Orthopaedic Perspective on Barefoot and Minimalist Running

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In recent years, there has been a movement toward barefoot and minimalist running. Advocates assert that a lack of cushion and support promotes a forefoot or midfoot strike rather than a rearfoot strike, decreasing the impact transient and stress on the hip and knee. Although the change in gait is theorized to decrease injury risk, this concept has not yet been fully elucidated. However, research has shown diminished symptoms of chronic exertional compartment syndrome and anterior knee pain after a transition to minimalist running. Skeptics are concerned that, because of the effects of the natural environment and the lack of a standardized transition program, barefoot running could lead to additional, unforeseen injuries. Studies have shown that, with the transition to minimalist running, there is increased stress on the foot and ankle and risk of repetitive stress injuries. Nonetheless, despite the large gap of evidence-based knowledge on minimalist running, the potential benefits warrant further research and consideration.

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