Most of the information about the barefoot running craze will tell you about the benefits and why you should incorporate it into your running regime. While I agree that barefoot running can have great results for any runner, there are some conditions that can be exacerbated by running barefoot.

One of the immediate benefits to running without shoes is becoming more aware of the sensations of your feet on the surfaces on which you are running. If you are not aware of (or ignore!) The message from your feet, you risk accidents and injuries. There are two conditions that can lead to numbness in the feet, reducing this awareness and there before making barefoot running dangerous – diabetic neuropathy and chronic compartment syndrome.

Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy, a common complication with diabetes, can cause numbness, tingling, and a loss of the sense of warm and cold. With the loss of feeling in the feet, small cuts and bruises can go unnoticed, risking infection. The excessive weight bearing that occurs during running can worsen the progress of diabetic neuropathy, so definitely talk to your doctor before trying it. Even if your doctor clears you for shodless activity, pay attention and listen to your body. If your diabetes worsens, you notice increasing loss of feeling or tingling sensations in your feet, or you find infections occurring in cuts on your feet, stop barefoot running immediately and consult your doctor again.

Chronic Compartment Syndrome

Chronic compartment syndrome occurs when one or more of the muscles of the lower leg do not fit comfortably within their compartment (fascia), so when the muscle flexes and expands, it puts pressure on or tears the surrounding fascia. Runners with this condition may start a run comfortably, but as the muscle is fired, the pain will be felt in the affected compartment area, usually along the shin or calf. If you continue running through this condition, the pressure and constriction can become so severe that it can cause numbness or tingling in the foot. Chronic compartment syndrome is often misdiagnosed as shin splints, so visit your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms, and avoid barefoot running until you have a correct diagnosis. The only surefire treatment is surgically releasing the pressure in the fascia, but it is a relatively common procedure that permanently relieves the pain and numbness.

As with any exercise, you should always consult your doctor for advice before starting a new workout regimen, do not just trust what you read online. If at any time you have numbness or impaired sensations in your feet, do not run barefoot. You will not adapt and run correctly, so you will not get the benefits of barefoot running, only exacerbating an existing condition or suffer an injury.

A general rule is if you can not feel your feet then DO NOT run barefoot!