We need cushioning, and support, don't we? With our shoes and with our heads, in athletic endeavors, protection is key, or is it?
Head trauma in sports is a given. In american football, much science and development has been put into the helmet, which hasn't decreased rates of concussions and traumatic brain injury at all.
Does this sound similar? The same development and research has been applied to shoes (especially running shoes), but this hasn't decreased the rate of foot and running injuries.
Like orthotics, supportive shoes and cushioned mats have become the norm in workplaces, and we haven't seen overuse injuries in the lower extremity decrease either.
Why is this?!
A football helmet may decrease the perception and immediate result of high impact forces, but it doesn't decrease the rate of injury. The same can be said of shoes.
The key is that the helmet decreases the perception of injury rate and mitigates the immediate result. The same can be applied to shoes. An obese person can walk with horrible form on the hardest man-made surfaces for months and possibly years with no ill result, but the cumulative impacts of this are comparable to head shots to a boxer or years of hard hits to a football player in a helmet. It is not until soft tissue damage is at a chronic and nearly irreversible level that people take notice.
When the typical overweight modern man walks barefoot, he can barely tolerate it. Though he can almost certainly remember a time in his childhood when this was not the case.
If you ask a football player to take off his helmet and make the same hits without it, he could not possibly fathom doing so.
The idea is the perception of safety that helmets (and shoes) creates. Even with shoes, the impact is still there with our feet, and we exacerbate that with poor mechanics and increased body weight as well as poor walking surfaces.
Wearing a helmet and taking repeated hard hits to the head may not initially feel traumatic, but it certainly is in the long term. Wearing a comfortable shoe that initially mitigates the effect of footstrike, that makes us complacent and comfortable in the short term, will end in poor form and overuse injuries akin to head trauma in football players.
Going barefoot or in minimal shoes will naturally cause us to focus on form and movement patterns that mitigate the effects of overuse trauma. Big bulky shoes may initially protect us from this trauma, but they also make us complacent allowing for massive weight gain and poor movement patterns that exacerbate this impact over the long term.
We are products of evolution. We did not evolve to live in a world of endless food. We did not evolve in a world of concrete and couches. These are the denizens of modern medicine. We ignore this because money and drug companies are the drivers of modern medical research. Biology and evolution should be the drivers of medical research. If you continue to rely on drugs and orthotics, many modern diseases and foot ailments will continue to be the bane of your existence. If you begin to look at these problems in an evolutionary perspective and understand that your own health takes work on your part, you will find answers and solutions.