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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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October 08, 2009

How to Strengthen Your (Bare, Flat) Feet

By Mark Sisson
734 Comments

About 20% of adults have flat feet. A small subset of the population suffers from hereditary flat foot, but most of it is developed. Very few of us are actually born with flat foot. In this post I’ll explore what you can do to avoid flat feet in the first place, and if you already have them whether it is possible to reverse the damage.

Since publishing blog posts on ditching shoes, alternatives to going barefoot, and others I now receive regular reader emails like this one:

Dear Mark,

I’ve had flat foot all my life (18 years so far) and always wondered about the cause from an evolutionary stand point, and any negatives that might come from it. I vaguely remember the doctors subscribing foot supports and a lot of unnecessary products which I haven’t used in a decade. I don’t have any problems that I know of, but just wondering if there’s any alterations I should make to my workout routine to benefit me more? Thanks in advanced.

Ahmed

Great question, Ahmed.

First, how do we develop flat feet? Almost every online resource gives a few stock answers for the cause of flat foot. Most places say something like this:

Causes of Weak Arches:

Flat feet can be hereditary and present themselves at birth. For others the condition can occur as a result of mis-treating the feet – for example wearing high heels for prolonged periods of time, or wearing shoes with no support.

Flat feet or fallen arches can also result from:

  • Weakened muscles in the foot due to aging
  • Weakened muscles in the foot due to injury

Or this:

Causes:

  • Weakened muscles due to aging or heavy strain placed on the feet.
  • Standing or walking for long periods in high heels.
  • Wearing shoes that don’t provide proper arch support.

Okay, weakened muscles in the foot I can buy as a cause. In fact, it’s almost certainly one of the primary causes of flat foot. High heels aren’t doing us any favors, either, although I’d amend that one to include anything with even slightly-raised heels as a causative agent. I cannot, however, agree with the contention that lack of shoes without “proper arch support” is the problem; I’d even say that it’s the exact opposite. Try “Wearing shoes that do provide proper arch support” instead. Shoes do little else but provide an environment that our feet simply haven’t truly adapted to.

Our genes want us to be barefoot. In fact, it’s the only environment they know, having been born into a shoeless existence. On an individual scale, you could say we adapt to our shoes, but not on a genetic level. Evolutionarily, we’re still walking on the same bare feet Grok used to get around his environment. In fact, hominids have been obligate bipeds for over two million years. Our feet were arguably the first things to develop. Before the big brains, the complex tool making, and the language, our ancestors were walking upright on feet that looked remarkably similar to our own. But don’t tell that to the guys at Nike. They’re convinced those millions of years of natural selection still weren’t enough to produce a working, functional foot that doesn’t require manmade supportive footwear (unless, of course, you buy the Nike Free, in which case the lack of support is suddenly beneficial – awesome logic, huh?).

The Evidence

Before I get carried away on a tangential rant against athletic shoes, I’ll try to stick to the topic at hand. We know that shoes alter the structure and function of the foot. I mean, it sounds like plain common sense, but there’s also some concrete evidence. Back in 1905, an orthopedist named Dr. Philip Hoffman conducted a “Comparative Study of Barefooted and Shoe-Wearing Peoples” (don’t you just love old research?) and published his results in the American Journal of Orthopedic Surgery. He also took a ton of photos.

Here’s one of a foot that rarely – if ever – saw the inside of a shoe.

Note the wide toes, and how a straight line can be drawn through the axis. Looks pretty healthy and stable, right?

Now look at this photo of a pair of feet and the shoes they’re shoved into.

Notice the narrow structure and the cramped toes, especially the angle of the big toe. It’s pointing inward!

Shoe wearing acts quickly, too. Here, Hoffman snapped photos of two sets of feet.

Foot A is that of a child who has worn shoes for a mere three months, while Foot B is that of an adult who’s gone barefoot his whole life. Three months was all it took to drastically shape the child’s feet. Already his big toe is turning inward.

In the end, Hoffman concluded that of the “one hundred and eighty-six pairs of primitive feet examined, [he] did not find a single foot associated with the symptoms of weakness so common in adult shoe-wearing feet, which are weakened by the restraint the shoe exerts over function.” He also noticed that foot development was remarkably similar, in all populations, up until the introduction of foot wear. Shoes, it seems, have an undeniable ability to alter one’s natural foot structure.

But wait: there’s even more. Researchers in India found (PDF) that flat foot was far more prevalent among people who wore footwear before the age of six. Kids who ran around barefoot for most of their first six years – the formative years, it turns out – had better developed longitudinal arches and less flat foot. Among children who wore footwear on a regular basis, 8.2% suffered from flat foot (compared to 2.8% of barefoot kids). No other factors had comparable impacts. Adults didn’t have higher rates of flat foot than the kids, unless they reported wearing shoes as children. Why do we wear these things, anyway?

If you’ve got kids or are planning on it, you may want to take a good long look at their shoes – or lack thereof.

What Can You Do About It?

Okay, that’s all very compelling, but what does a guy like Ahmed do about his condition? Whether it was inherited (not likely) or developed through footwear usage, he’s still got to deal with a pair of flat feet. He can’t go back in time to age four and throw out his baby sneakers. He can’t erase the years and years of shoe-wearing, years that may have exacerbated his problem (kudos for ditching the orthotics, though!). Is Ahmed beholden to his situation? Are his feet forever altered?

No! Assuming his flat foot was developed, he’s still got the genetic potential to improve his feet and – at least partially – restore some of his natural structure and strength. You’ll still technically be flat footed, but you should be able to restore total functionality to your feet.

The first, perhaps most important step is to stay away from orthotics and shoes with “plenty of arch support.” Rather than help you solve your problem, shoes with arch supports prop you up and lead to weak, atrophied foot musculature. Your feet aren’t grasping, pulling, pushing, and flexing inside a pair of athletic trainers; they’re growing soft and growing weak. Fixing, or at least mitigating, your flat feet is going to require some serious foot strength.

Next, spend as much time as humanly possible with your bare feet. If you’re at home, remove your shoes as soon as you enter. If you’re heading out to take the dog on a walk, try circling the block in your bare feet. Mail’s come? Shoeless. Early morning paper? Barefoot. Living room workout? Do it without shoes on. You’ve got to learn to use your feet again, and the best way to do so is to simply live, eat, breath, and sleep barefoot.

Try toe running. When I haven’t done any serious barefoot work (which is very rare, actually; I’m almost always barefoot or in minimalist footwear) in awhile, I’ll hop on the treadmill in my socks (to reduce slippage) and do five or six minutes of light jogging. The catch is that I make sure to stay on my toes the entire time. This strengthens the ligaments and muscles (there are over a hundred of ‘em in the human foot) and prepares them for future activity.

A Few Simple Exercises to Strengthen Your Feet

Do toe spreads. Sit, stand, or lie down and fan your toes out as widely as possible. Create space between each toe. Hold this position for ten seconds, and repeat the exercise ten times daily per foot.

