I’m catching up with Mark Sisson today about one very important facet of ancestral living—minimalist footwear.
This episode will give you all the information you need to know about the barefoot lifestyle and how it helps us become more integrated into proprioception (how we orient ourselves in the world relative to everything around us). You’ll also learn all about Mark’s latest passion project and how his search for the perfect (but still stylish) minimalist footwear led him to Peluva.
Once you learn how most modern shoes make it possible for us to bypass the sensory input at the bottoms of our feet that informs our brains and the benefits of wearing minimalist footwear, you won’t ever go back to conventional shoes again.
Our feet have 10,000 nerves there to sense the ground under our feet to help orient ourselves in the world. When we wear padded shoes, we lose that sensitivity. [02:36]
The invention of the high-tech running shoe did not reduce the number of injuries. [04:45]
Peluva shoes are minimalist shoes with five toes but with more cushion and circulation in the foot. [10:38]
We need the feedback from those 10,000 nerves to keep our balance and it is nullified when you put on those protective padded shoes. The foot impact lessens but the injuries then go to hip and knees. [12:00]
When we walk, we are supposed to walk heel to toe but when we run it is different with the lead on the midfoot. [13:17]
The Peluvas are not designed to be a running shoe. [16:25]
These shoes have cushioning you don’t see in other five-toed shoes. [20:03]
One of the key tenets of any minimalist shoes is they have zero drop which means there is little difference between the heel height and the forefoot. [26:34]
Why can Brad jump high in the Peluva shoes than in regular basketball shoes? [32:14]
Why should a regular person, not an athlete, wear these shoes? Because they are the most comfortable shoes you’ll ever wear.
You have to acclimate your feet to begin wearing these shoes. It’s hard to get the toes in the first time! [39:58]
Mark thinks it would be ideal for everyone to go barefoot, but in the absence of that, wear Peluvas. [48:18]
There are still people who advocate for a maximal shoe with maximal support and cushioning. [52:03]
- Brad Kearns.com
- Brad’s Shopping page
- Move Your DNA
- Abebe Bikila
- The Primal Blueprint
We appreciate all feedback, and questions for Q&A shows, emailed to email@example.com. If you have a moment, please share an episode you like with a quick text message, or leave a review on your podcast app. Thank you!
Check out each of these companies because they are absolutely awesome or they wouldn’t occupy this revered space. Seriously, Brad won’t promote anything he doesn’t absolutely love and use in daily life.
- Mito Red Light: Photobiomodulation light panels to enhance cellular energy production, improve recovery, and optimize circadian rhythm. Use code BRAD for 5% discount!
- NutriSense: Continuous glucose monitor and 1:1 expert support to help optimize diet choices and lifestyle behaviors. $30 B.rad discount!
- Marek Health: Comprehensive lab testing and expert tele-health support for peak performance. Use code “BRAD” for 10% discount!
- Plunge: Sensational custom-designed home cold plunge with filtered, circulating water, custom temperature setting, and sleek design. Save $150 with code BRAD
- LMNT Electrolyte Drink Mix: Tasty, sugar-free, scientifically formulated electrolyte drink mix with everything you need and nothing you don’t. Free sample pack, just click the link!
- B.rad Whey + Creatine Superfuel: Premium quality, all-natural supplement for peak performance, recovery, and longevity
- Male Optimization Formula with Organs (MOFO): Optimize testosterone naturally with 100% grassfed animal organ supplement
- Brad’s Macadamia Masterpiece: Mind-blowing, life-changing nut butter blend
- Online educational courses: Numerous great offerings for an immersive home-study educational experience
Check out my Favorites page for discounts on other great products!
Welcome to the B.rad podcast, where we explore ways to pursue peak performance with passion throughout life without taking ourselves too seriously. I’m Brad Kearns, New York Times bestselling author, former number three, world ranked professional triathlete and Guinness World Record Masters athlete. I connect with experts in diet, fitness, and personal growth, and deliver short breather shows where you get simple, actionable tips to improve your life right away. Let’s explore beyond the hype hacks, shortcuts, and sciencey talk, to laugh, have fun and appreciate the journey. It’s time to B.rad.
Catching up with Mark Sisson. What a pleasure. And always something new and interesting to talk about.
Yeah, It’s always a pleasure, and I think we’re gonna have some, some, some good, uh, conversation today about a whole new concept.
So, uh, as many people know, this primal enterprise has been going strong since the, really the beginning of the ancestral health movement that you helped kickstart and the Primal Blueprint, the, the company. Then the Primal Kitchen was started, and now it’s part of a major Kraft Heinz operation. It’s on the shelves in all the stores. And a great journey for you. Uh, you’re still involved, but yeah, you’re kind of on to the next thing. And now, um, after some time in the, in the dark, we can freely discuss Mark Sisson’s new business venture.
Yeah. So, you know, I’ve, you go back to, you know, co co-authoring the Primal Blueprint with me back in 2008 and nine, and it came out in 10. And all along we were talking about all manner of ancestral living, which was not just diet and exercise, but sleep and sun exposure and play. And, we both got very involved in this concept of, uh, minimalist shoes or the barefoot lifestyle, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And the idea that, that, uh, we evolved to be barefoot. We evolved to be covering ground as bipedal organisms with sensory input into the bottoms of our feet that would inform our brains of how to how much to load the foot, how to bend the ankle, how to bend the knee, how to torque the hip, how to flex the different muscles to absorb shock, whether it was walking, climbing, descending, running.
And so we, in fact, you and I wrote a book, <laugh> that we never published, but we wrote an ebook a bunch of years ago, Amazing Feets, on this idea of developing that skill, that ability that our feet have to become much more integrated into the concept of proprioception, which basically describes how we orient ourselves in this world, how we know where we are relative to everything around us in this world. Well, when we’re barefoot mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we have that sensory input, we have that proprioception, we have that ability to the 10,000 nerves in, in each of our feet, that sense the ground underneath are able to inform the brain of the give the information so that when we do finally make that stride forward, everything is already prepared to happen. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Now, the problem is, over the last, you know, several centuries when we’ve been wearing shoes, we sort of bypass that sensory input.
