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.