Reprint: Nature’s Magic Bullet

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Nature’s Magic Bullet


It seems absurd that Nature could produce such a wonderful creature as a human being, with so many advanced and unique capabilities, but completely fail during millions of years to guard against the common conditions that fill a modern medical textbook, such as chronic low back pain. Why should Nature require a highly trained doctor using involved methods to treat disorders that it supposedly failed during millions of years to control? There seems to be something in our environment causing widespread degenerative disease, because if the diseases were naturally occurring, then Nature itself could have practically eliminated them in our species. Indeed, the purpose of the following discussion is to demonstrate that footwear has altered the environment under which Nature molded us, thereby contributing to the modern plague of degenerative diseases.

Feet shaped to fit the shoes

Begin by considering for a moment what may be the farthest thing from your mind, both literally and figuratively: your feet and your toes. Most people, including doctors, have never seen a natural foot, unaltered by footwear. The following images of habitually bare feet are taken from a study performed almost 100 years ago, published 1905 in the American Journal of Orthopedic Surgery, which examined the feet of native barefoot populations in the Philippines and Central Africa. (2)

A line can be drawn that runs through the heel, ball, and big toe of a habitually bare foot. The little toes spread naturally and fan out to provide a wide, stable base for walking or standing. How do our shod feet compare? The following more common image, also taken from the 1905 study, demonstrates feet that are shaped like the owner’s shoes. No such line can be drawn, and the little toes crowd to a point—a comparatively unstable, narrow base for walking or standing.

Which pair of feet do you prefer? Very likely the natural bare feet are completely alien to you, and there is good reason for it, as Dr. William A. Rossi explains in the Journal of the American Podiatry Association: “Most shoes do not properly fit the foot, simply because the shape of most shoes does not conform to the shape of most feet. Under no circumstances is this because of any ‘conspiracy’ or neglect by designers and manufacturers. Most people just do not want their shoes to look like their feet. Like all items of fashion, shoes are an illusion—the illusion of how people would like their feet to look. Our feet do not come to a point at the front, but for 3,000 years pointed toe fashions have been followed because they make the foot look slimmer, more ‘aristocratic,’ which has esthetic and status appeal for most people. The foot is not a slender stem, but shoes are so designed to make them appear so because it lends a look of ‘elegance’ to the foot.” (3)

We can look back thousands of years at ancient Greek art to see that the big toe pointed straight ahead or even medially (towards the middle of the body instead of angled out to the side). The toes were spaced and spread out, not crowded together, bent, and overlapping, nor raised up in the air. However, examine any medical textbook, model, or cadaver from the last century or two, and you will see a badly deformed foot, with a crooked big toe and crowded little toes that come to a point at the front, no spreading or spacing at all.

Has evolution changed our feet in these last hundreds of years? Did some bizarre genetic mutation quickly take place from an unknown chemical toxin or pollutant? Is it all the refined flour, high fructose corn syrup, trans fatty acids, and salt in our diets? The simplest explanation, it would seem, is that habitual wearing of shoes and socks since birth has deformed our natural feet and toes.

The ubiquitous shoe

How many pairs of shoes do you own? If you are the typical American, then very likely you have at least five to ten pairs of shoes in your closet. However, it is not uncommon for some people, especially women, to own a hundred pairs of shoes or more, representing a significant investment of thousands of dollars. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just go barefoot? Why do people love shoes so much, even wearing them to the grave?

Well, according to footwear historian Dr. Rossi, the purpose of shoes is in this order: sex attraction, status symbol, and least of all utilitarian purpose, such as protection from harsh weather. (4) He says studies estimate that at least 80% to 90% of all footwear sold, falls into the first two categories. After all, hardly anybody takes off their shoes during warm weather. Likewise, so-called “sensible” shoes have always accounted for a tiny fraction of footwear sales, indicating that consumers have consistently rejected more comfortable footwear in favor of more fashionable footwear.

Dr. Rossi indicates that the word “shoe” itself evolved from the old Anglo-Saxon “sceo”, which means “to cover”, and that the original use was not in a protective sense but in a sexual sense. (4) Consider the basic effect from elevating the heel of each foot, providing a feature that seems to have no practical value whatsoever. Popularized by the European teenager Queen Catherine de Medici at her early sixteenth century wedding to France’s King Henry II, high heels have been in widespread demand ever since the Industrial Revolution of the mid 1800’s made shoes available to anyone and everyone in society who wanted them, even children. The stature of a woman is boosted both literally and figuratively when she is wearing high heels, attracting attention of other women and particularly that of the men. The following illustration demonstrates the mechanical repositioning of the body column when standing on heels of two to three inches in height. (5)

Standing in bare feet permits bones and body structures to balance effortlessly over one another (shown left in A). Adding a heel underneath each ankle joint would force a rigid body column to pitch or tilt forward in accommodation (shown center in B), but gravity does not allow such an arrangement, and so the body spontaneously adjusts the posture to keep from falling over (shown right in C).

Aside from the provocative sex symbolism inherent to high heels, such physical adjustment to the body gives a more shapely contour to the ankle and leg, with a sexier, leggier look, providing an emotional uplift that itself enhances sexual attraction. Sexy stilettos also accentuate voluptuousness in the buttocks, abdomen, and bosom, while highlighting the sensual curves of the back and especially those of the foot itself. Even the gait of a female—already erotic with her undulating motion of erogenous zones—is made sexier by the magic of high heels, explains podiatrist Dr. Rossi, who writes, in his famous book on the subject, “High heels feminize the gait by causing a shortening of the stride and a mincing step that suggests a degree of helpless bondage, appealing to the chivalrous or machismo nature of many men.” (4)

Widely admired by both men and women alike, these very same changes seem to be detrimental to health as internal structures, such as organs, glands, tissues, muscles, bones, and joints, must readjust their natural position to accommodate shoes. For example, the cause of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) remains unknown, but seems to afflict women in the United States more often than men. Could their higher heels have anything to do with it? The jaw is fundamentally a mechanical structure whose alignment depends vitally upon the alignment of the feet. Try tilting your head forward or backward, left or right, in various directions and chewing. Do you feel one set of muscles working harder or differently than another? Does it feel effortless or strained? Could you chew in that manner for a week, a month, a year, a decade, or a lifetime?

When the balanced body column is habitually thrust forward—even over a so-called “sensible” or “low” one-inch heel, like that found in many athletic sneakers or men’s boots—then the jaw is constantly forced to perform against gravity in an unnatural way, leading to shortened muscles, strained ligaments, and inflexible joints that are susceptible to any additional trauma or stressful demand, no matter how minor it may seem. Furthermore, weakness in one foot or ankle joint, induced by putting differently shaped feet in the same-sized shoes, may tilt the body to the side as well, subsequently leading to problems in the left-right direction too. Popping, clicking, grinding, and clenching are common outcomes to the unbalanced muscle tension that seems to result from wearing shoes, not to mention headaches and tinnitus (ear ringing) that are certain to arise under chronic misalignment of the jaw.