So over the years, we’ve created these amazing shoes that are great looking and sturdy and cushioned, comfortable and comfortable and, you know, cloud-like in their in the benefits that they confer to people who are looking for, you know, the ability to walk softly and whatever, but they bypass all of that important information, and they scrunch our feet together. And so people tend to get foot issues. I mean, I read a thing the American Pediatric Association said that some 77% of people complain of foot pain throughout their life. And, and some major subset of that has like, major issues that require some intervention, whether it’s orthotics or surgery or physical therapy. So, with all of its that’s going on with, with footwear, here I enter the picture as a runner in the late sixties, early seventies, and I’m running, 40, 50 miles a week as an endurance athlete, as a distance runner.
Why didn’t I run more? Well, my feet were what told me when to stop. I couldn’t run more because I had these very thin, minimalist shoes that Sort of told me, look, it’s time to stop. Yeah. In the seventies, Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman introduce, you know, the Nike trainers, these thick, you know, waffle soul, big cushion shoes, which enabled people to run like myself to run 80, 90, a hundred, 110, 150 miles a week. Now the feet weren’t hurting very much, but then it bypassed all that information, and the rest of the rest of the body took the brunt of the force and the stress. So people got knee problems, and they got hip problems, and they got all sorts of other problems. So the invention of the high tech running shoe did not reduce the number of injuries over time.
So, um, I went along with that for the longest period of time, I ran a lot. I, you know, I cycled in tight cycling shoes. I play ultimate Frisbee and cleats. You have a whole closet full of shoes. But I was never, you know, I was never, that comfortable in, in the shoes, and I still got injuries. So I knew that there had to be a way to, you know, I, I was one of the early adopters of the first five towed shoe back in 2006 and 2007. I thought it was great invention, a minimal shoe, five toes. You wanna articulate the toes, not just, not just give the toe box room to move sideways, laterally, but up and down to be able to feel the surfaces that you’re going over. And that company did a fairly decent job of creating a brand of a five toed shoe, but it was ugly.
I’m sorry. It was ugly. And I, I couldn’t wear it outside the gym. And I, I tried, and I tried to, I tried to work with them to create something over the years. Finally, after I sold, the company, after I sold Primal Kitchen to Kraft, I’m like, okay, now I’m gonna really focus on creating the dream shoe, the shoe, I always wanted this for myself. One that would give me that individual toe articulation, the up and down movement, and the lateral movement would also create a little bit of more cushioning. Not so much like one centimeter total mm-hmm. <affirmative> of what we call stack height, that was wide thin, flat and flexible enough so that it was, it was functional as a minimal shoe, but also that had some style that, that blended kind of this minimalist sole with an attractive upper and gave it the combination of comfort number one, function and style,
And the journey’s just starting now. Uh, so exciting because again, you’re kind of doing this upstream swimming venture. There’s so much momentum, and we’ve been programmed so strongly to go and look for the most cushioned, sturdy, supportive shoe so that you won’t get injured. And I’m talking about, of course, the athletic population, but also the people on their feet, the nurses, the warehouse workers, and we’re just trying to continue to invent more ways to ease the strain on the foot of freaking taking steps and walking. So I think we need to back up a little bit and, and unwind this. One thing that came to mind when you were, you were talking about how humans are made to, you know, locomote across the earth with walking the ultimate form. Dan Millman said in, his book, The Inner Athlete, you know, what the greatest human athletic achievement is, is the baby taking his first steps. Because by physical calculation, scientific calculation, we should not be able to balance all this much weight on things that are only 12 inches long on each side. It’s a miracle that humans can walk. And you see, when a baby’s first take you, you got your grandkids, have they taken their first steps yet? Oh, yeah. I mean, the younger one kind. Yeah, yeah,
Yeah. No, he’s running all over the house.
Yeah. But those, those first steps when he was trying, yeah. You forget like, oh my gosh, he falls left. He falls, right. He falls forward, he falls backward. It’s like, wow. It’s
A miracle, miracle that we can want. No, it’s just like a segue, right? It’s a miracle <laugh>. No, it one other animal, I mean, you know, you usually like, this is on a tripod, three legs, you know, most animals are quadraped, they have four legs, but to be on two, you know, you really have to balance becomes, you know, we, we take it for granted. But much of that balance comes from this concept of proprioception, of being able to feel the ground underneath and understand what position to bend our knee in and bend our and flexor ankle. And, so it’s, it’s a real interesting, um, you know, uh, evolutionary challenge that we’ve overcome with these amazing feet that we have. And then we encase them in these, you know, casts that have this much thick soul and, and provide zero input.
Yeah. And it’s almost like we’re now, we’re like clumping around earth, you know, in these boxes that we’ve created, these, these shoes versus, you know, springing and lightly stepping and, and, uh, loading and unloading as we move through the earth and across the earth in a way that, that, that most closely approximate how we evolved. So my challenge was, you know, how do I create a barefoot experience mm-hmm. <affirmative> with a good-looking shoe that people will wanna wear, um, not just in the gym, but walking and going to work and going out to dinner and going to the club. And, and we’ve, you know, we’ve come up with six different styles. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, the name of the company is Peluva, P E L U V A.
Was that Portuguese by any chance? <laugh>? Well, it comes from, it comes from Pe which is foot in Luva, which is glove in Portuguese.
