Is Barefoot Running Still a Thing?

Once upon a time, you couldn't attend a race without seeing a slew of runners wearing Vibram Five Fingers, looking like they had lizard feet. 

It seemed like nearly everyone had jumped aboard the barefoot running bandwagon by either rocking weird shoes or forgoing shoes entirely. 
Today, not so much. So is barefoot running still a thing?   

Too much, too soon?
"The barefoot running movement has certainly fizzled over the last couple years," says Dr. Justin Franson, a podiatrist at the University Foot and Ankle Institute in Valencia, Calif.

In hopes of improving their form and gait, many runners experimented with barefoot or barefoot-feeling shoes, but quickly encountered problems. 

"Runners often tried it too fast and too long and wound up with stress fractures and Achilles tendinitis, among other injuries," Franson says. 

Some runners also got a little too eager to lose their shoes after reading "Born to Run"—a 2009 book about a tribe of barefoot runners in Mexico—without understanding the full context.

Franson points out that those runners have small body frames and have been walking and running barefoot since birth.

"This same idea doesn't work for a 225-pound stocky man who works at a desk for 10 hours every day and then tries to run barefoot for an hour, two to three times a week," he says.

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