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Hal Higdon Warns Against Barefoot Running

Marathon running god Hal Higdon in his latest blog entry warns runners against excessive barefoot running, especially on pavement, but does believe that ‘going bare’ in moderation is good to strengthen the feet and ankles (and help with athlete’s foot).

…But I worry that the movement toward minimalist shoes is merely a marketing fad ignited by a best-selling book. How can a shoe be barefoot? Isn’t that some sort of oxymoron? And I saw one ad for “barefoot vegan” shoes. So now there are different models depending on your diet? I continue to do some barefoot running (which is good for the muscles of your feet), but only on grass, soft tracks or hard beaches. If the fad sends someone out on a 5-miler barefoot on pavement, unless that person was born in Ethiopia, it’s going to result in more business for podiatrists…

Read Hal’s Full Blog Entry on the Dangers and Benefits of Barefooting



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This post was written by:

- who has written 1138 posts on Run It Fast®.

Joshua Holmes has completed 325 marathons/ultramarathons while running 100+ miles 62 including races such as the Badwater 135 (9x), Western States 100, The Last Annual Vol State 500K (4x). He is the founder of Run It Fast, the most driven club on the planet. His favorite races to date are the Vol State 500K, Badwater 135, Barkley Fall Classic, Catalina Eco Marathon, Chimera 100, Across The Years, Savage Gulf Trail Marathon, Strolling Jim 40 Miler, Tunnel Hill 100, RUTS, EC100 and the Flying Monkey Marathon in his home state of Tennessee. Follow @bayou Follow @joshuaholmes on Instagram

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2 Responses to “Hal Higdon Warns Against Barefoot Running”

  1. cfw says:

    Hal needs to try barefoot and then comment.

    My experience with Vibram FFs (3 marathons – NYC, LA, Death Valley) led to barefoot work on a track (Santa Monica HS with the LA Roadrunners) and in a gym (Equinox) on treadmills. No work for any podiatrist emerged. Camp Pendleton sprint tri worked fine barefoot.

    Barefoot runs for 6 miles along the Manhattan Beach bike path and the Redondo Beach bike bath worked fine.

    The injury prevention idea needs Hal’s attention – cutting risk of stress fracture / plantar fasciitis issues.

    Also important for older runners (54) – less risk of injury from falls (since not jacked up on a 3/4 inch heel). A training run of 20 miles in the rain with the LA Roadrunners led to a fall that caused no damage since the posture (lower heel) and shorter stride in VFFs makes it easier to “catch” the ground with hands rather than the chin. Same good result in a fall during the rain-soaked LA marathon in 3/2011.

    Hal needs to put the burden of proof on those against barefoot running, which has worked well for humans for millenia. New-Balance-type stability shoes have claimed (without evidence) to reduce injury for say 40 years. The fad driven by ads is the Nike-type shoe, not so much VFFs or barefoot running.

  2. Zach says:

    Hal Higdon: Expert. Speaks to thousands of runners per year at every major Marathon expo. Has coached tens of thousands of runners to their first (insert distance here) race. I think Hal is saying people can and do injure themselves running barefoot too much and too soon. You may run barefoot no problem. I don’t think he’s saying that no one can do it successfully.


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