But it’s a made up name. And, and we trademarked it. And, you know, we, it, it, we love the name. We love the way it kind of rolls off the tongue. And, it’s gotten a lot of traction, as they say in the industry, <laugh>, uh, so far. So there are a lot of people who are already, who are using the shoes in various, you know, configurations, uh, whether it’s in the gym, lifting heavyweights, or, you know, doing some of the, uh, knee over toes guy, uh, sort of backwards walking, or the Brad Kearns of the world doing sprint drills, you know, or people who are in, uh, the workplace nurses are wearing, one of the versions of our shoes in the workplace because they’re on their feet all day and they want, it’s, it’s not just about the cushioning, but the fact that you can, they can spread the toes out a little bit, or not only gives you a, a sturdier platform, but it allows for circulation in the foot. Mm-hmm. Which is a big thing. And it allows for this, this articulation sideways, the big toes. So many people spend their lives with their big toe being compressed, angled into a shoe when it should be more kind of spread out. And, it’s that big toe that should be guiding the push off, say, uh, when you, when you walk. But we sort of, you know, we use usurp its authority by encasing it in something <laugh>, and then just saying, okay, the whole foot’s gonna move as one.
So we’ll talk more about the confusion, controversy, the backlash about minimalist shoes that have happened in, in recent years as they became popular 15 plus years ago. But I think we gotta focus on this proprioception concept. Katy Bowman talks about it a lot. And the difference between that baby taking their first steps with those 10,000 nerve endings, feeling and sending those signals to the central nervous system, if I’m saying it correctly. But the general insight is that we need that feedback desperately to figure out how to balance and not fall over to the left, fall over to the right. And then it’s nullified to whatever degree you’re gonna nullify it a little bit when you put on a protective barefoot style shoe, but if you get a big hiking boot or something. Right. The, the thing that’s really interesting to me, and the research on running shoe injuries and running injuries in general, is that the impact is now dispersed away from the foot and the achilles tendon, which are built to handle that. And, and the metatarsals. And now your foot feels better in a way, like you experience more miles, but now you’re getting jarring impact your proprioception sucks. So your form could be compromised by that. And then what’s happening in the rest of the body. Right. Well, from your cushy shoes
From your cushy shoes and cushy shoes over the years have prompted an entire generation of runners to just be heels strikers. Right. <laugh>. And, and we’re supposed to be sort of midfoot runners. Mm-hmm. Um, and that doesn’t mean that everybody should run on their toes all the time, but the the advent of this overly cushioned thick maximal shoe allows people to, like, you’re supposed to walk heel to toe. That’s right. You walk heel toe.
So, big distinction important. We’re supposed to walk heel toe. Right. But walking and running are two different categories of movement.
And we’re supposed to run, not heel to toe, but rather
With a lead on the midfoot. So, you know, it doesn’t, your heel can touch, but it sort of leads with the midfoot. And if you look at, you know, most, um, elite runners, they’re, they’re, they’re not heels strikers. They’re, for the most part, they’re, they’re midfoot strikers. Yes. The heel does touch, but it’s not leading. If you look at most, you know, four-hour marathoners, it’s all heel strike, it’s heel toe, heel toe, heel toe. Hmm. And that’s made of, that’s made possible by a shoe that actually not just allows it, but encourages it because of the thick heel and the drop this, this drop of an inch or an inch and a half from the heel down to maybe half an inch at the four foot, or at mm-hmm. <affirmative> at the metatarsal. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, um, you know, it, it’s the fact that it allows people to run marathons, um, doesn’t, doesn’t mean that that’s good for them, or that the shoe is somehow benefiting them. It’s just, it’s just sort of, again, bypassing a normal way of running. So, back to when I was run, I started running the 1960s and, and seventies, there were no shoes available other than these very, very thin, if you read Shoe Dog, if you read Phil Knights, you know,
The movie coming up, if you don’t read, like many of you,
You know, the Tiger Onitsuka were the mm-hmm. <affirmative> shoe that he licensed to sell in the US and they were very thin, very flat. Mm. And, in retrospect, they were great shoes for teaching that sort of forefoot running mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and they certainly, they certainly prevented any sort of heel running because you just couldn’t, there was not, because that’s not how you’re supposed to run. And if there’s no accommodation of that deal mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it’s like you had no choice but to run more appropriately as a, as a faster runner. Yeah.
I remember barefoot Ted McDonald when he came to our retreats, and he’d have the people get a barefoot and lesson. And I remember some of his memorable things, like, if you jump off a six-inch perch and land on your heels, you’re gonna crush your heels. Yeah. You, you can’t do it. It’s tremendously painful. Right. But even any human, if asked to jump off a six-inch perch, it’s gonna have that barefoot. Yeah. They’re gonna have that beautiful landing where they land, the metatarsal spread, the impact is transferred, the achilles tendon goes down to the, the ground, the heel goes down, and then you spring back and you absorb the impact. Right. But then you’re running 26 miles landing every time. Right. And not, not feeling that impact because of the, the padded shoe.
Right. So now it’s important to, at this point say, I don’t recommend that anyone run in our shoes. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Right? So, uh, the Peluvas are not designed to be a running shoe.
Hold on. Our marketing department is waving like this in the background.
They are this move. So what happened with some of the original minimal shoes was people got injured because they thought, oh, minimal shoes, that’s a great idea. And, you know, I’ll, I’ll become, I’ll go from 80 miles a week of heel striking right.
You know, 80 miles a week of midfoot mm-hmm. <affirmative> or forefoot striking. And, uh, that just, it just, uh, created injury and problems with plantar fascia and Achilles, because the small muscles, in the feet were not used to it. You know, when you were encased in these cushioned, motion stabilizing shoes that were the, you know, sort of all the rage from the seventies, eighties, and nineties, and even now, in the running community, you basically let all the small muscles of your feet atrophy. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, I, including your arch. Your arch didn’t work that much mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, um, when people went out and bought, uh, in the early days, they bought minimal shoes, and they ran, they tried to run, they read the book, Born to Run. Sounds like a good idea. I’ll go run, you know, in these minimal shoes.
