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Can Barefoot Running & Walking Fix Flat Feet?

Posted Nov 20 2010 6:09pm 6 Comments

Can Barefoot Activity Cure Flat Feet?

Flat feet is a condition where the arch of the feet undergo collapse and flatten: That is why it is often also referred to as fallen arches. Individuals with flat feet can suffer from a variety of foot ailments, pain, and fatigue, which can also extend to the legs and back. This condition is present in up to 30% of all people, and it is unfortunately not reversible by the use of arch-shaping shoe inserts, whether over the counter or prescribed by a doctor.

Studies Prove Shoe Wearing Predisposes To Flat Feet!

A very interesting Indian study (1) analyzed the footprints of 2,300 children. It is commonplace in India for typical children to be barefoot most of the time, with only the higher classes usually shod in shoes. It found that the incidence of flat feet among children that used footwear was over three times greater than those who commonly played and ran in bare feet. The study unequivocally states that “shoe wearing predisposes to flat foot”. Flat feet can also be due to other factors, such as genetics, injury, etcetera.

New Evidence To Prove That Barefoot Running Can Help Raise Arches!

There have long been anecdotal reports that barefoot running can actually raise the arch of the foot and reverse flat feet, but now we have available the remarkable case study presented by a 41 year old male who recorded his foot print prior to engaging in a six month campaign of walking and running barefoot.

This individual has no history of medical problems and after a lifetime of conventional shoe wearing began to average 35 kilometers per week in running barefoot. He also shunned his footwear for most of this time in his everyday activities.

Remarkable Proof Provided By Before & After Foot Prints!

The Before & After footprints posted above clearly show how the remarkable transition from a flattened foot (or  flat foot) to a healthy and normal arch. The individual also reports that since he has been barefoot, he has been suffering far less knee and ankle pain and swelling through his running.

Supportive Shoes Limit The Motion Exercise Of Foot Muscles!

This person’s fascinating experience is just further evidence that even the most advanced shoes cannot provide the incalculable benefits of walking and running in bare feet. Indeed, supportive shoes tend to limit the motion exercise of foot muscles which can lead to further flattening of the arch!

Perhaps, it’s time to shun your shoes and regain flexibility and strength in your feet! Your arches will thank you!

(BTW, I would love to hear more “foot” reports – good and bad -  from other barefoot runners and walking! Please feel free to post comments with any foot-altering changes you have noticed as a result of barefoot activity.)

Key To References

1) Rao UB, Joseph B. The influence of footwear on the prevalence of flat foot. A survey of 2300 children. J Bone Joint Surg Br 74 (4): 525-7.

Is Running Barefoot the Answer to Runners’ Foot, Ankle and Knee Problems? , Original Research: Running Barefoot May Be Safer for Your Hip, Knee, and Ankle Joints , Barefoot Running With Eyes Wide Open
Comments (6)
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My daughter has never worn shoes, can you please explain why she has very flat feet?

If you can't explain this, then you need to stop writing such nonsense.

There is plenty of evidence that bracing any part of the musculoskeletal will lead to atrophy. Since pretty ball modern footwear is based on bracing and supporting the foot it only stands to reason that the muscles supporting the foot will weaken. There is also evidence that being barefoot is good (refer to the work of S. Robbins) as well a product called Barefoot Science appears to also have a substantial amount of data supporting the notion that introducing a proprioceptive stimuli to the foot can help rebuild an arch, at least with this sytem you can still wear shoes.As for your daughter – how old is she?, what is her overall flexibility like?, is she truly barefoot all the time? does she truly have a flat foot (get her to raise her big toe in the air and see if an arch forms – maybe she has a functional flat foot?  If she is pain free and does not have trouble walking then I would encourage her to be barefoot as much as possible – introducing a brace, just doesn’t make sense in the long term.


The  Barefoot Science product has been shown to be a nonsensical product and the claims made for it have been regularly and easily dismissed. It is one of of the worse cases of the misuse of science I have ever seen.

I am very familar with the work of Robbins et al. No one except those with a product to sell are taking them seriously. Their work is so flawed.

I assume you have seen the evidence from two studies that foot orthotics ("braces")  actually make the muscles stronger. No study has yet shown they weaken muscles.

 Deal with real science, not the nonsensical interpretation of pseudoscience.

I assume the use of orthotics to make muscle stronger and the studies you are referring  to are the ones dealing with gripping strength of the lesser 4 digits - if yes - did you ask yourself why did they strategically omit the most important digit the Hallux. To you note about "selling product" - the optics here are also that throes against trying new things or looking at new products may also be involved in the business of the traditional foot orthotic and profit from these somehow. The traditional approach has proven to work for many, and in my personal experience, have proven not to be successful for many. The odd thing is that why do most people never outgrow their need for orthotics or in fact go back regularly to be recasted and reposted, involving increased support and increased wedging - does not sound like the system got stronger and more independent - sounds like it got weaker and developed greater dependency. Food for thought. Cheers.
You just selling snake oil and everyone can see through your claims.
The people "selling" barefoot activity are not selling anything. The billion dollar business is in shoes and arch supports. I would wager to bet that bordman has a financial interest -- direct or indirectly -- in keeping people in shoes and/or arch supports.
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