If the entire jaw is thus susceptible to the habitual use of shoes, then are its internal structures such as the teeth and gums also at risk of disease and disorder? Do problems such as crooked or cramped teeth, temperature-sensitive teeth, gum disease, gum recession, root canals, tooth decay, dental caries, and cavities tend to plague those who wear shoes more than primitive people who go barefoot? If shoes cause popping, snapping, clicking, or cracking in the jaw joints, then what other joints or internal structures of the body are also susceptible to shoes? Because the jaw is a mechanical structure, do the statistical correlations between periodontal disease and heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and respiratory problems indicate that these conditions are also mechanical rather than dietary? Could all of these disorders share a common denominator? What degenerative diseases affect women disproportionately more than men? Many other provocative questions will be asked, and perhaps answered, as we chew over some further topics and examples.

All shoes make natural walking impossible

It might be proposed that sensuous stilts are the only shoes capable of influencing the body. Yet all shoes are inherently deforming to some extent, explains Dr. Rossi, who was also a consultant to the footwear industry. (6) “Sensible” shoes, “orthopedic” shoes, and “comfort” shoes are all deforming. And even—or especially—modern sneakers, raised since the 1970’s to societal status symbols as running or athletic gear, are extremely deforming and traumatic for a growing foot.

All shoes are deforming to the body because by definition, all shoes make a natural barefoot gait impossible. For example, design features in the last, a wood or plastic form upon which the shoe is built, can lead to concavity under the ball of the foot, causing distress for the foot and toes normally accustomed to a planar (flat) surface. Furthermore, most shoe lasts, which are curved longitudinally (crooked like a banana), create a mechanical mismatch between the shoe and the foot, necessarily causing distress, because the natural foot is a straight-axis formation, such that a line drawn from the heel through the second and third toes equally divides it. (6)

Inflexible shoes substantially weaken the muscles of the toes and feet, single-handedly turning Nature’s million-year effort into a pair of stumps. In order to accommodate an inflexible sole, the front of the shoe is permanently tilted upward with what is called toe spring, putting the toes into a permanently hyperextended position (raised up in the air instead of touching the level ground). At the other end of the shoe, elevated heels or hidden lifts reduce the tread surface of the foot by lifting its lateral border (outside edge), consequently placing greater stress on the ball. The foot tread is thus greatly diminished in any shoe, and the reduced contact with the ground is readily demonstrated by comparing the area of a bare footprint to the wear pattern on the sole of the shoe. (6)

Shoe weight is another considerable factor in gait because of the leverage at the feet. You can walk a great distance with heavy weights on your shoulders or head, but try just getting out the door with them braced to your feet and ankles. Every quarter-pound increase in shoe weight adds 2500 pounds, well over a ton, to daily foot-lift load. A “lightweight” pair of modern sneakers, marketed as running or athletic shoes, adds an exhausting four or five tons to the daily foot-lift load of an adult, and perhaps as much as ten tons to the daily foot-lift load of an active child—a stressful event by any measure. (6)

Perhaps most importantly, shoes cause the wearer to lose touch with reality—literally—by eliminating sensory contact with their environment. As everyone ticklishly knows, the foot is richly covered with over a thousand nerve endings per square inch, and no other like-sized part of the body comes even close to this kind of tactile sensory ability. The soles of our feet are the only means of contact with the ground underneath us. Wearing modern shoes inhibits and, in most cases, completely annihilates this vital flood of tactile communication. The numbed feet readily debilitate the reflex action of the entire body and brain by compromising the ability to feel a surface during walking. No shoe, regardless of any special design, compares to the foot, which has been refined through millions of years of constant sensory contact with the Earth.

Mother of humanity

We depend solely on our feet for supporting and moving the structure above them, and so the condition of the feet would seem to fundamentally determine the condition of the entire body. Actually, the foot appears to be the organ responsible for permitting our unique human traits and abilities in the first place. (7) For example, the following illustration compares a chimpanzee’s hand and foot (top row) to a human’s hand and foot (bottom row), demonstrating that the other primates have a grasping toe rather than one pointing ahead for propulsion.

Despite their size, the feet contain over one-fourth of the bones and joints in the entire body. No other part of the body comes even close to the amount and degree of stresses imposed on the foot. The foot made possible our striding gait on two legs, unique in all of Nature. Bipedalism thus permitted changes to take place to the hands, increasing dexterity and capability for making tools. Changes to the brain size then took place, in turn responsible for language and reason. Actually, the foot seems to have made possible everything that we consider to be distinctly human features, including all aspects of human civilization itself. (7) Yet by interfering with Nature’s handiwork, in habitually wearing shoes since birth, we are forcing serious changes to the mother of humanity in an exceptionally short amount of time.

Although we humans seem able to perform well most of the time with such deformed toes, the same changes to our hands would have immediate and severe known consequences. Consider, for example, an analogy in raising a child from birth with constrictive, rigid mittens tied to the hands, leaving little or no freedom of movement to the fingers or thumbs. Imagine a hand with a crooked thumb, and curled fourth and fifth fingers that are crammed tightly together to a point. Clearly, the child would find the most basic of tasks, such as feeding itself, to be challenging or impossible, even with the tight mittens removed.

No person would intentionally raise a child with such deformed fingers, yet modern society considers deforming of the infant’s toes to be completely acceptable and even aesthetically pleasing. However, humans vitally depend on the feet and toes for balancing a tall structure during a striding gait, taking ten to twenty thousand steps a day as children, and using all of the bones, joints, muscles, organs, glands, and tissues in the body. The consequences of deformed fingers seem obvious enough, but are the consequences of deformed toes more subtle?