Um, they got injured. So what we recognized early on was, the key here is you want to allow your, the small muscles of your feet to work easily throughout the day. That’s why we have you we created shoes to wear at work, at the gym, walking, doing, you know, elliptical, right? Even cycling. And, but not doing the jarring kind of, you know, running stuff that would maybe injure your feet because you’re not trained for it. But over time, train those small muscles your feet to become, more flexible, stronger, build the arch up a little bit. And so that if you’ve done this sort of passive training throughout the day by wearing these shoes mm-hmm. Then when it comes time to go for a run, put on your running shoes when it comes time to go to the track, or to go to, um, the, the football pitch and put on your cleats mm-hmm.
<affirmative>, You put on the shoes that were specifically made for that. But we wanted something that was going to be again, comfortable first. Like I would, I would guarantee these are the most comfortable shoes you’ll ever wear. It’s gloves for your feet. Comfortable, first, functional, second, no other. Very few other shoes have this individual toe articulation so that when you walk over any surface, uh, not only do you feel the surface, but your brain like literally smiles at the effect of changing surface. I just went for a walk before this podcast. Um, I did two miles outside the house here. And, it’s on the sidewalks of the, of Pacific Palisades concrete are the worst sidewalks in the world because the tree roots Mm. And these giant trees have up, you know, they’ve, it’s like, it’s like tectonic plates, right. They’ve changed every bit of a sidewalk is like, is like walking over a rocky trail. I love that. I crave that because my feet want to change. They wanna change position with every footfall, because that’s how my feet are getting stronger, more flexible, and, and building up that strength without running, without doing anything other than just walking and feeling, feeling the surface under underneath. Because the, the Peluvas are only one centimeter in thickness. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Right. So you, and, and it’s a very, and there’s a, you know, it’s a cushioned layer of a few, excuse me, a few millimeters of cushioning. If
You’re watching on YouTube, you can see it’s just a layer of cushioning. Yep. Which by the way, wasn’t there in previous five-toed shoes. Correct. Correct. So we added, made it really, tough as you know, cause you’ve been, you’ve
Integrated, you, you’ve been wearing, our strands for a while now. Yeah, yeah. And you could, you, you know, in the old days, I would go for a walk in the other competitive five toed shoe, and I would get bone bruises after like two miles or three miles, you know. Um, last summer I took some prototypes of the Peluvas to France. And I spent three months in Europe, and I put 650 miles on the shoes that you are wearing.
I hope it’s a different pair. Something, the model that I’m wearing, or the shoes that I’m wearing, the, because they came in a box and they smelled pretty good,
but Yeah. Yeah. No, but I put, I put a lot of miles on them, and many of those miles were like days of 10 miles or 12 miles of just pavement. Yeah. Just concrete. So one of the things that the barefoot minimalist shoe community has argued for the longest time, as, as I have, you know, we, we evolved to be going barefoot Right. All the time. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Well, that’s great. But the, the conditions under which we evolved were, you know, tamped down, earth padded Mm. Dry moss, uneven terrain, but, but it was not pavement, McAdam, tar, hardwood floors, tile floors. Mm-hmm. So that if you, if you think about going barefoot today, it’s pretty impossible to go barefoot, even if you’re well adapted, because after a certain number of miles or footfalls on these hard surfaces, your, your feet were not, they, you know, our fat pads on our feet aren’t, that aren’t that thick to have absorbed that amount of shock because of all of the hard surfaces. So we wanted to create a shoe that was more, like, more akin to walking barefoot on a putting green. Hmm. Right. And that’s the feeling we want to give people. So you play golf, don’t you?
I’ve, I’ve tested out minimalist shoes on the golf course. Yeah. And, um,
But you’ve walked barefoot on a putting surface, right? Oh,
Sure. Yeah. Go on. It’s a great feeling, you know, go out there and fool around and just run through the grass. It’s fantastic. Yeah. I think, uh, to, to further, uh, emphasize this point about comfort, cuz when I excitedly talk about my minimal shoes and when you’re walking down the street, I don’t know about you, but like, everyone’s looking at these shoes, it’s so fascinating. Yeah. And I get comments all day long, and I think it’s the articulated toes. Obviously they’re unfamiliar to people, but when you say they’re more comfortable than a padded cushy firm, sturdy shoe, and I excitedly conveyed this message to a member of the nursing population or something that it, it’s inconceivable. Yeah. That’s something that’s low to the ground with no support and no padding. How can that possibly be more comfortable than my pair of Hokas those fantastic cloud shoes with the giant padding on it?
Yeah. So, um, what’s interesting is people buy shoes typically in a brick and mortar, uh, shoe store where they will try the shoes on and they’ll walk down the aisle a couple of times and the shoes will feel great, cuz it’s like, wow, these shoes are cushioned and they’re, and they feel awesome. I’ll take ’em. And they take ’em home. Well, that’s great. But then when you spend, um, you know, all day in them, or if you walk several miles in them, what happens is you lose again, you lose that, that contact with the ground. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you lose that proprioception. So yeah, they’re cushiony, but that cushioning is bypassing the information that should be telling your knees to bend a certain way. And if your knees don’t bend that way, maybe you get knee problems after a couple of hours mm-hmm. <affirmative>, or
A couple of months lower back.
I mean, I wear some of the, I’ve worn and tested some of the nicest, most highly respected new brands of running shoes in the world recently. And I can’t do more than two or three miles without my knees or my lower back hurting as a result of this loss of proprioception, loss of contact with the ground. Because all I’m doing is I’m giving all of the information that should be, um, coming to my brain and telling me exactly how to bend my leg, exactly how to flex my foot, exactly how to bend my ankle, how to, how to torque my hip. As I go forward, all that information gets lost and winds up being, um, you know, again, it’s dampened by the shoe mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which feels good on the first couple of steps, but after, you know, as you, as you go through the day, it adds up. And it’s not a good, not a good thing
I guess another way to experience this that we’re not bullshitting that is actually true, hard to believe, is when you stand up for hours. I don’t know about you, but I’m aching after an hour straight of standing up. Yeah. Wherever it is. Yeah. My lower back, oh, my hamstrings. Oh, my glutes, oh, my calves. Everything starts to ache because it’s, we’re not adapted. We’re not, I’m not, maybe some people don’t ache as much, but it doesn’t matter what shoe. Right? It’s my lower back, my hamstrings, my glutes and all that. Right. But I noticed when I was wearing minimalist shoes and started in many, many years ago, that it was more comfortable to stand for long periods of time without the padded cushiony shoes. Yeah. And also, um, we didn’t talk about posture, how if you have an elevated heel of any height, guess where your body weight center of mass is going, it’s loading onto your metatarsals.
