Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit, but just a bit. The article is Flip-flops, loose shoes can be damaging, from the Port Huron Times Herald.
One would really expect better of podiatrists.
Here’s just some of the silly stuff in the article.
First, it starts by reminding us that to visit the Fort Gratiot Light Station, you cannot wear summer footwear. It seems it has a requirement for closed-toe shoes (see the referenced link).
And why, you might ask. Well, according to the article, “The lighthouse instituted the policy after sandals caused a young patron to slip on the spiral staircase.”
And what would they have done if the young patron had been wearing tennis shoes (or high heels)? Banned shoes? Of course not, don’t be silly. Then it would have just been an unfortunate accident. And there is nothing in their description of the accident that says that the fact that it was open-toed footwear had anything to do with it—yet that is what they banned.
In fact, since sandals are footwear, maybe they just should have banned all footwear to climb the tower. That would make as much sense (and make a lot of us happier).
The article then goes on to talk to a couple of podiatrists—podiatrists who obviously are really wedded to shoes, to the point of not being able to think beyond them.
First we get a Port Huron podiatrist, James Pitlosh, who tells us flip-flops are awful, because if you wear them too much you can feel it in your feet. Well, yes, if your feet have been cooped up in shoes all winter getting weakened, when you actually start using your feet again, they might get sore. Just like if you don’t exercise at all during the winter and then start up in the spring, all of your exercise muscles will get sore. Or, if you never think (like certain podiatrists), your brain will hurt if you ever have a new thought.
And then we get another stupid statement.
Podiatrists have long recognized the negative affect spongy flip-flop soles can have on a foot. Because the soles allow the heel to drop down too far, heel spurs and plantar fasciitis can develop.
The heel drops down too far? Hello? The generally recognized problem is heels, not a lack of heels. Flip-flops at least are heel-neutral.
Heck, I once did a 10-mile hike wearing flip-flops (because I was a bit footsore from a previous 10-mile barefoot hike over some pretty rough terrain). Totally trashed the flip-flops (the heel is almost totally worn through).
My feet were fine, though.
And Pitlosh comes up with the usual “support” shibboleth. (That is, that feet need support. No, only feet that always wear shoes and are tremendously weakened because of all the support they get need continued support. I’ve used this example before: if you play tennis, I challenge you to “support” your tennis arm for six weeks, and I’ll leave mine unsupported. You wear a sling all the time. At the end of the six weeks, we’ll play a game of tennis: me with my unsupported arm, and you with your arm that’s been supported for six weeks. Who do you think will win?)
And here’s a classic:
He estimates an average foot injury can take up to four years to completely heal if properly treated.
Well, yeah. If you follow this guys advice, four years sounds about right. For us barefooters, though . . .
And of course Pitlosh recommends closed-toe shoes, because those protruding toes a magnets for thorns and sticks. However have I managed to go barefoot for all these years?
Pitlosh also advises against loosely-tied shoelaces, because the shoes will spread out and you won’t get “support”. That’s right, you should lace everything up tightly so nothing can move. That way everything from the ankle down can atrophy and then you really will need medical attention. While you are at it, maybe you ought to just replace your feet with two blocks of wood.
And of course he also has to talk about pronation. From what I can tell, pronation is only a problem . . . when wearing shoes, because the shoe prevents the naked foot from being placed the way that is most natural for the person. When you are barefoot, over- or under-pronation is not a problem.
And then the article talks to another podiatrist in the area, Dr. Steven Bremer, who is quoted as saying one of the dumbest things possible:
Podiatrists also recognize an increase in foot skin cancer during the summer.
Hello? Skin cancer has an extremely long latency period. There’s no way they’d see more in the summer. (I’ll admit he might have been misquoted.) However, the advice to put on sunscreen is probably not a bad idea (if you are the sort to generally apply sunscreen).
However, believe it or not, according to Malignant melanoma of the foot and ankle (J Bone Joint Surg Am, 1995 Sep 01;77(9):1396-1403), “The most common site of involvement was the plantar aspect of the foot. That’s right, the most common place for skin cancer on the foot is on the sole. (It may be related to warts; however keep in mind that plantar warts seem to be related to showers because all the water weakens the sole, and then the soggy foot is put into a show. For the regularly barefooted, there is some evidence that warts are much rarer.)
And they finally go back to Dr. “Support” Pitlosh. And what does he advocate at the end of the article: reduce foot moisture. And how should you do that according to him? Go barefoot.
Anybody notice the inconsistency?
This is the sort of article you read if you haven’t had your laughs for the day.
Meanwhile, I’ve had about all the laughs I can stand.