I had this picture below submitted to me by a very concerned pedicurist. Rumor has it that before submitting these pictures the woman blacked out and we nearly lost her.
This is not exactly true. However, we can’t confirm it did not happen. These pictures have been floating around for quite some time. They have likely been sitting in the archives until the natural running movement picked up some steam. They got alot of action when Timothy Ferris, author of the best selling ” Four Hour Work Week” posted them on his very popular blog in April of 2009. He discusses the barefoot alternative and makes a great case for the natural running and walking.
Flow Running Project has done a bit more research and found the original source. These photos were first published in October of 1905 in the American Journal of Orthopedics in a study titled “Conclusions drawn from a comparative study of the feet of barefooted and shoe-wearing peoples”. A group of doctors studied the feet of native people in Asia and Central Africa. The study compared the feet of these natural barefoot populations with the feet of 1905 shoe wearering populations.
The study concluded the following: (FRP Comments in italics)
The relative lengths of the foot and its component parts are practically the same in barefooted and shoe-wearing races.
- This is an indicator that on a genetic level most humans have a very similar basic structure. Except for Canadians. I have never seen a bad looking one. Everyone in BC looks like they walked out of an LL Bean catalog.
Its form, functions and range of voluntary and passive motion are the same in both up to the time of shoe-wearing, after which progressive characteristic deformation (yikes) and inhibition (that’s no good) of function ensue. Here, as in other instances, acquired characteristics are not transmitted. The children of shoe-wearers inherit the same type of foot as do those of barefooted races, and this type is changed only in so far as footwear modifies it.
- Foot length and shape measurements were taken of traditionally non-shoe wearing indigenous persons in Asia and Africa. There was no difference in those measurements and in the measurements of cultures that wore shoes, until those culture began wearing shoes. Another recent phenomenon is “Croc Foot”. Where the foot becomes soft, spongy and has a marshmallow like consistency. Tends to affect suburban soccer moms and IT professionals who work from home.
The height and shape of the longitudinal arch have no bearing on the strength or usefulness of the foot. Weakness of the arch is rarely, if ever, accompanied by breaking or lowering, and flat foot as a pathological entity hardly exists.
- Now this is really, really, really important. Your arch shape has little relevance to potential ability (Despite what you have been told, you are not broken). The strength of your feet is what matters. Far too often people have been conditioned to think that what they are born with is a crutch or dysfunctional. High arch, low arch, no arch. It matters not. What does matter is the strength of your feet. However strong, please use a little restraint before showing your girlfriend you can bake bread or put on a tie only using your feet.
You and your feet have amazing potential and don’t let anyone tell you different. When we compare the two sets of pictures (and the data), there is clearly one that looks to be stronger and self supportive. There is one set of feet that looks like it is naturally ready for a run.
If you are using a computer you will likely not be chasing jaguars in the jungle barefoot, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have feet strong (or good) enough to carry you anywhere you want to go. Maybe what we need is a little less shoe and more you.
American Journal of Orthopedics; “Conclusions drawn from a comparative study of the feet of barefooted and shoe-wearing peoples”. October 1905 Volume 3, Number 2, Hoffman.