But when you’re standing, you know why that bone is the, the calcan is the, the most dense bone in the body, or one of ’em, it’s supposed, it’s designed to support our weight. We’re supposed to stand on our heels. Katy Bowman’s book Move Your DNA goes into more detail here, but those heels anchor all of our weight as soon as you put a shoe on Yeah. You can see my gestures, but I think you guys can get it here. Yeah, yeah. Is that you’re going off your heels and then loading forward, it can promote hunched shoulders and all those things. Because now your center balance point has been moved up by the elevated heel.
Right. I mean, that’s one of the, one of the key tenets of any minimalist shoe is what they call zero drop Mm. Or little to no drop. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that could be as little as, um,
Described drop from this. So, drop is, is the difference between the, the heel height mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, the forefoot mm-hmm. <affirmative> height. So, uh, in many of these running shoes, again, the heel is already an inch off the ground, <laugh>. And, it might drop down to aquarter of an inch or a third of an inch mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, at the metatarsal at the four foot mm-hmm. <affirmative> area. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So that drop is, as you say, is tilting you forward. And again, it feels like if you’re a runner, it feels like, oh, I’m moving forward because I’m <laugh>, I’m headed in the right direction, which is forward, but it’s, in fact, it’s causing these issues with an imbalance because it’s the, the heel and the midfoot and the, and the forefoot are supposed to be, um, pretty much at the same level, uh, on the ground in order to extract the greatest amount of, of input from your moving patterns and not incur some sort of, you know, injury.
We can rattle off the names of a dozen wonderful brands of minimalist shoes. We’ve tested ’em over the years. They’re great. Uh, they offer varying levels of increased support to the traditional, legit five toe shoe. Right. So why is an articulated toe footwear Yeah. Different, distinct from all the ones that are also zero drop Yeah. But have the toes incased.
Well, that’s, I mean, that’s a huge distinction. And there are, as to your point, there are a number of great, you know, minimalist shoes that have a wide toe box, but the, you want the toes to be splayed. That’s the s p l splay y splayed. And, um,
Let’s play kids. Let’s,
And you want them not only be splayed, but to be able to move up and down with the terrain. So if you, if you, if you walk over a route, or if you walk over a pebble, or if you walk over a, you know, an uneven surface or a change in surface that you want the toes to be able to move according to that, you don’t wanna have to have them all be, boxed together, even though they’re comfortable on in terms of width. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you don’t want them to be boxed together and all act as one unit when you’re stepping onto an uneven surface. Yeah. I remember when I first got into standup desks, you know, my feet would get kind of tired from standing. And so I got a pebble mat. You remember that pebble mat rock?
Oh, I have five of those now. I give them as gifts. They’re, it’s the greatest thing ever. Yeah.
They’re bear to ship. They cost so much to Yeah.
Yeah. They’re real, real rocks, real rocks web together. It’s a beautiful product.
Yeah. It’s amazing. So, and it was, it was so kind of luscious to be able to barefoot and feel the changes in the surface by just shifting your feet around a little bit. Well, that’s, that’s indicative of what the feet want. The feet want to feel. The surface that you’re walking on, they don’t want it to be bypassed. I look at people taking hikes. I go up, I’ll hike,Temscal up behind our house here, and people are, and it’s a very uneven surface. And it’s, I love it for that, that it’s like every, every time your foot lands, it’s in a different place. Right. And people are wearing thick, stiff, hiking boots. I’m like, oh my God, how are you not like twisting your ankle because you just, it’s a lever that, you know, if you step the wrong way, first of all, it doesn’t get any traction.
You know, those things mm-hmm. <affirmative> because they’re stiff. They, if they, you step sideways on a or on a slanted rock, it slides down. I never understood hiking boots for that reason. So I go up in minimalist shoes, I go up in my Peluvas and every footfall feels amazing. And every rock that I step on with, even if a mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because, you know, we, we, you don’t feel the sharpness of the rock. You just feel the, you know, it’s been blunted by the, by the centimeter of thickness in the, in the, in the soul. Well,
People also imagine, like if you step on a, a really nasty rock with your second toe, imagine if, even if you’re not watching what the shoe’s doing Yeah. Is the toe’s giving? Yeah. And so I, I’m, I was at first scared to use them on a trail, cuz what if I do hit a rock or something? But you go with the flow so much more easily you don’t even notice Yeah. A small pebble, which if you were in a running shoe, it could, it could hit you in the wrong spot and, and drop you in a way, you know. Yeah.
Yeah. So I, this, this idea that, um, you know, wide thin, flat, flexible. So you, you don’t want any drop from heel down. And, and like women don’t give up your high heeled shoes cuz they look fabulous. But <laugh>, I’ve seen so many women’s feet for the past couple years we’ve been doing this. The R and D behind this project goes back two and a half years. And, you know, the trying to cram your toes into a narrow stiletto heel mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and then, and then by being up on the heel for great long periods of time, it shortens up the calf muscle so the calf doesn’t have to lengthen. And that, and then that puts a lot of stress on other parts of the foot. You know, people, women tend to get bunions over time if they, if they try to force themselves into these stylish, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, high fashion shoes. All of this can be avoided and some of it can be fixed by just putting on, um, a, a wide toebox shoe and particularly one that has individually articulated toes, i. e gloves for the feet.i.e. Something that allows the toes to be, to be comfortable and to function the way they’re intended to function, but also to, you know, and then to feel good about yourself because they’re stylists. Right. They’re, they look good.
