Reports of injury reduction associated with barefoot running have created an interest from the running public; however, its risks are not well understood for those who typically wear cushioned footwear. Examine how plantar loading changes during barefoot running in a group of runners that ordinarily wear cushioned footwear and demonstrate a rearfoot strike pattern (RFSP) without cueing or feedback alter their foot strike pattern and plantar loading when asked to run barefoot at various speeds down a runway. Forty-one subjects ran barefoot at three different speeds across a pedography platform which collected plantar loading variables for 10 regions of the foot; data were analyzed using two-way mixed multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). A significant foot strike position (FSP)×speed interaction in each of the foot regions suggested that plantar loading differed based on FSP across the different speeds. The RFSP provided the highest total forces across the foot while the pressures exhibited by subjects with a non-rearfoot strike pattern (NRFSP) was more similar between each of the metatarsals.
The majority of subjects ran barefoot with a NRFSP and exhibited reduced total forces and more uniform force distribution across the metatarsal regions. This may have an influence in injuries sustained in barefoot running.