Barefoot and minimalized shoe running took off a few years ago when research seemed to point to overbuilt shoes as a potential injurytrigger. While many footwear companies responded by offering lower-profile models, some runners abandoned their shoes altogether.
But beyond the obvious limitations (broken glass, dirty ground), barefoot running when your body is unprepared can lead to injury, cautions physical therapist Jay Dicharry. “Running barefoot is a good way to learn ground feel, but you don’t need to do longer runs to get this sensation,” he says. If you want to get the benefits of barefoot training, try doing 40- to 100-meter strides on a soft surface like the beach or a grassy field. “More than that can be counterproductive and cause injury,” he adds.