Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Scathing Analysis of Foot Experts Misinforming the Public


USA Today published an article recently on the dangers of new "barefoot-like" shoe styles. In the report, podiatrists Kendrick Whitney and Michele Colon actually state that high heeled platforms are better for your body than ballet flats or the Vibram Fivefingers. Why? Because a zero-drop shoe – in their professional opinion – is bad for your legs and feet. In the article, Colon decries a particular type of shoe because “there’s no structure, essentially no sole, they’re too flat.”

Run (quickly… and barefoot) from any podiatrist who claims your foot needs “support.” I cringe whenever I hear a foot doctor say the foot needs support, or that such-and-such shoe is bad because it doesn’t offer enough support. And here we have two podiatrists claiming that ultra-hard, immobilizing, high heeled shoes are better for you than low, flexible shoes that allow for natural foot mobility.

It appears to me that podiatrists like Whitney and Colon do not fully understand or appreciate foot physiology. And I am astounded – though perhaps not surprised – that it takes a non-podiatrist like me to set the record straight. They, like so many other members of the medical community and society at large, are simply brainwashed. They are so culturally-biased that they cannot see the obvious about human ambulation or discern "normal" from "natural."

Can you imagine a dentist who sincerely believes that candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner is the best thing you can do for your teeth? If the dentist was deceiving his patients merely to increase his own profits, I would merely despise him. If he were so ignorant of dental hygiene as to sincerely believe his prescription is best, then…. well, I would be truly afraid to be his patient. So is our situation, however, with many of today’s podiatrists. Crazy.

You do not need shoes. In fact, your feet, knees, hips and spine would be stronger and healthier if you wore shoes less. That is fact based on human anatomy and physiology. I invite Whitney, Colon and their shoe-touting colleagues to show me ANY scientific data that supports a daily necessity for shoes – specifically the shoes they hype with elevated heels, arch supports, cushioning, etc. In The Barefoot Book, I provide many, many references to the primary scientific literature exposing the hazards of shoe use. Whitney and Colon do not tell readers of USA Today that elevated heels unnaturally shorten the Achilles tendon, putting strain on the arch and ultimately causing the arch to fall. They do not mention that narrow toe boxes on shoes cause hallux valgus, bunions and hammer toe. They neglect to inform that arch supports, elevated heels and toe springs immobilize the foot and halt the windlass mechanism, which is so crucial to natural walking. They also forget that athlete’s foot and toenail fungus only infect us when we encase our feet in warm, moist, closed-toe shoes. And maybe they don’t know that the leading cause of knee arthritis (probably) is elevated shoe heels (elderly women get knee arthritis 4x more than elderly men). All of these problems are caused by shoes and rarely seen in barefoot cultures, but suggesting that we go barefoot more seems unimaginable to them.

Here’s a quote from the article: “Best everyday option for most women: “Something with a 1- or 2-inch heel” that’s well constructed and fits well, Colon says. “You’re giving the foot a little bit of an arch. It puts the body in a normal position for walking.””

URGHH. Do you know WHY you’re giving the foot “a little bit of an arch”? Because you are locking the windlass mechanism in the “engaged” position. (Please see my video description of the windlass mechanism). And walking in a 2-inch heel may be “normal” (meaning it’s accepted by the masses), but it is not natural.

Going barefoot is natural and healthy; wearing shoes is unnatural and by-and-large unhealthy. In the ideal world you should employ shoes the same way you employ gloves… only when necessary. In my own life I have found that I actually need footwear less often than I need hand protection, even in winter. So, shoes are unnecessary in most situations and going barefoot is unquestionably healthier, but if you’ve been wearing shoes all of your life you do need to transition out of them slowly. Shoes create a dependency on shoes. Our feet have been debilitated by them and they must therefore be rehabilitated (by walking barefoot). Like any rehab, the process may be uncomfortable at times, but if you complete the requisite physical therapy you will be stronger and healthier in the end.

Rant over. Thank you.

15 comments:

  1. As a 'Recovering Podiatrist' I can fully agree with & wholeheartedly endorse Daniel's comments above.

    Unfortunately, my profession, which initially arose to treat the problems caused by shoes, has largely focused on the shoe rather than the foot. We are brilliant at mitigating some of the adverse effects of shoes, and of course treating the pathologies & deformities which shoes inevitably cause!

    I only realised about two years ago that most feet can function perfectly well, in fact actually function optimally, without shoes. The medical & scientific evidence spanning over 100 years proves that shoes not only damage feet, but increase the risk of pathology in ankles, knees, hips & backs.

    I am so convinced of barefeet being safer & healthier than any shoes that I gave up wearing them myself twenty months ago, and have never felt better!

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  2. Steve Bloor is one of the world's few podiatrists blazing a new foot-health paradigm. WE THANK YOU, STEVE!

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  3. Here's a link to the original article, the comments are pretty much all questioning the article. No one that has made a comment seems to be taking it seriously. I commented under mwk982.

    http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/story/2011-09-11/The-other-shoe-drops-Most-are-bad-for-feet/50206576/1

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  4. Given how heavily health claims for pharmaceutical drugs (and foods) are regulated, it blows my mind that these "experts" can go out and willy nilly assert whatever they wish about shoes.

    As podiatrists, are Whitney and Colon not subject to any conflict of interest oversight?

