Running without shoes was all the rage not too long ago but interest in it and the number doing it have decreased considerably. It was a fad that continued for a couple of years and was largely influenced by social media commentary. This was a temporary trend towards barefoot running which started about 2009 with increased interest in running without running shoes. It was promoted in lots of books, blogs and magazine content that barefoot running was more natural, that it was a more economical way to run and that you got less injuries running this way. Many runners tried using barefoot running as an alternative to using running shoes and interest in it peaked around 2013. The sales of minimal or barefoot running shoes also peaked about that time, reaching nearly 10% of the running shoe market.
After that original attention and peak interest in barefoot running and minimalist running shoes have been gradually dropping. Runners lost interest in running barefoot. The sales of the minimalist running shoes have been dropping steadily since about mid- to late 2013. The alleged advantages for it did not eventuate to most runners who tried running barefoot but, of course, those who promoted barefoot running just are convinced that those runners were doing it wrong. As the scientific data built up, the results were not just there. All of the injury rate studies were showing that the injury risk was similar should you be running in footwear versus running without footwear and most of the running economy studies were also demonstrating that often there weren’t any systematic benefits.
While some runners, who’re very vocal, still do their running without footwear the big market shift has now been towards the maximalist running shoes with the Hoka One One running shoe being the leader in that category of running shoes. It has now reached the stage where the Hoka’s now outsells the entire group of minimalist running shoes giving an obvious clue of the popularity of cushioned running shoes compared to running barefoot.