Shoes Are Dumb

Over-cushioned shoes weaken and immobilize our feet. Minimalist shoes let them move more naturally, but can increase the risk of injury. The solution? Make a smart transition...

Shoes Are Dumb

More to the point, they make your feet dumb.  How?  Overprotection.  All that complicated foam and rubber designed to support your arch and insulate your feet from the impact of your movement…actually does the opposite. In fact, modern athletic footwear has been shown to substantially change people's natural walking/running mechanics in ways that actually lead to more joint impact. By putting multiple layers of material between our feet and the ground, we take away their ability to receive feedback from the ground and adjust the body's gait and balance in response. Our feet become blind, essentially. And by restricting the foot's movement inside our shoes, they become weaker and more injury-prone.

NY Mag wrote one of the definitive pieces on this phenomenon way back in 2008, so it's hardly breaking news. Popular works of non-fiction, such as Christopher McDougall’s instant classic Born To Run, have helped inform the long-running public debate around shoes and kicked off a movement towards leaner, less supportive “minimalist” footwear. 15+ years on, we'd expect to see a marked decline in foot and ankle injuries as more and more of us make the switch, right?

Trash My Shoes Then? Not So Fast.

The evidence is still out on whether or not switching to minimalist shoes reduces, or even increases, an individuals susceptibility to foot/ankle injury. The overriding factor? How you manage the transition.

In several studies, experienced runners were divided into two groups and made to either A) switch over to minimalist shoes and maintain their current routines or B) gradually introduce minimalist shoes into their training, temporarily reduce their mileage, and undertake gait correction and other physiotherapy measures. Guess which group had no issues and which group piled up a raft of stress fractures, tendon strains, and other foot/ankle issues? Yep.

This makes sense. Simply switching to minimalist and going out to do a hard run would be like taking a cast off an arm after several weeks (or, in this case, decades) and immediately trying to lift heavy weights with it.  What did you think would happen?

So Why Make the Change At All?

At MonkeyDo, we believe the human body was designed correctly, and feet should be able to perform their functions without much support or protection. This is why we emphasize barefoot training as a cornerstone of our approach to total body health. No matter what kind of shoe you prefer, spending some time without them on and training your feet to literally "stand on their own" is an enormously beneficial practice.

If you are looking to make the switch to a lighter, more mobile shoe, but wary of injuring your weakened feet during the transition, take our advice and start slow.  Here’s a daily foot re-mobilization routine you can do to help manage your transition:

Step 1: Take off your shoes

Step 2: Spread and close your toes 20-30x (stop and massage for your feet if they cramp)

Step 3: Near a wall for assistance, stand on one foot for 60 seconds.  

Step 4: Roll the bottom of your support foot (the one you were standing one) across a ball for 60 seconds.  Not so hard that it hurts, but not so light that it feels like nothing.

Step 5: Repeat Steps 3 and 4 on the other foot. That's it!

Ball = Cheap Massage Therapist

This routine is especially good before going out on a run or long walk.  And your feet will love you for it. Want to learn more?  Drop a comment below or write to