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The Sports Doctor: Avoid barefoot running

So many people continue to ask my opinion on barefoot running and whether or not they should try

this different technique along with their usual running shoes. The big questions are, does barefoot

running improve form, and does it protect against certain injuries?

The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, in conjunction with the American Podiatric

Medical Association, has developed a position statement on the topic to share with both its

membership and the public. The statement acknowledges the rising popularity in running barefoot as an alternative to running with shoes, before closing that research is inconclusive on the subject. "While anecdotal evidence and testimonials proliferate on the internet and in the media about the possible health benefits of barefoot running, research has not yet adequately shed light on the immediate and long term effects of this practice."

The statement continues by reporting on the positives and negatives of the subject. "Barefoot running has been touted as improving strength and balance, while promoting a more natural running style. However, risks of barefoot running include a lack of protection, which may lead to injuries such as puncture wounds, and increased stress on the lower extremities. Currently, inconclusive scientific research has been conducted regarding the benefits and/or risks of barefoot running."

In my opinion, barefoot running is very questionable. Many years ago I had a personal problem while running barefoot on a beach. I developed Achilles tendonitis and had difficulty walking for weeks. So be aware of the possible increased stress and possible trauma, and decrease in speed for what is thought of

as norm.

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Dr. Robert F. Weiss

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