Flat feet is a condition where the arch of the feet undergo collapse and flatten: That is why it is often also referred to as fallen arches. Individuals with flat feet can suffer from a variety of foot ailments, pain, and fatigue, which can also extend to the legs and back. This condition is present in up to 30% of all people, and it is unfortunately not reversible by the use of arch-shaping shoe inserts, whether over the counter or prescribed by a doctor.
Studies Suggest Shoe Wearing Predisposes To Flat Feet!
A very interesting Indian study (1) analyzed the footprints of 2,300 children. It is commonplace in India for typical children to be barefoot most of the time, with only the higher classes usually shod in shoes. It found that the incidence of flat feet among children that used footwear was over three times greater than those who commonly played and ran in bare feet. The study unequivocally states that “shoe wearing predisposes to flat foot”. Flat feet can also be due to other factors, such as genetics, injury, etcetera.
A Remarkable Example of Barefoot Running Helping Raise the Foot’s Arch!
There have long been anecdotal reports that barefoot running can actually raise the arch of the foot and reverse flat feet, but now we have available the remarkable case study presented by a 41 year old male who recorded his foot print prior to engaging in a six month campaign of walking and running barefoot.
This individual has no history of medical problems and after a lifetime of conventional shoe wearing began to average 35 kilometers per week in running barefoot. He also shunned his footwear for most of this time in his everyday activities.
Remarkable Before & After Foot Prints!
The Before & After footprints posted above clearly show how the remarkable transition from a flattened foot (or flat foot) to a healthy and normal arch. The individual also reports that since he has been barefoot, he has been suffering far less knee and ankle pain and swelling through his running.
Supportive Shoes Limit The Motion Exercise Of Foot Muscles!
This person’s fascinating experience is an example that even the most advanced shoes cannot provide the incalculable benefits of walking and running in bare feet. Indeed, supportive shoes tend to limit the motion exercise of foot muscles which can lead to further flattening of the arch!
Perhaps, it’s time to shun your shoes and regain flexibility and strength in your feet! Your arches will thank you!
(BTW, I would love to hear more “foot” reports – good and bad - from other barefoot runners and walking! Please feel free to post comments with any foot-altering changes you have noticed as a result of barefoot activity.)
Key To References
1) Rao UB, Joseph B. The influence of footwear on the prevalence of flat foot. A survey of 2300 children. J Bone Joint Surg Br 74 (4): 525-7.
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