A small new study adds to the body of evidence that switching to barefoot running shoes isn't as simple as it sounds.
During a 12-week training program, runners wearing minimalist shoes were more likely to experience an injury than runners in neutral sneakers. They were also more likely to report calf and shin pain, according to the study, which is to be published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
"Clinicians should exercise caution when recommending minimalist footwear to runners otherwise new to this footwear category," the authors write.
They randomly assigned neutral, minimalist or partially minimalist sneakers to 103 runners who were training for a 10K event over 12 weeks. At the end of the study period, participants reported 23 injuries, 12 of which were in people using partial minimalist shoes. Runners who wore the full minimalist shoes experienced the most calf and shin pain.
Ever since minimalist running footwear surged on the market, experts have advised consumers to make the transition to barefoot running a gradual one. "Most experts agree that the best way to transition to minimalist shoes is to gradually increase mileage in them over a period of three or more months," Runners World reported. "In this study, in contrast, the runners immediately switched to doing all of their running in the new shoes."
In 2010, minimalist running shoes accounted for about a third of the running sneaker market, Outside magazine reported. In 2013, that number was down to just 15 percent.
Runners who do want to give the minimalist approach a try should start by walking 20 to 30 minutes each day in the streamlined kicks, then work up to jogging no more than a mile on a soft surface two or three times a week, according to fitness expert and HuffPost blogger Ben Greenfield.
h/t Runner's World