Upgrade Spotlight: Find Your Footing with Minimalist Footwear
Steven Sashen / Xero Shoes
Your feet are made to bend, flex, move and feel the world. Discover shoes that let them have fun.
In this Episode of The Human Upgrade™...
…you’re listening to a new Upgrade Spotlight series based on what you told me you wanted to hear on this podcast. On one Friday each month, these shorter episodes will feature guests who’ll get right into useful information in a Q&A style.
You’ll find out how to improve your energy and upgrade your performance. You’ll also get the latest knowledge about powerful tools and technologies that allow you to change your biology and the environment around you.
Introducing Xero Shoes! During this Upgrade Spotlight, you’ll learn how minimalist footwear reduces injury, improves foot strength and supports healthy feet. You’ll learn that getting grounded is a good thing.
Today’s guest—serial entrepreneur Steven Sashen—is a competitive sprinter. He knows the mechanics of human feet. He also knows what it feels like to move in shoes that suck.
So, he and his wife, Lena Phoenix, founded the footwear company Xero Shoes. They ran headlong into shoe history and shoe science to intentionally create “a MOVEMENT movement” of people with happy, healthy, strong feet in addictively comfortable footwear.
“A quarter of the bones and joints of your whole body are in your feet and ankles,” Steven says. “They’re supposed to bend and move and flex just like any other joint. If you’re wearing shoes that don’t let them do that, that function tries unsuccessfully to move into your ankle, your knee, your hip and your back joints. Those joints aren’t built for those micro motions that keep you balanced, that give you agility and mobility.”
“The reason that being on your feet all day can hurt is if you're wearing something that doesn't let your feet do what they're supposed to do.”
Steven Sashen, Co-Founder of Xero Shoes
Research published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in 2021, “Stepping Back to Minimal Footwear: Applications Across the Lifespan,” examined evolutionary drivers and mismatches related to footwear and resulted in three distinct categories:
- First, cushioned (elastic) soles slow the rate of loading at impact and decrease sensory perception,
- Second, these supportive shoes reduce the demand on the foot muscles, which can result in weaker feet.
- Third, structured shoes alter foot mechanics.
Your feet, and by design the rest of your body, knows something’s off with cushioned shoes. So does Steven.
“The value of natural movement, the importance of foot health, and all the things that relate to foot health got me going,” he says. “But what really catalyzed it was discovering that what the footwear industry has been doing for 50 years is lying to people– selling people on ideas that they know don’t work, but they can’t pull back. They can’t tell a different story, because they’ve been promoting this story for so long about arch support, motion control, padding, cushioning, etc.”
That ACSM study went on to show that minimal footwear leads to improved musculoskeletal health across your lifetime.
“It’s all about natural motion,” Steven explains. “Our ancestors didn’t have a problem being on their feet all day, every day. It wasn’t because they’re different from us, it was just that they got used to using their feet correctly. We can still do that any day, anytime, any of age.”
Enjoy the show!
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- There’s a lot of people who are walking around saying, “My feet are fine,” they’re probably not. 00:59
- When did you decide that shoes were your passion? – 3:39
- But what really catalyzed it was discovering that what the footwear industry has been doing for 50 years is lying to people, is selling people on ideas that they know don’t work, but they can’t pull back. – 5:08
- A lot of people say, “I tried running in barefoot, but it didn’t work.” What’s your take on that? – 7:02
- A lot of people haven’t heard of something called proprioception and this is your body’s sense and your brain sense, but they’re different sense networks of where you are in space. – 10:53
- Faking people out and saying, “Isn’t this great? You want something springy,” but it’s not springy. It’s sucky. It literally sucks energy. There’s no such thing as energy return. There’s only how much energy suck you get. – 14:44
- Can you switch from like a Xero shoes for a night out on the town or something? – 19:17
- The reason that being on your feet all day can hurt is if you’re wearing something that doesn’t let your feet do what they’re supposed to do. – 22:22
- FYI, arch height is predominantly genetic. Arch strength is a whole different story. The strength is the most important thing, not arch height. – 30:36
- What you want to be doing is landing with your foot more underneath your center of mass. Another way to think about it, is when you’re landing, if your ankle is behind your knee, closer to your body than your knee, then you’re probably landing correctly and using your muscles, ligaments, tendons correctly. – 34:22
- Now, there’s three things that I’ve learned to look for. I want you to vet this list. – 37:11