Okay. Here’s a question for you. Put on your physics exercise kinesiology hat. I enjoy high jumping, as listeners know, and when I’m in the gym, I can graze the rim with my finger at age 58. A big accomplishment for me at five 10 and a half when wearing the Peluvas, if articulated to individual shoe was zero drop in basketball shoes, I cannot touch the rim. Good Kobe lightweight basketball shoes, I’m an inch or two, whatever I am lower. Right. And, um, why is that?
Well, because you are, because you’re giving all, so your feet are, uh, basically part of a coiled spring. Mm. And your achilles, you know, when people are running the, the best marathon runners, uh, their, their calf muscle doesn’t even work that much because they’re just constantly, loading their Achilles mm-hmm. <affirmative> with sort of the same tension. So it’s not like they’re, you know, they’re hitting and then the, a calf muscle is going from short to long because it’s extending and the, there’s not a lot of this going on because it’s basically just loading and unloading a, a coiled a coil. Achilles. Right. Now, when you go to jump, you don’t, you’re not gonna jump and touch a rim on a, on a move and a basketball move from a standing position. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you, I mean, you might, if you’re, you
Know, if you seven foots,
If you’re seven foot tall center, but if you’re, if you’re going to dunk or if you’re gonna jump up to the rim, you load it, you run into it mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and then you load it. Well, when you load it in a cushion shoe mm-hmm. <affirmative>, all of that loading, all that spring gets dampened by the cushioning of the shoe. And so by the time you go to push off, you’ve given half of your, of your vert, not half of it, but 10, 20, 15% of your vert
Possibility compressing the,
Compressing the pad in the shoe. Yeah. You’re dampening it. Yeah. Versus when you have just that little again, that eight millimeters of what’s remaining in the pva and you go to jump all of that is you, all of that is the spring that you’ve loaded to get up to the rim.
So the, the achilles tendon is allowed to stretch and explode fully the, the, the maximum propulsive force potential. And this also occurs every stride at whatever pace we’re running. Right. like on my running technique instruction video, I say, when you’re jogging really, really slowly, you still have to leverage that propulsive force of the achilles tendon on every stride. Yeah. By striding properly. And the, uh, wearing a mini minimalist shoe or going barefoot facilitates this automatically. Right. And wearing the, the opposite shoe challenges you from exhibiting good technique and shortens that achilles tendon. So here’s a funny one. Dr. Phil Matffetone has talked a lot about this. He wrote a book called 1:59 and Someday They’re Gonna Run a Marathon Under Two Hours. He argues that theoretically and also, literally and practically speaking, the fastest marathon will be run by a barefoot athlete someday. Yeah. Because less weight on the foot, you know, there’s no ounces of the shoe. Right, right. And also the foot is allowed to be more explosive and powerful. Right. I don’t know if you buy that all the way cuz we got about, you talked about the streets and the concrete and the broken glass. Yeah. But that’s walking. But it’s interesting.
So walking is different from running. Yeah. So the running, the running thing, I totally buy that because now when you’re looking at, at speed and efficiency and loading, you know, loading that Achilles Absolutely agree with that. When I’m, when, when I’m talking about walking, now we’re back to heel, you know, heel striking, first not exaggerated, not not in a, you know, in an overly, you know, uh, exaggerated way, but heel hitting first and then rolling onto the foot, then you do want some padding. And normally we have a pad in the heel, a fa the fat pad, which absorbs that mm-hmm. <affirmative> in combination with the surface, the, that we find in nature, which is a mossy field or even a hard packed dirt. Mm-hmm. Um, you know, on the Savannahs of Africa mm-hmm. <affirmative> the plains of Africa mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but very rarely did our ancestors encounter a hard flat, completely, you know, even surface except maybe frozen ice. Right.
Yeah. Which probably still gives more than concrete, right? I mean, yeah. Maybe some of you longer younger listeners are not familiar with the name of Abebe Bikila, but Mark might be able to comment on that. Dude
Won the Olympic marathon in Rome or Mexico City
Twice 60, 64. Yeah.
Yeah. Uh, barefoot.
Yeah. Yeah. So that showed, and lifelong barefoot Yeah. Guy from Ethiopia. Yeah. And, um, then when the Africans started winning the big races like the Olympic Golden Marathon, they started getting sponsored by Nike and getting shipments of giant cushion shoes. They had
Yeah. But it’s interesting to think that that guy was once at the top of the world and actually shattering the world record at the time. What did he run? 2:14,
I think. Something like that. Yeah,
Yeah, yeah. It’s unbelievable. Barefoot through the streets of Rome. Yeah. You can look him up on Google picture of this guy running barefoot, winning the Olympics. Yeah. So it’s no joke
And then Zola Budd, you know,
Zola Budd, another name from the past, hopefully some listeners remember
Raced against Mary Decker and Zola was barefoot,
Barefoot on the, on the running track at Los Angeles Olympics. I saw that. Fantastic. Yeah. Yeah.
So, you know, so, so we’re back to like, um, why would the average person who’s not a runner wanna wear, right. And the answer is because it’s, it’s, it’s the most comfortable shoe you’ll wear. It is, I think better for your feet to have the opportunity to have a wider, even even the wider toe box and the articulated toes just gives you a bigger platform. We talked in the beginning of this podcast about we’re only operating on these two 12 inch long little platforms that well, how, if we can make ’em wider by spreading the toes out, we increase the surface area, we increase the tr the amount of, of, uh, input that, that our brain gets we’re our appropriate reception improves. Think about being you know, walking across a carpet with Legos left out <laugh> from the night before in the dark at night.
Right. <laugh> to get to some ouch, you know, to get to the refrigerator Yeah. For your midnight snack barefoot. That’s the sort of appropriate reception, you know, the, the, that we’re, we’re designed to handle. Right. So the second you step on that first Lego, the, you know, all the information your brain needs comes up to it. And you know how to weight the foot, you know how to bend the ankle a little bit. How to, how to mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so if you’re not trained to do, if your feet haven’t, aren’t strong enough to be able to do that, maybe you do roll an ankle, but if your feet are, if your the small muscles, your feet are strong and flexible and pliable, then it’s not a problem.
