April 2015

Habitual foot-strike patterns may persist in older runners after switch from shoes

In the moment: Sports medicine

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Experienced runners older than 30 years are less likely than adolescents to change foot-strike pattern when switching from traditional running shoes to barefoot running, which may increase their risk of injury, according to a study from the University of Kansas in Kansas City.

Researchers analyzed 26 runners (16 men), all of whom were older than 30 years and had more than 10 years of shod running experience, as they ran on a treadmill at various speeds while barefoot and while wearing conventional running shoes. They found that 40% of the men and 20% of the women persisted with their habitual rearfoot strike pattern even while barefoot running, across all speeds. The findings were presented in late March at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

By comparison, a similar 2013 study from the same group found that competitive adolescent runners landed heel-first 70% of the time while shod and less than 30% of the time while barefoot.


Mullen SM, Toby EB, Mar D, et al. The effect of training shoes on running kinematics in older runners. Presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual meeting, Las Vegas, NV, March 2015.

Mullen S, Toby EB. Adolescent runners: The effect of training shoes on running kinematics. J Pediatr Orthop 2013; 33(4):453-457.

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