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Barefoot or Shod Running?

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An article (in press) has just been released: Barefoot running survey: Evidence from the field (2014-Hryvniak). A 10-question survey regarding barefoot running was posted on a variety of running blogs and Facebook pages.


509 participants responded with over 93% of them incorporating some type of barefoot running into their weekly mileage. A large majority (68%) of runners participating in the study experienced no new injuries after starting barefoot running. In fact, most respondents (69%) actually had their previous injuries go away after starting barefoot running. Runners responded that their previous knee (46%), foot (19%), ankle (17%), hip (14%), and low back (14%) injuries all proceeded to improve after starting barefoot running.


Critics of the article from Craig Payne(adequate when considering Craig's negative bias towards barefoot running)


My answer to Craig: This study brings nothing special for me. It's not the best design to find the truth about injury incidence in barefoot runners. I agree that the discussion is weak and far from a good review on this topic, but reviewing the literature was not the objective of this study. The interesting part was the findings: successful barefoot running is not anecdotal and it happened to most of the runners answering to the survey... they did it and did well. So, I agree, it's not evidence that barefoot running is better... but there is NO evidence that shoes are better than barefoot either. ALL the formal systematic reviews don't show that shoes are better than barefoot… and than big bulky shoes (or traditional / maximalist / TRC rating <60% / 80 to 95% of the market) are better than minimalist shoes (or barefoot shoe / TRC rating >70% / 5 to 20% of the market)   If you are fair and knowledgeable with the evidence, you know that there is: Low Quality Evidence with High Risk of Bias that experienced minimalist shoe wearers are less injured than experienced traditional/maximalist shoe wearers AND Low Quality Evidence with High Risk of Bias that new minimalist shoe wearers are more injured than experienced traditional/maximalist shoe wearers AND No Evidence that new traditional/maximalist shoe wearers are more injured than experienced minimalist shoe wearers  


So with this lack of evidence, who should bear the burden of proof? Those who initially came up with maximalist and more modern running shoes or those who are currently promoting getting back to basics? I think that the burden of proof should be on:


  1. Those who advocate MINImalism when it comes to changing long-established habits (I’m referring to bulky modern shoes).
  2. Those who advocate MAXImalism when it comes to recommending something other than simplicity for beginners and children.