Barefoot Running Shoes

By Drew Heideman, MPT, ATC, PES

Barefoot Running Shoes

By: Drew Heideman, MPT, ATC, PES

A common perception is that running on hard surfaces such as pavement or concrete causes injuries. These injuries can be hip pain, plantar fasciitis, and runner’s knee. Because of this, many athletes have recently turned to barefoot running or minimalist running shoes in an attempt to change their running mechanics.

Barefoot running shoes can be an option for you. However, talk to a medical professional before choosing to do so.

Image of woman walking on a path.






Barefoot running, or running in minimalistic shoes tends to change a runners’ mechanics causing him or her to land more towards the mid and forefoot. Forefoot and some midfoot strikers hit the ground in a way that generates minimal impact forces with the ground even on hard surfaces like pavement or the sidewalk.

When considering minimalist shoes there are a few things that runners should look for. The thickness of the cushioning in the heel and toe box of the shoe should be about the same. Also, it should not be too cushioned. They should be able to be easily twisted along the long axis and the shoe should bend backwards on itself easily. There should not be a stiff arch support that prevents the natural movement of the arch of the foot. There are several brands of barefoot running shoes currently on the market. The physical therapists at JOI Rehabilitation can give you recommendations of local retailers who sell these types of shoes.

Switching to a barefoot running style or to minimalistic shoes should be done with caution in order to prevent injury. It is very important that you follow a slow progression when you transition to this type of running. Even with a conservative program, runners likely experience some muscle soreness. Typically, the soreness is in your calf muscles, the Achilles tendon, or pain in the feet. Because of this, anyone who has a previous history of Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, previous stress fracture or metatarsalgia should proceed with extreme caution. In addition, if you have any foot-related or ankle-related problems, you should seek professional advice. One of our physicians or medical professionals can help before you start barefoot running.

JOI Rehab

Whether you are suffering from foot issues, joint pain, or injuries resulting from any type of activity, JOI has 12 physical therapy clinics conveniently located in Jacksonville and Northeast FL who specialize in orthopedic rehab.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, call (904) 858-7045. Come see us!


All JOI Physicians, Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists now offer Telemedicine services for virtual visits from the convenience of your home. Also, if you feel that it is best to stay in your own home during this time, we can still provide orthopaedic Telehealth services for you. Through the download of the free Zoom app on the your phone, tablet or laptop. Furthermore, our physicians and Telehealth for Physical Therapy can evaluate you and provide the care you need.

JOI Fracture and Injury Care

JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP Fracture care. Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care.

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