As our last post (Plantar Fasciitis, Back Pain, 1/25/2016) discussed, athletic shoes -- the kind almost everybody wears, no matter whose brand name is on them, to walk, shop, stand, work -- train the muscles of our feet to be weak. That's because the principal of athletic shoes, from the outset, was to facilitate a longer stride in running than is anatomically desirable, one that the body was not designed to take. The idea was that the heel would strike first, followed by the remainder of the foot, moving forward to the toes. The idea has not proved out well, as today's running shoes are beginning to show -- they're quite different in design from what they were when they originated in 1972, principally because manufacturers finally responded to the plethora of injuries in people who were wearing them.
They aren't working out well for walking, either, though if you look at the shoes on nearly every person, in every age group, in the U.S., you wouldn't know that. Silver-hairs (that's my age group) and toddlers are outfitted with the latest. There's a huge investment in our belief that what everybody's wearing is right, therefore we should be wearing them. It was a very successful sales campaign that took the world -- at least the good old USA -- by storm. "And, you're saying, my feet feel fine in these shoes, thank you very much, so what's your beef, McKeithan?"
And the answer is, they may feel fine now, but wear them for thirty or forty years and see how it is. When my generation was young, we wore Keds or the competition, which were flat-soled shoes with flat insoles. The soles were thin, had some cushioning, but not much. Our feet were protected from rocks, gravel, glass -- anything we might've stepped on -- but that was it. Our feet had to work -- move stretch, flex, contract. Same was true for ankles, unless one was wearing high-tops, but they were just canvas and didn't really offer much support. As kids, the more we played, the stronger our feet became. That's the way the body works: the more you work it, the more it strengthens. Even works for bones -- the docs've been telling us for years how much exercise prevents osteoporosis. Feet were protected, not coddled, so they grew strong and resilient. Ever hear of Shoeless Joe Jackson? Poster guy for strong feet.
Yeah, there were occasional foot, ankle and knee problems, but at nothing like the frequency they occur now, or so we are told. Even those of us who were wearing those old-style Keds have gone over to the Nikes and the Reboks etc. What that means is that the once-strong feet of the '40s and '50s generations are now being coddled, over-cushioned (with built-in springs, yet), so are weakening as the muscles lose their range and resiliency. And that's for feet that were once strong. What's going to happen with those that started out in the new style, never building the strength of which they are capable, and for which they were designed?
We've already been seeing some, clients who are active, vigorous people, thrown for a loss, compromising their careers because -- "out of the blue," this debilitating foot pain arrived to make life miserable.
More on this subject, next post.
McKeithan Pain Treatment Center