©2007 Mark B. Anstendig

In teaching people how to walk correctly, everything centers on keeping the feet flat on the ground and using the ankle joint to change the angle of the legs to the feet. This, the keeping of the feet flat on the ground as one walks, quite logically provides ultimate stability for the body. Even specialized disciplines like men’s ballet and Tai Chi base their stability on the feet being flat on the ground and the ankle compensating for the changing angles of the legs to the body.

Suddenly, in recent years, the shoe designing industry has gone astray in its logic: with quite wrong logic devoid of understanding of how the body works best, they have designed their shoes with curved up soles, meant to help propel the person on his/her way when walking. In other words, the designers are trying to help further the heel-toe action of most people when they walk. But that put-the-heel-down-first then shift the weight to the toe in order to push off from the forward toe part of the foot is a wrong way of walking. It is totally unstable, with the body’s weight always unbalanced and never solidly anchored on the ground, and this heel-toe walking is prone to many kinds of accidents from the off-balance nature of such walking.

When disciplines like Yoga, Zen, The Path of Liberation, etc., are taught, the first things one learns are correct posture, correct breathing, and correct walking.

Learning to walk correctly, in the most stable, rational way, demands a complete re-learning of how to walk for most people.

Heel-toe walking is a non-rational, illogical mistake, which, like most things developed in early childhood that have to be re-taught as we grow up, comes naturally to the undisciplined, badly brought up, untrained human being. Such ways of walking are thrown out completely in any disciplines that demand stability, such as the already mentioned ballet dancer who is not “au point” and often has to support a woman who is “au point” or even lift her; the Tai Chi master who needs absolute stability on the ground; Kung fu; karate; etc.

When one walks heel-toe, one’s body and body-weight are always in flux, never stable, never “grounded”, and always off-balance. At least shoes with flat soles help direct the walking towards some small amount of stability with the surface walked on. Curving the sole upwards removes all stable relationship with the surface on which one is walking. It is a huge mistake in clothing design of any sort and will lead to many bad physical results that will probably not even be traced to the type of shoe.

Clothing designers should leave well enough alone in their designs until they learn exactly how the body really works. Not how the masses of people happen to use the body. Because the masses of people have absolutely no training in rational use of the body. Nor do many in sports, it would seem.