Deformed toes and posture

A person who wears shoes—especially during the formative years—develops an unnatural gait and poor balance, resulting in postural changes throughout their entire body. (6) Thick or inflexible soles alone can restrict the range of motion of the toes, which restricts the range of motion at many other joints in the body. When joints are not exercised through a full range of motion, that range of motion decreases, resulting in modified posture. The following illustrations compare good posture and strong feet (left) to poor posture and weak feet (right). (1)

Typically poor posture can exhibit exaggerated curves in the spine, a head carried forward of the shoulders with drooping front neck muscles, pelvis inclined forward, the abdomen sagging or protruding like a potbelly, knees buckled, the chest flat and collapsed, the shoulders rounded toward the front, or feet turned way out to the side. By comparison, good posture allows the head, shoulders, hips, and knees to balance effortlessly over the ankles and feet. Such natural mechanical use of the body typically exhibits a head straight above the chest, hips and feet, the chest up and forward and deep permitting full breathing, lower abdomen in or flat, and back with the usual curves not exaggerated. Your toes provide evidence of these postural changes, as seen in the illustrations below. (1)

Natural toes form a wide, forward brace for the superimposed tall body (shown in A), but toes compressed by shoes leave the body balancing precariously on two stumps (shown in B). The feet turn outward into a “fallen arch” posture (shown in C), because the width of the inner side of the foot is used to compensate for loss of breadth in the toes. In general, the most common and easily noted effects of shoes are a crooked big toe, and crooked, twisted, or curved little toes, especially the fourth and fifth. Other signs include the inability to spread the toes apart, compressed toes, inactive or useless toes, overlapping toes, and toes curled up and not even touching the ground. Examining your gait also provides evidence of faulty body mechanics from shoes, as demonstrated in the following illustration. (8)

In a fallen-arched gait (shown right), the feet turn out, and the weight comes off the inner arch instead of the ends of the toes, producing a labored, shuffling or waddling gait. In a heel-to-toe gait (shown left), the feet are pointed forward for the most part, but more importantly, the weight comes off the toes at the end of each step, and so the foot is being effectively used as a lever of propulsion. A heel-to-toe gait utilizes both heads of the calf muscle (gastrocnemius), but a fallen-arched gait emphasizes its inner part (medial head) over its outer part (lateral head). A fallen-arched gait produces asymmetric forces on the Achilles tendon and predisposes the ankle to sprains and fractures, but a heel-to-toe gait allows the bones to balance effortlessly and optimizes the use of muscles. Although it may be possible for a native barefooted person to maintain a heel-to-toe gait without pointing the feet in the direction of walking, a shoe-wearing person that habitually walks with the feet angled to the side, as in the letter V, demonstrates a fallen-arched gait and, consequently, any or all of the illustrated postural changes. (3)

Modern sneakers medicated with so-called “pronation control” do not make a quick fix, because the toes are still compressed, the feet still turn outward, and the tongues of the shoes shift out to the side as a result. The shoe sole’s wear pattern is yet another indicator of faulty gaits, which commonly produce excess wear on the outside edge of the heel instead of near the center, and the resulting pattern can also be instructive for comparing left and right differences. For example, if one foot turns out to the side more than the other, or if one shoe tongue exhibits increased shifting out to the side, then there is likely to be some left-right asymmetry of the body that could even be related to the shoes themselves. (31)

Shouldn’t the feet hurt all the time from compressed toes? It turns out that for most people, the feet rarely hurt much at all. Most adults think their shoes are comfortable only because their feet have already been deformed to fit perfectly. The deformation process starts shortly after birth, years ahead of our very earliest memories. “Never expect the child to complain that the shoes are hurting him, for the crippling process is painless,” writes chiropodist Dr. Simon J. Wikler, whose groundbreaking 1953 book about shoes and disease inspired (1 and 9)

Deformed posture and internal disease

Shoes and socks painlessly compress the toes of the feet, resulting in postural modifications to the entire body. While the body can protect itself from typical external threats, it is relatively unprotected from internal disorder. Evidently, a lifetime of such postural stress places many internal organs and structures at a mechanical disadvantage against gravity, resulting in disease from tissue irritation, physical compression, positional changes, circulatory disturbances, neurological dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, or more. (30)

Actually, it is surprising how well our bodies can successfully cope with these internal sources of stress, providing many people with entire decades of fairly useful activity. For example, experiments have demonstrated that when animals are placed in a vertical position for a short amount of time, their circulation systems fail to perform against gravity, and they quickly die. Most people do not die immediately in the presence of extraordinary stress, and so we have adapted to handle extreme demands such that the body and internal systems function sufficiently well for much of the time, but still not all of the time.

Many researchers spent astronomical amounts of money during the last century exhaustively examining the effects of external threats by studying what we ingest through our stomachs, skin, and lungs, but relatively few seriously considered that degenerative diseases arise from internal postural stress induced by shoes. (8) Could the lifelong habit of what we put onto our feet provide the broadest explanation for diseases with an unknown cause?

Lacing up the wrong shoe

There are many possible reasons why shoes have been completely overlooked as a cause of disease. Perhaps the simplest explanation is that we adults are not aware of our deformed feet any more than a two-year-old is aware of theirs. We merely grow up in this way unquestioningly assuming our feet, and bodies, to be as Nature intended. Our feet are certainly “normal” in the sense that they are like the feet of everyone else, but they are abnormal, or unnatural, in another sense, because Nature was not expecting us to wear shoes from birth. Since we accept our bodies and the items on them as being “normal”, we tend to look for reasons outside of ourselves when things go wrong. Without a doubt, the most popular external blame for degenerative disease is food or diet.

The crowd has been chasing the subject of diet and disease for well over a century, leaving behind nobody to consider the subject of shoes and disease. A search on the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database for “diet cancer” returns over 17,000 papers, nearly 500 per year since the 1960’s. (10) For the last half-century on average, one or two papers are being published every single day about diet and cancer. However, a search for “barefoot cancer” on the PubMed database returns a negligible handful of papers concerned with other matters, absolutely none studying the effects of foot imbalance and shoes on breast, prostate, or colon cancers in humans. Actually, a search on the PubMed database for “diet” returns a voluminous 200,000 papers, greatly outnumbering a search for “shoes” by an overwhelming 60-to-1 ratio. No serious attention or research has ever focused on the foot and disease like it has on food and disease. A search for “high cholesterol shoes” on the PubMed database returned no papers at all. (10)

Cardiovascular disease has consistently been the leading cause of death in the United States ever since the early 1900’s, about half a century after the start of modern shoe production, with deaths from common cancers and stroke not far behind. For an entire century, countless people have completely failed to produce the special diet that will consistently cure or prevent heart disease, common cancers, stroke, or even obesity among many others. But despite recent decades of exhausting research, the debate concerning heart disease, common cancers, stroke, and cholesterol still continues to focus on food, especially that which is prepared quickly. Is it possible that no clear agreement ever existed among nutritionists, dieticians, and others because the type of food eaten is fundamentally irrelevant in these and other widespread degenerative diseases?

