This website deals with the evolutionary adaptation by humans to safe weight-bearing and locomotion when the bare foot is in direct contact with a support surface. All humans populations were essentially barefoot until the European Renaissance when people of all social classes began wearing shoes for the first time in human history. Interfaces placed between the foot and support surfces of all types interfere with protective mechanisms inherent to humans that make locomotion safe.
As a consequence of footwear use Renaissance Europeans became the first group in human history to become sedentary - spending most wakeful hours sitting rather than weight-bearing, because footwear interfere with protective mechanisms that perserve the plantar skin. The profound health consequences of the change from weight-bearing to sedentary is an additional subject of this website.
Circa 1980, I commenced research oriented at controlling the epidemic of “overuse” injuries associated with running. The modern running shoe was based on the biomechanists model of the human foot as inherently fragile thus needing protective packaging. I dismissed this analysis because it was inconsistent with the evolutionary necessity of a durable foot allowing safe mobility, and the observation that shoes based on the packaging solution failed to protect. I suspected that this injury susceptibility resulted from some aspect of modern life - perhaps shoes themselves.
Fellow investigators allowed me 15 years to build, totally on my own, the foundation of our understanding of this issue, as reported in 19 scientific papers - each revealing a puzzle piece. There is now general acceptance of my analysis which has be aided by confirmatory reports from various disciplines. Yet those 19 papers are as fresh and current as the day they were written.
All social classes began wearing footwear for the first time in human history commencing with the European Renaissance. Shoe wearing interferes with continuous transfer of plantar load that protects to plantar skin. This caused discomfort resulting avoidance behavior in the form of changing from standing most wakeful hours to sitting (sedentary). This had significant health consequences. The following report deals with one of them.
A common cause of irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis: chronic distal colon distention from sedentary behavior and excessive dietary fiber
Expert Rev. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 7(5), 413–419 (2013)
Steven E Robbins
McGill Centre for Studies in Aging, 6825 Lasalle Blvd, Verdun, QC H4H 1R3, Canada Tel.: +1 514 392 0174 firstname.lastname@example.org
A multidisciplinary analysis restricted to validated reports was applied to the cause and management of irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular formation and subsequent diverticulitis. There is evidence that they are linked – both caused by attenuation of gravitational aid to distal intestinal motility, resulting in damaging chronic intestinal distention. Both irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular formation and subsequent diverticulitis have worsened in recent years owing to excessive dietary fiber intake. Potential solutions include augmenting weight-bearing time, moderating dietary fiber consumption, stimulating distal colon evacuation through chemical means and developing pharmaceuticals to block the reflexive distal colon distention associated with fiber consumption. Amplified intestinal distention commenced when all classes of Renaissance Europeans became the first group in human history to wear shoes, which led to a sedentary lifestyle that moderates gravitational aid to colon motility and evacuation.
Keywords: descending colon • dietary fiber • distention • diverticulitis • diverticulosis • historical diets • irritable bowel syndrome sedentary
How minimalist (“barefoot”) shoes cause so many injuries (April 2013)
A false sense of security resulting from deceptive advertizing of athletic shoes results in amplified impact, which explains the more than 100 percent greater injury frequency with wearers of expensive running shoes when compared to less expensive models.[1,2] Minimalist shoes are also called “barefoot shoes” (MBS) because they are sold based on deceptive advertizing suggesting protection through falsely suggesting that they elicit plantar sensory mediated mechanisms humans use to run safely barefoot. Since they resemble traditional running shoes regarding plantar sensory feedback that initiates human protective behavior, it was anticipated that the injury rate associated with their use would be similar to that found with expensive running shoes. The injury rate with minimalist shoes has exceeded these expectations. Specifically, forefoot injuries, such as metatarsal fractures, that have never been reported in exclusively barefoot runners, and occur only occasionally in runners wearing normal running shoes, is one of the common injuries with users of MBS.[3,4] A false sense of security from deceptive advertizing does not seem to fully explain this. An additional mechanism combined with excessive impact from a false sense of security is required to explain the danger of these products.
