Bridging the gap: Human Feet More Flexible Than We Thought

August 22, 2013 by Jamie Page

"A sports shoe with a lot of arch support might not be such a great idea," – Robin Huw Crompton, University of Liverpool.

Humans are dynamic creatures individually and collectively. Variation is incredible and astonishing and no more so than in the feet. Wide, narrow, fallen arches, flat feet, collapsed arches, high insteps and high arches all co-exist within human populations. Here at VIVOBAREFOOT we appreciate the beauty of this variation in the human foot and recognise importance of letting your foot do its thing.
In a recent study Bates et al have shown, in this first quantitative analysis of relative mid-foot function during bipedal terrestrial locomotion, that somewhat unsurprisingly different people have different characteristic footprints but also each person also showed a high degree of foot flexibility and a lot of variation among footsteps over time.


This "astonishing" variation highlights the sheer dynamic nature of the foot and adds evidence to debunk the long standing perception that the human foot is stiff and rigid. One of the authors, Robin Huw Crompton, added: "the healthy human foot is actually much more flexible than previously thought."
The extent of the variation was so drastic that "had at least one step from each foot that, if judged under conventional evaluations in a foot clinic, would have flagged them as possible candidates for treatment for fallen arches." However, in agreement with Crompton: "There was nothing wrong with any of these feet. It's our definition of normal that needs to change."
At VIVOBAREFOOT we make shoes that let your feet behave if is was barefoot. We believe that the human foot is a dynamic tool that, to be utilised properly, needs to be left to it's own devices. That's why we make them flat, with zero-drop and wide to let your feet flex, more specifically to let your toes spread and arches load, splay and recoil.
"I'd look for a shoe that lets your toes wiggle and doesn't constrain foot motion. You want your foot to be able to move and flatten because that's what it's designed to do." – Robin Huw Crompton, a physical anthropologist at the University of Liverpool's Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, was talking to NPR. Read the original study here: Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Of course the foot and the shoe is just a part of the story. They are the technology, the hardware. It's also crucial to focus on the software, running technique and re-learning the skill of running. The good news is we've got the barefoot running resources to help you in your transition to barefoot running. Let us show you how.



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