this progression:
- Myths surrounding barefoot running
- Misconceptions of barefoot running, shoes, and the industry
- Things to avoid when you start barefoot or minimalist shoe running
Where Should You Begin?
Should you get to the point where you decide to use resources that aren’t free, here’s a quick rundown on some great options that I’m familiar with:
Which method should I use?
In conclusion, educate yourself. Remain skeptical. Experiment. Have fun.