The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) has just published a two part news feature article on barefoot running, The Rise of Barefoot Running and Low Tech Running Shoes in High Demand. Its conclusions as to the state of current medical research and the overall progress of the sport are definitely worth reviewing.
CMAJ Scrutinized The Research On Both Sides Of The Issue
The CMAJ articles are extremely fair and balanced, eloquently discussing both sides of the issue. On behalf of barefoot running, the association stated that it “encourages people to take shorter strides and to land more softly on the middle or front of their feet, which some people believe reduces injuries and strengthens foot muscles”, and “there is no scientific evidence that all the cushioning in high-tech running shoes provide a health benefit”.
Experts Agree That More Research Is Needed To Support Barefoot Running
CMAJ quoted a number of experts in podiatry and running kinetics supporting barefoot running, including articles published in Nature and Dan Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University who stated “the key thing is not being barefoot, but using a barefoot style, and not colliding into the ground with your heels.”
Dr. Kevin Kirby, an adjunct associate professor at the California School of Podiatric Medicine in Oakland examined the paucity of clinical research in the field on both sides of the issue and stated that “there is also no research that indicates running shoes reduce injuries.“
I Provided CMAJ With Information To Bolster The Benefits of Barefoot Running
The CMAJ articles quoted me in stating that “there is a lot of research that is leaning in (the) direction” of supporting that running barefoot has beneficial effects. To help bolster the case against running shoes, I stated that “there are four layers of muscle in our feet. The majority of the muscles are used less, if at all, when the feet are in supportive footwear.”
In my CMAJ interview I also stated that “there’s an idea that our feet need a lot of help or support. The truth is that feet are really strong and resilient”.
Runners Of All Styles Can Look Forward To More Rigorous Scientific Dialogue
The CMAJ should be lauded and commended for focusing on the full breadth of scientific evidence with regards to barefoot running. Further clinical research is certainly called for in this field, and all runners can look forward to more authoritative medical organizations like CMAJ publishing their findings and supporting the sport through rigorous scientific dialogue.