Or could it be a case of missing the forest for the trees? It seems that foot deformation has not even been considered because each researcher is busy with their particular part of the body. They are zoomed way in to the cellular and biochemical processes that lie deep within the body, without any consideration of the larger environment or structure that is actually what we call a human being. Likewise, clinical doctors, also using complicated diagnostics and technology, neglect to see the human body as a single organism whose functioning is spontaneous and inseparable, so that disturbances in one part affect change and pathology in another part. A cardiologist sees only the heart, a psychiatrist sees only the mind, a dentist sees only the teeth and gums, and a physiotherapist sees only the acute problem spot such as a backache. These practitioners treat a symptom, instead of treating a patient with a symptom.

Did we ignore the slow year-to-year changes taking place in our bodies? It is said that a frog placed into a boiling pot of water will jump out immediately from the pain, but that you can boil it alive if you start from cold water. We humans appear to act no differently; since our feet rarely hurt, and our bodies seem to perform OK most of the time, no person has even suspected that shoes play such a significant role in disease. When was the last time you saw somebody walking barefoot in public? How many places even allow being barefoot, let alone encourage it? Nobody has suspected that shoes play any role whatsoever in disease, since shoes are used so heavily around the developed parts of the world. Everyone considers modern shoes to be normal and harmless, because they were raised shod and slowly grew accustomed to the way they are, starting well before their very earliest memories.

For whatever reason, researchers of the last century chose to examine the complicated theories ranging from chemical changes to dietary deficiencies, but completely neglected to test a simple explanation for widespread disease. (8) Because many of the major human illnesses continue to plague developed society, even affecting greater numbers and younger ages, we have probably been barking up the wrong trees. Perhaps by taking a timeout from elaborate research, to consider a simple and broad explanation, we can avoid another long century of chasing the wrong disease.

Statistical studies of shoes and disease

We have slowly grown accustomed to something else in life besides shoes: a plethora of daily reports in the mass media and scientific literature of numerical studies connecting anything to everything else in life, with inherently absurd conclusions glibly being made. Such statistics, and their disciples, are subject to easy manipulation, as any politician or journalist knows quite well. (11) Hardly anybody takes the time to decipher the reported relationships, yet many people dramatically adapt their lifestyles, and personal and professional decisions, based on some absurd, albeit possible conclusions. So if you believe that statistical studies are useful for establishing links to disease, then you will find the correlations with shoes to be relevant… and perhaps life changing.

General considerations

For example, in the United States, which is one of the largest consumers of footwear on the planet, many people put on shoes when rising in the morning, and they do not remove them until bedtime. In bed, the feet are immobile or in socks, so we may consider the toes to be in a constant state of inactivity for life. However, in Japan, a country with one of the oldest longevities in the world, the practice exists of going unshod in the home, or wearing less deforming or no shoes at work or some restaurants. In Japan, modern shoes are considered to be a means of transportation, and the feet generally spend more time outside of them and look healthier in their elderly.

Many degenerative diseases—such as breast, prostate, and colon cancers, or obesity, diabetes, and asthma—occur less often in Japan compared to the United States, which actually encourages the opposite practice of heavy footwear use. When Japanese families move to the United States and adopt our constant use of shoes in succeeding generations, they also experience increased episodes of the very same diseases.

There are literally thousands of statistical studies that can be performed with shoes and disease around the world and even within a country. Rates of male pattern baldness and heart disease are lower in Asia, while women there experience less pre-menstrual tension and fewer symptoms during menopause later in life, and their children develop less leukemia. Chronic low back pain is nonexistent amongst shoeless natives, and common cancer rates are significantly lower in undeveloped and malnourished countries that use footwear sparingly.

It might be suggested that degenerative diseases affect only those in very advanced years, not adulthood, and that shorter life expectancies could alter the statistics. However, there is a huge list of diseases and conditions, including popular ones such as leukemia, diabetes, obesity, allergies and asthma, that can afflict the very young, and yet even these diseases occur less often or never in undeveloped and malnourished communities that use footwear sparingly or not at all. Those rates are changing and are increasing in countries that are consuming more footwear now, affecting even younger ages than in the past.

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is one such disease that typically affects relatively young and healthy people, and there is no known cause, prevention, or cure. However, a careful glance at a map of worldwide prevalence of the autoimmune disease reveals that people in the United States and Europe have a higher chance of developing it, than those in undeveloped countries, where children go unshod more often. (12)

Even a modern industrialized country—surely full of pollutants and chemical toxins—can have a multiple sclerosis rate lower than the United States, as evidenced by Japan, which uses footwear less often. Furthermore, northern countries have higher incidence rates of multiple sclerosis than southern latitudes. Deforming shoes are worn more often in colder climates but less often when the weather is sunny and warm. For example, winter boots can limit ankle movement, in addition to compressing the toes.

Other statistics indicate that women are more likely to develop multiple sclerosis than men, true of many other degenerative diseases as well. Women’s footwear is more physically deforming to the feet because of higher heels, pointier toes, and smaller sizes, but any shoe might have a more deforming effect on the lighter build of a woman’s body. Considering the current statistical and physical evidence, it appears that the use of footwear causes the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis in humans.

Lung cancer

Perhaps the single most famous statistical correlation with disease is cigarette smoking and lung cancer. According to the 2003 version of the American Lung Association’s website on tobacco, smoking is “directly responsible for 87 percent of lung cancer cases and causes most cases of emphysema and chronic bronchitis.” (13) Extremely precise figures such as 87% raise a yellow flag, because it is unlikely that anyone in this world knows to such precision the number of lung cancer cases which stem from a specific source. (11) That surprisingly precise figure immediately jeopardizes the validity of the conclusion. The American Lung Association’s statement on lung cancer completely ignores any other possibility, and there is a big one indeed.

As “crazy” as the notion may initially appear, does widespread lung cancer and addiction to cigarettes actually originate from wearing shoes since birth? After all, the people in those statistical studies who smoke, have worn shoes for a much more significant part of their lives, so the same statistics support a much stronger correlation. Wearing shoes since birth is a constant 24-hour-a-day, lifetime source of real physical stress, which is not relieved by attempts to quit smoking, and in many cases, any addiction is only replaced by another. Even the father of modern psychotherapy, Sigmund Freud—wearer of fashionable shoes—was himself hopelessly addicted to cigars and unable to control his addiction or remain objective in his own care, making himself believe that his addiction was actually beneficial to his disease. (14)

The strong statistical correlation of lung cancer and shoes is backed by reasonable physical evidence. The changes to the shape and excursion of the diaphragm from a flattened chest and sagging spine can be physically measured and compared to a shoeless, cancer-free native. These physical changes are relevant for any discussion of lung cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and even the respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, that plague non-smokers as well. The delicate and expandable tissues in the lungs of any shod person, including non-smokers, are required to operate in crowded, congested conditions, leaving the organ prone to infection and disease. Thus, it is premature to conclude that cigarette smoke is “directly responsible” for lung cancer.

