Educational Articles

Rigid Soles

Posted By Robyn Hughes, ND

Disclaimer:

The above content is for educational or informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or augment professional medical instruction, diagnosis, or treatment. Read full disclaimer here.

Essential Footgear:

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Comments
June 01, 2016
John

I was amused to read about the hazards of hard soles when that is exactly what I am seeking for my bicycle adventures. The rat-trap pedals hurt my feet when they dig through the soft rubber soles. I remember when shoes were hard leather soled. I can’t use modern bike shoes due to the silly straps atop them. I use toe clips, which means I must insert the toe of my shoe without hindrance.

June 01, 2016
Natural Footgear

Hi, John,

Thank you for your message and for checking out our article about rigid soles! I would suggest trying out the Topo Sante (a current shoe offering on the Natural Footgear site). It incorporates a Boa closure system and is a good option for flat-pedal cycling, as it has a slightly stiffer sole than some of our other offerings. In addition, instead of “rat-trap” pedals, have you heard of Power Grips? This is a great product for cyclists who want to stick with (or shift to) flat pedals. Also, you might like this article about cycling shoe surgery:

www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17861648-cycling-shoe-surgery

Wishing you the best in foot health, and please let us know if you have any questions.

Kind regards,
Laura Trentman

August 26, 2016
Dan

My understanding is that rigid soles are actually a good thing for people with a Morton’s neuroma because they keep the foot from flexing and pinching the nerve.

August 26, 2016
Natural Footgear

Hi, Dan,

Thank you for your comment. There are two principle forces that cause neuromas to develop in any part of the body, including the foot:

1. Pinch forces
2. Stretch forces

Wearing conventional footwear subjects the foot to both these forces via tapering toe boxes (pinch) and heel elevation and toe spring (stretch). So, the nerves in the ball of the foot are already vulnerable in conventional footwear, and then adding rigid soles into the mix increases the pressure on the nerves (and other sensitive ball of foot structures) that much more.

Here are some resources that you might find helpful if you want to dive deeper into the topic of neuromas:

Neuromas eCourse:
www.naturalfootgear.com/pages/do-you-have-foot-pain

Neuromas & Natural Foot Health:
www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17888880-neuromas-natural-foot-health

Neuromas: Conventional vs. Natural Approaches:
www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17888868-neuromas-conventional-vs-natural-approaches

I hope this info helps!

Kind regards,
Laura Trentman

February 22, 2021
Mark Stone

I have been diagnosed with Capsulitis in my feet, and the podiatrist recommended getting shoes with inflexible soles, such as Kuru or FitFlop. Both caused extreme pain on top of the arch of my feet. Is there a better shoe that you can recommend?

February 22, 2021
Natural Footgear

Thank you for reaching out to us, Mark. We have found that, when it comes to capsulitis, wearing shoes with a completely flat sole from heel to toe and a sufficiently wide toe box to allow for natural toe splay will help take focal pressure off the ball of the foot and enable natural arch support. All the footwear we feature on the Natural Footgear site includes the above-mentioned design features and creates the kind of environment for the foot that helps heal the injured joint capsule. Of course, there are a number of other things you can do for capsulitis as well, and this article discusses all the various natural methods for addressing this common foot problem:

www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/educational-articles/capsulitis

Please give this article a look and let us know if you have any other questions!

All the best,
Robyn Hughes, ND

February 23, 2021
Byrne Owens

I suffered from a metatarsal stress fracture due to running in Vibram FiveFingers shoes on concrete. I won’t deny this was a foolish decision, and I won’t condemn flexible shoes because of it. But I had a very difficult recovery and it appears the injury is returning. My foot doctor at UCLA insists I wear rigid-soled shoes and orthotics, which seems counterintuitive, but with this pain, I don’t want to take chances or argue. While I understand your goal here, can you offer some insight on this debate with regards to stress fractures? Do you have customers who have recovered from injuries by NOT adhering to the traditional stiff-soled shoe method? Thanks for your help!

February 23, 2021
Natural Footgear

Hi, Byrne,

Thank you for your message. To give you a little background on the subject: Prior to the Vibram FiveFingers lawsuit and the widespread introduction of minimalist running and walking shoes—many of which were not actually foot-healthy, by the way, due to the inclusion of tapering toe boxes—most podiatrists did not blame stress fractures on footwear; instead, they blamed them on overloading of the bone and called it a training error. So, too much, too soon. As soon as stress fractures were observed in minimalist, barefoot, or natural shoe wearers, many in the podiatric community immediately began blaming the shoes and ignoring the obvious training error that occurred as a result of the improper transition to the new footwear.

Now, there are a few interesting observations to note here, including the fact that lots of stress fractures occur in runners who run in stiff-soled shoes and orthotics. In fact, most stress fractures occur in this group, since those who run in minimalist or functional footwear are still a very small number overall. Also, there is no medical literature that shows that stiff-soled shoes and orthotics prevent stress fractures in runners. If stiff soles and orthotics actually helped prevent stress fractures in runners, we should never see runners who use stiff-soled footwear and orthotics develop a stress fracture! Yet, as already mentioned, this group of runners endures significantly more stress fractures than those who run in more natural footwear.

If a person has a stress fracture, he or she should undergo a period of immobilization to allow the affected bone to heal. In some cases, that might involve a cast, a cast boot walker, a postoperative shoe, or maybe an orthotic. But this phase of the recovery should never involve the use of the kind of stiff-soled running shoe that we are all too familiar with (you know, the ones with heel elevation, toe spring, toe box taper, etc.), as this type of shoe selectively overloads the metatarsophalangeal joints, which are an extremely common location for stress fractures to occur (especially the 2nd metatarsal).

So, I hope this answers your question. Please do let us know if you have any follow-up questions; we’re happy to help out however we can!

All the best,
Robyn Hughes, ND

June 08, 2021
wolfie

Unfortunately, I must have a rigid sole for my one partial “drop foot.” That way, it will hold the foot up during the step so I do not trip. I’m having a terrible time finding hard soles that also include cushioning (the cushioning helps the drop foot, as it hits harder on the ground than with normal walkers).

June 08, 2021
Natural Footgear

Hi, wolfie,

Thank you for your comment. If we think of anything that might be appropriate for your needs, we will certainly let you know!

Kind regards,
Robyn Hughes, ND

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