We can read here:
One of my main activities is running. I completed the 2001 Montgomery County Marathon in the Parks and the 2010 Tokyo Marathon. I encourage everyone to complete a marathon once as it is an incredible feeling of accomplishment. Due to chronic knee pain, in May 2011 I started transitioning to minimalist running. I completed the switch in about three months and now no longer do heel-toe running. My knee pain has, so far, been greatly reduced to the point that it rarely bothers me anymore.
Barefoot running, also called "natural running", is the act of running without footwear. With the advent of modern footwear, running barefoot has become less common in most parts of the world but is still practiced in parts of Africa and Latin America. In some Western countries, barefoot running has grown in popularity due to perceived health benefits.1
Scientific research into the practice of running barefoot has not reached a clear consensus regarding its risks or its benefits. While footwear might provide protection from cuts, bruises, impact and weather, proponents of barefoot running argue that it reduces the risk of chronic injuries (notably repetitive stress injuries) caused by heel striking in padded running shoes.
The barefoot movement has prompted some manufacturers to introduce thin-soled and flexible shoes such as traditional moccasins and huaraches for minimalist running.
The alternative to going barefoot is to wear thin shoes with minimal padding. This is what people wore for thousands of years before the 1980s when the modern running shoe was invented.
Nature article abstract:
Humans have engaged in endurance running for millions of years, but the modern running shoe was not invented until the 1970s. For most of human evolutionary history, runners were either barefoot or wore minimal footwear such as sandals or moccasins with smaller heels and little cushioning relative to modern running shoes. We wondered how runners coped with the impact caused by the foot colliding with the ground before the invention of the modern shoe. Here we show that habitually barefoot endurance runners often land on the fore-foot (fore-foot strike) before bringing down the heel, but they sometimes land with a flat foot (mid-foot strike) or, less often, on the heel (rear-foot strike). In contrast, habitually shod runners mostly rear-foot strike, facilitated by the elevated and cushioned heel of the modern running shoe. Kinematic and kinetic analyses show that even on hard surfaces, barefoot runners who fore-foot strike generate smaller collision forces than shod rear-foot strikers. This difference results primarily from a more plantarflexed foot at landing and more ankle compliance during impact, decreasing the effective mass of the body that collides with the ground. Fore-foot- and mid-foot-strike gaits were probably more common when humans ran barefoot or in minimal shoes, and may protect the feet and lower limbs from some of the impact-related injuries now experienced by a high percentage of runners.