Is barefoot running bad for you

Spokesmen claim that barefoot running improves the foot’s biomechanics and reduces the risk of injury. Learn more about the pros and cons of barefoot running.

Pros and cons of running barefoot

Some experts agree with barefoot runners that wearing shoes weakens the small muscles of the foot and causes tendons, ligaments, and arches to fail naturally. They believe that supportive shoe insoles, orthotics, and additional cushions result in inadequate foot biomechanics and an increased risk of foot, leg, and knee injuries.

Other experts claim that the right shoes can correct biomechanical problems and help reduce the risk of injury. We can argue that if foot pain treatment were as simple as running barefoot, several podiatrists would recommend it as a simple solution. However, most podiatrists still prescribe orthotics to relieve foot pain.

It is difficult to determine whether shoes are beneficial or harmful to foot health before further research, but the tendency for barefoot is widespread among shoemakers.

Pros and Cons of barefoot running


  • Strengthens gait and feet
  • Reduces damage
  • Forces you to use the proper technique
  • Can improve balance and proprioception
  • More connection to the ground


  • Little foot protection
  • May increase Achilles tendonitis and calf strain
  • May increase plantar pain
  • More prone to blisters
  • You may look and feel weird at first

Potential benefits running barefoot

Although walking barefoot or wearing minimal footwear may not cure everything, the following are some very compelling arguments for running without shoes or at least wearing minimalist shoes.

  • You can develop a more natural pace and strengthen the foot muscles, tendons and ligaments.
  • Removing the heel lift on most shoes helps the Achilles tendon and calf muscle stretch and lengthen. It can also reduce injuries, such as leg strain or Achilles tendonitis caused by short, tight tissue.
  • Runners learn to land in front of the midsole and feet, not the heels. The prevalence of heel bumps directly results from excessive padding of running shoes, and research shows that this is not the most effective natural running step.
  • You can improve balance and proprioception. Without shoes, the small muscles of the feet, ankles, legs, and hips are activated, improving balance and coordination.
  • You may feel more grounded. Running barefoot helps you improve your balance, but it also helps you stay grounded and connected to your environment. You learn to spread your toes and extend your foot to become a more solid and cohesive base that supports all your movements.

Potential disadvantages running barefoot

Suddenly running barefoot or wearing a minimal shoe can be quite a shock to the foot and legs. But that is not the only concern for barefoot running. The transition requires a gradual adjustment phase.

  • Shoes provide significant protection against road debris such as glass, nails, stones, and thorns. Running shoes also offer insulation in cold weather and protect us from frost damage from ice and snow.
    The base of the feet (plantar surface) is soft and tender for most people. Walking without a stiff sole can initially cause plantar pain or increase the risk of plantar fasciitis in those who are susceptible.
  • Almost everyone who changes into a minimal shoe or running barefoot will find themselves fighting blisters in the first few weeks until hard skin forms. Getting acclimatized to the rough ground below takes some time and effort.
  • Most runners aren’t used to running barefoot, so minimalist shoes can impact your feet and initially feel like your muscles are overwhelmed. The lower the heel to the floor, the harder it is for the Achilles tendon to work, and this can lead to injuries such as Achilles tendonitis and calf tension when a typical heel lift is removed from the shoe.

Related articles:

How to prevent knee injuries from running

Achilles hurt after running


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