So now we have a, a big issue here in 2023, which is, what did you say, 77% people complaining of foot pain. And a huge percentage of people are, are pretty far gone where their feet are so messed up that even taking a new pair of Peluvas and integrating them by walking around the house, there’s some fear and trepidation probably. And there’s also an art to it. Because again, the truth is you can mess yourself up if you get away from those padded, cushy issues that you’ve been working your shifts in. And now you’re gonna try Peluvas on your next shift. Be wary and tell us how we can integrate sensibly and successfully. Yeah.
So if you’ve never done this before and it’s, it’s new to you, it’s foreign to you, then the first challenge is gonna be getting your toes into each individual hole <laugh>, I’ve sat with people for like 7, 8, 10 minutes Yeah. Trying to get their toes in the first time. It’s such a novel experience, but it’s also an indication that if you can’t do that, you need, you need something to start separating your toes. Look, there’re I don’t know how many tens of millions of toes separators have been sold in the last couple years. A very popular thing wearing these toe separators around the house, or at night when you’re sleeping because there’s a recognition that you want your toes to be spread out a little bit. And that, and that modern shoes have scrunched them together. Well, we offer a shoe that does that automatically.
And now you get to walk throughout the day and outside and at work and going out with this sort of same concept of, of the toes being separated. But it takes, it takes some getting used to. You have to take time to put ’em on the right way the first time. But what normally what we find is that after a couple of times wearing these people go, yeah, now my feet slide right in mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Just as if they were regular shoes. And they feel good. So with that, I would say, you know, wear them an hour the first day, walk around a little bit, wear them a couple hours the second day, see how you feel. I mean, most people adapt, you know, immediately mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But if you’ve had foot problems and if you’ve got, you know, other issues that are causing you to rethink your footwear Yeah. Take it a little bit slow wearing these. But, I’m very confident that this is gonna help a lot of people with, with their foot issues
Yeah. Hopefully you’ll get an epiphany really quickly, like such as standing up in one place for 10 minutes and seeing how Yeah. Right now your load dispersal is more efficient, your proprioception is increased dramatically. And then to take this idea further, if you are able to go all in, like you and I did, I started back in 2006 and understood the concept that we were writing about and realizing, geez, we should be barefoot. That’s how the body works best. And the posture and the standing, and then that long hard road of committing to something different than a lifelong reliance on arch supports, pads, foot massage machines, and more and more cushion shoes. But there is, there is kind of a fork in the road, and I think we see this on, like, look in The Primal Blueprint and how many topics were attacked.
Prescription drugs. Yep. a snack in the afternoon, that’s a high sugar and high caffeine. Right. There’s all these diets. Yeah. There’s all these places where we can go, which way am I gonna go? Am I gonna go the prescription drug route? Yeah. And just these slow, steady decline relieving some of my pain. And same with the foot scene. Like, am I just gonna keep buying <laugh>? My, I love how the, the recommendation to buy a new shoe every 250 miles and keep track of your miles because by then the padding has gone down and you can’t. Right. And it’s like, I do the opposite. I try to keep my shoes in play for as long as possible until they stink or they fall apart and peel off.
So it’s funny you say that because the, the shoes that I took to Europe last summer that I put 650 miles on,
Now, they’re right where I want them now. They’re right where I like them. You know, they’re so thin. And so, yeah. I now, I want to like, I, I wanna make sure that the last couple of miles are used, you know, judiciously cuz they feel so good when I put ’em on. Um, yeah. So it’s, you know, I I think, um, people tend to, you know, wanna have, I think the comfort thing is a big issue for, and it was for me. Look, I have been wearing nothing but minimalist shoes for 15 years mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And the reason I started this company was I was really dissatisfied with the styles and the functionality of the shoes that were out there. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I just thought I could build a better looking shoe and a more functional shoe. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I am very clear that that’s what we’ve done. We’ve created a Peluva for all occasions. Um, you know, for, for the people who are, who are watching, I mean, we have, you know, this is a, this is a going out to, you know, uh, this is called a Miami, and it’s for like, beach clubbing. And
It’s like a slipper. It’s like a slipper or this still the articulated toes with no strings or just slip right in. Right.
This is a leather lace up. A Napa, very rich napa leather lace up for going to work, or as I like to say, weddings and funerals, looks really stylish. This is kinda shoe that if, if I didn’t want you to notice that it was a five mm-hmm. <affirmative> toe shoe, you wouldn’t even even look down at my feet. Mm-hmm. You’d say, oh, that’s good. You know, from the side, obviously it looks just like a regular, a regular shoe. Um, this is a this is a white strand that I work out in. I know. Notice you have the same pair on right now. It’s a, a great shoe, great very, uh, functional for all kinds of things in the gym. Here’s just a blue version of that.
Can see all this at peluva.com
And yeah. So you go, peluva.com and we’ve got a nice selection with lots of different styles and lots of different colors for men and women. And we, and we have socks. Do we have five-toed socks? Because some people wanna wear socks with their shoes and you can’t wear regular socks with a five -toed shoe.
And we have in the material that we’ve worked on, the research and, you know, suggestions for foot exercises and things that you can do as you kind of make this commitment. So what I envision is, and and I appreciate everybody listening to just be open-minded and consider a different route than ultra super duper padding. And that would also integrate into walking around the house, barefoot, uh, going out onto the sidewalk with your Peluvas, doing foot circles while you’re sitting, uh, watching entertainment or working and getting the feet back into the game because they’ve been so diminished and disrespected and atrophied. And so thinking of this big picture objective that’s, there’s no magic here, and I think you mentioned a little bit about how these runners got too exuberant and went and got themselves injured. I had a really interesting experience where when I first committed to the minimalist way, and I said, I’m so sick of this plantar fascitis was a 15-year injury pretty severe.