Point at things with your toes. Pick something, anything, in the room and point your toes at it. Now flex your foot. Hold it for five seconds, then release. Again, do this ten times per foot each day. For extra work, try tracing the alphabet with your feet in midair each day.

Get on your toes. Stand on your tippy-toes and just walk around for five minutes each day. Never let your heels touch the ground for the duration. Barefoot toe treadmill work is a worthy alternative.

Try side walking. Stand up (barefoot, of course) and get in a shoulder wide stance. Bend your knees slightly and roll onto the outer edges of your feet. Keep the weight on your outer feet and slowly raise up on your toes. You should feel your longitudinal arch stretching; once you do, hold that position for five seconds. Repeat five times each day.

Walk in sand. Sand is never the same. If you kick off your shoes and hit the grains (yeah, I just coined that phrase: “hit the grains”), you will be catapulting your virgin bare feet into a chaotic, ever-changing environment that will force them to adapt. Hyperbole aside, walking barefoot in the sand is a highly effective way to strengthen your feet.

I can’t stress this enough: go slowly. From the previous pictures, it’s obvious how much of an impact shoes can have on our bodies. For many of us, a lifetime of shoe wearing means the risk of overtraining our bare feet is possible, or even likely, if we don’t exercise caution. You don’t want to leap blindly into barefoot sprints with severely flat feet and risk injuring yourself even further, do you? Do the strengthening exercises before anything else.

Again, the damage may be done, and the flat feet may be permanent. I’m obligated to say it. There is, however, a lot of anecdotal evidence, especially on some of the barefoot running sites, that suggests people with flat feet can prosper without shoes (and even cure their condition), but there’s little in the way of actual, concrete evidence. We do know that shoes affect the structure and function of our feet; what we don’t know is whether the damage can be reversed. You can certainly strengthen your feet simply by removing your shoes and going barefoot as often as possible – and I highly doubt we’re forever beholden to an artificial adaptation. We often hear about people adopting the Primal Blueprint and turning their lives around in a month after eating the Standard American Diet for years, because our genes are hardwired to prefer certain things and our bodies can recover from an awful lot of abuse. Maybe our feet are the same way. Maybe actual structural changes can’t be completely overcome, but I’d be willing to wager that through careful, targeted foot exercises and a focus on barefoot living, we can make them almost irrelevant.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on flat feet and a barefoot existence. Hit me up with a comment. Thanks for reading, everyone!

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734 Comments on "How to Strengthen Your (Bare, Flat) Feet"

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Robert M.
Robert M.
6 years 11 months ago

What I did to transition into “barefoot” running was sprinting up trails on hills. Running uphill is much more naturally forefoot striking as compared to say running downhill and heel striking. I focused on trying to use the foot as a spring and launch off with each step.

It’s definitely a steep (sore) learning curve, however.

myfeethurt34
myfeethurt34
3 years 7 months ago

look my feet hurt so to night i will start the toe/feet strengthen i went to the ortho and he said i have flat feet i tryed the special soul he mold of my feet for a year no help my feet hurt more i grit my teeth um gritting now i dont walk around with bare feet but it just might work so here i go day #1

Eloise
Eloise
2 years 5 months ago
Have read comments, I am 60 years of age, born with the flattest of feet, been in pain all my life, when I was 11 I attended hospital twice a week and they put my feet in bowls of water with metal pads under two places on each foot, they then passed electricity through to make my feet contract, also had to wear hideous built up shoes, then later in life insoles made at the hospital which did absolutely NOTHING to help, apart from inflict even more pain upon me. My feet roll inwards really badly, shoes don’t last long… Read more »
Peggywho
2 years 5 months ago
Just read the article about “flat feet” – And there was a photo of MY FEET – with spread toes and “looking pretty wide” and I am thrilled to bits. Now I KNOW my feet are really good and healthy – I hate wearing shoes (especially after I broke a big toe playing cricket – no shoes of course – ha!) and a couple of years later my ankle snow ski-ing. Since then I have taken every opportunity to walk about without shoes. Luckily summers were spent down the beach, surfing and sailing so NO SHOES. When I was 7… Read more »
SassaFrass88
6 years 11 months ago
Sorry Mark, but I tried everything, for years. I was diagnosed with flat feet when I was seven. Guess what the solution was, though? Inserts. My dad made me do exercises every day to ‘strengthen’ my feet. Did my shoes aggravate the situation? Absolutely. Is there anything I can do now? No. I give up. I’m obtaining a bunion and must wear nice shoes to the office, so that I can continue to feed my family 🙁 Do I think it could’ve been avoided? Yes, maybe, but at a VERY early age. I was pigeon-toed as a baby and by… Read more »
Mark Sisson
6 years 11 months ago

SassaFrass88, sorry you are giving up. I’m not convinced you’re the exception. I bet if you got yourself some VFFs for outdoor training and a pair of FeelMax Pankas to wear at work…and did your exercises religiously, you could make huge gains over time.

Xendara
Xendara
5 years 11 months ago

I have to wear dress shoes to work too. No shoe on the market I was able to find looked presentable given the executive environment. I had a friend that makes moccasins make me a pair with some soft but somewhat “shiny” (read: looks dressy) black leather. Its like wearing slippers all day! My feet are flat on the ground and the soles are totally flexible.

Álvaro
Álvaro
5 years 8 months ago

Hello Xendara, can you post some photos of your moccasins?

Raymond
Raymond
5 years 8 months ago

2nd vote for more moccasin info from Xendara.

Xendara – Any chance your friend would allow you to pass on their contact information? I think a lot of people here with your same issure would be interested in giving them some business!

Mel
Mel
4 years 7 months ago

Try vivobarefoot

jeand
jeand
4 years 2 months ago

Have you tried Dansko shoes? They are really comfortable and has built in arches, not recommended for people who suffers from bunions and hammertoes because of their hard formation this could aggravate the bony prominences of your feet.

Jessica
Jessica
3 years 11 months ago

Hi Xendara,
There is a great Australian shoe company called “Bared Footwear” that specialises in shoes that both look dressy/pretty and can be worn with orthotics. The interior of the shoes are fitted with a a supportive lining like a very mild orthotic that can be removed and replaced with your own insole if it doesn’t provide enough support. I just bought two pairs recently- flat and heeled- and they are very comfortable and pretty. Highly recommend. https://bared.com.au

Kyle
Kyle
5 years 7 months ago

Mark, my feet are about a half size different from each other…is this normal and could it potentially be fixed by barefoot training? also will I have trouble with getting a good fit with VFF or pankas?

Sukie Baxter
4 years 10 months ago

Having feet that are a half size different is not “normal” but it is common. Usually it results from putting more of your weight on your larger foot, i.e. if you put a scale under your feet, you’d be standing more heavily on one side. Often, the glutes and hamstrings are lazy while the quads are hyper-dominant on the “lighter” side with the smaller foot. This can be completely corrected.

erica
erica
6 years 11 months ago

You’re not the exception. I am the same way. My feet are flat to the ground, and now I have bunions. I train barefoot, but I have to wear shoes to work!

