Many runners are switching to barefoot shoes from companies such as Vibram or Merrell. People see these as a more natural way to protect their feet and maintain the movement that we evolved to use in our feet and not be restricted to rigid sneakers.

Researchers found that jumping right in and not easing into a routine with these minimalist sneakers can result in increased injury to foot bones and can increase the sick for fractures.

"Transitioning to minimalist shoes is definitely stressful to the bones," said Sarah Ridge, study lead author and assistant professor of exercise science at Brigham Young University. "You have to be careful in how you transition and most people don't think about that; they just want to put the shoes on and go."

Quickly, theses sneakers have skyrocketed to 15 percent of the running show market, wholly worth $65 billion yearly.

Researchers looked at 36 experienced runners for 10 weeks and monitored their feet prior, during and after the experiment by MRI scans. Half of the group remained using their standard running sneakers and the other half switched to minimalist shoes.

After the 10-week period, evidence of damage to the feet of the runners who had transitioned to the new sneakers was apparent. Study participants who had used the minimalist sneakers had an increase in bone marrow edema -- buildup of fluid in the bone -- and an increase in stress related injuries.

"Whenever a bone is impacted by running (or some other repetitive action), it goes through a normal remodeling process to get stronger," Ridge said. "Injury occurs when the impact is coming too quickly or too powerfully, and the bone doesn't have a chance to properly remodel before impact reoccurs."

"People need to remember they've grown up their whole life wearing a certain type of running shoes and they need to give their muscles and bones time to make the change, if you want to wear minimalist shoes, make sure you transition slowly," said Wayne Johnson another study co-author.

 

The research published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise can be found here