Statistically, there are regional differences that are not explained by smoking cigarettes: According to the Centers for Disease Control 1997 report on tobacco smoking, more cigarettes are consumed in Japan than in the United States, yet lung cancer rates are lower. (15) There appear to be some people who can smoke a lot and never get lung cancer, and others who never smoke at all, yet get the disease anyway. Even women, smoking the same cigarettes as men, are thought to have the higher rate of lung cancer between the two genders worldwide. The statement, “Cigarette smoking is directly responsible for lung cancer”, completely ignores such statistical data, but the habitual use of footwear since birth explains it precisely.

Smoking cigarettes is not necessarily the smoking gun it may appear to be. But in a dramatic example of adapting habits based on statistical conclusions, society has gone to great trouble to ban the use of cigarettes by adults in businesses and public places. Moreover, society will not even sell cigarettes to teenagers or children, so how would society treat the sale, distribution, and usage of footwear, including socks, in consideration of the much stronger statistical correlation with lung cancer?

Would businesses, restaurants, and hospitals ban the use of footwear by patrons and employees? Would every shoebox carry a stern warning from the United States Surgeon General? Would obstetricians, gynecologists, pediatricians, and other doctors advise pregnant mothers to stop wearing high heels and to keep socks completely out of the household? Would young adults be carded for buying sneakers kept behind a locked display case? These scenarios may seem preposterous or incomprehensible, but then, at one time, cigarettes were considered by everyone in society to be ridiculously harmless objects. Are shoes truly the ridiculously harmless objects that we perceive them to be?

Physical possibilities

Statistical correlations may be capable of pointing us in a direction of inquiry, but they cannot provide an understanding of cause and effect in such a purely numerical relationship. A physical basis is always necessary for discerning plausible conclusions from numerical nonsense. (11) Some quantities could be indirectly related—sharing a common denominator, for example—but with absolutely no direct causation. A person who smokes a lot may do so to relieve chronic physical distress from shoes; does their heart disease result from the inhalation of smoke, or does it result from the wearing of shoes?

So perhaps deformed toes are actually inconsequential in some conditions, but attenuated sensory response from thick-soled shoes is not? (16) Or do shoes interfere with the reflexes of the feet, which could influence corresponding organ function? (17 and 18) Are the germs and bacteria that shoes track into our homes and hospitals responsible for some of these diseases? After all, many people are concerned about keeping natural fibers on the rest of their body, yet they stuff their feet into synthetic, hot chemical containers for most of their life. (19) Could those hundreds of chemicals in modern shoes be responsible for some of our modern diseases? Are the germs and bacteria, which thrive alongside the foot, trapped in a dark and damp environment, also contributing to some diseases?

Or is it merely the containment, of the half-pint or more of daily sweat being released from the feet, inside of a non-breathable material, that hinders the body’s ability to control internal disease, release toxins, or regulate metabolism? While there are many physical possibilities, and many statistical studies, there are undeniably many pairs of shoes now.

An eye-opening historical event

The story of prescription eyeglasses in America provides illuminating historical evidence of a connection between shoes and widespread degenerative disease. While eye disorders such as astigmatism and myopia are not thought of as disease, they are considered to be abnormal conditions in the shape of the eyeball and lens. The ancient Greeks saw the stars of the night sky just fine without eyeglasses, but even a large, bright moon appears as a blurry blob to many modern-day teenagers in need of coke-bottle lenses. During the 1500’s, the father of modern ophthalmology, Georg Bartisch himself declared, “Man has two eyes, he needs not four”, and became bitterly opposed to the use of spectacles, noting that he was aware of many eyes destroyed by them. Actually, as recent as the late 1700’s, a typical soldier in the American Revolution used no distance-correcting eyeglasses, as they were extremely rare and expensive items and still considered to be little more than a side business for a few peddlers. Therefore, a young child of the early 1900’s should not have had any greater difficulty in seeing the chalkboard at a distance of only ten feet than an adult Revolutionary soldier of the late 1700’s had in seeing his target a hundred feet away.

We can pinpoint the interval of change even further. During the American Revolution of 1776, lenses to correct myopia were only available from Europe and England, and were not produced in America until the War of 1812 by its first optician, John McAllister. The ordinary shopkeeper was a manufacturer of whips and canes—important for transportation by horse at that time—but he started the optometric profession in the United States by purchasing a “bushel basket of spectacles” in 1783 as a side business. (20) Lenses to correct astigmatism were not widely available anywhere in the world in the late 1700’s, as the first accurate description of astigmatism was not even made until 1801 by scientist Thomas Young. Although the highly educated English astronomer Sir George Airy is generally credited with the first description of cylindrical lenses in 1827 to correct astigmatism in his own nearsighted eyes, an untrained Reverend Mr. C.E. Goodrich arrived independently at the solution in America sometime between 1825 and 1826, well before Airy’s respected publication. (21) The nearsighted Reverend noted when looking at lines, say branches of a tree or masts of a ship, that the parts of objects having a vertical direction were more distinct than those having a horizontal direction—an easy test to perform. From New York, he corresponded by mail with John McAllister Junior, who then became the first in America by 1828 to grind plano-concave cylindrical lenses to correct for the Reverend’s myopic astigmatism. (22)

Although the technology and knowledge were thus easily available in America in the 1830’s to correct for myopia and astigmatism, widespread demand was not. For example, refractive corrections remained a side business for many decades, and eye care as a separate profession evolved much later, in about 1865 according to the father of modern optometry, Charles F. Prentice. (22) The famous professor of ophthalmology, Dr. F.C. Donders could find only about a dozen documented cases of astigmatism throughout the entire world between 1801 and 1864, including Reverend Goodrich’s case. (23) Even John McAllister Junior’s grandson, Francis W. McAllister, reminiscing in the March 15, 1917 issue of The Optical Journal and Review of Optometry, agreed that astigmatism was “practically unknown” in the mid 1800’s. Furthermore, during the 1860’s in Philadelphia—the birthplace of optometry in America and one the largest cities at that time—there were only a handful of opticians (called oculists), but Francis McAllister tells us that by the late 1800’s the field had grown tremendously so that numerous opticians carried “an enormous stock of lenses of different sizes and thicknesses.” (20) Indeed, something changed between the 1830’s and the 1870’s to produce widespread astigmatism and myopia in the American population.