David Grant
6 years 8 months ago

Erica,

You could try getting a pair of “Vivo Barefot” shoes. I have a pair myself and they emulate barefoot working almost perfectly (nothing like the real thing of course, but the difference is negligible).

🙂

JC- FitMarker
6 years 1 month ago

For anyone wearing VFF or the Vivo’s longer than a year – do any of you still feel the same as to when you began wearing them?

Erin
Erin
5 years 5 months ago

I tried barefoot shoes, eased in to them as slowly as possible and all they did was injure me to the point where I had to stay off of them for 3 months, afterward where I tried running again. Now every time I go for a run I earn a flaming painful case of tendonitis.

Something this article neglects to consider: what about those of us who live in wintery climates? You try going for a walk on snow and ice without shoes.

MightyMite
MightyMite
6 years 11 months ago
Another exception here–my feet have always been flat and we never wore shoes in the house–it’s an Asian thing. I’ve been plagued by bunionettes (pinkie bunions) since my mid-30’s and have added bunions in my mid-40’s. Over the last two months I have been diligently doing foot and ankle exercises (mostly to rehab an ankle so I could keep learning how to power lift). I just got back from a screening with a new podiatrist (Dr. Steve Subotnick, who used to write for Runner’s World magazine). The sesamoids near my right big toe have actually moved out of position (man,… Read more »
poiuy
poiuy
4 years 16 days ago

I guess you must be a so called “American Asian” because in China, where I live we all wear shoes indoors.. so don’t say “it’s an Asian thing” when you have no idea what you’re talking about ..

Brandon
Brandon
4 years 8 days ago

I am a Chinese living in Singapore and majority of the people here don’t wear shoes indoors.

polygirl
polygirl
3 years 8 months ago

Interesting. I think this no shoes thing is in every culture. I’m Polynesian living in NZ – no shoes in the house growing up – we had to remove them at the door. To enter a traditional Maori meeting house today, shoes must be removed and left at the door.I think it dates from biblical times – you know God told Moses to remove the shoes from his feet because he was standing on sacred ground. Well our homes are sacred grounds too.

North Korean
North Korean
3 years 4 months ago

Try going to North Korea filth

myriad kara
myriad kara
2 years 5 months ago

I think he does know what his talking bout! Asians as in Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshy etc do not where shoes in the house! So I’m assuming when that person says Asian he is not referring to Chinese but rather south Asians 🙂

Amanda
Amanda
8 months 23 days ago
Whoa…slow down there gunpowder. Maybe in your house they dont, but every asian peoples house ive ever been to its shoes at the door. And its not an expat thing cuz tran and phuc are fresh from cambodia. And my boy jasons family came from s. Korea like the other day. They havent had time yet to consider themselves ‘asian americans’. His mom cant say much in english but she can damn sure say “kam sam ni da … shoes off!” Simply being in china doesnt automatically authenticate ones experience as representative of all born and bred asian people. You… Read more »
winnie
winnie
3 months 11 days ago

Hahahaha! Who wear shoes inside the house??? I’m a Filipina and I’m Asian, people don’t wear shoes at home, it doesn’t make sense and it’s not comfortable. We either go barefoot or wear slippers.

Dr. Nirenberg
6 years 8 months ago

There will always be exceptions. But, perhaps, because the muscles in your foot have become so use to shoes (just a crutch for our feet), you need to work harder to build up those very weak and flabby muscles. I have posted a lot on this topic on my site, and some of this info may inspire you to try once more.

Scotty Logan
6 years 8 months ago

What is your website ?

Scotty Logan
6 years 8 months ago

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpHQuETQXi8

Watch this then get back to me please young lady !!!

Mark Sisson
6 years 8 months ago

Scotty, that video should be on “funnyordie.com” New nominee for most ridiculous procedure in medicine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpHQuETQXi8

Scotty Logan
6 years 8 months ago

I’m in Australia. What is the best way to strengthen your feet and produce an arch ?

I will try anything !

Scott

Alexander
Alexander
4 years 4 months ago

This is actually the first article I ever read, because I was on Google searching for ways to strengthen my feet to alleviate the knee arthritis I developed playing basketball in college. I don’t think it merits another full article, but I’ve been dying to know for months: if sprints and training can be done with Vibrams, what about full court indoor basketball? I switched from playing in Nike Basketball sneakers to Nike Free TRs, thicker versions of their running shoe, but still thinner than basketball sneakers. Any Primal suggestions?

Marija
Marija
3 years 4 months ago
Hi Mark, I can’t use the regular comment section, it seems so, have to post here. Now, I can’t say i was born with them, but I’m sure my case is at least partly hereditary. When i was a kid, i was herded into lace up shoes with super arch support, and i had to go and see a doctor twice a year up till the age of about thirteen, when fashion became an issue. In addition, i was in a ballet class from the age of 3 till 12, and my teacher would have me lift up my arches… Read more »
Tomas Generoue
Tomas Generoue
3 years 2 months ago
Hey Mark: I have to take exception to you comment with respect to the procedure being referred to by the physician in the video. Unless that is, you are implying how funny it is,that such a simple procedure can produce phenomenal outcomes. The product/procedure he is referring to is called HyProCure. I, and 8 of my family members have had this procedure and the HyProCure implanted in our feet. Before doing so, we had exhausted every possible option with respect to treating our flatfeet. We are so thankful to have found a physician who does this procedure; It has changed… Read more »
simon
simon
6 years 7 months ago

Hi guys ive had flat feet since I was a baby and have never had any pain until now at 24. I have started having ankle and knee pains and I think it could be due to me starting up running as a hobby. What kind of supports can i wear to run and generally walk in and is there a way to actually build my arches up??? Thanks, Simon

Sami
Sami
6 years 6 months ago

Dear Mark
I have Flat feet since 17 years old , when my Road accident after that i operation of feet than 2 year no pain than little bit pain on feet uper side than i check up to Doctor he was told me your feet flat after accident, than he made me shoes with sole 4 year i continew wear shoes, after that my pain was finished , now days i feeling pain. Mark can you tell me suitable treatment.

Thanks & Best Regards

Sami

Dena
Dena
6 years 2 months ago

I have flat feet and their probably genetic since my brother and sister have them too. I never tried doing exercises but I always wore insoles (useless) neither did my sister. My brother however, always the more determined one, walked on the outer edges of his feet as a kid and teen until his foot actually held the shape and he now has healthy arches. Maybe thats the way to go?

Alan
Alan
5 years 11 months ago
I had custom (expensive) orthotics for 3 years to fix my flat-ish feet. I developed terrible back and hip problems that could not be diagnosed (since it was all muscular and from misalignment). I was only 26 when the back problems started. 2 years, despite every doctor, podiatrist and chiropractor i went to saying my orthotics were fine, I ditched the orthotics. Within days my back felt better. Then I read the Born to Run book and have been toe/barefoot running ever since. My back pain has gone away 90% after running every day for 1 month! The toe running… Read more »
Tamar
Tamar
5 years 10 months ago

I’ve had the complete opposite experience. I started running about 6 years ago, using the “wrong” shoes, and developed numerous back, hip, and especially knee problems.

