".... I believe shoes are a contributing (e.g., not primary) factor in the development of postural distortions. The foot was designed to walk barefooted which allows the intrinsic muscles of the foot to function and maintain their strength (as you walk, the toes are able to grasp the sand or soft ground). In shoes, especially with hard innersole surfaces, this cannot occur. The toes cannot function as they do barefooted, and hence the intrinsic muscles of the foot become weaker. This is compounded by the fact that many healthcare providers prescribe arch supports to help reduce the symptoms caused by a weak foot. Unfortunately, this only increases the problem. For example, for you put a cast around the knee, the muscles atrophy. Similarly, when you put an arch support underneath the foot, the intrinsic muscles of the foot atrophy." Professor Brian A Rothbart, Podiatric Physician and Surgeon
Photo: Lorraine and Gary Moller ~1958 Putaruru.
Gary Moller comments:
I went barefoot the best part of my first 16 years, playing soccer, rugby, running cross-country and even hockey without shoes. My first 5 mile run was barefoot along a country road with a barefoot mate. My sister, Lorraine, did the same and her strong feet carried her to an Olympic bronze medal in the marathon at age 38.
All of my children were raised as barefoot as society would allow them. When a strethch and grow was given as a gift, the feet were cut out with a pair of scissors. Shoes were mostly open sandals and the toe boxes were spacious and the soles flexible. No tight stockings were allowed and bed clothes were light and loose so as not to distort the growing feet. All of my children have strong and flexible feet. They are set up for life by what we did for them in their first years.
The key to keeping toes comfy in the cold weather was not to swathe them in thick socks but to keep the central body core warm as toast so that excess heat was radiated away by the little pink toes. To understand more about this, please read my e-book about Hypothermia and Sport.
The photo to the right shows the feet of a child who has been raised mostly barefoot and the feet of an adult who was raised with restrictive footwear and stockings.
Professor Rothbart is dead right when he comments about arch supports. This is why I am generally opposed to the ise of orthotics to correct foot postural problems with these. Read my e-book here for more about this topic. I have yet to see a single case where orthotics are justified.