On a rare relaxing weekend that included watching television (which consists of a digital antennae that allows us to receive 4 channels here in Ellsworth Maine. Fortunately, not one, but two of those channels are PBS), I happened to come across a Globetrekker episode highlighting Papua New Guinea, with which I fell in love. Vacation huts on the beach with empty surf breaks in 80 degree water, mountain treks and cycling trips among a largely still traditional society. The host, an American, wore some type of hybrid watershoe/hiking shoe at all times. Except for one. He went fishing in a lagoon with children, all of whom were barefoot. Only one could barely walk in the water without pain. Obviously that was our host, and he was a very fit, young man. And his footsies were so tender he could barely walk on the surfaces these children were sprinting on. Most of the adults he encountered were barefoot or wearing thin sandals. I did not see a bunion among the bunch. These were some impressive feet, and this is what I hope we will embrace in foot health in America. One of the exercises I encourage my patients to perform is the "Laird Hamilton Foot Torture," which I took from an interview I read with him several years ago. This consists of plantar foot massage on a golf ball under full bodyweight. Obviously, for nearly everyone, this takes some time to work up to. This man is a rarity in western society; A person with strong feet. On a later interview with a colleague of Hamilton's, the writer expressed fascination with his ability to scale a technical mountain in flip flops. Why? Why do podiatrists whip out the cross and silver bullets every spring and summer when people start living in flip flops? They are not inherently the problem, it's your WEAK FEET! Not only are westerners feet overly weak and sensitive, they likely lie under an overweight body. This is the reason my profession only exists in countries like the US, the UK and other former colonies. It is the reason why the US military could be crippled with the lack of one item--not weaponry, but shoes. Steven Robbins, a Canadian MD, whose scientific body on the benefits of being barefoot is impressive, but far from extolled, also explains reasoning for the use of modern shoes. It began with the Middle Ages plague and the belief that disease was spread through bare feet (an assumption that remains until today with very little evidence). This lead to widespread shoe wearing. This also lead, he posits, to obesity. The shoe allows us to obviously bear more weight on more uncomfortable surfaces, though the potential for damage from those surfaces still exists. Shoes at the same time became staus symbols, and still remain so today. These ideas outweight the scope of this post, so I digress. My point remains the same from the beginning of this website: our feet are weak, and this is at least partly to blame for many foot problems. To see a young, athletic man, incapable of the simple act of walking with young children in Papua New Guinea is eyeopening. Now, someone get me a travel show on PBS, so I can study and highlight natural foot health in those currently living it!