Barefoot-friendly podiatrists do exist!
Know the Truth
"There's no such thing as a sensible shoe."
The Medical Community is Re-Thinking Footwear. Should You?
Podiatrists, doctors and scientists around the globe are starting to realize the hazards of shoe use and the benefits of going barefoot more often. In generations past it was more common to go barefoot, but for the last 40 years we have become an increasingly shoe-addicted society. Enough time has past to see the results of excessive shoe use:
Shoes are the major cause of
- flatfoot & fallen arches (due to arch supports & cast-like nature of shoes)
- bunions & hallux valgus (due to improper weight distribution in shoes)
- microbial infections like athlete's foot & toenail fungus & pseudomonas
- hammer toe (due to cramped toe boxes in shoes)
- knee arthritis (due to elevated shoe heels)
- blisters, corns & calluses (due to friction inside shoes)
It's a fact that nearly all of the foot ailments that lead us to a foot doctor in the United States can be traced back to the shoe as a primary cause. Orthotics and "smarter" shoes are not the answer to our foot woes, going barefoot is. The foot is designed for standing, walking and running bare; modern shoes with high-tech features like arch support and motion control produce deviations in the natural human gait, causing many of the foot, hip and back problems that plague us.
Research* shows that walking barefoot strengthens our feet, makes them more flexible and improves body alignment. On the other hand, shoes weaken our foot muscles, ruin our arches and deform the bone structure and soft tissues of the feet. All shoes impact the foot in one way or another, leading podiatrist and shoe-industry consultant William Rossi to declare, "There's no such thing as a sensible shoe." Likewise, Dr. Phil Hoffman observed, "Footgear is the greatest enemy of the human foot."
So if there’s no such thing as a “sensible” shoe, what can you do?
The key to good foot health is walking barefoot. In America, we usually only kick off our shoes when dining, watching TV, reading, etc.... all sitting activities. Hardly ever do we walk (or run) in our bare feet, yet barefoot locomotion - moving along the ground barefoot - is what exercises and strengthens our feet.
Many people tell me: "I kick off my shoes as soon as I get home." That's a good place to start, but how much time do you really spend barefoot? If you actually measured the amount of hours you spend barefoot - especially walking barefoot - each day, you will probably be surprised at how often you're in shoes. After spending 8 hours or more in shoes at work, then running errands or stopping by the grocery store on your way home, how much time do you actually get to spend barefoot before retiring to bed? And do you really always kick off your shoes as soon as you get home? Chances are, you spend only minutes per day barefoot.
In order to walk barefoot more often, however, we need to let going barefoot in public become socially acceptable again. This is why I believe that changing our social attitude about going barefoot is so crucial to improving the health of our feet in America and other Western societies.