Humans may not be the fastest or strongest animals in the world but our ability to run for miles and miles is a unique trait that gave us a competitive advantage in some pre-historic circumstance.
Today's modern running shoe makes it possible for anyone to just throw on a pair, pound the pavement and call themselves an athlete. But with stats like this:
70% of all the Australian runners will be injured in any given 12-month period
I believe that running is more a privilege than it is a right, and so you should have to earn a runner's license before clocking up the KM's. Especially if you have had any time off from running.
This story has two components, and I’m going to start with the second.
Back in medieval Europe, around the 12th century, there was a popular shoe style called the Poulaine. They had this super narrow pointed toe and made of leather, and this is what the upper middle class or the higher society sort of people wore as a symbol of their status. Now, these shoes were worn by the upper class and wealthier members of society. All the cool kids had a pair.
Around the same time in medieval China starting around the 10th century, foot binding was commonplace in women of higher social status. These women would have their feet strapped from a young age to deliberately stunt and interrupt their natural growth. This would leave the woman with a deformed, smaller, delicate foot that was effectively useless.
The best change you can make for your feet and for your toes is to spend time in a shoe with a zero drop and a wide toe box, so that your foot can spread, allowing it to work for itself, strengthening and activating the intrinsic muscles supporting your arch and toes.
School uniforms and work dress codes make it hard to spend the day with bare feet or in minimalist shoes. So what we need is an anti-shoe workout. I call it, toga.
Now, I didn't invent toga. But I have put together a five-ten minute routine that doesn't require much equipment either. Just a foam roller, either short one or long, a golf ball, but you could use lacrosse or cricket ball too, a little space and some bare feet.
We strongly believe that for the majority of people making a transition to spending some, or most of your time in a minimalist or barefoot shoe can have a profound effect on injury risk, performance and general postural health.
There are, however, a few cases where it's inappropriate and downright dangerous to make the change:
Whether you play basketball, futsal, netball or even tennis the requirements from your shoes are exactly the same. Given that I play basketball I will be referring to my basketball shoes as an example but the same rules apply no matter what sport you play.
First, some evolutionary context. I’m only guessing here but am going to say back when we were evolving we were probably doing a little bit of hunting, some fishing, gathering, building fires, moving camps, climbing trees, you know basic caveman stuff. But am pretty certain we did not spent any time doing the movements and the patterns that we see in modern day sport. How do I know this? Well, take off your athletic shoe and try to do the same sharp cuts, moves, twist and turns in bare feet and see how it works out, our barefoot simply cannot create the same level of traction that our shoes give us.