Switching Rapidly From Highly Cushioned To Minimalist Running Shoes Is Bad For Joints

There has been a tremendous surge in the popularity of barefoot style running shoes in the past year, with the sales of this type of shoe now accounting for 15% of the total sales for running shoes. These shoes allow us to adopt a more natural running style and place pressure through the parts of the foot which were designed to cope with a repetitive impact force.

That being said, scientists are warning against a rapid transition from highly cushioned and supportive running shoes which encourage heel strike running to minimalist running shoes which discourage heel strike running. A change as drastic as this will increase the risk of developing stress fractures in the bones of the feet.

Whenever a bone is impacted by running (or an alternative repetitive force) it goes through a remodelling process to increase strength and adapt to the demands placed on it. Injuries occur when the impact happens too quickly or increases in force dramatically in a short period of time. The bone doesn’t have a chance to remodel itself to protect against the new demands.

Scientists recommend a gradual transition of 10 weeks during which time you should reduce your weekly running mileage and allow your body to adjust itself. Avoiding lower limb injuries is so important for runners because it severely disrupts training and unfortunately, they have a tendency of reoccurring.


Ridge ST, Johnson AW, Mitchell UH, Hunter I, Robinson E, Rich BSE, Brown SD, Foot Bone Marrow Edema After 10-Week Transition to Minimalist Running Shoes, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2013.

About the Author

Job Role Sports Nutritionist and Social Media Coordinator Qualifications Bsc Sport and Exercise Science Steph has a competitive athletic background which spans 19 years. As a child she performed with the English Youth Ballet and had performed on the West End stage by the age of 10. Her enthusiasm for sport and fitness continued to grow as she did, encouraging her to learn more about nutrition and training. She began using her knowledge and personal experience to help others when she began coaching at the age of 16. From here, she went on to study Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Essex during which time she also received the Most Promising Newcomer Award from her University to mark her outstanding contribution to sport. During her first year of study she was introduced to partner stunt acrobatics and artistic gymnastics. After one year of dedicating herself to a lifestyle revolving around her sport, she was training with the best team in the UK who are currently ranked fifth in the world. Steph has worked in both the private and public sector coaching children and adults from grassroot to elite level as well as providing them with cutting edge advice on how to reach their goals. Steph has received awards for her choreography and has competed nationally and internationally meaning that she can back up her scientific knowledge with a wealth of experience. As our resident Sports Nutritionist, Steph is here to provide the most current and evidence based fitness, health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals.
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