To be clear, this change during the middle of the 1800’s was unnatural, since natural selection picks out imperfect sense relative to others in the same species. The gross discrepancy in vision amongst humans is not natural, and there are no widespread gross discrepancies in the other human senses. Being unable to distinguish between the letters ‘F’ and ‘P’ at a distance is like being unable to distinguish the taste of a lemon from a lime; or hearing two voices that are similar and being unable to tell who is talking; or feeling a piece of silk versus suede and having to guess at distinguishing them; or sniffing two scents that are close in smell, perhaps cherry and strawberry, and being unable to make a consistently good judgment without hesitating by the nose’s equivalent of “squinting.”

What is it about vision in humans that allows such gross discrepancy in function to occur? The eyes, more than any other sensing part of the body, are subject to muscular imbalances in posture. Each eyeball has small external and internal muscles that control the position, shape, focus, and opening. The other senses do not even come close to the muscular control necessary for proper organic functioning. Those small muscles of the eye are readily influenced by changes in posture and alignment of the head, spine, pelvis, legs, and… feet. Therein lies a clue to what changed so significantly during the mid 1800’s in America.

The sewing machine

As recent as 1850, shoes were made completely by hand using the same hand tools that had been used for centuries earlier. It took a master craftsman an entire day or more to turn out a good pair of shoes, and most were custom fit to the individual’s two feet, while allowing ample growing room for future accommodation. Fashionable footwear was restricted to a small minority, as the large share of the world’s population habitually went barefoot for economic reasons. But all of this changed in the 1850’s with the rapid development of modern manufacturing equipment to produce standard-sized shoes inexpensively and quickly for the mass populations in America and Europe and, eventually, the rest of the world. (24)

Following half a century of attempts by various European inventors, American machinist Elias Howe constructed and patented a type of sewing device in the mid to late 1840’s. Although it was an important and unique invention, Howe’s device did not do continuous stitching nor curves, and so in 1851, the famous Isaac Singer made significant improvements and produced our modern-day sewing machine that allowed the pieces of a shoe’s upper to be sewn quickly by machine, thus rendering the services of traditional shoemakers outmoded.

In 1858, one of Singer’s shoe factory installers, Lyman Reed Blake, invented another sewing machine for stitching the soles of shoes to the uppers. The following year, in 1859, he sold his patent to Colonel Gordon McKay, who further improved the machines and leased them to shoe manufacturers around the United States and Europe. During the American Civil War, which curiously arose in 1861, McKay’s machines became heavily used for supplying the Union soldiers with boots and shoes—a lucrative government contract indeed.

As quickly as 1870, shoe manufacturing had suddenly become America’s largest industry and largest employer with growing retail outlets and stores. (25) Several hundred million pairs of modern shoes were being produced every year in the late 1800’s. With an urban population of thirty to forty million in the United States, everyone who wanted fashionable shoes could have multiple pairs and wear them all day long from birth, thus radically altering the traditional environment of our species. “Never in the history of mankind had a population so willfully and so innocently disfigured a vital part of their body,” remarks Dr. Wikler. (9)

Now a century and a half later, over ten billion pairs of shoes, not to mention the billions and billions of socks, are produced worldwide each year for over three-fourths of the world’s inhabitants who are shod. The shoe has become the most common object with the least amount of suspicion in common disease and disorder.

The myth of arch supports

Going barefoot seems to be the easiest and cheapest way to promote natural health of the body and mind. By now, however, many present-day shoe-wearers are surely wondering: what about arch supports (orthotics) and cushioning for the modern hard, flat, concrete surfaces?

Podiatrist Dr. Rossi, who lived past the respectable age of 90, tells us: “This popular myth not only persists, but also has led to an array of abuses by the doctors and shoe people alike. First, a question: Precisely where, how and why does a growing foot need support or reinforcement? One long-common answer is that in shoe-wearing societies we walk on non-resilient floors and pavements, hence the growing foot needs to be protected by a buffer zone device such as a built-in arch support in the shoe or a steel shank or separate orthotic. This has no validity whatsoever.”

“From infancy on, most of the hundreds of millions of shoeless people of the world habitually stand and walk not on soft, yielding turf (a persistent myth among medical practitioners) but mostly on unyielding ground surfaces. Most shoeless children are raised in such environments in cities like Bombay, Manila, Mexico City, Calcutta, Jakarta, Bogota, etc. where the streets are either cobble-stoned or paved or with hard-packed turf. Those uncovered, ‘unsupported’ feet grow with strong, normal arches.”

“A century ago, the rickshaw, which originated in Japan, was the common means of transportation in many Asian cities. In 1910, some 18,000 rickshaws and 27,000 rickshaw men were registered in Shanghai alone. The rickshaw men, most of whom began their occupations in their late teens, averaged 20-25 miles daily, trotting barefoot, mostly on cobbled or paved streets and roads. Many stayed at this occupation for 40 or 50 years. The feet and arches of almost all were healthy and exceptionally strong. In the same context are the tens of thousands of workers who daily load and unload ships while working barefoot on the docks of such coastal cities as Singapore, Jakarta, Bombay, etc. They carry back loads as heavy as 50 and 60 pounds on their shoulders, walking barefoot on the thick planks. And rarely a foot or arch complaint.”

“The tenacious myth of the negative effects of unyielding ground surfaces is long overdue for burial.” (26)

But there is a physical reason that an arch support, or orthotic, is unnecessary for those who go barefoot from birth. Because of Nature’s incessant attempt in adapting a part to the function imposed on it, the foot is able to manage a number of terrains, whether flat, hard, yielding, soft, curved, tilted, or other. Apparently, it is this very same attempt that leads to painless foot deformation from wearing shoes; the foot is simply adapting to accompany the shoe that is imposed upon it. However, as part of the foot deformation process, the body itself must change, leading to alteration of its internal functioning. Until somebody invents the ideal shoe—assuming that one even exists—going barefoot from birth is the only way to achieve a gait and an organic functioning that Nature intended.

Barefoot from birth is best

Going barefoot from birth is best for the feet and the entire body. Infants in the United States begin life with perfectly healthy feet, but within a few years the majority exhibit severe toe deformities. Compare your own foot to the footprint of any newborn infant shown, as an example, in the picture below. (5)

Actually, it does not take very long for shoes to deform feet and posture. For most of us, the deformation process was painlessly well under way even before our very earliest memories as an infant. The following picture, taken from the 1905 study of barefoot populations, compares the pristine foot of a Bagobo adult (unshod on left) to that of a twelve-year-old Bagobo boy (shod on right), who has worn shoes for only a few months. (2)

Picture of barefeet - shod vs unshod

Note the natural spread of the adult’s toes and straight axis of the big toe, producing a foot that would be unable to comfortably fit into modern shoes, which are made only for pre-deformed feet. Compare the loss of toe spacing and deformity of the first and fifth toes in the shoe-wearing boy, where no line can connect the big toe joints with the ball and heel. Since the foot of a twelve-year-old can be so easily and readily deformed, it seems that extraordinary care must be taken to prevent foot deformation for the plastic foot of an infant in our modern shod times, beginning right at birth.

