Barefoot running has become a popular activity for athletes, and with the right training, can be a helpful tool for many runners. A recent study from the University of Jaén, in Spain, confirms the benefits of barefoot running. Researchers set out to determine what types of changes a 12-week program of barefoot running would produce in foot strike patterns, inversion, eversion and foot rotation.
Thirty-nine recreational athletes with no experience in barefoot running participated. Twenty formed the experimental group, with 19 serving as a control group. Researchers determined each runner’s low, high and comfortable running speed and conducted pre- and post-running tests using cameras to document foot strike patterns. The experimental group’s training consisted of a progressive increase in the duration and frequency of barefoot running, while those in the control group performed the same progressive running program with their shoes on.
The experimental group showed significant changes in foot strike pattern, with a tendency toward a mid-foot strike at all speeds. They also displayed changes in foot rotation and inversion toward a more centered strike at the lower speed, supporting the notion that progressive barefoot training can help athletes trying to change their foot pattern to a mid- or front-foot strike.