‘Barefoot running’ is a topic we regularly get asked about during our run appointments and it is also an area that has been often featured recently in the media.

We felt this was the right time to restate our opinions on this so that our customers know where we are.


Barefoot running isn’t new

Firstly, a little context. Barefoot running isn’t new – and I’m not referring to what our ancestors did 10,000 years ago. Elite level athletes use some barefoot running as part of their training to improve their proprioception and increase the strength and stiffness of certain structures in and around the foot and lower leg.

This is important to improve performance and reduce the potential for injury. The most common way to do this is on grass, barefoot at some point before, during or at the end of a training session. They don’t do high mileage in barefoot shoes, they wear running cushioned shoes.

Barefoot running does not necessarily reduce the risk of injury

Proponents of full time barefoot running contend that it reduces the risk of injury and that it is more efficient.

There is some evidence to back this up but the research is equivocal. Subject populations are difficult to get right and more research is needed to look at differences between runners of different styles, training histories and transitioning styles before conclusions can fully be drawn, if indeed they can be.


Profeet take an different approach for every individual

Our approach at Profeet is more individualised and simply putting a barefoot shoe on is not going to instantly reduce injury risk and make a runner more efficient. We see a very wide range of people with different training histories, training volumes, foot types, biomechanical and anatomical issues that we have to address. In our opinion there is no one single correct way.

For example, someone with a thin metatarsal fat pad that starts running in a pair of sock-like shoes has a high potential of fracturing metatarsal or sesamoid bones in their forefoot. A cushioned shoe in this case is almost a necessity.

Someone with a hallux limitus has the potential to develop peroneal tendinoses as they’re not able to use their big toe as they should, an insole inside a torsionally stable shoe will reduce that risk.

Runners who have limited ranges of motion around the ankle may be putting themselves at risk of Achilles injuries and can actually benefit from wearing a shoe that has extra material at the heel.

Conversely, you will have competent runners with adequate mobility, strength, awareness and technique who will have no problem with shifting to a forefoot strike and will actually benefit from increased efficiency as a result.


Our goal is to help runners train efficiently and injury free

Our aim at Profeet is to equip runners to be able to run injury free and more efficiently.

We do this through advice on shoes, insoles, running technique, training volume management, strength training and flexibility training.

We do carry a barefoot shoe, the Brooks Drift, that we recommend as a training tool for for those wanting to do some foot strengthening work or even for those that want to run barefoot over longer distances.

We also carry a number of shoes with a reduced drop (difference in height between heel and forefoot) that aid those runners with a mid or forefoot landing.

But most importantly, we treat each person who comes through the door as an individual.

Words by Richard Felton, head of the Profeet Run Lab


Profeet’s services are by appointment only, please call or book online in advance

Call 020 7736 0046