If the hands of a newborn infant do not need socks, then why should the feet? The cause of sudden-infant-death-syndrome (SIDS) remains unknown, despite decades of exhaustive research efforts, and SIDS occurs in otherwise healthy newborns. Many statisticians have estimated the incidence of SIDS to be significantly greater in the winter than in the summer, but not a single paper is listed under a search for “socks sids” or “shoes sids” on the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database. (10)

No medical researcher has ever considered that the greater use of socks during the colder months may actually be a significant source of distress for a newborn baby. Naturally, many adults are able to cope with tight or constricting non-breathable socks, and thus consider them to be completely acceptable articles of clothing not worthy of scientific research. The incidence of SIDS declines considerably after the first half-year, as most infants begin to walk into adulthood and subsequently consider socks to be harmless. If socks are actually sufficient to cause death in a healthy newborn, then how many diseases and conditions find their genesis within mere days or weeks out of the womb, months before the infant even takes their first steps?

Indeed, Doctors Wikler and Rossi both agree that children should go barefoot as much as possible to allow natural development and functioning of their feet and toes. (9 and 26) For babies, Dr. Wikler recommends being very strict about keeping the blanket loose around the feet, and absolutely no socks or stockings indoors. Dr. Rossi agrees that, as slight as the pressure may seem, a snugly covered blanket or sheet alone is sufficient to restrict free motion of the feet. Many adults are completely unable to bend, spread, or wiggle their toes, even with their compressive socks removed, but the activity comes easily and naturally to a newborn infant.

Movement of the fingers during the infant’s first year is essential to proper development of the hands before they are ready for useful tasks. Movement of the toes during the first year is equally essential to proper development of the feet before the infant tries to stand and walk. Other creatures are able to navigate immediately from birth, but the first half-year of development in the foot is essential and mandatory before walking can take place in humans. Socks discourage spreading and flexing of the toes, after which shoes completely eliminate any further development of strength, flexibility, agility, or movement in the muscles, mutilating the foot and placing the child on a lifetime path of disease and disorder.

Most of the damage from shoes and socks seems to occur during infancy and early childhood, shortly after birth, at a time when the child ironically cares nothing about sexy shoes or fashionable socks. The bones and muscles of the foot take well over a decade to become fully formed, and the foot experiences frequent and unpredictable growth spurts during this time. (5) According to Dr. Rossi, it takes about twenty years for the foot bones to fully develop—a noteworthy figure considering that the human brain is also said to take about twenty years for its full development.

Some bones of the feet begin developing a few months before birth, indicates Dr. Rossi, while others do not even start to develop until the child’s third or fourth year. At infancy, he says, the bones are not actually bones but a soft cartilage tissue, which completes its hardening process somewhere between 16 and 20 years of age. The infant foot grows faster during the first three years of life than at any other time, and by two-and-a-half years, the length of the infant foot will be almost exactly half of its ultimate adult length. It could be that only a single month, week, day, or even hour that the child’s foot grows fast in a restrictive shoe or tight pointed sock, will be the defining moment shaping its entire life to come.

Going completely barefoot for at least the first two decades of life is thus mandatory for naturally developed feet and natural development of health in the entire body and mind. Sometimes needing to be double-knotted, laces are very convenient for parents who are intent on keeping their baby’s feet permanently bound in shoes, but they do not permit the infant to express their innate feelings about being shod. Every child or infant who has refused to wear shoes or socks by perpetually trying to pull them off their feet, already knows instinctively that going barefoot from birth is best for natural development of their entire body and mind.

Rediscovering a basic pleasure of life

Walking barefoot is done spontaneously during infancy, but most adults have forgotten, or never known, this basic pleasure of life. Consequently, the developed countries in the early part of the 21st century have still not studied the health benefits of walking barefoot. On the contrary, the habitual use of shoes and socks is now required by most places in the ailing United States, ironically even hospitals and doctor offices. Hence, most shod people have tiny, tender feet that are susceptible to occasional hazards such as glass or weather. For some adults, shoes could also be necessary for specialized occupations.

But by choosing the least deforming footwear that enables us to comfortably perform amongst society, at occupations, and in harsh conditions, we give the feet and body a greater chance at health. During thousands of years, the closest that mankind has come to an ideal shoe is the original wide-toed, soft-soled moccasin, which merely protects the feet while allowing the toes some freedom of movement. Literally a “second skin”, soft-soled moccasins consist of tanned leather that is wrapped loosely around each foot and held on with lacings, providing a protective, custom fit with a natural, breathable material. (28)

Despite its unsophisticated appearance, reducing the use of deforming footwear, using soft-soled moccasins when necessary, and going barefoot as much as tolerable, is the most conservative and inexpensive therapy that could ever be implemented. A change of footwear and footwear habits could actually provide the path of least resistance to health for many people in the United States, especially young children. The Japanese have clearly demonstrated that, starting at birth, if the feet spend less time inside of shoes, then the body enjoys a longer life with less degenerative disease and increased immunity towards other types. Therefore, rediscovering this fundamental pleasure of life is the most grounding approach to health, providing the foundation upon which other therapies can be built.

However, you cannot change your body overnight without risking severe injury or irreversible damage. So take it easy at first, and see how your feet and body respond. You can always do more, but not always less. Rest is intuitively important for the body to adapt and heal. (29) Excessive activity—particularly using tiny or imbalanced feet—produces unnecessary stress that can exhaust the body, thus decreasing its immunity to disease and risking irreversible injury. (29) Sleep and rest allow the body to return to a state of normalcy, at which time further activity can be attempted. Nonetheless, many modern practitioners still impose sudden and drastic change focused on one part of the body, without consideration to its overall need for rest in healing. Sometimes, less is more, and the hundreds of modern medical specialties seem to be no exception.

