Dylan Ratigan Show   |  October 19, 2010

Are shoes bad for your health?

Town Square: Prof. Daniel Howell explains why he’s advising anyone who will listen to cast off their shoes.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> hazardous to your health, your brain. one says his research shows shoes are bad for you, your mind, your relationships with other people and is advising everyone to free your feet, peop people. joining us now, the barefoot professor, daniel howell. he's written a book at the movement called "the barefoot book 50 great reasons to kick off your shoes." i'm already in your camp. what are your five best reasons?

>> oh, my goodness. just five? shoes deform your feet. shoes cause bunions. flat foot and fallen arches . athlete's foot and toenail fungus.

>> have you ever seen a shine that says, no shoes, no shirt, no service?

>> yes.

>> discrimination?

>> in a way, i do. i think it goes back to the hiph hippie movement when they were trying to keep people out who were undesirable. we've moved beyond that, i think. before the break, you used the term, barefoot revolution. i love that because i think there is a revolution underway. barefoot running has become a phenomenon. in the book, i extend that and say, going barefoot is not only good for you when you run, but when you walk, when you stand.

>> what about broken glass and gunk?

>> it's not as much gunk as most people think. a lot of people who wear shoes all the time, over estimate the hazards of glass, of gunk on the sidewalk. you know, your eyes are a great tool. they're really good at helping you watch where you step and you'll be okay.

>> so -- is there any evidence to support the shoed movement? in other words, is this nothing more than a special interest , the shoe lobby, i suspect, selling shoes by selling us lies as children that we need shoes to protect our feet from disease and harm?

>> well, there's definitely been a lot of pressure on children, for example, growing up, you have shoe companies endorsing athletes and putting millions into this. it creates the culture of shoe obsession, we're addicted to shoes, and it has kept us in our shoes from childhood to adulthood. we need to get out of them more often for the health of our feet. it can save your feet from some damage. strengthen your feet, the muscles and make your healthier overall.

>> does it affect your psychology?

>> you know what? it's a little bit of a stresh, but there's some evidence that walking barefoot and hiking out in the dirt, there are micro organisms beneficial to us. it's been shown scientifically that exposure increases seratonin levels in the brain, which elevates your mood.

>> what does your mother think about this?

>> she's gotten used to it. she was a little hesitant at first and like so many other mothers and doctors and teachers and camp counselors, what we need to hear and what is -- what people are beginning to realize is that overuse of shoes is harming up and we need to spend time walking and running barefoot . i've been really pleased at how well the medical community has received the book.

>> i'm pleased you've got such a book and excuse my barefoot anchoring of this program.