There seem to be more than the usual number of articles on the web this week about barefoot running injuries. The Mail Online article Barefoot running causes spate injuries enthusiasts quick ditching trainers. is typical.
The flow of articles emanate from an original article in the US about ultramarathon runner Ryan Carter who got himself into trouble running barefoot. Stories like this are news worthy as barefoot running bashing makes great copy.
Whilst it is tempting to be sceptical of anything the Mail has to say, in principal the issue is valid. Too many people think that they should buy a pair of barefoot shoes (or give up their shoes altogether) and they will become injury free and a better runner.
Unfortunately this is not true.
The way to become injury free and a better runner comes from learning a different running technique based upon forefoot striking and better running form. Wearing barefoot shoes (or no shoe sat all) helps to learn this skill as it makes it easier to detect flaws in your running form. But if you do not correct those flaws you will probably get injured. And as barefoot (or no shoes) places greater demands upon your muscles, flexibility and technique injuries are very likely if your running form is not good.
Although we sell shoes we are honest enough to admit that buying the shoes doesn’t solve anything. What is most important is to commit to learning about better running form and putting effort into learning the skills. The shoes are tools that help you on that journey but without the commitment to change they are limited value and potentially dangerous.