The apparent benefits of running barefoot are being put to the test by Cape Town university researchers, reported the Sunday Times.
"People have been hyping the wonders of barefoot running or so-called natural running," doctoral student Nicolas Tam told the newspaper. Tam, who is based at the SA Sports Science Institute, is completing his doctorate in running biomechanics.
"Runners are buying into the natural-running craze, but there is no evidence that it actually has less impact on joints and causes fewer injuries," he said.
Tam has been using specialised equipment to measure muscle activity in subjects who have run barefoot for 40 minutes.
Zola warns of barefoot running
In the 1980s, world-record breaking South African athlete Zola Budd ran barefoot. However, she told the Sunday Times that the idea of her as a barefoot athlete was the "biggest myth ever."
Budd-Pieterse - as she is now known - said she had run barefoot on the track and on grass, but had worn shoes when it came to roads, on which she did 60% of her training.
She said people could not just jump into barefoot running after years of wearing shoes.
"It is a lifestyle. You have to almost grow up in."