Barefoot Running: We’re Having The Wrong Debate!

What We Can All Learn From Barefoot Running

I recently came across this great presentation made by Dr. Daniel Lieberman in March last year (2012). If you have an hour to spare, the video is well worth a watch…

Dr. Lieberman has been at the forefront of barefoot running research in recent years. It’s really interesting, and refreshing from a coaching point of view to hear a scientist promoting the concept that it’s not the shoe (or lack of shoe) that matters, but the running form of the individual – regardless of footwear choice. Very much a case of Form Before Footwear 🙂

In addition to the clear call for more research, particularly running form based research, I also wholeheartedly agree with the statement that we’re “having the wrong debate” as a running community – worrying more about the footwear or lack of footwear, rather than how the runner is moving as a whole.

I highly recommend sitting down with a coffee and watching this presentation, as Dr. Lieberman explains his hypotheses and findings far more eloquently than I ever could!

Last updated on March 2nd, 2021.


  1. Great talk! I have tried to go barefoot, but ended up hurting my feet on a technical trail & obstacle course. Now I am more middle of the road with 4mm lift and some padding, but this makes me want to start going back toward bare feet. Thanks for posting!

  2. I think those who were not emotionally attache to either side of the arguement such as yourself need aligned themselves with either side.

    Every conversation/interaction you hbe in out professional can teach you something. I’ve learnt that over several years myself and admit to fall guilty of “owning information” at the expense of further developing my understanding. You mighten agree with everything someone says, and inheritantly some you will feel offer more than others. The error we make is when we throw the water out with the bath water.

    I reada recent FB post by Simon Bartold regarding this exact video. He went on to passionately (an admireable trait whether you agree with what he says or not) denounce the claim that a toe spring, narrow toe box and heel raise is bad for the asymptomatic runner’s foot.

    TBH as a sports podiatrist who sees hip to toe pathology on a daily basis I can value a casual shoe that accounts for the natural foot structure. As an all day everyday shoe perhaps we don’t need toe springs, rigid midfoot shanks, heel counters and 10mm HHD when the loads and mobility demanded of joints isn’t as great.

  3. Perhaps it’s the postural habbits developed partly at the expense of said shoes that leads the foot more vulnerable in a running state.

    I agree that the majority of what happens at the foot during gait is a reflection of happening more proximally. However one mustn’t discredit the influence the foot has in the rest of the body also.
    Everyone wants to be an expert, reality there is no such thing.

    The so called “experts” in strength and conditioning of the lower limb suck. Yet they are the same people jumping on this new bandwgon that claims the “glutes” are the new savor and fix all answer to musckuloskeletal injury. In the same manner the experts of “the core” and”functional” exercise were on their soap box several times in the last decade.

    The real intellects are those that don’t tell you how it is or how it is going to be but rather simply just provide the information.
    I am a sports podiatrist and basically much of what I practice I didn’t learn from other podiatrist. Why? Because my area of allied is full of “experts” of the feet in much the same way as there are now so called “experts” of the glutes, or “experts” of the core or “experts”
    of breathing. Whilst they state they don’t preach at the expense of the influence of the rest of the body they certainly do.