We live in a world where most of us use and need our feet a lot of the time in activities of daily living in our life. Is considering the type of footwear or eliminating it all-together at times a factor to consider in our health and well-being?
As far back as Ancient Greek times, philosophers described how ill-fitting sandals caused diseases of the foot. So, are today’s shoes supporting us enough and maintaining the strength and stability we need? According to the American Podiatric Medical Association in 2014, we are getting shoes very wrong and 77% of Americans report suffering from painful, debilitating foot conditions (3).
Researchers from University of Johannesburg, compared feet from 2000 year old skeletons, concluding that before shoes people had healthier, stronger feet. Another study look at South African and German feet, and those that went regularly barefoot had healthier feet with higher overall arches and straighter big toes, than European shoe wearers, giving us a wider base of support under our body. The regularly barefoot also had less characteristics like flat feet, deformed big toes and bunions and they had better flexibility and pliability of their feet (2).
It appears the more barefoot time we have from a younger age onwards the better. It has been found regularly that barefoot kids scored much higher in balance and motor skills than their shoe counterparts. A decade long study also found shoes off feet kids in the classroom improved concentration, behaviour and academic performance (1).
So what does this all suggest and what are the considerations for you? Shoes appear to wear our feet in, not the other way around if they are restricting. Use every opportunity to be safely barefoot to stimulate your feet and body in a positive manner, because the benefits suggest short, medium and long-term gains.
If you or someone you know is experiencing health issues related to their feet, have a chat with one of our chiropractors and see whether we can help support and manage your musculoskeletal issues that arise with this!