Intro to Barefoot Running (by my son)


My name is Jonas Lawrence, and I am 13. For my grade 8 science fair project I did a study on barefoot running. I was chosen out of ten people from grade 8 to go to a school board wide science fair and I won fourth place in Life Sciences for my age group.  The question that I was looking to answer was, “Is barefoot running better for you/more productive than running with sneakers?” I picked this as my topic because I had heard of barefoot running as part of a Paleo lifestyle and because I have had foot problems in the past.

Barefoot running is the physical act of wearing no shoes along with the running style of landing on the balls of your foot, keeping a good posture and letting your leg hang relaxed. When you run shod (with shoes) you land on your heel, with your leg locked, and you are hunched over. When you land on your heel a shock wave moves up your leg, called a heel strike. When you run barefoot you land on the balls of your feet, with your leg relaxed so that heel strike is eliminated. When you run without shoes a lot of the muscles in your feet are being used for the first time. Many muscles are dormant during shod running. 

If you take barefoot running too hastily you can be injured. Your feet are quite weak after years of wearing shoes and if you try to run barefoot without strengthening your feet, you can cause foot and leg strain. Also, your feet are relatively soft and you need to start on softer terrain and move up to harder terrain as you gain experience and your feet become tougher.  

Barefoot running can reduce injuries by eliminating heal strike and can also increase coordination, agility and balance because of the dormant muscles awakening. I found a study by Harvard from Jan 2012 and it said that running barefoot takes about 4% less energy than running with shoes.

Minimalist footwear and barefoot shoes are footwear that has all the positive aspects of running barefoot along with projection of shoes. An example is the Vibram FiveFingers which I have had for about a month. They have a thin rubber sole in the shape of toes, and a fabric covering. I wear them to school on a regular basis and wear them during sports and on hikes and walks. I would recommend barefoot running to anyone who has battled past injuries due to running, and someone who would like to prevent these injuries, along with the everyday Paleo person.


  1. Wow! Great research, can't wait to try it - and AWESOME JOB Jonas! You are a great writer, this would pass as a University essay :) - Elaine

  2. Cool Jonas, very well thought out and written.

  3. Great writing, Jonas. Jenn is looking forward to teaching you in the near future!

  4. Cool. I have already had to have knee surgury in my life and I am 38 years old. I think I may try some barefoot walking and then maybe some running. Very well written essay!