While most would consider the barefoot running movement a growing trend, Kevin Kirby, DPM, MS, associate professor at the Department of Applied Biomechanics for the California School of Podiatric Medicine at Samuel Merritt University explained that barefoot running is only growing online, where there are numerous websites and blogs dedicated to the movement. Kirby contends that the movement online has not translated to the tracks and pavement of the outdoors. "It is a virtual movement," he said. "People are talking about it, but not actually doing it."
What if a habitually shod runner came into Kirby’s office armed with clinical research that suggested barefoot running was the healthier choice and wanted to make the switch? "As a health professional, I could not ethically recommend it because there is too much risk of catastrophic injury," Kirby explained. "But, if they were to run barefoot, I would advise them to start out slow and on a safe surface. If you have been running with shoes your entire life, as most people have, you are not going to be able to go out on the asphalt and run five miles without getting blisters or abrasions. You must toughen your feet up. You should find a nice park with soft grass or maybe sand on a beach."