Wearing shoes impairs intellectual development


Its Sunday, I not feeling too well and am not up to writing something serious. I needed another loon to ridicule. I was wondering what to write about, then I remembered this from many years ago that gave us a good laugh at the time:

Among the untold problems that wearing shoes can impose in the developing child is the impact on the brain. From a baby’s very first delicate steps, each walking and running gait pattern significantly influences brain development. These actions affect lifelong patterns in the nervous system, even beyond the gait and balance mechanisms—they include postural habits, the ability to compensate to physical stresses, and the growth of muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and other tissues. Normally, with each muscle contraction and relaxation, and every joint movement, important neurological patterns are created by the brain, just like with any memory. Shoes distort this process, and instead, the brain learns and designs irregular patterns of movement throughout the body.
In addition, other areas of the brain can be impaired. Normally, during early development in children, all the important neurological input from body movements trigger increased blood flow throughout the brain. This brings in oxygen and many other necessary nutrients to promote growth and development in areas that include learning, speech, and memory. Without the natural muscle contraction in the feet, for example, especially in the very small immature muscles that move the toes, impairment from wearing thick, oversupported modern shoes can reduce the brain maturing process.

The short version: wearing soft shoes impairs intellectual development. How many logical fallacies can you see in those two paragraphs? The wishful thinking fallacy is prominent (ie just state something and wish it was true and hope others will believe you). You would have thought that if you are going to make a statement like that, then there might just be at least the tiniest shred of evidence to support it. There isn’t. Given that this is the same author that wrote the recent book on the 1:59 marathon and has a track record of promoting easily debunked pseudoscience and quackery then you would not be surprised at this. You know, never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

If shoe wearing impairs intellectual development, then the non-shoe wearing populations should be reaching higher intellectual heights than shoe wearing populations. How do you say in a politically correct way that they aren’t? All of the greatest intellectual achievements since we have had shoes has been achieved by someone wearing shoes … go figure.

As one wag¹ pointed out to me at the time this was published, the author must have had an overdose of cushioned shoes as a child to have come up with this!

As always: I go where the evidence takes me until convinced otherwise … and I guess all those doing so well in their Hoka’s just aren’t smart enough to realize that they should not being do so well 😉

1. Thanks EF

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2 Responses to Wearing shoes impairs intellectual development

  1. Nick Jenkins September 21, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    Another classic from “Dr” Maximum aerobic function, Maffetone, where not a shred of supporting evidence for any of his claims is necessary.

    • Craig Payne September 22, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

      Yep. This was published by him in 2011 when the interest in barefoot running was probably at its peak. It was this kind of nonsense along with the claims of things like those by Barefoot Micheal that he used less petrol in his car when driving barefoot that lead to so much ridiculing of the ‘movement’. And now given that so many are latching onto the grounding/earthing thing, they not doing themselves any credit if they want to be taken seriously.

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