Foot pronation is not associated with an increased risk of injury in novice runners, a prospective study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found. The study calls into question claims that foot type and pronation are key in choosing what shoes a person wears when running. The Barefoot Alliance asserts that this helps reinforce our opinion that it's best for healthy individuals to allow feet to remain barefoot or wear only minimal foot protection when walking or running.
According to an article published in the New York Times, Danish researchers used "elaborate measurements and visual evaluations" to follow 927 healthy individuals of both sexes ranging in age from 18 to 65 over the course of a year.
Rasmus Ostergaard Nielsen, the researcher who led the study, concluded that foot type is far down the list of considerations when beginning a running regimen. He said runners would more effectively “pay attention to things like body mass, training, behavior, age and previous injury in order to prevent running-related injuries.”
Because the study only had participants use "neutral" running shoes, it's not appropriate to say that the results can directly endorse a case for barefoot activity. We believe, however, that it makes a good point about the role of shoes in controlling and fixing what many podiatrists and other experts believe are flaws with the human foot. A need for arch support is often claimed as a fix for pronation, however this study implies against that need.
Daniel Howell, PhD, a biology professor at Liberty University and author of The Barefoot Book, has long asserted that arch supports are unnecessary and can harm the innate functioning of the feet. He has even posted a short Youtube video describing the importance of the windlass mechanism and how shoes with arch support -- purportedly for the purpose of fixing overpronation -- cause a disruption.
We must also note that this discussion is about "healthy" individuals. People who are obese, have foot complications due to diabetes, or suffer from peripheral neuropathy must consult with their health care providers about the appropriateness of barefoot activity.