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              THE BAREFOOT STORY
                              BY DOCTOR MICHAEL HORWITZ / FEET FOR LIFE CENTERS / JAN 2010

Revolution is
exactly right!
What constitutes a revolution? And
how is it different from evolution.
Evolution is ever present and always
working, making us adapt and grow
stronger. But a revolution must have
massive change in finite time and
often occurs with effort and the
challenge of once accepted ideas. If
this is accurate, then we are in a
revolution right now, making many of
us change much of our thinking when
it comes to footwear and running.

I knew on some level that over the
past 20 years, I have been wrong
about my footwear recommendations
                                                      You need to know this!
for my patients. I could give you
                                              In this article, I will make every         physiologists, physical therapists
many excuses for this. My education
                                              attempt to help you understand             and orthopedic, podiatric and
in school preached biomechanical
                                              how to get the most from your              chiropractic physicians about
control of the foot. Thousands of
                                              body. The first step is deciding that       supportive and padded footwear
orthotics companies bombed me with
                                              you are a vital and strong being           was not just inaccurate, but flat out
new devices designed to limit and
                                              that wants to always improve. The          WRONG!
control almost every foot condition.
                                              next step is understanding that
Financial incentives, old                                                                So let’s get it right, read on.
                                              most of what you have been told by
biomecchanical theory and massive
                                              shoe companies, exercise
advertising from shoe companies,
have all contributed to the creation of

                       continued on page 2

Reading this book will entertain you.         Running the Lewis and Clark 1/2 marathon      Buy these and get strong. Get strong and
Reading chapter 25 will change your life.     in 2006 the WRONG way in the WRONG            have far less injuries.
continued from page 1.                      stopped running and exercising                friend of mine recommended I read
                                            because my feet hurt or my legs or            “Born to Run” by Christopher
a universally accepted notion that has      back hurt”, then you can see that the         McDougall. And thats when I really
lead to many chronic foot pain              problem could be much more directly           started feeling better about my
syndromes.                                  related to a “universal think” than one       treatment protocol and knew what I
                                            might have originally thought.                needed to do as doctor. I needed to
The problem exists on a massive scale
                                                                                          start putting this information to use.
and amounts to an almost world wide
                                                                                          This meant figuring out how to use it in
brainwashing of doctors, athletes,
                                                                                          my practice and how to promote these
and every healthcare provider on
                                                                                          ideas to other doctors and the public.
some level. In its most simplified            In its most simplified stated
stated form, the problem existed             form, the problem existed                    “PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER SO
because of our willingness to accept                                                      THAT IT REALLY WORKS FOR
                                             because of our willingness to
that restriction and control of motion                                                    EVERYONE IS THE TRICK. THE
will lead to healthier function. Shame
                                             accept that restriction and
                                                                                          STRONG WILL BE FINE, BUT WE NEED
on us. Almost every philosophy over          control of motion will lead to
                                                                                          TO GET THE WEAK ONES STRONG
the past 8000 years has taught us the        healthier function. Shame on                 TOO.”
exact OPPOSITE. Movement equals              us                                           So for the remainder of this article, I
life. Movement creates strength and                                                       will focus on you, the patient. We need
it is often this inherent strength that                                                   to determine if you are ready to start
should be relied on to control our          Think of water. It flows, it moves. Life       getting strong. If you are currently
bodies movement and produce optimal         lives in it. But if you freeze it, you have   injured, you may need the support and
health. How many ways can this be           no motion, complete restriction. Like         rest afforded by casts, walking boots
said or thought of? The answer is           arthritis, frozen water is motionless,        and orthosis. In addition, if you are
many ways because anytime you go            and without movement, you can’t have          relapsing after getting better, you may
against a universal truth, you will have    life.                                         need further rest in the form of
plenty of examples of poor                                                                orthotics, heel lift, etc. If, however,
consequence. Looking around our             I had to experience a very acute case
                                                                                          you are ready to get strong, then read
country we can see the results of alot      of faciitis and see for myself what
                                                                                          on and see how.
of this bad thinking. Obesity, arthritis,   really works. (See Below) About 6
disease are the obvious sequela of poor     months after I had a personal                                 See next page.
health care choices. If the logic of the    epiphany on the role shoes play in
obese, arthritic patient is, “I just        healing fasciitis and tendonitis, a good