Hundreds of specialists for only one patient

Will any of the hundreds of specialists, for only one patient, ever come together to see the human body as a single functioning organism? Decades before the fragmented and drug-based approach to medicine became popular, orthopedist Dr. Joel E. Goldthwait provided tremendous insight in relating disease to posture during the first half of the 1900’s. He believed that risky treatments and diagnostics are not desirable as an initial therapy for the body because, “One must put the machine in order so that all the parts can work”—a unified and posture-based approach to health. (30)

In his groundbreaking books demonstrating that faulty body mechanics leads to our common internal diseases, Dr. Goldthwait writes, “Whether the primary symptoms represent a static strain, an arthritis, a progressive paralysis, a visceral disturbance, varicose veins, or some other chronic condition, the different parts should function so that general good health is reasonable to expect; after that such special treatment as may be indicated may be employed. To resort to special diets, physiotherapy, apparatus, medicine, or operation without first correcting the faulty mechanical relationships must produce unsatisfactory results, since the basic features of the physiology have not been appreciated and correct function made possible. These features should first be corrected, after which special diets, or medicines, or operations, or anything else that may be necessary to relieve the patient may be added.” (30)

Viewing each person as a unique individual, with a body capable of change and healing, is not really an astonishing approach to human disease. Consider that doctors and patients alike—not to mention the countless other scientists, researchers, and specialists—have already tried doing numerous invasive and manipulative procedures, largely failing to cure or prevent most conditions, even making them worse many times. After all of our experimentation with costly and invasive therapies, the human body is still the best doctor at controlling or preventing disease, but only if given the chance to do so. Indeed, during the twentieth century, doctors and scientists fooled around with all sorts of traumatic things, but neglected to ask their patients the most important question of any medical therapy: “How do you feel?”

During the last one hundred years of attempts at curing or preventing disease, we have tried dissecting the body, looking inside of it, drugging it, radiating it, nuking it, anesthetizing it, squeezing it, poking it, pinching it, sticking it, cutting it, bleeding it, replacing its fluids, squirting stuff at it, spraying stuff down passages, fishing things through it, blasting it with lasers, suturing its innards, fusing its bones, pulling its teeth, drilling into it, probing inside of orifices, putting things in it, taking things out of it, hypnotizing it, tricking it, heating it, cooling it, sweating it, stretching it, strengthening it, weakening it, exercising it, feeding it, starving it, and even cutting out entire bones, teeth, muscles, glands, tissues, and—unbelievably—removing the vital organs themselves. Now, how do you feel? :-)


Degenerative disorders and illnesses in humans are naturally treatable and especially preventable by going barefoot. Such prevention costs less money, is easy to apply, and has no side effects; it is Nature’s Magic Bullet. Remember the medical maxim: Remove the cause. Barefoot from birth is hereby adopted as the gold standard in a new era of health. If society someday becomes interested in going barefoot again, then the “disease care system”, as we know it today, will begin healing for good.

At no other time in history have we developed such control over infectious and nutritional disease throughout the mass population. During this exact same period, shoes and socks became cheap, widely available, and worn by many since birth, such that few have suspected these common, everyday items to be so involved in the resulting diseases that remain to be conquered. Yet while germs on the hands can produce illness, so too can shoes on the feet. And just as nobody once thought to wash the hands to control infectious disease, so are shod people neglecting to bare the feet to control degenerative disease. But the common person of today knows much more about the prevention of infectious disease using soap, than did the top scientists and doctors of 150 years ago. So the same will hold true for future, unshod generations naturally preventing degenerative diseases that today’s most eminent researchers, Nobel laureates, and specialists have failed to cure.

Are such views of the future naive? Ever since the introduction of the modern manufactured shoe in the 1800’s, many generations of consumers have consistently and overwhelmingly chosen fashionable styles over functional styles or going barefoot, despite the ceaseless grave warnings from medical authorities through the media about the consequences. Even attempts by the nobility, political, and religious authorities in past centuries, to outright ban the use of status footwear by the masses, have completely failed, and women especially are literally dying to be seen in high heels or platform shoes. Why should we believe the future to be any different?

Dr. Rossi writes, “To assume that the ‘logical’ thing is always the best or right thing is to show a disregard for the forces of human nature and psychosexual realities. It is more logical to wear ‘sensible’ shoes. But human nature and behavior are also governed by deep personal desires and needs that defy or contradict logic. So we wear fashionable shoes that reshape the foot and even cause some discomfort because sex appeal has always been more potent than sense appeal. If in our own minds this makes us look and feel better, then logic and the ‘sensible’ thing must play second fiddle.” (4)

original publication on November 27, 2003

7 comments… add one
  • Elizabeth Jun 8, 2010 @ 23:51

    Have you found the original article yet or author? I am very interested in getting my hands on it as well. Thank you!

    • Karl Knoeringer Jun 12, 2010 @ 15:41

      Hi Elizabeth,

      no way to find that person. Vanished.


      PS: Treat your feet nice.

  • Alex Oct 8, 2011 @ 1:51

    You have the only copy of this article that I can find now! One of the missing pictures was reposted at

  • Kimera Andrew Aug 16, 2012 @ 13:18

    that kind of foot has never vanished!
    perfectly like mine.
    i loved when i saw it.

  • Chris Fielding Aug 31, 2012 @ 8:36

    Hi Karl
    Thanks for posting this. I found the whole thing fascinating. I have posted recently about the changes my feet are going through since I started barefooting.
    I have pointed people towards it on my blog and listed it as one of my 5 best barefoot posts of the week at
    Happy running

  • Baptiste Roizard Sep 16, 2018 @ 16:29

    WOW. I’m so impressed by this article ! Most probably the best I have ever read. Mankind is going nuts. So sad. I first heard of barefoot as a solution to end knee pain due to unnatural running, which I experienced myself. The insights you just wrote will definitely change my life. I walk around 1 h per day for my commute and maybe 3 to 5 for the rest of my day and I have noticed imbalance as I walk and shocks on my ankles that surely have contributed to my back pain. I live in Paris, France, so I wonder how I can go totally barefoot in the middle of the city. Luckily, I have a country house where I can go barefoot during weekends, which many cannot. The man who belongs to the minority, even if he is right, will be ashamed of what he’s found if the majority is wrong. He will be excluded and isolated from society. But I will find the courage to overcome my fears of what others think of me. I will try to go barefoot in the city. Let’s spread the world with those ideas ! “Pourquoi faire simple quand on peut faire compliqué ?”(Why should we do simple when we can do complicated ?), as we say in France… This article reminds us that we are animals : not subtle, unprone to change, and most important, we don’t want to be alone, isolated. Really awesome article, I’m going to share it to others !

    • Karl Sep 18, 2018 @ 11:05

      Hi Baptiste,
      thanks for your fired comment. Go slow, this takes time and is very well worth it.
      Barefoot in the city? People do it. Personally I’d not do it, because there it is really dirty. In nature you come up against earth (what people call dirt) and vegetation, yet in the city you only get what other humans got rid of one way or the other.
      Nowadays there is a wide range of minimalist shoes, still not all of them are good and none are really like going barefoot, yet it’s a good compromise. Or try making your own, a very rewarding thing to do. Liberating too.

      Good luck on your journey.

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