I went to a podiatrist who got me into orthotics and shoes with more motion control, and everything has been fine since! I haven’t had one injury since I started with the orthotics, and I’ve trained for and run 3 marathons and countless 1/2 marathons.

I like the theory behind barefoot running, but now I’m afraid to go back because I’m worried all the injuries will return.

Bryan
4 years 9 months ago
I know this is an old post but, your situation sounds like mine. I’ve always hated heel lift shoes. I would alter shoes as best I could to my liking. My situation goes one worse as I have one leg significantly shorter than the other requiring a lift. Try barefoot running like that. Thankfully my bad flat foot is the longer leg. I need to apply some sort of lift to the right barefoot shoe. Can’t walk or run without the lift or my hip goes out. I routinely hike 20 miles with heavy packs. I’ve wasted so much $… Read more »
chad
chad
4 years 7 months ago

I am 15 years old and i have back problems from my flat feet that i got from berth.

Al
Al
5 years 10 months ago
I’ve worked in places where I’ve been told when I was hired that I “must wear nice shoes to the office”, but as soon as I started, I realize that my coworkers really didn’t care. I’ve walked around the office barefoot, and had at least 6 people say “ohmygod, I didn’t know you could do that!”, and then switch to going barefoot in the office, too. I’m not normally in a customer-facing role, but I’ve been introduced to potential customers who come to the office, and one saw me barefoot and said “I wish I could do that!”. I told… Read more »
bebe hickz
bebe hickz
5 years 3 months ago

I am so sorry for what you’ve been through … but i also have flat feet .. the thing is that i was born with them and didn’t find out until i was 11 years old and try having kids my age now days making fun of you. But i’m so sad for your situation you had it bad also… Now at the age of 14 i realized i don’t care what people think if they don’t like me then they don’t have to be my friends because im not gonna ruin my life for them.

dont fail
5 years 2 months ago

dude this is the worst advice ever.. geez do not follow this guys terrible advice.. stay in school!!

Happy Camper
Happy Camper
5 years 2 months ago
I have to give a HUGE thanks to Mark and the others who participated in helping ourselves. I am in the “50” age range. For the first 30 years of my life I was practically barefoot all my life. I ran barefoot, and entered many track meets. Later I started wearing supports in my shoes thinking they would comfort me feet being I was on my feet all the time. Eventually, I ended up in the doctors office with terrible feet saying they wanted to break my toes to reconstruct my feet. Long story short. For over 10 years I… Read more »
lindsay
lindsay
5 years 13 days ago
Hi! I would like to email directly with people who have had experience with injury that turned into flat foot. I am overwhelmed with the different information out there and would love to hear from people that were able to help themselves and how they did it. We know our bodies better than most doctors. Thank you to those who have had postive experiences for sharing them! Post people stop posting once they are feeling better. My email is lgopin@hotmail.com. Email me if you are willing to help another person! I promise once I am better, to pay it forward!
Jamiesha
Jamiesha
5 years 1 month ago
I have had the same problem. I’ve had flat feet since I was little and I always knew it was down to shoes. Bad shoes, good shoes, what’s the difference?! I had bunion surgery (bad idea) when I was 18 and now that i’m 23 its back. Only with protective bunion cushions do I get any relief and am now developing a bunion on the left foot as well. I wasted money on Scholl heel cushions that provide an arch as well and my feet, ankles and hips certainly feel better but obviously my feet aren’t getting any less flat… Read more »
Devon Redmon
Devon Redmon
5 years 4 days ago

Sassa Frass88, You haven’t tried everything, I garuntee it. And yes there are things you can do to fix them, I have transformed my problematic feet, and have transformed numerous other’s feet as well. Inserts are only aiding your problem. There are very dynamic excerises that you have probably never seen before that would transform your “atrophied” foot muscles, and strengthen your individual toes ligaments and tendons. I’d be curious to see a picture of your foot. I work on many peoples feet. Good stuff Mark!

Happy
Happy
4 years 4 months ago

hey devon i too have flat feet.i would be very happy if u suggest me some good exercises for my feet.

Amanda
Amanda
4 years 10 months ago

You should check out Soft Star Shoes. They are coming out with adult mary jane’s that are minimalist shoes in December. Check out their website at least! 🙂

Amanda
Amanda
4 years 10 months ago

Hi, I should clarify that that was directed at the lady who said she needs to dress up for work. I would also like to say that I’m not affiliated with the company at all, I just like their shoes! lol! I’m nursing my daughter, so I can only type with one hand so I was trying to keep my post short 🙂

Sabra
Sabra
4 years 10 months ago
I too was severely pigeon toed and wore leg braces that attached to a belt around my waist. I had to wear hard sole “boy” shoes at all times. I still remember how embarrassing it was to be the only kid in gym class that made noise walking on the gym floor. The inside of my ankles were a constant source of shooting pains because the metal discs of my braces where they connected into my shoes often collided. I have used Vibram Five Fingers and Vivo Barefoot shoes for the past two years and LOVE them. I also have… Read more »
Himanshu
Himanshu
4 years 8 months ago

u must not be doing the strenthing propely….
& completely avoid wearin high heels…..

Rosey
Rosey
4 years 7 months ago

Hi. I feel you can still help your feet. I started going barefoot back in July and my feet are improving. For those times you have to wear shoes at office try the Merrell’s minimalist shoes. They don’t squish your feet like other shoes and don’t hurt bunions. You can get them in black to look professional.

David
David
4 years 6 months ago

I have flat feet and I have been using shoes mfg by MBT and RYN and found that after I have gotten used to them, that they help tremendously. I also just bought a pair of Abeo sandles for walking around the house. Obviously, walking barefoot on hard flat surfaces makes like miserable, but using these various shoes have made a positive difference. There are shoes made by Joya that i plan on checking out as well.

majomor
majomor
3 years 10 months ago

For bunions: my doc told me way back when I was getting bunions(my moms were very very bad!) and had to wear decent shoes to work that the best way to approach was to only wear sling back pumps to the office, no higher than 2 inches!…so I researched out great looking sometimes very expensive shoes and that has saved me.
He said that the give of the sling back removed the extra pressure on the fronts of my feet.
The best advice I received and to this day I never got bunions!

Yukaene Rivera
Yukaene Rivera
2 years 2 months ago

Have you tried Eric Orton’s strength program? a lot of people seem to have been able to rebuild their arches through his unique program. There is loads of information for him on google.

Yummy
6 years 11 months ago
Very interesting! I always walked barefoot or wore “horrible” shoes like converse or flipflops that offer no support. I have very high arches, while most of my friends who wore “supportive” sneakers/shoes or heels all the time have flat feet now. (and/or shortened achilles tendons) I noticed after wearing heels all the time to work that when I would walk all day barefoot or wear flat sandals my arches would ache. That was when I realized I HAD to go barefoot a lot to strengthen my feet. Now my arches don’t ache! That being said I think some poor souls… Read more »
Icarus
Icarus
6 years 11 months ago

Huh… as a kid I always wore Converse, famous for their lack of support, and yet had high arches. I had never thought to make a connection between the two. I wonder if it’s causal?