Minimalist shoes are not a clearly defined shoe category. For purposes of this discussion they are considered footwear without a heel counter, essentially no midsole material nor a cushioned sockliner. The fat pad of the human heel protects the calcaneus from damage from impact associated with activities such as running and jumping. The fat pad thins at the posterior calcaneus and disappears entirely as the posterior calcaneus thereby offering it no protection at all.  Absence of viscoelastic biologic sock absorbing material at the distal calcaneus results in a noticeable “thud” on even modest plantar surface–support surface impact in barefoot running when the bare foot is dorsiflexed. With full impact of running barefoot the result is pain and possible calcaneus damage. This serves as a negative reinforcer training the barefoot runner to make plantar surface contact with the support surface only when both are near parallel in the lateral plane.
Athletic shoes marketed for use when running typically possess a relatively thick layer of midsole material and also resilient material incorporated into the sockliner. These components protect the dorsiflexed calcaneus and allow painless surface contact when running with the dorsiflexed foot. Bereft of the feedback mechanism of barefoot runners that produce avoidance of posterior calcaneus, most runners using traditional running shoes make foot contact with the foot in significant dorsiflexion. Calcaneus loading is thereby greater and forefoot loading is moderated.[6-8] Also, knee extension increases thereby resulting in longer stride length is longer and vertical impact.[6-8]
The minimalist shoe offers relatively little posterior calcaneus protection. This results in foot position on impact that is only slightly more dorsiflexed than when barefoot, and stride length shorter than with typical athletic shoes – only slightly longer than when barefoot. The consequence of less dorsiflexion with both barefoot runners and wearers of minimalist shoes is less loading of the calcaneus and greater loading of the forefoot compared to locomotion with traditional athletic shoes. This similarity between locomotion with bare feet and with minimalist shoes resulted in an investigator to mistakingly conclude via inductive logic that running with MBS is the same as running barefoot in every aspect. This has encouraged some users to conclude that running with MBS is safe – furthering a false sense of security with these products.
The barefoot runner is protected against damage to forefoot structures through a highly effective sensory feedback mechanism whereby the metatarsal-phalangeal joints have low pain threshold from combined vertical deformations and shear – an adequate stimulus for SA II mechanoreceptors.[10-11] This explains why metatarsal-phalangeal joints show minimal degeneration in barefoot populations when compared to an equivalent shod sample. Although the sole of the minimalist shoe is thin, it party attenuates vertical deformations but horizontal (shear) considerably – both are needed as an adequate stimulus for SA II mechanreceptors. In this respect the minimalist shoe differs little from the traditional running shoe – both prevent the desire via sensory feedback to transfer load away from the delicate forefoot structures to the distal digits which are protected via fat pads. The wearer of traditional athletic shoes has little sensory feedback protecting forefoot structures but loads these structures less because of dorsiflexion on contact. Furthermore, users of traditional running shoes are protected modestly by the midsole and sockliner. The wearer of minimalist shoes is in the unfortunate position of greater forefoot loading compared to traditional athletic shoes yet no sensory feedback protection nor midsole protection of delicate forefoot structures. This, combination of elevated forefoot impact from the false sense of security caused by deceptive advertizing, greater forefoot loading with MBS and no protective forefoot load transfer to the distal digits results in a “perfect storm.” This explains why minimalist shoe use is associated with an alarming rate of forefoot injuries.
 Marti B. Relationship between running injuries and running shoes – Results of a study of 5000 participants of a 16 km run – The May 1984 Berne “Grand Prix”. In Segesser B, Pforringer W, eds. The shoe in sport, Chicago: Year Book Medical Publishers, 1989: 256-65.
 Ridge S, Johnson A, Mitchell, U et al. Foot bone marrow edema after 10 week transition to minimalist running shoes. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2013.
 Guiliani J, Masini B, Alitz C,Brett L, Owens D. Barefoot-simulating footwear associated with metatarsal stress injury in 2 runners. Orthopedics 2011 34:320-323.
 Logan B, Hutchings R. McMinns Color Atlas of Foot and Ankle Anatomy. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2011.
 Heiderscheit B, Chumanov E, Michalski M, et al. Effects of step rate manipulation on joint mechanics during running. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2011 43:296-302.
 Derrick T, Hamill J, Caldwell G. Energy absorption of impacts during running at various stride lengths. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998 30:128–135.
 Edwards W, Taylor T, Rudolphi J, et al. Effects of Stride Length and Running Mileage on a Probabilistic Stress Fracture Model. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 41:2177–2184.
 Lieberman D, Venkadesan M, Werbel W, et al. Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shot runners. Nature 2010 463:531-535.]12] Zipfel B, Berger L. The emergence of forefoot pathology in modern humans? Foot 2007 17:205-213.