ROSEMONT, Ill. (April 6, 2016)--Are runners less injury-prone trekking barefoot than in pricey running shoes? Maybe, according to a new literature review in the March issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS). Advances in running shoe technology in the last 40 years have not reduced injuries, but racing "barefoot" in shoes with minimal cushioning could help runners change their strides and landing patterns to prevent repetitive heel pain and stress fractures.
Three of four active runners sustain injuries, mostly in the knee and lower leg. Most distance runners who use cushioned running shoes run heel-to-toe, or in a rearfoot strike (RFS) pattern. This action is associated with longer strides and excessive load force--up three times the runner's body weight--on the lower leg, knee, and hip. This leads to bone and soft-tissue injuries, tibial stress fractures, and severe heel pain, such as plantar fasciitis.