Luciano
Luciano
6 years 2 months ago

Wonderful! I started following the tip to walk barefoot and walking with spread toes, and my big toe supporting the most of my body weight. It works! It’s so simple and I was looking for a treatment all my life, like support sneaker shoes, obscure exercises and nothing worked. I always walked in side walk, to prevent my heel down on side, wich led my big toe doesn’t help to support my body weight, leading a constant muscle fatigue on the side of thigh and the leg and knees pain.I am very greatful to this blog! Thanks for the help!

Mr. ''8
Mr. ''8
5 years 5 months ago

I guarantee you have gorgeous feet!

Rocco Ernest
6 years 11 months ago
Barefooting was what turned me on to the Primal lifestyle in the first place. In my case, totally flat feet, lifetime foot pain, lower leg pain, lower back pain. A lot of it is my weight and lack of fitness, I know. But when a doctor suggested bare feet time to help strengthen my feet (“where am I going barefoot in Manhattan” I remember replying at the time) and then a few news articles about shoes and being barefoot, I went into Vibrams and mocs and barefoot and never looked back. These days the only times I am not either… Read more »
NicoB
NicoB
6 years 11 months ago

It isn’t cheap, but Terra Plana’s Vivo Barefoot is basically what you are asking for.

I will admit they don’t keep me from heel striking when I’m being lazy, and don’t remove the inserts, but it is a close to barefoot while still wearing shoes as you are going to get.

Scotty Logan
6 years 8 months ago

Do you have an arch ?

Jason Peacock
Jason Peacock
6 years 11 months ago
I’m one of those who “cured” their flat feet by going barefoot 🙂 I had doctor-prescribed orthotics for doing athletics (running, rowing, hiking, etc). I always bought shoes with “motion control” and lots of arch support. 2yrs ago I read the book “Chi Running” (similar to POSE), and learned to run properly. Ran a marathon in Newton running shoes (minimal support). I started doing all my workouts barefoot (crossfit), and now I’m running in VFF for everything. Looking at my feet, and watching how I walk, my ankles no longer collapse inward. My feet don’t get tired from standing. I… Read more »
seema meena
seema meena
3 years 5 months ago

hiiiiii
i hv also flat feet
can u tell me in detail what is barefoot n wat exercises i sud do

mari
mari
1 year 9 months ago

my doc, told me the complete opposite. he said I couldn’t go barefoot at all, im soo confused. I always walked around my house barefoot and I had a lot of issues for about 1yr and half its getting worse and worse.

Paul
Paul
6 years 11 months ago
I have also had flat feet my entire life and like Ahmed, didn’t seem to have any problems at 18 either. However, now at 43 it’s a different story… after standing or walking for a long time (the “shuffling” of shopping seems to be the worst) I get a lot of aching from my feet to my knees to my hips. As if that weren’t enough, I now have arthritis/bone spurs in the joint where my right big toe joins with my foot and that causes frequent pain (it’s called Hallux Limitus, though fortunately I still have a fair amount… Read more »
Paul Pancoe
Paul Pancoe
6 years 11 months ago

I use yoga toes to help spread my toes.
They seem to work.

I get the argument for barefoot. But if you live in a city it’s hard to avoid cement sidewalks, hard floors ect. Cetainly not the soft sand of Grok.

How would Grok do on concrete?

Ross
Ross
6 years 11 months ago
Concrete is wonderful. Soft, gentle pillows of comfort compared to dirt with rocks, acorns (and other seeds), plants with strong runners and sharp leaves, etc. I strongly prefer concrete to sand for normal walking. Barring extreme heat and cold, concrete and asphalt are simply not a problem for barefoot walking/running/etc. The thing to remember is that you can’t scuff/drag your feet along like you might with shoes. Look where you’re going to put your foot, pick your foot up, put your foot down, wash, rinse, repeat. I live in LA and am barefoot unless I’m riding my motorcycle, walking on… Read more »
Daisy C
Daisy C
4 years 2 months ago

Concrete is AWFUL. I have flat feet and big toes that turn in. My sister has nice arches and straight toes. She’s very overweight yet her feet *never* hurt. Obviously, she’s been wearing shoes all her life.

Once, I went walking/jogging in a dirt path in a hilly area for a full hour (which would normally have me writhing in pain) and felt NO pain afterwards. ***It wasn’t the shoes or lack thereof; it was the DIRT.*** It’s the NATURAL GROUND that is good for the feet, because that’s how G-d created us to live.

Jason Peacock
Jason Peacock
6 years 11 months ago

I’d argue that on harder surfaces it’s even more important to focus on barefoot techniques. Walk on the balls of your feet, don’t overstride, and avoid shoes with excessive padding that just move the problem elsehwere on your skeleton.

I’ve worn my VFF all day throughout the city, and never had a problem. It does take your body time to adjust to being barefoot so much, but if you walk correctly there’s no problems.

Additionally, ‘barefoot’ walking in the city brings much more awareness of the ground surfaces, there are lots of interesting textures out there 🙂

Adam Kayce
6 years 11 months ago
Concrete? I wear my VFF’s and I’m fine. (I think Grok would probably hate concrete, just like me… but, we deal.) I found some foot exercises a while back that are right in-line with “side walking”, which you mentioned above. If you’re looking for more, try these: Walk for 25m or so, to start, in each of the following six positions: 1. Toes pointed outwards (duck) 2. Toes pointed inwards (pigeon) 3. On the outside edge of your foot 4. On the inside edge of your foot 5. Backwards, on your tippy toes 6. On your heels. Only takes a… Read more »
Paul Pancoe
Paul Pancoe
6 years 11 months ago

Thanks Adam

John Sifferman
6 years 11 months ago

I’m another big fan of POSE running!

Scotty Logan
6 years 8 months ago

What is POSE running please mate ?

