”Minimalist Style” or barefoot running is an increasingly popular trend among active adults today. Along with its growing popularity comes a surging debate: Does minimalist running cause or prevent injuries for running enthusiasts?
Podiatry experts around the world have weighed in on this topic, and an overwhelming majority of them have encountered a series of myths, both good and bad, about barefoot running that they would like to officially debunk. A few of these mistruths follow in the list below:
- Stress Fractures – This is the number one public concern regarding the trend of barefoot running. Does it really cause stress fractures? The prevailing opinion is that stress fractures are a result of a change in activity without gradual adaptation. Therefore, they are not directly related to the concept of minimalist shoes or barefoot running.
- Plantar Fasciitis – Some sufferers of this condition believe that the idea of barefoot running would be impossible for them because it would be too painful. Actually, just the opposite may be true. Many podiatrists have reported that some patients with plantar fasciitis have seen their symptoms dissipate by adopting a minimalist running technique.
- Flat Feet – If you think that you have been cursed by your genetics and given flat feet your whole life, making it virtually impossible for you to run without hugely beneficial arch support and/or orthotics in your shoes, think again. The concept of barefoot running actually encourages a more natural pronation with the forefoot or mid-foot areas of your feet striking the ground first, resulting in better shock absorption. Therefore, flat footed people of the world should rejoice because they can now save some money on a pair of really supportive running shoes by simply letting their flat feet do the running for them all on their own.
In conclusion, minimalist running, whether its with a minimalist running shoe or completely barefoot, is intended for you to use your feet the way nature intended; as a maximum shock absorber, rather than using a shoe that compromises the anatomical position of your foot and actually puts you at greater risk for injury. As with any new regimen or workout routine, do your research first, try it out, perhaps consult a podiatrist, and maybe you’ll like the way it feels and see less injury as an added benefit.