Running-related injury prevention through barefoot adaptations

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1987 Apr;19(2):148-56.


A number of reports indicate an extremely low running-related injury frequency in barefoot populations in contrast to reports about shod populations. It is hypothesized that the adaptations which produce shock absorption, an inherent consequence of barefoot activity and a mechanism responsible for the low injury frequency in unshod populations, are related to deflection of the medial longitudinal arch of the foot on loading. It is also hypothesized that the known inability of this arch of the shod foot to deflect without failure (foot rigidity) is responsible for the high injury frequency in shod populations. To evaluate these hypotheses, 17 recreational runners were analyzed to study the adaptive pattern of the medial longitudinal arch of the foot due to increased barefoot weight-bearing activity. Changes occurred in the medial longitudinal arch which allowed deflection of this arch on loading which substantiated the hypotheses. Other evidence suggests that sensory feedback largely from the glabrous epithelium of the foot is the element of barefoot activity which induced these adaptations. The sensory insulation inherent in the modern running shoe appears responsible for the high injury frequency associated with running. The injuries are considered "pseudo-neuropathic" in nature.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Foot / anatomy & histology
  • Foot / physiology
  • Foot Injuries*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Running*