Devin Rhode
Devin Rhode
8 months 11 days ago

The POST website does not mention the word “barefoot” on their homepage, the main image on the homepage is a person with shoes on, and, the idea that you want to be ‘falling forward’ does not agree with what I’ve learned about barefoot runners, that your torso should more or less be upright, not necessarily leaning forward.

trackback

[…] Original post by Mark Sisson […]

nina_70
nina_70
6 years 11 months ago
Very interesting article. I went barefoot practically my whole childhood and everyone always commented on how “high” my arches are. When I went into regular work in my 20’s I had to wear heels & started getting knee problems…then to orthodics…supports…you name it. In past 2 years I managed to change my job and get out of my heels. Voila…no more knee pain. I’m happy to say my arches are high and my toes wide like they used to be. By the way the toe-spread thing is also interesting. I’ve always had particularly “wide” feet for a woman, so much… Read more »
pieter d
pieter d
6 years 11 months ago
Mark, Thanks for the great article. Just one remark: actually, we all are born flat footed. It is only when we start to stand up and walk that we really develop our arches. That’s why it is really important for babies and children to walk barefoot a lot. If they where rigid shoes with ‘good support’, they will not get the chance to develop arches, nor good functioning feet. In general, speaking about musculoskeletal problems, function is more important than structure. Although the two are related, function is what counts. We (physical therapists) see this often. If you have scoliosis… Read more »
mark burgan
mark burgan
4 years 11 months ago
Thanks for the exceptional advice, Pieter, as it was both precise and correct. I am a devotee to foot/lower limb structure research and according to my most treasured book in my medical reference library, Steindman’s KINESIOLOGY:Normal and Pathological Conditions, you echoed it’s description of a structural anomaly that can function fully absent of pathology. I am of the opinion that so-called conservative treatment methods such as orthoses in the flat foot that is more or less a normal structure for a given individual, and according to sports podiatrist, Dr. Harry Hlavac, who is/was director of sports medicine at UCSF, in… Read more »
mark burgan
mark burgan
4 years 11 months ago

I must make a correction to my comment. It’s STEINDLER: Kinesiology….not Steindman. My absolute most sincere apologies to all those good people who tried to find this title anywhere. At my age of 54 years, it’s a wonder I even know who the heck I am anymore! Mark Burgan

Wendy Ostroff
Wendy Ostroff
6 years 11 months ago

Thanks so much for this important info!

But as the Mom of a one-year old who has been sick with colds or flu for over six weeks, I am having a really hard time letting him be barefoot on the cold floors (not to mention outside!) Everytime I feel his freezing little feet, I have to put something on them. Socks and slippers can be doing harm, can they? What about soft baby shoes?

Mark Sisson
6 years 11 months ago

Wendy, socks are fine, but what makes you think there is any relationship between colds/flu and bare feet on a cold floor? There’s none.

NicoB
NicoB
6 years 11 months ago

I’ll second Mark on this.

Being cold, or in cold climate does not mean you’ll catch a cold.

Stupid name for a number of viruses that range from influenza to any other bother.

Lana R.
Lana R.
4 years 4 months ago

I am a mom and I KNOW – my kid get sick from running barefoot on cold floors. So I make her ware socks, but she still has flat foot (one more then another).

Ogg the Caveman
6 years 11 months ago

Hey, the feet in those pictures look like those of my ancestors’ from 100,000 years ago! That was when they negotiated unpredictable terrains better than folks now can on a straight sidewalk. 🙁

Stephan
6 years 11 months ago

Great post. I’m coming to understand that physical stress patterns in infancy/youth have a strong influence on skeletal development.

Justin
Justin
6 years 11 months ago

Mark,

What about wearing flat sandals like Rainbows? I know its not barefoot so how does it compare? Thanks

Mark Sisson
6 years 11 months ago

On the barefoot-to-completely-constrained continuum, sandals are better than hiking boots, but they still have way too much cushion and support for my taste. In a few weeks, I’ll be introing another minimalist shoe by FeelMax.

Henry Miller
Henry Miller
6 years 11 months ago

Hurry please – my boss just told me my 5 fingers do not look “professional enough” for the office. I found the “normal” shoes I was wearing before, and while they are much lighter than typical shoes (Reebok racing flats, probably like Nike frees), they really hurt my feet now that I know what shoes should feel like.

Robert223
Robert223
6 years 11 months ago

Just google “Feelmax Luosma”!
They are perfect for your needs and really feel like walking barefoot!

Regards,
Rob

Jill
Jill
3 years 7 months ago

Mark,

I’ve just started exploring your blog. I haven’t seen much reference to Dansko clogs. I have wide feet with high arches and find it painful to go barefoot anywhere other than the beach or backyard. Tile and hardwood floors are the worst. So it’s Teva flip flops in the summer, Dansko clogs fall/winter/spring, and Crocs for my year round indoor shoe. I’ve noticed a considerable decrease in foot, knee, hip, and low back pain since I began wearing these types of shoes. I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or recommendations. Thanks ~ Jill

Jill
Jill
3 years 7 months ago

ps ~ I also do daily yoga and stretching while barefoot.

Shaun
6 years 11 months ago

My feet are definitely not flat. as a former athlete that would be pretty bad if i did.. I’m going to show this to my readers and ask them too. Thanks for the insight Mark.

Matt
6 years 11 months ago

Mark, have you ever heard of healthy toes? http://www.healthytoes.com/ I have used them daily for a while now and I think (maybe just in my head) that it’s helping get my feet back to where my toes are spreading out and not crushed. Any experience with those?

Matt
6 years 11 months ago

Also, I forgot to add, have you used the five finger shoes before? Would you recommend those at all?

Mark Sisson
6 years 11 months ago

I pretty much live in my Fives and my FeelMax Pankas (more on those soon).

hannahc
hannahc
6 years 11 months ago

Most of the banner pictures on the site show Mark in VFFs, he’s a big fan (as many of us are, myself included 🙂

Ross
Ross
6 years 11 months ago

Thank goodness I managed to keep my high arches, despite wearing shoes for most of my life. Right now, I’m 90% barefoot and doing my best to insist that my 13-month old daughter never wears shoes. Grandmothers are the toughest nut to crack on this front.

Evan
Evan
6 years 11 months ago

I’m halfway through the article but…

I grew up wearing flip-flops (so, not arch support whatsoever) for the overwhelming majority of my time outside. The only exception would be sports (soccer, baseball, and basketball later on). Otherwise I’d be outside running around on flip-flops.

My feet are terribly flat.

So, I’m inclined to disagree with the assertion that being barefoot while young will prevent flat feet.

Mark Sisson
6 years 11 months ago

Evan, wearing flipflops is not “going barefoot”.

Evan
Evan
6 years 11 months ago

I understand its not the same as barefoot. But it provides 0 support that a typical shoe does. Nor does it force toes inward as the examples in the post.

A typical flip-flop used in my youth:
(work/family safe)

Well, in retrospect I do recall having SEVERE foot/heel pain while wearing various sporting shoes (mainly the baseball/soccer cleats) as a youngster.

I dunno, I’m at a loss then. If wearing sport-only footwear can cause damage to ones foot structure, what’s a youngster to do?

Alison
Alison
3 years 8 months ago

Don’t flip flops require that you sort of “clench” your feet around the toes to keep the shoe in place as you step? I think its a pretty different movement to, say, closed sandals with no arch support or bare feet, for example.

NicoB
NicoB
6 years 11 months ago

The high stress portion of your “day” you were in shoes…

Marnee
Marnee
6 years 11 months ago

Srsly. Have ya seen how flip-flop wearers walk. That’s not walking it is shuffling along. Ya can hear ’em from a mile away. Ya think that’s natural? Nuh uh.

