Categorized | Footwear Explained

Why Does the Modern Foot Look the Way It Does?

Posted on 05 May 2011

You were born with perfect feet. So what happened along the way? The human foot is designed such that the toes are spread and extended. This allows for optimal balance and stride. In societies where mainly flip-flops or sandals are used, foot integrity is maintained through life and foot problems are avoided. In industrialized societies however, the foot’s natural shape changes over time. The toes become elevated and pinched together, resulting in weakened flexor muscles combined with overly tight extensors. Subsequently, natural gait and balance are compromised. The main culprit is rigid footwear. The vast majority of footwear in the industrialized world elevates the heel above the forefoot (ball of foot), bends the toes upward (known as toe spring), and squeezes the toes together. Over time, this deforms the foot, leading to a host of foot problems, gait abnormalities, musculoskeletal pathologies.

The long-held conventional podiatric view is that the feet are inherently misshaped, and they need to be corrected with the use of orthotics or surgeries. Where these methods fail, pain is to be managed by anti-inflammatory drugs. But the best way to treat most foot problems is by allowing the foot to function exactly as nature intended. Only by returning the feet to their natural shape eliminates existing foot problems and prevents new ones from arising. — by Dr. Ray McClanahan

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4 Responses to “Why Does the Modern Foot Look the Way It Does?”

  1. Collins says:

    Thank you for the article. I’m interested in this subject area and I’l research out this subject area more.

  2. Finn Lewis says:

    WOW! thank you so much! this is exactly what i needed. i am a grade 7 school girla dn i refuse to wear shoes. i often get into trouble because of this and i am protesting about how shoes can actually mess up your feet completly! thank you again, Finn Lewis, Cape Town

  3. JC says:

    My feet look exactly like the ones on the left! For so long I’ve thought they were wide and ugly. Only now that I’ve become a runner and started researching natural running do I realize that my feet are wide with spaced out toes because they are nice and healthy. I credit this to spending my childhood and teen years as a dancer and gymnast, then as a martial artist – lots of running and jumping in bare feet! I also love walking in flip flops, and am perfectly comfortable walking for hours in them though people kept telling me I’d wreck my joints plodding around with so little support. Probably because their own feet were so weak from a lifetime of wearing bad shoes!


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