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How Safe Are "Barefoot" Running Shoes?

Many runners have embraced minimalist "barefoot" running shoes -- shoes that are essentially a piece of rubber with five toe slots. Sarah Ridge, Ph.D., recently conducted a study on the potential injuries minimalist shoes could cause. The study looked at 36 runners with no prior leg or foot problems; half of the group was given barefoot running shoes and half of the group used normal running shoes. After 10 weeks, MRI results showed that most of the runners using the minimalist shoes showed early signs of bone injuries in their feet, such as increased bone marrow edema, as opposed to the runners wearing normal shoes. Those wearing the minimalist running shoes also decreased the amount of weekly running mileage. According to Dr. Ridge, running barefoot or using minimalist shoes isn’t ideal, but a slow transition into the process is the key to running safely and preventing bone injuries.