Running barefoot is a hot footwear trend. Be cautious when trading in traditional running shoes for minimalist footwear. Research presented at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons 2015 Annual Meeting, stated that runners over 30 who transition to barefoot have difficulty adapting to the potentially less injury-prone forefoot strike pattern. The study involved 26 individuals, all over 30, who had at least 20 years’ running experience.
Researchers analyzed foot strike patterns via a motion capture system as participants ran at various speeds on a treadmill while wearing their own shoes and then again while barefoot. In barefoot running, speed changes were not linked with a change in strike pattern. Running barefoot resulted in a significant drop in percent heel strike at all shared speeds; however, 40% of men and 20% of women did not change their foot strike pattern during the barefoot intervention.
These more mature runners may have a much more established gait and a longer period of time may be needed to get accustomed to a forefoot strike with a barefoot running condition or minimalist shoe. This may lead to frequent injuries in individuals who attempt to either run barefoot or with minimalist shoes, but persist with the heel strike pattern.