How many times have you had to rely on personal                     2. Your footwear must give you room to shift your weight
experience to create change in your way of thinking?                  to different parts of your foot in order to promote blood
For me, it was in 2007 when I developed one hell of a                 flow which is imperative if you want to heal. This
case of acute plantar fasciitis. I looked at this as a great          means wearing shoes with flat, wide soles. Wide
opportunity to study for myself the treatments that I had             enough in the heel to allow for different foot positions.
been utilizing for my patients over a 20 year time span
as a podiatrist. I cured myself with a simple change of             3. Let me spell it out. Wide, flat addidas basketball high
footwear. Here are my findings:                                         tops did it for me. I wore them everyday and the pain
                                                                       went away. I tried many other shoes listed here, and
1. Passive stretching is much better than active                       all they did was hurt... alot.
  stretching. It’s your footwear that will cure you or
  cripple you. Forget about stretching your heel on a               4. Supportive Therapy and anti- inflammatory
  step or with a device. If you don’t get into the right               treatments without proper footwear may only alleviate
  footwear, your going to hurt! This means wearing flat                 symptoms temporarily and prolong your recovery.
  shoes without heel lift.
                                                                    5. See additional information on this important topic.
How to use a foot strengthening regimen
to overcome your foot pain.
    by Michael Horwitz, DPM               to make the commitment to start           mountain climb in them and even run
              Foot Specialist             wearing different shoes.                  a marathon in them. The advantage
                   •••                                                              here is that your small foot muscles,
YOU CAN’T WEIGHT LIFT WITH                The best starting point is to evaluate    and the tendons from the larger leg
YOUR FEET, BUT YOU CAN MAKE               your current condition by going to        muscles are going to get strong as you
THEM STRONGER USING THE RIGHT             your doctor if you have a chronic         wear these. You can literally see
FOOTWEAR.                                 problem that needs to be treated. On      these changes occur over time. Your
More importantly, we now know you         my website, I address treatments that     achilles tendon will stretch out and
can make your feet much weaker if         can help you get better. For now, I am    strengthen, you will have strong
you insist on wearing the WRONG           going to assume that you are healthy      peroneal tendons and tibial tendons
footwear. What is the wrong               enough to walk barefoot, even if it       that support the arch. As you walk in
footwear? The answer is any shoe          doesn’t feel as good as your shoe.        these, you still have to be cognizant of
that overly restricts your natural foot   Next, you should evaluate your            where you step and this will lead to
motion. You may be a shoe addict.         current footwear. Instead of starting     better proprioceptive response and
Addicted to comfortable, padded           with the shoes that hurt you the          reflex response. Legs will get
tennis shoes with external or internal    worst, I want you to start with the       stronger. Over time you will feel it.
arch support. Like a person that          shoes that are the most comfortable.
takes prozac all the time for             Do these have built in support for the    So what’s the down side? For
“depression”, you might think that        arch? Do they have thick padding for      starters you will have to get used to
ANY foot fatigue or discomfort is bad.    the heel? Do the soles have air or gel    them. Not that hard to do.
