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.