I am curious as to the advice on shoes, from p146 it advises insoles and also "good shoes" with shock-absorbent sole and arch support.
My curiosity arises from thinking about what people such as the greek status shown on p147 would have worn - most likely very flat sandles surely? My personal experience with plantar fascitis was that it only went away when I got rid of my sandles with arch support and went to a much flatter model.
Information in the "bare foot running" community suggests that many problems with running come from the development of padded trainers in the 70s by Nike and others. In former times, with plimsoles and other flat shoes, there were many fewer problems.
p.s. Don't wish to seem like I am nitpicking about a book I have found very interesting and useful so far.
5 hours 28 min ago
08/20/2010 - 8:19pm
Hi Robert, thank you for that insightful question and nice comment on the book!
Plantar fasciitus can be aggravated by both shoes that offer no support (if the foot cannot provide its own), or shoes with supports that over-arch the foot, perhaps changing it too suddenly or putting direct pressure on to the fascia. There are also other variables, such as heel height and angle, footbed shape and sole thickness, as you observe.
In former times, and in traditional societies today, we see evidence of fewer foot problems. We also see much better postural form and alignment of the bones. This brings better functioning throughout the body, including all the muscles and soft tissues of the feet.
People in industrialized societies today are much more likely to have poor postural form, and, quite likely the beginnings of degenerative wear and tear, even if it is not yet symptomatic. In addition, they are likely to be walking or running on harder, flatter surfaces, like concrete and asphalt, whereas traditionally we would have continually strengthened our feet on softer and more variable surfaces. Modern jogging is also often an isolated exercise within an otherwise sedentary lifestyle - quite a shock for all those joints and muscles, and hence the popularity of those protective, cushioned shoes.
For these reasons, while barefoot running with good postural form is an ideal, we need to be realistic about where we are starting from. We need to undertake any transition very gradually, carefully addressing our postural form and developing our gait and feet in such a way that we achieve a lighter yet more powerful stride.
I think good advice for people is to learn to walk before you run! By learning and practicing the Gokhale Method and becoming accomplished at glidewalking, you will put in place all the baseline ingredients for exploring the benefits of lighter/barefoot footwear - getting feedback from the ground, etc. - and from there progress to running if suitable.