Friday, September 17, 2010
"Footgear is the greatest enemy of the human foot."
Let me give you an example to illustrate. For those of you that have ever been in a cast, or have known anyone that has been in a cast, what happens when that cast is removed? The limb has atrophied hasn't it? I broke my hand once, and after the cast was removed my forearm was half the size of the other. Creepy!
Well, guess what? Supportive shoes are the same thing... a cast for your feet. And, they do the same thing as any other cast, they atrophy the muscles in your foot. As a matter of fact, most foot problems in the developed world are the direct results of shoes!
Don't believe me? In the "The Influence of Footwear on the Prevalence of Flat Foot" from The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Udaya Bhaskara Rao and Benjamin Joseph noted that:
"In Europe and America flat foot is a common reason for attendance at a children's orthopaedic clinic, but in India children are seldom brought for treatment for flat foot. The few children who do attend with this complaint are from affluent urban families and they all wear shoes. In our clinic we have never seen a child from the farming community or from the family of a manual labourer who complained of flat foot.
The high concentration of flat foot among six-year-old children who wore shoes as compared with those who did not, implies that the critical age for development of the arch is before six years.
Our cross-sectional study suggests that shoe-wearing in early childhood is detrimental to the development of a normal or a high medial longitudinal arch. The susceptibility for flat foot among children who wear shoes is most evident if there is associated ligament laxity. We suggest that children should be encouraged to play unshod and that slippers and sandals are less harmful than closed-toe shoes."
Still don't believe me? In "Survey in China and India of Feet That Have Never Worn Shoes" in The Journal of the National Association of Chiropodists (chiropodist (n). - a specialist in care for the feet) Samuel B. Shulman concluded:
"People who have never worn shoes acquire very few foot defects, most of which are painless and non-debilitating. The range of their foot motions are remarkably great, allowing for full foot activity. Shoes are not necessary for healthy feet and are the cause of most foot troubles. Children should not be encouraged to walk prematurely and should not wear any footwear until absolutely necessary. Footgear is the greatest enemy of the human foot."
So should you throw your shoes away and buy some sandals? In my opinion... ABSOLUTELY!!! But beware, it will take some getting used to. Samuel B. Shulman noted in his survey of rickshaw pullers that when running barefoot initially:
"All of them, however, gave a history of much pain and swelling of the foot and ankle during the first few days of work as a rickshaw puller. But after either a rest of two days or a week's more work on their feet, the pain and swelling passed away and never returned again."