I previously reviewed all the reviews on the scientific evidence that barefoot running is better than traditionally shod running and all the reviews I covered reached the same conclusion, that there is no evidence. Since writing that, another review of the evidence concluded the same thing and had some harsh words for all those who continue to make the claims that there is evidence. Now we have yet another systematic review:
Barefoot Versus Shoe Running: From the Past to the Present
Yonatan Kaplan, PT, MSc
Physician and Sportsmedicine: Volume 42 No. 1
Introduction: Barefoot running is not a new concept, but relatively few people choose to engage in barefoot running on a regular basis. Despite the technological developments in modern running footwear, as many as 79% of runners are injured every year. Although benefits of barefoot running have been proposed, there are also potential risks associated with it. Objective: To review the evidence-based literature concerning barefoot/minimal footwear running and the implications for the practicing physician.
Materials and Methods: Multiple publications were reviewed using an electronic search of databases such as Medline, Cinahl, Embase, PubMed, and Cochrane Database from inception until August 30, 2013 using the search terms barefoot running, barefoot running biomechanics, and shoe vs. barefoot running.
Results: Ninety-six relevant articles were found. Most were reviews of biomechanical and kinematic studies. Analysis: There are notable differences in gait and other parameters between barefoot running and shoe running. Based on these findings and much anecdotal evidence, one could conclude that barefoot runners should have fewer injuries, better performance, or both. Several athletic shoe companies have designed running shoes that attempt to mimic the barefoot condition, and thus garner the purported benefits of barefoot running.
Conclusion: Although there is no evidence that confirms or refutes improved performance and reduced injuries in barefoot runners, many of the claimed disadvantages to barefoot running are not supported by the literature. Nonetheless, it seems that barefoot running may be an acceptable training method for athletes and coaches, as it may minimize the risks of injury.
Yet another review concludes the same thing, yet you still seeing so many claiming that the evidence supports it.
You can’t help but shrug your shoulders and roll your eyes when thinking, what is it going to take to convince those of what the evidence says. This reminds of some of the memes that were doing the rounds after the recent Ralph Nye and Ken Ham debate on evolution vs creationsim. This one sums it up:
As always, I go where the evidence takes me until convinced otherwise.