All of this talk about barefoot being better than shod probably has you wondering what research has to say about this. After all, all of those high-tech shoe companies must have some science to back-up their designs right? Here are links talking about research that has been done that might get you thinking otherwise.

In Australia:

Researchers at the University of Newcastle have found there is no scientific evidence to support claims that specially designed joggers help prevent injuries. ... Dr Richards and his team found there was no published research that showed running shoes that controlled how much the foot rolled in and had elevated cushioned heels helped prevent injuries. ... [Some] shoes are specially designed to make you land on your heel and that's very artificial, ... That may impair balance and makes you prone to ankle strains, so the acute injuries are relevant as well.

  • Full article here
  • C E Richards, P J Magin, R Callister (2009) "Is your prescription of distance running shoes evidence-based?" British Journal of Sports Medicine 43: 159-162

For the elderly, cushioned shoes are found to impair balance and make them more suceptible to a fall:

You want a cushioned shoe for comfort and to avoid injury when you’re exercising, ... but try and stay away from heavily cushioned walking shoes. They mask the ability to sense accurately where the pressure is on the foot.

In another study, expensive athletic shoes accounted for more than twice as many injuries as cheaper shoes, a fact that prompted Robbins and Waked (1997) to suggest that deceptive advertising of athletic footwear (e.g., "cushioning impact") may represent a public health hazard. Anthony (1987) reported that running shoes should be considered protective devices (from dangerous or painful objects) rather than corrective devices, as their capacity for shock absorption and control of over-pronation is limited. The modern running shoe and footwear generally reduce sensory feedback, apparently without diminishing injury-inducing impact–a process Robbins and Gouw (1991) described as the "perceptual illusion" of athletic footwear. A resulting false sense of security may contribute to the risk of injury (Robbins and Gouw, 1991). Yessis (2000, p.122) reasoned that once the natural foot structures are weakened by long-term footwear use, people have to rely on the external support of the footwear, but the support does not match that provided by a well functioning foot.

  • Full article here
  • Michael Warburton (2001) "Barefoot Running" Sportscience 5(3):

When researchers examined the effects of different types of footwear on people with knee osteoarthritis, they found that going barefoot put less stress on knee joints than wearing foot-stabilizing walking shoes or clogs.

  • Full article here
  • Najia Shakoor, Joel A Block (2006) "Walking barefoot decreases loading on the lower extremity joints in knee osteoarthritis" Arthritis and rheumatism 54(9): 2923-7

Stable equilibrium during locomotion is required for both superior performance of sports and prevention of injuries from falls. A recent report indicated that currently available athletic footwear impairs stability in older men. ... Hence, shoes with thick-soft soles, similar to modern athletic footwear and 'walking shoes', destabilize men, and shoes with thin-hard soles provide superior stability.

  • Full article here
  • S Robbins, E Waked, G J Gouw, and J McClaran (1994) "Athletic footwear affects balance in men" British Journal of Sports Medicine 28(2): 117–122

A number of reports indicate an extremely low running-related injury frequency in barefoot populations in contrast to reports about shod populations... The sensory insulation inherent in the modern running shoe appears responsible for the high injury frequency associated with running. The injuries are considered "pseudo-neuropathic" in nature.

  • S Robbins, A Hanna (1987) "Running-related injury prevention through barefoot adaptations" Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 19(2): 148-156

This list of articles was not intended to be exhaustive, but a decent sampling of what is currently available (at the time that this was written - I am sure there is even more now). If anyone comes across an article that they think is particularly noteworthy please let me know and I can add it to the list.