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The Inertia

Editor’s Note: This feature was made possible by our friends at VIVOBAREFOOT.

Of all entities, you’d expect a shoe company to be the last to point its own finger at the footwear brands and industry for what they’ve labeled a “public health scandal.” Conversely, they’re also the exact people you’d hope would shed light on how important feet are to our overall health.

According to the folks at VIVOBAREFOOT, a footwear brand that specializes in minimalist shoes, there’s a lot of science supporting the idea that modern shoes do more to damage our bodies than benefit them. The research-based documentary, Shoespiracy, points to the jogging boom of the 1970s as the source of the problem, when shoe design took a drastic turn toward comfort over protection.

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“It’s astonishing to us that the vast majority of shoes produced each year are actually bad for your feet—and the wearers are none the wiser,” said VIVOBAREFOOT co-founder Galahad Clark. “A number of leading shoe company bosses have often said to me, ‘I know the science and agree with your philosophy, but the consumer isn’t ready.’ We believe people are absolutely ready to start feeling better and moving more.”

The documentary examines everything from the natural shape and construction of our feet to a quick history lesson on shoes. The human foot is the product of four million years of evolution and bio-engineering, but using protection for our feet only began about 40,000 years ago. That’s a relatively small plot on a long timeline, and the past 50 years of cushiony soles in athletic-focused shoes that are now mainstream make up a literal blink of the evolutionary eye.

“The human foot is an amazing structure,” says Dr. Irene Dag, director of the Spaulding National Running Center. “It’s comprised of 26 bones, 33 articulations, each with six degrees of freedom of motion, 20-plus muscles with 10 of them being in the arch in four layers.”

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Your feet have never been so interesting.

Learn more about VIVOBAREFOOT’s Shoespiracy project here.

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