When running records are set in areas with controlled conditions (e.g. nothing on the ground that could cause problems if barefoot), the runners still wear shoes.

It seems a curious idea that you run faster with shoes on than without, given the increase in weight on your feet.

– The theoretical part of the question: Is there any evidence that running in lightweight shoes is faster than running barefoot?

– The practical part of the question: Why are (seemingly) no running records set with people running barefoot?

Please provide links to evidence.

1 Answer 1


I'm not aware of/ couldn't find any studies on affecting performance. This study from 2014 states that no studies on performance have not been done on a wide scale. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268631549_The_Effect_of_Footwear_on_Running_Performance_and_Running_Economy_in_Distance_Runners

A quote from this meta-analysis:

The reason that the mass of a light shoe (\440 g per pair) does not have detrimental effects on running economy relative to barefoot, and may even improve running economy, remains untested. It would seem likely that, for footwear weighing less than 440g per pair, any disadvantage due to having to repeatedly accelerate and decelerate the shoe against gravity might bebalanced by the beneficial effects on running economy derived from the shoe cushioning [15], stiffness [12] and comfort [10].

However as a speculation i would say that long distance running shoes provide a 'spring' that bare feet would not.

As for speculation sprinting shoes, they have grips on them which in theory would allow a sprinter to generate more force per stride. However this study says there is not a significant performance increase from barefoot to spiked shoes.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.