Modern running shoes feature heels packed with cushioning technology—but Dr. Lon Kilgore wonders if they prevent the foot from functioning as it was designed.
The basic structure of the human foot has not changed significantly for some four to five million years. We have supporting arches that carry the weight of the entire body and virtually any load placed upon it. The many joints comprising the arches are quite well endowed with a multitude of muscles, tendons and ligaments. When the foot contacts the earth underneath it during movement, the joints in the arches flex in order to dampen the forces encountered. The foot is purposeful and wonderfully engineered, perfectly constructed to carry out its function
When we consider the range of human activity and any possibility of anatomical predisposition to injury, one would assume that during the many millennia of human history, regular advances in technology would either reduce injury rates or improve locomotive function if there was indeed an environmental challenge and need. Strangely, such advances were not seen until the past century or so, a pitifully small segment of human history.
Why this? We consider shoe design to be a major component of exercise performance today, so why did our ancestors avoid improving shoe design and function? And how do we know they didn’t?