Geoff
Geoff
6 years 11 months ago
Great post, Mark. Thanks. I can’t agree with you enough that it’s important to go slowly. After years in shoes that were actually too small (my feet looked like the shod person from 1905 above), I first moved to standard shoes that were simply the right size (FWIW I went from 11.5 to 13). Made a huge difference – DUH! – but took a long time for me to accept that I really needed bigger shoes since the smaller ones seemed to “fit.” After a couple of years in proper fitting shoes I was able to move to a more… Read more »
NicoB
NicoB
6 years 11 months ago

Ahhhh!

C’mon Geof. Your feet would be perfect for scientific study…

Yes, I’m picking on you.

Geoff
Geoff
6 years 11 months ago

Sorry. Nico, didn’t know you had a thing for feet (yes, I’m picking on you). Sadly I don’t have any “before” pictures.

NicoB
NicoB
6 years 11 months ago

Only in a scientific study…

(Gee, I set myself up for that one didn’t I?)

jessica
jessica
6 years 11 months ago

i am one of those blessed with wide, flat feet(south american ancestry)
i remember the one time my dr. tried to arch support me when i was younger, pure torture!!!!

the best shoes for running and hiking, because i cannot afford to get my toes on a pair of vibrams are worn out classic vans. they dont offer not much in the way of support of thickeness of sole and i find it better to run trails and scramble rocks with them because i can really feel what i am on and grab stuff with my toes…

Bridget
Bridget
6 years 11 months ago

Hi Mark,

First of all, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog. It has been so informative and inspriatinal to me. Last year, I moved to Stockholm, and the new apartment that I am now living in has hard wood floors that are overlayed on concrete. At least that’s what it feels like. After trying to go bare foot since March, I’ve switched to wearing my Chaco flip flops. It seems like the right thing to do. What are your thoughts?

Mark Sisson
6 years 11 months ago

Bridget, whatever works for you. If your feet are strong already and the hardwood makes you uncomfortable, who am I to tell you not to wear the Chacos. OTOH, my floors are all stone and I love going barefoot all the time on them. Socks only?

Grok
6 years 11 months ago

I have wide feet. I blow out the sides of shoes. I had mashed up toes like snapshot “A”.

All my toes spread naturally now like the snapshot “B” except my pinky. He might be a lost cause.

About 5 months of Five Fingers & Injinji socks were the cure. If I have to wear “normal” shoes now, I at least wear a pair of Injinjis to keep my toes from meshing together so much.

Rafi Bar-Lev at Passionate Fitness

Grok,

I have the exact same thing with my pinky toe. Maybe the pinky is supposed to be that way?

-Rafi

Matt
Matt
6 years 11 months ago

I’ve love my VFFs (got them 4 months ago), and I have developed little arches over the past 3 years from yoga and walking in my VFFs (used to be totally flat), but I live in a mountain town that gets a fair bit of snow. Anyone have any good ideas on what to do when there’s 2 feet of snow on the ground?

Erin
Erin
6 years 2 months ago

Matt,

Keep walking barefoot! Seriously, learn to walk such that you curl your toes under when you lift your foot off the ground and stretch them back out before you put it back down. This will keep your toes moving and stave off numbness. With practice, you can walk up to a half a mile this way with no danger of frostbite.

brenda grundt
4 years 10 months ago

The high school in my town offers free walking inside during the fall, winter and spring.

jennifer
6 years 11 months ago
very interesting. my sister and i are the perfect examples of different lifestyles and how they affect feet. i’ve always walked around barefoot everywhere and my sport was dancing, especially barefoot african dance or martial arts. walking around outside on any surface is quite easy for me. she played a lot of running sports in highly supportive athletic shoes..basketball, soccer, etc. my feet are very wide with a high, strong arch and picking things up with my toes is easy and i’ve often toyed with the idea of doing some paintings with my feet :):):). she is the opposite, with… Read more »
Alison
Alison
3 years 8 months ago
Isn’t that amazing! I’ve had feet that roll in and low arches since I was a child (I can’t really remember when it started, as it was pointed out to me later in Primary School) and I can’t imagine being able to do a painting with my feet or dancing barefoot. The muscles really are so weak! My entire life I’ve been recommended shoes that mold around my foot, supporting it. I can really feel my muscles are weak and squishy, and that supporting them is basically compensating for the fact that they are so weak that they’re practically physically… Read more »
Earl
Earl
6 years 11 months ago

Mark,

I have high arches and bunions. I have been told that the bunions were caused by over pronating and that I needed orthotics to correct the dysfunction and associated knee pain. Going barefoot is suppose to be really bad for the bunions. Any suggestions on how to handle these foot problems even though I am 61 years old?

Charlene Jaszewski
Charlene Jaszewski
5 years 3 months ago

This is anecdotal, but I’ve read stories on the barefoot boards about people’s bunions shrinking/going away after dedicated barefoot walking/running!

Mike H
Mike H
6 years 11 months ago

I have high arches (they do not touch the ground when I walk) and have been given inserts and/or shoes with arch support. Any opinion on what kind of shoe I should where, be it minimalist or the five fingers?

Hiit Mama
6 years 11 months ago

My toes look like the photos (not the good ones either). I was such a good doobie all my life that I took the expert advice on super supportive running shoes. Now am I to blame them for my bunion?

THanks Mark. I guess going primal in as many was possible is the best course of action.

Brian
Brian
5 years 5 months ago

All I can say is “what a bunch of BS.” I can’t say anthing more because there would be no point in arguing with anyone who actually thinks running barefoot is actually 100% better than using shows.

Brian
Brian
5 years 5 months ago

shoes.

Mahya
Mahya
4 years 8 months ago

agreed.

Mandy
Mandy
4 years 7 months ago
I came across this site because i am trying to find methods to improve my aching feet. I have a par of toe shoes that i use during aerobic class. I used them because they arent so heavy and clunky, and after an hour of jumping around i dont feel like I’m tripping over my own feet. (this probably wouldnt be a problem for someone in better shape than me, but you have to start some where.) Im posting, because i couldn’t help it. Your comment sounds so closed minded and i just wanted to say that it didnt sound… Read more »
Diane
4 years 5 months ago

I agree…if you exert regular pressure on something over time physics dictate that there will be a structural impact

quinton
quinton
4 years 5 days ago

exactly my point

Lana
Lana
3 years 6 months ago
Well spoken Diane! I agree with your comment! Mark and everyone who posted their advice and experience, a bit thank you! I noted down all the shoe store suggestions, I started stretching my toes and doing the strengthening exercises. I was a bit scared at first because I have not used my feet this way in a while and they felt very week at first but they are improving! I have tendonitis on my ankles that is due to a combination of injuries during my active days with the lack of sports thereafter (since i started working and didnt exercise… Read more »
Jeff
Jeff
6 years 11 months ago

Mark,
What do you think about Nike Free type shoes…supposed to simulate barefeet while strengthening your feet…

Mark Sisson
6 years 11 months ago

Not at all impressed with Nike Frees.

