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Toe Splay During Barefoot Running: Forefoot Landing in a 4-year Old Child

I was going through some videos I took last summer and came across an interesting one that I had shot of my daughter running toward my high speed video camera. The video below shows her landing on her forefoot on asphalt as she was running toward the camera – it’s filmed at 1000 frames-per-second, which is ridiculously fast. What’s cool about this video is that it shows how the fat pad under the forefoot compresses during contact, and how the toes spread apart. This is what barefoot runners call “toe splay,” and it’s the reason why I and many other minimalist-style runners like a wide toebox in our running shoes.

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.


  1. I can’t see a video on this page? Has it been removed? x

  2. I am a physical therapist in Ohio and have become a little obsessed with natural (ancestral) foot mechanics over the past couple years. I am the father of four young boys ages 6, 4, 4, and 2. I see all the research on unshod kids and playing out doors, but I don’t see anyone discussing the relative loads shoes place on the youngsters bodies relative to their immature strength and body weight. I was recently at a nephews basketball game watching these poor 7&8 year olds running around with the equivalent of cinder blocks strapped to their feet.
    I would love any information you might have equating a child’s shoe weight relative to body weight compare to an adults shoe weight relative to body weight.
    Great site. Thanks for the posts.

    • Tony-

      I’d love to see this as well, and I have made the same observation about giant shoes on kids feet. Unfortunately I’m not aware of any data on this.

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