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  5. When I was still under the "care" of a podiatrist, his treatments caused me so much pain, I became very depressed because I was convinced I was losing my ability to walk. Thanks to people like you, who tell the world what I instinctively knew to be true, I now go barefoot whenever I can, and only wear minimal shoes when I have to. I am now almost nearly pain free, and it gets a bit better everyday!

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  6. Not all feet are created equal. As a runner and possessor of flat feet I overpronate when I run. Not wearing shoes would risk far greater injury if I attempted to run continually with this condition.

    The author and many commentators on this page point to personal experience as knowledge that trumps that of a, possibly misguided, expert. I suffer noticeable pain just below my kneecap whenever I attempt to run without shoes or without orthoses. The pain impedes my ability to run and only gets worse over time. While I would never prefer high heels, I also don't feel that running barefoot is right for me.

    Just as it is important to question in order to seek one's own answers, I think it is also important to remember exceptions and hear out all the facts while one considers multiple sources of advice.

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  7. Just found your blog last wk Daniel...appreciate you're shaking up convention.
    The podiatrists cited are quoting wonderful 20th century thought around gait. Unfortunately it is the 21st century and legally they are quite literally "cut off at the knees" from looking further up the chain for integrated function (extending the windlast relationship from big toe to top of the head). Here's a fun piece I posted for rehab pros called the 3 Diaphragms, or tongue in cheek, "Your big toe & enlightenment" : )
    Keep after them and that tired last century thinking! http://youtu.be/HTkFuPLZ3Uk

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  8. I'm glad to have found your blog. My 19yo son has embraced the barefoot lifestyle and has done quite a bit of research on the legalities of being allowed to remain barefoot. So far his only problem is the dining hall at his university. However, my question is about keeping him safe from frostbite this winter -- how concerned should I be? What do you do to keep your feet warm enough when outdoors in the winter?

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  9. I wish someone would address the problem of having severe flat feet and whether this approach could still be beneficial. Kitakk above states that he can't run barefoot without having worsening pain. He says he needs both shoes and orthoses. Possibly there is something wrong with his technique, but I wish someone would adress this carefully. I have hypermobile flat feet and find it difficult to walk, much less run, any significant distance without support. Also, is there a proper walking technique for those of us with too many MSK problems to begin with running?

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  10. I trained under Dr. Whitney and his father at Temple in Philadelphia, where I was indoctrinated with their erroneous belief systems, that are not based in science.
    I received awards for knowledge of orthotic construction and worked for an orthotics lab.
    Yet, many of my active patients were not helped by my interventions. I now know why.
    I have become so disgusted with the inability of most podiatrists to understand natural foot anatomy, that I am desperately attempting to separate myself from all things podiatric. Including removing mention of being a podiatrist on my business card. Podiatrists hurt people's feet, because most don't understand how feet are supposed to function.
    Dr. William Rossi, was a unique podiatrist, who did understand natural foot function, but was ignored by his own profession, in spite of the fact that no other podiatrist has had a greater understanding of foot function and footwear fabrication, based in real life experience and observation.
    I am sad to say that I hope active people avoid podiatrists, as their interventions will NOT deliver the health benefits that they need and desire.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I trained under Dr. Whitney and his father at Temple in Philadelphia, where I was indoctrinated with their erroneous belief systems, that are not based in science.
    I received awards for knowledge of orthotic construction and worked for an orthotics lab.
    Yet, many of my active patients were not helped by my interventions. I now know why.
    I have become so disgusted with the inability of most podiatrists to understand natural foot anatomy, that I am desperately attempting to separate myself from all things podiatric. Including removing mention of being a podiatrist on my business card. Podiatrists hurt people's feet, because most don't understand how feet are supposed to function.
    Dr. William Rossi, was a unique podiatrist, who did understand natural foot function, but was ignored by his own profession, in spite of the fact that no other podiatrist has had a greater understanding of foot function and footwear fabrication, based in real life experience and observation.
    I am sad to say that I hope active people avoid podiatrists, as their interventions will NOT deliver the health benefits that they need and desire.

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    Replies
    1. lol dont be so naive, podiatrist hurt peoples feet and promote people's feet to get hurt because they gain profit of unhealthy feet, they are not interested in healthy feet and things that make feet healthy because they need unhelathy feet to gain profit,

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  12. i love your web Barefoot Proffesor you are great

    lol men i don't think even the podhiatrists belive that, i think it's propaganda, shoes corporations want to make profit and will lie and say bullshit in order to avoid people using shoes

    i think the article is just propaganda, and probably laughing at peoples face, to call them stupid without realising it, like propraganda from ww2 who was a lot of bullshit some of it and sometimes stupid but people believed that

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    Replies
    1. in order to avoid people going barefoot* i said the contrary, i was going to say in order to avoid people avoiding shoes

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  13. Hello, I simply needed to let you know, you're dead off-base. Your article doesn't bode well.
    Podiatry south Melbourne

    ReplyDelete

Welcome to The Barefoot Professor blog, intelligent talk about running, walking and living barefoot. I encourage your comments, even if you disagree with me. In this spirit I don't even moderate the comments. However, PLEASE use critical thinking skills when leaving comments, and avoid inflammatory words. Please keep your comments short and to-the-point. THANKS.