Two questions always top the heap when choosing shoes today: Are they comfortable? and Are they supportive? We’ve seen advancements in various types of foam, air pockets and shock absorption technology all while soles get thicker and thicker under the name of more support and more comfort. We all know this. But, what you may not know is that along with the upward interest and manufacturing of thicker soles and tech foam is the growing number of people with foot and ankle issues: chronic sprained ankles, plantar fasciitis, bunions, flat feet, balance issues, etc.
Like with most things health related, when the focus of the conversation is to be as comfortable (asymptomatic) as possible, you’ll usually find yourself more disconnected, unhealthy, and at a disadvantage in the long run than you ever thought possible.
Wouldn’t a more logical and empowering conversation be how to be the healthiest person possible and how can you honor and promote the intricate brilliance of the human body? I can assure you if THIS is your focus, the long-term outcomes will ALWAYS far surpass any short term comfort.
Today we bring this conversation to something as simple as, what should you put on your feet? In one corner we have thick-soled footwear and in the other corner we have minimal footwear.
Really, this conversation comes down to 2 factors: How do thick-soled and minimal shoes both affect your STRUCTURE and your NEUROLOGY/PHYSIOLOGY?
Have you ever broke a bone and needed a cast? When the cast was removed, what did your muscle tone feel like? Weaker right? So weak in fact that they began to atrophy or shrink because they didn’t have to work the 6-8 weeks they were in the cast. The same is true every time you slip on a thick-soled shoe. The thick sole is just like a cast for your foot. Because the muscles of your foot do not have to work, they don’t and they get physically weaker. Ever wonder what creates and maintains the healthy arches in your foot? Strong muscle tone. Unfortunately, this can lead to fallen arches (flat feet) and whole host of other bio-mechanical issues from bunions, to knee issues, to plantar fasciitis, and more.
As a general principle, barefoot is best. When it’s not possible, safe, or socially acceptable, the thinner the sole, the better. For the very same principle addressed above, the more your foot feels the earth, asphalt, etc. beneath it, the more the muscles of your foot innately seek to grip it as you walk causing natural maintenance and increase of muscular strength. With strength comes greater balance, stability, and alignment not just for your feet, but for your knees, hips, and overall structure.
The bottom of your feet are lined with millions of tiny sensory receptors that feed your brain with vital information about the world around you. Wearing thick-soled shoes dulls/numbs these receptors and this the information quite literally causing you to be disconnected from the world beneath your feet.
Feeling the ground beneath your feet allows your brain to learn while relaying information of pressure, temperature, danger, body position, etc. to flood your brain which changes and adapts your muscle tone for better balance, stability and precision.
To take this a step further, research in now being done to understand how walking barefoot on the earth resynchronizes your body’s magnetic field, circadian rhythm, and can actually rebalance your body’s PH by taking up minerals from the earth into your bloodstream.
So the next time you are in the market for new footwear, you now have some new information to ponder that very well could make a big impact on your overall health.
Want to learn more?
Check out this mini documentary entitled Shoespiracy.