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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Shoes contribute to weak feet and poor posture

".... 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.


Anonymous said...

Brian Rothbart is nothing more than a snake oils salesman and has been convicted of fraud. His work has been largely discredited.

All the research that has been done on foot supports/orthotics and muscle strength has shown that they actually increase muscle strength, so your claims are wrong.

Gary Moller said...

Do you have any evidence that Rothbart is a fraud, because I would be very, very interested to know. The last I want is to be quoting a fraudster. Having said this, I still agree with the statement I have quoted. His background, if it is dubious, does not diminish the message.

With regards to your claims about orthotics increasing muscle strength, I find this astonishing. I would have to see the evidence before accepting your claim.

Wayne said...

i suspect once your feet have been raised in tight fitting shoes than you are probably dgoing to be more reliant on correctional devices. what professional will recommend running around barefoot to fcorrect it and sitting in poorly designed shoes won't make it any better, as far as the general population are concerned correctional decives will be needed

Gary Moller said...

But, Wayne, where is the evidence? As I have already said, I have yet to see a single case where orthotics are justified.

Richard said...

I work with children in martial arts and gymnastics. Grab a kid's foot and lower leg who exercises barefoot and then grab one that does not....

...even if the kid that wears shoes a lot does athletic things, their feet will feel weak in comparison to the barefoot athlete's foot.

Just putting shoes on changes how you walk in an unnatural way. Because of the raised heel in almost ALL shoes, the presence of the shoe eliminates some of the process involved in finishing a step. Where you should be articulating your foot to lift your heel (and much of your body weight) off the ground as your other foot reaches out to start the next step, the heel of the shoes replaces the need to complete the step process with that lifting motion at the end. Multiply by 1000s of steps a day and you get the idea.

Modern shoes were the pre-curser to modern problems with feet. They aren't in response to them...they are the cause of them.

I was a traditional sport (lots of shoes) athlete for a long time...shin splits, heel spurs, water on the knee etc etc. When I took up barefoot athletics, all of my pains gradually left as I built up all the strength I should have had in the first place.