Anna
Anna
2 years 6 months ago
They aren’t good because the goal of a barefoot shoe is to have 0mm drop (aka there isn’t any drop in the height between the heel and the toe) and nike frees have a large heel drop (6-7 mm). They are better than normal shoes, though (12-15 mm) which often mess feet up. The best shoe possible is a vibram, hurache sandal (legit ones, not the ones your grandma wears) and vivos. There are other brands too, but those are the closest to the ground that I can think of off the top of my head! 🙂 If you have… Read more »
Tina
Tina
6 years 11 months ago
My arches are decent (probably since I wear “bad shoes” like converse and flip flops 90% of the time) but my toes are really close together and apparently have been since I was born- my mother can confirm this. I always joke that I was somehow genetically designed for those awful pointy women’s shoes. But seriously, do you think the exercises would work to spread out my naturally squished toes? I’m concerned that I won’t even be able to put vibrams on if I were to buy a pair because my 2nd toe rests on top of the big one.
groquette
groquette
6 years 11 months ago
Suddenly ballet slippers and roman sandal like contraptions are en vogue… which means that a lot of people might be able to get away with wearing minimal shoes to work. http://www.zappos.com/burberry-nylon-ballerinas-black Not that I’m planning on spending $300 dollars on this flimsy little thing, but… nobody would blink if I wore them to the office. Actually, tell a lie! A whole lot of people would like be in shock and speechless if I wore them to work (I’m not famous for my sense of fashion), but there are about 100 other people at the company I work for who could… Read more »
jennifer
jennifer
6 years 11 months ago

I’ve had high arches for a long time… first noticed when i did ballet years ago… then again when i was figure skating (had trouble finding skates that gave enough arch support), again when i was downhill skiing – the arches in the boots never hit at the right spot. and definitely with most running shoes – the arch padding never comes up high enough. curiously, i get really bad shin splints when i run in running shoes. i got a pair of VFF this summer and did some running – no shin splints! yay!

Katie
Katie
6 years 11 months ago
It’s funny…I ran around barefoot as a kid, all the time. There were even a couple of times in high school as a goofy teenager trying to be “unusual” enough to be noticed, I went barefoot. I walk barefoot around my house pretty much as a matter of course. When I’m not in the house, my shoes of choice are flip-flops (actually, right now I mostly wear a pair of “Fit-Flops”…love to know what Mark thinks of those!). I tend to like shoes best that don’t restrict my feet. I do own and wear heels, pointy-toed boots, etc, but not… Read more »
Indiscreet
Indiscreet
6 years 11 months ago

Me too. I use to run around the garden barefoot as a kid and now, as an adult, I am always barefoot at home (or just socks in winter). My feet are hard as leather. Despite having a number of number of biomechanical issues with my legs and ankles which would predispose me towards flat feet, I don’t have them.

Mike C
Mike C
6 years 11 months ago
Hi Mark, I’m 29 years old and started hiking about a year or so ago. From the getgo, I noticed that after the hike, I would be in much pain for several days, while others talked about going on another hike the very next day. At first, I put this off as just being new to hiking. However, it didn’t go away and I noticed after a certain distance, I was getting a callous and sensitive area under my big toe. Then there was a hike where we did a lot of walking in small, loose gravel. I noticed that… Read more »
lr
lr
6 years 11 months ago

I work in a hospital, on my feet, up and down stairs all day. I used to come home with aching feet and sore knees. Earlier this year, I bought some Vivo Barefoots, and now my feet and knees (and calves and shins) feel strong, even at the end of my shift! I will never go back to conventional shoes.

Halle
Halle
6 years 11 months ago
I used to spend a lot of time barefoot, so my feet are a lot less civilized than other women my age. However, I have very large feet, and two foot related issues. When I was a child I broke my left leg, and I wasn’t well rehabilitated in walking. So on one foot I walk “heel toe” and the other I use “toe heel” When I concentrate on it, I can make both feet do the same thing, but when I don’t think about it, they do what they do. Needless to say, I am not a good runner… Read more »
Ahmed Serag
Ahmed Serag
6 years 11 months ago

Thanks for the great answer Mark, definitely been doing a lot of barefoot work. It’s weird, but my squat and dead-lift have actually gone up in coordination with the increase of going barefoot.

Alec
Alec
6 years 11 months ago

Here’s a link to the 1905 barefoot study for those interested in reading the whole thing:

http://ahcuah.home.att.net/docs/hoffman.htm

I had another link to it that seemed to show the pictures in greater detail and clarity but I can’t find it right now. If I do I’ll post.

Sharonll
Sharonll
6 years 11 months ago
It’s obvious there are a lot of people out there who have problems with their feet! I feel for everyone, as I have been living with extreme plantar fasciitis in my left heel for quite some time now. I’m truly at a loss how to deal with it. I walk 1/2 a mile from my bus stop on pavement to work and back every day, and it’s an excruciating experience. Last year, I bought large orthopedic shoes that allow lots of room for my toes, and removed the inserts from them, and added a gel pad to the heel on… Read more »
shutchings
shutchings
6 years 11 months ago

Whenever I do the point exercise my feet really cramp (along the bottoms). Any guesses at the reason why and what the solution is? You think it would get better with consistent work, but it doesn’t seem to.

Scott J
Scott J
6 years 11 months ago

I have high arches and am currently struggling with a case of plantar fascitis.

Will wearing VFF, going barefoot as much as possible, and doing the strengthening exercises mentioned be of benefit to me?

Thanks!

Mark Sisson
6 years 11 months ago

Scott, yes but just take it easy. Always better to ease into barefoot training.

Ms. Ripe
Ms. Ripe
6 years 11 months ago
Hi Mark, I’m a believer, and go barefoot as much as possible – at home, in the neighborhood, etc. When it gets colder, I wear warm socks around the house. Even as a child I went barefoot as much as possible, and would at the beginning of every summer do a lot of walking over various terrain to “toughen up” my feet for an entire season of going almost fully barefoot. Still, I have a job, and have to wear shoes in the office. My feet are in okay shape, but I often feel the need to stretch my toes… Read more »
Mark Sisson
6 years 11 months ago

Ms. Ripe, the problem is that there aren’t many minimalist shoes to review at this time. Some that claim to be minimalist aren’t really very good IMHO. The FeelMax are probably the best for your purposes at work. No one should even notice, let alone give you grief.http://www.extremeoutfitters.us/feelmaxpankamensblacksilver.aspx

Cody
Cody
6 years 11 months ago

It’s incredible how little time it takes to make a difference. I have been going barefoot or rocking the five fingers since mid June and already I have seen a difference. My feet are making the transition from A to B. My arch has come back, my toes are more spread and I have a generally more stable base. Great article.

Dr. Nirenberg
6 years 11 months ago

Great post! Shoes are generally detrimental to our feet. Periodically, I write about this subject. Recently, I wrote The 3 Main Ways Shoes Harm Our Feet.

Tony Phillips
Tony Phillips
6 years 11 months ago

can anyone tell me a website on buying fivefingers at a cheaper price? Thanks

pieter d
pieter d
6 years 11 months ago

Currently I haven’t got VFF (not in my size in the shops, and I do want to try them on before I buy). But I have the Feelmax Pankas and I love them. Hope to get some VFF someday.

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