We love comfort. We have this idea that things that are comfortable must be good for us. So people buy shoes that are comfortable. Well, since when was there a relationship between comfort and health? I would argue that a lot of shoes actually cause people to become injured because they’re comfortable. An arch support in a shoe is comfortable because that arch support means that the muscles in your foot no longer have to work anymore to support your arch. It’s like taking the elevator all day long. Those muscles then atrophy, or they never even develop properly if you give kids arch supports. Their arches don’t even develop properly, or they collapse pretty quickly. Twenty-five percent of Americans have fallen arches, which is an amazing statistic.
In the Kenyan villages where I work, where people don’t wear shoes, I have yet to find a single person with a fallen arch. They just don’t exist. Maybe we’ll find one eventually, like a black swan. But they’re obviously extremely rare, those kinds of foot problems. They may have all kinds of crud in their feet and they have other shoe problems and foot problems, but collapsed arches don’t seem to exist in barefoot populations.
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“Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners,” Daniel E Lieberman, Madhusudhan Venkadesan, William A Werbel, Adam I Daoud, Susan D'Andrea, Irene S Davis, Robert Ojiambo Mang'eni, and Yannis Pitsiladis, Nature, 2010.