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Study Suggests that Barefoot Running Transition Injuries are Uncommon – What Do You Think?

While reviewing abstracts from the recent ACSM meeting I came across a study that looked at transition injuries among barefoot runners. The study tracked 109 runners and found a fairly low incidence of musculoskeletal injury among them as they transitioned to running barefoot. There are a number of issues relating to the results that are worthy of discussion, and I have written a post on it over on the website for my book (Bill and I are trying to include content relative to some of the book chapters over there as well as continuing to post on Runblogger – now that the book is done, I have more time to manage multiple blogs!).

If you’re interested, head over to the post on the Tread Lightly blog here: Are Barefoot Running Transition Injuries Actually Uncommon?

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. That study was very biased and only included those who had successfully transitioned to barefoot running. It did not include those who got an injury and did not complete the transition. It was also a self-selected web based study, so does not really have any scientific credibility.

  2. I’ve known many runners that have tried transitioning to barefoot running and many of them have had complications.  I “briefly” thought about trying some  Vibrams, but then I thought twice. Sure, many people can, and do successfully transition to barefoot running, but is it really a good idea for everyone to?  I think not.  Just as there are a plethora of running forms, there are a plethora of feet forms as well.  Many people spent a relatively little amount of time to transition from a form they’ve probably used for years, let alone, walked in their entire time.  I see barefoot running as a fad, that will eventually lead to increase injuries.

  3. Anders Torger says:

    There are so many variables. If you run low volume, say 3-4 miles two times a week, barefoot or barefoot-like running almost can’t fail I think. For low volume recreational running I see little reason to bore it down with heavy shoes with no ground feel.

    But if you train high volume for marathon for example and has always run in jogging shoes transition will be tricky. I think it can take several years for some to get feet and lower legs into a condition that can do marathon training at the same level they did with jogging shoes.

  4. What I would like to see is more comparison with shod runners who run the same distances. If you run you will experience some injuries but it is the type and frequency that matters.

    I have been transitioning to minimalist shoes over the past 5 months. I have experienced some short term injuries that have cleared up as my body has adapted to a mid foot strike rather than heel strike. These include achilles pain and soreness in my calves. From my experience you should expect some minor injuries during transition even if you do it slowly (if you do not do it properly then you can expect more serious injuries).

    However my body seems to have adapted now and these have pretty much disappeared. I am glad to say that a few longer term injuries such as sore hip and back seem to have cleared up with the new approach. We are all different but that is my experience.

    Just changing a shoe won’t just make a difference. Barefoot or minimalist shoes help you to change your form but don’t totally do it for you,you must consider your whole body not just what is on your feet.

  5. Dominic Smith says:

    Regardless whether you run in running shoes or in  barefoot shoes/ barefoot, you may still hurt your feet and vice versa. There are many factors to consider and it also depends on the runner’s feet since we all have our own differences and style. To me, I’ve never had any problem running in barefoot shoes. I think it’s because I attributed everything to reading Born to Run and some other online resources like and It’s really a great help to read tips and advises from well known sources and from experienced runners. It’s, indeed a huge advantage to oneself.

  6. Up2speedgirl says:

    For the first time I saw someone running barefoot on an asphalt
    trail with small rocks, tree branches, etc. I thought it looked cool however
    the thought of stepping on debris with bare feet made me cringe. I plan to buy
    the Vibrams because I want to challenge my feet in new ways… I might just end
    up loving them but I won’t know until I try them out. I am not knocking
    barefoot running however I am not up for that challenge at this time.

  7. Alexander says:

    Went from heel striking in Nike free 5.0’s to midfoot/forefoot strike in VFF’s KSO’s and never sustained an injury. I utilized my Nike’s intermittently while adjusting, but only to recover. 

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