Barefoot Shoes: Millions of Years of Evolution And The High Heel
A foot encased in a modern shoe, by Mattes (Wikimedia Commons)
Walking is one of the most natural actions possible. Most People learn to do it within eighteen months of being born, and continue to walk for most of their lives. People also however have developed a taste for shoes that alter the way in which your foot naturally interacts with the ground, thus shifting your body out of alignment and altering your posture. It's not just that stiletto heels and tough leather brogues hurt your feet, they also alter your natural gait. The heeled shoe not only tilts your body forward in an unnatural manner, but also means your foot has to work less, this might seem good, but in the long term it means your feet lose power, and also lose flexibility. A lack of flexibility and muscular strength in the foot can be very debilitating. When walking, your foot is in a more fixed downward position (plantarflexed) therefore you are not able to push off the ground with as much force. This causes your hip flexor muscles in your legs to work harder to move and pull your body forward. Your knees also stay flexed, causing your knee muscles to work harder and pushing your back out of alignment.
Researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, have published a study titled “Shod Versus Unshod: The Emergence of Forefoot Pathology in Modern Humans?”, which concludes that, prior to the invention of shoes, people had healthier feet. The study shows how populations that walk barefoot have healthier feet than those populations which frequently wear shoes.
“Natural gait is biomechanically impossible for any shoe-wearing person,” wrote Dr. William A. Rossi in a 1999 article in Podiatry Management. “It took 4 million years to develop our unique human foot and our consequent distinctive form of gait, a remarkable feat of bioengineering. Yet, in only a few thousand years, and with one carelessly designed instrument, our shoes, we have warped the pure anatomical form of human gait, obstructing its engineering efficiency, afflicting it with strains and stresses and denying it its natural grace of form and ease of movement head to foot.” 1
Shoes that help you to retain your natural gait have a flat and sometimes flexible sole.
Popular barefoot shoes are the Vivobarefoot range from terra plana. These come in a wide range of styles and are manufactured in an eco friendly manner.
The Brooks Green Silence is an athletic shoe with a flat sole also manufactured in an eco friendly way.