Barefoot-simulating footwear associated with metatarsal stress injury in 2 runners

Orthopedics. 2011 Jul 7;34(7):e320-3. doi: 10.3928/01477447-20110526-25.


Stress-related changes and fractures in the foot are frequent in runners. However, the causative factors, including anatomic and kinematic variables, are not well defined. Footwear choice has also been implicated in contributing to injury patterns with changes in force transmission and gait analyses reported in the biomechanical literature. Despite the benefits of footwear, there has been increased interest among the running community in barefoot running with proposed benefits including a decreased rate of injury. We report 2 cases of metatarsal stress fracture in experienced runners whose only regimen change was the adoption of barefoot-simulating footwear. One was a 19-year-old runner who developed a second metatarsal stress reaction along the entire diaphysis. The second case was a 35-year-old ultra-marathon runner who developed a fracture in the second metatarsal diaphysis after 6 weeks of use of the same footwear. While both stress injuries healed without long-term effects, these injuries are alarming in that they occurred in experienced male runners without any other risk factors for stress injury to bone. The suspected cause for stress injury in these 2 patients is the change to barefoot-simulating footwear. Runners using these shoes should be cautioned on the potential need for gait alterations from a heel-strike to a midfoot-striking pattern, as well as cautioned on the symptoms of stress injury.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Foot Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Foot Injuries / etiology*
  • Foot Injuries / physiopathology
  • Forefoot, Human / diagnostic imaging
  • Forefoot, Human / injuries*
  • Forefoot, Human / physiopathology
  • Fractures, Stress / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Stress / etiology*
  • Fractures, Stress / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metatarsal Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Metatarsal Bones / injuries*
  • Metatarsal Bones / physiopathology
  • Radiography
  • Running / physiology*
  • Shoes / adverse effects*
  • Young Adult