So the only real opportunity you have     or cushion cells? Next, go to your
to strengthen your feet is when you       dress shoes. Are you always wearing       Now lets look at some other footwear
walk barefoot. But, you say, “my feet     the same dress shoes. What is the         that will help you get stronger. Nike
hurt when I walk barefoot. They are       heel height of these shoes? Can you       Free and Newton footwear is built like
tender and I have to step very            turn your foot and walk on the            conventional running shoes but
lightly.” To this I say, non-sense. You   outsides of your feet easily. Do they     without the excessive technology that
are simply not in shape. You’re weak      bend well. Can you walk comfortably       restricts motion and overly pads
from the ankle down and probably          on your tip toes across a long room?      (dulls) your proprioception. Runners
have or will go up in shoe size and, at   Now I am not here to tell you to throw    across the country are adopting a
some point, be convinced that             out every shoe that you discovered in     new “Chi” or “Barefoot” running style.
orthotics are the only hope you have      the above exercise. In fact, I will say   This involves running mechanics that
of being comfortable.                     that you can keep and wear them all       put much less stress on your legs, and
                                          and be ok. But only if you supplement     back. Read Chi Running for more on
Lets take this logic a step further. If   there use with footwear designed to       this.
you are weak and don’t like exercise,     strengthen your feet. So hold on to
you will get weaker, of course. As you                                              Dress footwear is often the biggest
                                          your arch supports and thick shoes,
get weaker, you may take to lying in a                                              stumbling block when it come to foot
                                          but lets start thinking of them as
hammock for a hobby and always                                                      strength shoes. My personal
                                          comfortable hammocks that you can
seek relaxing vacations. Next, comes                                                research on this is not finished but I
                                          walk in for relaxation, AFTER A NICE
injury, muscle fatigue, soreness, and                                               do have some strong
                                          WORKOUT IN YOUR NEW
finally various forms of temporary or                                                recommendations. I really like many
                                          STRENGTHENING FOOTWEAR.
even permanent convalesce.                                                          basketball high tops, but I know this
                                          So what is this new footwear and how      is impractical. Clark makes a dress
If you are thinking, “I’m already too     does it work? Currently Vibram Five       shoe called the Desoto. I really like
far gone and my feet will never be the    Finger shoes are leading the way in       the Desoto boot for all the reasons
same.” You may be right. But what’s       this category. They actually look like    that I like high tops, but this is a shoe
great about achieving foot strength is    a second skin for your feet and they      that can pass as a dress shoe. Please
that you don’t have to join a gym or      simulate barefoot walking with            see the list of dress shoes in this
pay big money for a special piece of      protection from sharp foreign objects.    article pack.
equipment to start. You simply have       This means you can wear them out -
                                        The Shoe that fits
                                          BEWARE OF ALL SHOE ADVERTISING
                                          You must heed the warning “beware
                                          of shoe advertising.” Many

