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Do shoes weaken our feet ?

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by scotfoot, Oct 16, 2021.

  1. scotfoot

    scotfoot Well-Known Member

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    A paper was just published by Dr Chris D'Aout and his co-workers which ,when taken with other such studies, strongly suggests that modern footwear does cause foot weakness and that this weakness can be reversed, with everyday minimal footwear use giving strength gains of 57% .

    So yes, modern supportive shoes do seem to weaken our feet, by a lot .

    Daily activity in minimal footwear increases foot strength

    Abstract and Figures

    The human foot is uniquely adapted to bipedal locomotion and has a deformable arch of variable stiffness. Intrinsic foot muscles regulate arch deformation, making them important for foot function. In this study we explore the hypothesis that normal daily activity in minimal footwear, which provides little or no support, increases foot muscle strength. Western adults wore minimal footwear for a six-month period (the “intervention” group). Foot strength, i.e., maximum isometric plantarflexion strength at the metatarsophalangeal joints, and foot biometrics were measured before and after the intervention. An additional group was investigated to add further insight on the long-term effects of footwear, consisting of Western adults with an average 2.5 years of experience in minimal footwear (the “experienced” group). This study shows that foot strength increases by, on average, 57.4% (p < 0.001) after six months of daily activity in minimal footwear. The experienced group had similar foot strength as the post intervention group, suggesting that six months of regular minimal footwear use is sufficient to gain full strength, which may aid healthy balance and gait.
  2. scotfoot

    scotfoot Well-Known Member

    Do orthotics weaken feet ?

    If they are used with modern, stiff soled shoes they can do some good and are unlikely IMO ,to make the foot any weaker than it already is ,which is likely pretty weak in terms of the toe flexors .

    That is what the evidence is saying ,IMO .
  3. scotfoot

    scotfoot Well-Known Member

    Why should modern shoes cause the toe flexors to be only half as strong as natural levels and what difference does it make .

    The supportive elements of shoes are not, IMO, the cause of foot weakness but instead it is the stiff natured soles of modern shoes and the excellent traction they provide that has taken work away from the toe flexors and produced weakness .
    Here is an extract from a previous thread of mine on biomch-l

    "You might be interested in the following .It relates to grip ,torque ,flat rigid surfaces and the unshod condition .

    First I found myself a suitable surface such as linoleum . Next I took off my shoes and socks and stood next to a wall for support . Then , taking most of my weight initially on the right foot which was kept flat on the ground ,I put my left foot into toe off position so that only the ball of the foot and the toes were in contact with the ground . Then I carefully transferred some weight onto the left foot and finally, with the ball of the foot and toes under some pressure , rotated the foot outwards producing torque . I found that the toes played an important part in resisting the outward rotation and that they also began to become spaced out from each other possibly engaging the adductors .( please note that I am not suggesting that anyone copy the above exercise sequence or injury may result )
    So perhaps the toes can significantly aid grip on a flat rigid surface ?"

    Further to the above, rigid ,modern , shoes will bend around the MTFJ during push off but the resilience of the sole will tend to press the anterior part of the sole into the ground . This elastic resilience, coupled with traction of a rubber sole means that the toe flexors don't need to do as much work as they would with an unshod foot or with the less resilient sole of a minimal shoe .

    Why strengthen weak feet . Because Sacco et al found it halves injury risks in recreational runners .

    Surely I am not the first to realise that the toes and toe flexors are required to push into the substrate to prevent rotation about the ball of the foot during the push off phase of gait . There must be material written about this somewhere in which case I would be grateful for any link that could be provided .
  4. scotfoot

    scotfoot Well-Known Member

    I have recently come across the question " do we really want super strong feet " . Actually the question should be do we really want a norm of very weak feet .

    D'Aout et all, took people performing everyday tasks in modern shoes, with stiff resilient soles, and put them in shoes with minimal soles . Over 6 months the feet of the subjects did not become super strong but just got closer to natural strength levels (up by 57% on shod average ) .
    Simple .
  5. scotfoot

    scotfoot Well-Known Member

    No need to listen to me about shoe design . Here is a quote from Prof Hylton Menz written in a very recent article on footwear . Note the bit about a thin flexible sole .

    From article
    "Podiatrist and Professor at the College of Science, Health and Engineering at La Trobe University, Hylton Menz adds, “The two main issues with people’s footwear are poor fit and heel elevation.” He suggests that individuals of all ages should consider shoes with “a low, broad heel, a thin and flexible sole, and some kind of lace, strap or Velcro to ensure the shoe stays firmly attached to the foot”.

    For me running in minimal shoes on concrete is probably not a good idea but maximal shoes will keep feet weak, run or not .

    https://www.theceomagazine.com › health-wellbeing
    12 Oct 2021 — Did COVID-19 make our feet healthy again, and are barefoot shoes the ultimate solution? Shoes have always been important cultural symbols that .
  6. scotfoot

    scotfoot Well-Known Member

    Looking at the work of Ridge et al 2018 and D'Aout 2021 et al on minimal shoes, wearing shoes like those outlined above by Professor Menz will strength feet appreciably .

    However, it is important to note that this research was carried out on young people ( average 28 ) and we know that the muscles of older people respond in a very different way to daily stimuli .

    For example you can be over 50 and do the same amount of exercises you did when you were 35 but still loose muscle mass .
    Over 65s may walk about just as much as they always did but their feet will, on average, be more than 30% weaker than younger people .

    I don't feel you can say from a study of 20 somethings that wearing minimal shoes in your 60s will increase foot strength by 57% .

    The good news is that progressive resistance exercise can reverse this age related muscle loss ( sarcopenia ) .

    Actually ,Mickle has shown it can be reversed completely, by progressive resistance training .

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