Barefoot Running, What Should I Do?

“What the heck is that?” is the slogan on the billboard for “Skele-toes” by Fila. Toe shoes are the latest trend amongst runners. The rave is about “Minimalism”- a theory that is based on minimal shoe involvement as being superior to rigid and supportive shoes.

Minimalism: Those who follow “minimalism” or “barefoot running” believe that the foot, and hence the runner, achieve optimal performance in its natural state without the support or restrictions of shoe gear. It is also theorized that training barefoot can help strengthen the bones against stress fractures. While in theory the bone in our body does strengthen itself when needed, running shoeless can result in many foot pathologies including sprains, fractures, calluses, puncture wounds and more.

True minimalists believe that ancient civilizations ran barefoot and had less foot complaints or injuries than we do today. How this is known or proven is beyond me. It is important to remember that the ancient Greek, Incan and African people ran on different surfaces than we do today. Instead of hard concrete, their feet came in contact with sand, dirt and grass. These surfaces acted in the same way running shoes’ midsoles do today.The point should be made that real minimalism would necessitate running on these soft, absorbable surfaces.

Today’s highly cushioned, motion-controlled, running shoes have the research and technology of the last 100 years behind them. For MOST people, modern shoe gear is the right answer. Because of modern body style (generally more muscular and/or obese than centuries ago) and modern running surfaces, the interface between foot and ground needs what modern running shoes offer.

So in conclusion, I am all about minimalism-as long as it is experimented responsibly. Don’t barefoot run on hard city streets and sidewalks. Be mindful of holes, trash and the general cleanliness of where you run (city park vs. sports fields). Some feel liberated in minimalist shoes. Some experience pains. Find what is best for YOU! There are other “minimalist” shoes like Nike Lunarlite and Nike Free Run that offer less support without going support-less.

As always, consult with Dr. Bowman to discuss proper form and what suits you feet best. He can be contacted at 713-467-8886 or on the website No endorsement of shoes are implied.

Category: Footwear

Tags: Barefoot Running, Fila, Minimalist Shoes, Nike, Running