Yet more fuel has been added to the debate regarding the benefits of barefoot running following a study conducted by researchers at the Universities of Granada and Jaén. The study, conducted using 39 volunteer runners, consisted of a 12-week running programme that included specific exercises, completed in progressively increasing volumes on grass. The exercises were based exclusively on continual running, separated intervals and sprints.
According to the multidisciplinary UGR research team, which is known as Human Lab and is located at the University of Granada’s Sport and Health Institute (iMUDS), the findings demonstrate how barefoot running, when done properly, can considerably decrease the risk of injury by producing significant changes to foot strike patterns, regardless of the speed of the runner. Following the study it was found that runners who had a rear-foot strike pattern significantly shifted towards a forefoot strike pattern, both at comfortable running speeds (rear-foot support dropped from 55.6% to just 11.1%) and higher speeds (rear-foot support dropped from 58.3% to 13.8%).
The researchers concluded that the benefits of barefoot running are attainable only when one acquires certain techniques. Otherwise, barefoot running can give rise to other risk factors.
The study was published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science.