I see that Earth Shoes are making a comeback. This footwear line was developed in 1957 by Anne Kalsø, a Danish yoga instructor, and they first appeared in the US in 1970. The design is characterized by a so-called “negative heel” – the heel is lower than the toes.
The problem is that the shoe places the Achilles tendon on stretch, which can lead to injury of this tendon – when the design became popular years ago, many athletes found that using those “jump shoes” with elevated toes caused injury to the Achilles. A colleague of mine at a Division I college tried using them on several dozen football players, but the experiment was quickly terminated due to so many complaints of extreme pain in the Achilles.
Another problem is that the shoe design alters the biomechanics of the foot so that the arch does not absorb shock, thus increasing the stress on the knees and lower back.
As for the theory that wearing these shoes promotes calf development, I would say no. These shoes don’t increase the load on the calf muscles, so there is no additional growth stimulation.
Considering the problems these shoes caused the first time around, it’s no surprise they faded from the market years ago. What is surprising – and alarming – is why they are back now, like zombies. I say let them stay buried.
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