         Vibram Five Finger

                                          companies will sell shoes under the
                                          guise of “unconstructed” or “natural”,

                    Nike Free

                                          but in reality, they are not really what
                                          they claim. We are not talking about


                                          increasing air flow or simply making

                  Terra Plana
                                          shoes lighter, we are talking about

     by Dr. Michael Horwitz
                                          making them work like your bare

                 Earth Shoes
                                          foot. Or at least allowing for your
By now you should have the idea that      barefoot to function more like a

        Clark Desoto boots
shoes can have two roles:                 barefoot.

                                          USE YOUR ORTHOTICS TO REST

         Clark Desoto shoes
1. To function as a comfortable
                                          YOUR FEET. DON’T BECOME
  relaxation device, fully or partially
                                          OVERLY DEPENDENT ON THEM.

                   Ugg boots
  supporting your arch, relaxing
  your tendons and padding your           Orthotics have a purpose. They
                                          control motion or accommodate for

                Flat Keds

2. To function as a foot and leg
                                          uniform pressure. They can help rest
                                          an injury and in some cases

 Addidas High tops

   strengthening device, allowing         greatly slow down some
   your foot motion to occur naturally    degenerative processes. They are     RX
   and without restriction. Allowing      usually used to prevent excessive    These shoes are the
                                                                                                   ones I
   for your leg muscles to fire in         pronation which can help with        personally recomme
                                                                                                   nd to
   stretched position and allowing you    balance and align the body.          strengthen feet. The
                                                                                                    V5’s are top
   to use your proprioceptive instincts   Thats good. So if your doctor       priority and should be
                                                                                                      the very first
   to balance and control your gait       says you should try orthotics,      choice. Earth Shoes,
                                                                                                    Terra Plana
   and movements.                         then try them! But if your          and Desoto boots are
                                                                                                    good for dress
                                          doctor fits you with orthotics       use and can be worn
                                                                                                   year around.
Because no shoe can be built with         and tells you not to worry about   Notice that none of the
both of these functions, you need to      loss of strength, then you need    mentioned shoes have
                                                                                                     any heel lift.
alternate your footwear so as to take     to find a new doctor. Ok.           That’s because stretc
                                                                                                   hing the
advantage of both. As you do this,                                           achilles tendon is ev
                                                                                                  erything when
you will see that the stronger your       If you are running for exercise,  it comes to achieving
foot gets, the more you will like being   then you need to read below.
in natural and unconstructed

YOUR RUNNING STYLE                          BAREFOOT STYLE RUNNING                               BAREFOOT RUNNING
Are you a barefoot style runner, or a       BOOKS                                                     GURU’S
heel to toe runner? If you already          Chi Running by Danny and Katherine Dreyer
                                            Run Training by Ken Merke                                 Ghisallo Running
run barefoot style in Nike Free,
Newton or Vibram Five Finger                                                                     606 North and South Road (at
shoes, then you are going to be                                                                   University City, MO 63130
running much longer than the “heel                                                                     314-727-4786
striking” heel to toe runners.                                                     
         Recommended Shoe Websites
    by Michael Horwitz, DPM
LEGS.                                      Next, I want you to look at the           Next is Terra Plana: Terra Plana |
As you surf these sites, you will see      Newtons: Newton Running - The             Ethical Shoes | Fashion Footwear. I
that many of the styles represented        Science of Motion. These are a great      really like the vivo barefoot line here.
here also boast realignment of the         design that will take a runner that is    Again, these shoes will take some
back muscles. The best way to              used to more conventional running         getting used to, but they are great for
purchase footwear is to actually go to     shoes and turn them into a chi            building strength and look cool too.
a store that has sales people that         runner.
know their stuff. I frequently refer
my patients to Ghisallo Running. The
web site is

                                           Now lets look at an up and coming
                                           running shoe that looks real good.
                                           Terra Plana | Ethical Shoes | Fashion
                                                                                     Now lets look at some more
                                           Footwear. The Evo may take off. Only
                                                                                     conventional builds. The Clark
                                           time will tell.
                                                                                     Desoto boot is a “mucker” that I really
                                                                                     like. The heel height and forefoot are
First let look at the Vibram Five                                                    a bit more padded making them a
Finger footwear. Vibram Five                                                         good transition shoe for people that
Fingers: Discover the Barefooting                                                    are currently undergoing treatment
Alternative. This design won Time                                                    for a foot condition. They will
Magazines invention of the year and                                                  increase strength. Search Results |
is proven. I believe everyone should                                                 Clarks Shoes | Powered by Zappos.
try a pair of these and wear them.
                                           Ok. Now it’s time to look at some
                                           companies that make shoes that will
                                           work for more dress up occations.
                                           The first is Earth: Earth Shoes:
                                           Comfortable Stylish Shoes, Exerfit,
                                           Health Shoe. These are built with a
                                           3.7 degree dorsiflextion allowing the
                                           achilles tendon to stretch and the
Now lets list the sites that feature the   shoulders and back to align. They
athletic and running models that are       may take getting used to, but they will   Finally, lets look at a shoe that should
barefoot. Nike Free models can be          passively stretch your achilles           have never gone out of style. The
seen here:          making them great for avoiding            Nike Cortez. This is a case of “they
They seem to be popular because of         tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.         had it right the first time!” Now it’s
the more conventional look.                                                          back and may once again dominate.
             One last bit of advice

Your feet will only get stronger if you actually
spend time on your feet in the shoes. Initially,
  you might not feel so comfortable wearing
 them, but as your feet get stronger, you will
    get used to using your muscles again.

Please view my video series on this important
subject at : http:\\

   Note: Newton also has some good info on
getting used to barefoot footwear that is worth
   Newton Running - Adjusting to the Shoes

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