If you have time, read Michael Warburtons article “Barefoot Running”. It is one of the more interesting articles about barefoot running, although it is not without its flaws. There are interesting observations about injury rates in running, and how throwing away your clumpy trainers can reduce injury rates in runners.
But as a warning, even though the skin on your feet toughens up, it is no defence against stones, glass, nails or needles or extremes in temperature . I found running in Vibram’s to be a challenge over these last few winter months. My feet were bloody cold! ( I mean really)
I thought this warning was worthwhile repeating
Runners with poor sensation in their feet are particularly vulnerable to damage or infection when barefoot. Peripheral neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes mellitus. if you have diabeties, dont go barefoot Actually, make diabetics wear shoes/trainers (ACSM/ADA, 1999; ACSM, 2000).
Over all the proposition is this, feet quite like the feedback they were built to receive. The more you cut this feedback off, the more chance of injury you have.
It has an ok-ish reference list which is a useful start to your barefoot journey
American College of Sports Medicine and American Diabetes Association (1997). Diabetes mellitus and exercise: joint position statement. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 29(12), i-vi
American College of Sports Medicine (2000). ACSM position stand on exercise and Type 2 diabetes. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 32, 1345-1360
Anthony RJ (1987). The functional anatomy of the running training shoe. Chiropodist, December, 451-459
Bergmann G, Kniggendorf H, Graichen F, Rohlmann A (1995). Influence of shoes and heel strike on the loading of the hip joint. Journal of Biomechanics 28, 817-827
Burkett LN, Kohrt M, Buchbinder R (1985). Effects of shoes and foot orthotics on VO2 and selected frontal plane kinematics. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 17, 158-163
Clarke TE, Frederick EC, Cooper LB (1983). Effects of shoe cushioning upon ground reaction forces in running. International Journal of Sports Medicine 4, 247-251.
Flaherty RF (1994). Running economy and kinematic differences among running with the foot shod, with the foot bare, and with the bare foot equated for weight. Microform Publications, International Institute for Sport and Human Performance, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon
Frederick EC (1986). Kinematically mediated effects of sports shoe design: a review. Journal of Sports Sciences 4, 169-184
Hafner J, Burg G (1999). Dermatological aspects in prevention and treatment of the diabetic foot syndrome. Schweizerische Rundschau fur Medizin Praxis 88, 1170-1177
Robbins SE, Gouw GJ (1990). Athletic footwear and chronic overloading: a brief review. Sports Medicine 9, 76-85
Robbins SE, Gouw GJ (1991). Athletic footwear: unsafe due to perceptual illusions. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 23, 217-224
Robbins S, Gouw G, McClaran J, Waked E (1993). Protective sensation of the plantar aspect of the foot. Foot and Ankle 14, 347-352
Robbins SE, Gouw GJ, Hanna AM (1989). Running-related injury prevention through innate impact-moderating behavior. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 21, 130-139
Robbins SE, Hanna AM (1987). Running-related injury prevention through barefoot adaptations. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 19, 148-156
Robbins SE, Waked E, Rappel R (1995). Ankle taping improves proprioception before and after exercise in young men. British Journal of Sports Medicine 29, 242-247
Robbins S, Waked E (1997). Hazards of deceptive advertising of athletic footwear. British Journal of Sports Medicine 31, 299-303
Siff MC, Verkhoshansky YV (1999). Supertraining (4th ed.). Denver, Colorado. Supertraining International
Stacoff A, Steger J, Stussi E, Reinschmidt C (1996). Lateral stability in sideward cutting movements. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 28, 350-358
Stefanyshyn DJ, Nigg BM (2000). Influence of midsole bending stiffness on joint energy and jump height performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 32, 471-476
Webb P, Saris WH, Schoffelen PF, Van Ingen Schenau GJ, Ten Hoor F (1988). The work of walking: A calorimetric study. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 20, 331-337
Yessis M (2000). Explosive running. Illinois, USA. Contemporary Book
Andrew Stemler is a barefoot runner