And I finally decided I’m gonna strengthen my feet, strengthen my achilles tendon. I walked around all summer barefoot or wearing the five-toed shoes, and the longstanding case went away and I developed a pretty bad case in the other foot because everything changed and the other foot wasn’t used to not wearing the, the padded heel. And so then I had to treat and deal with that one, and then I finally escaped from the trap, which I’m sure I’d still be suffering from this stuff. And it breaks my heart, Tiger Wood drop outta the Masters with plantar fascitis. Yeah. If he’d just call me. Yeah. Or just listen to this show. We could send him my, maybe some, if you have a budget for promo, we could send Tiger some Peluvas just unsolicited and say, dude, wear these around the house and you will start going in the direction of healing rather than whatever the doctors have done to his body. You know? Right.
Yeah. And, and you know, we have to be careful with, you know, I can’t make, you know, medical claims about healing, but I can talk about, you know, the biomechanics of the foot and one of the things that people, um, will observe, they’ll say, well, you know, A are they comfortable? Yeah, they’re very comfortable. That’s why I made them. Uh, b so they must have a lot of arch support. I have the, they have zero arch support
<laugh>. Why would they have no arch support? Well, because, um, you want to use your arch, you want, you don’t want to be resting your arch on part of a shoe that unburdens your foot from having to build a strong arch. And it’s ironic that some people would come to me and say, well, I would love to try your shoes out, mark, but, um, I have weak arches, or I have no arch, or I have, you know, I wear orthotics. Um, and my response is, well, you know, the reason you wear orthotics is because you have weak arches and you need to
<laugh>, you need to, you need, you need to build them up
<laugh>. And it’s, you know, it’s rough. It’s rough because, because a lot of people would say, well, without the art support, without the orthotics, I can’t walk at all. Well, I, I get that. I understand that mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but you gotta start by understanding that the arch, nobody is born with flat feet. Oh,
Is that so No, you’re not born. No. By the way, the term flat feet, they’re people who have amazing arch muscles, you know? Yeah. And just their feet look flat. They just don’t look like they have an arch. Doesn’t mean that that’s not strong and totally functional, but nobody’s born with horrible arches. Mm-hmm. They’re, they have to, you know, you, you are born with great feet that are ready, willing, and able to do all the stuff you wanna do. If your barefoot, if you do the foot exercises, if you put your feet through the, through the right ranges and planes of motion, um, you’ll develop strong feet. But if you start at a very early age, encasing your children’s mm-hmm. <affirmative> feet in cute little <laugh>, you know, versions of Gucci and Chanel and Nike, and, you know, whatever, that can start a problem. So the more, look, ideally everyone would go barefoot, right? That’s mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that would still be my ideal. I go, I go barefoot as often as I can in the absence of going barefoot, I wear Peluvas.
Well, also for the protection, when you’re doing something active and athletic, I wouldn’t go hiking barefoot. Although we did go on this really cool muddy trail in Maui, and my son and I spontaneously took off our minimalist shoes and walked the rest of the way in this really soft mud. And I got a few thorns and stickers, and it could have been, you know, I could have been cut or something. Right. But I think this is like the perfect compromise to where you’re protected. And now when you get good at minimalist experience, you can put these into the mix, jumping up to touch the rim, doing sprint workouts, playing pickleball, and things that you couldn’t imagine. Wait, don’t you need a really protective, thick, you know? Right. A shoe to cut back and forth on the tennis court. Well, no, you’re gonna be quicker and more laterally, uh, uh, agile because you’re getting rid of all that padding and stuff that mess with the Achilles tendon in the metatarsals.
Exactly. That’s exactly right. Yeah.
Mark Sison, just marching on. And, you’ve been at this game for a long time. Did you ever think about, uh, you know, settling into a life of leisure? Were these thoughts driving you as soon as you exited from the previous company and then the next day went to work designing barefoot shoes? Or how did that go?
It, it wasn’t quite like that. I tried to be retired after I sold Primal. But it didn’t work. So I was going crazy. I mean, I’ve always had something to say, look, going back to Mark’s Daily Apple and Yeah. You know, wind to put, put it out there and have these ideas that I think other people would, would like to hear. Um, that’s how I started my supplement company. I’m like, I’m making product that for athletes who don’t want to be using performance enhancing substances or illegal performing mm-hmm. <affirmative> enhancing substances. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I will help them with, you know, natural mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, um, performance enhancement or recovery enhancers. That became my first company, primal Nutrition. And then with the food company, I’m like, oh my God, I’m making these great sauces at home and I can’t buy ’em in the store. I think people would love these kind of sauces. That’s what, that’s what became Primal Kitchen. And so this fascination I’ve had with foot health and foot comfort for the past several decades and my frustration at the fact that no one made a shoe that I was proud to wear outside
You know, and, and, and and get dressed up and, you know, and, and feel like not only am I very, very comfortable in my shoes, but I’m also pretty damn stylish. So that’s really what, what started this whole thing with pva. And, uh, you know, we’re getting a lot of a lot of great, uh, input and feedback and traction. A lot of accolades from, from a lot of great influencers now. And, almost all of it is like overwhelmingly positive. Like, wow. Where, where were these?
All this time? I wonder if you’re going to speak at a podiatry convention anytime soon. And if you got to the q and a portion, would anyone object to this idea that we’re better off barefoot or near barefoot? I mean, how do you, how do you unwind evolution today with, with an argument?
I think there are people who still object to, there’s still people who, you know, advocate for a maximal shoe with maximal, support and maximal cushioning and, people who advocate for bunion surgery and, you know, all sorts of, uh, of other interventions, medical interventions. Hmm. Um, yeah. There’s certainly people like that who still exist, but I’m seeing more and more, especially in the orthopedic, in the podiatry community who are like, no, there’s, look, the, the foot is an amazing, an amazing development. It’s a mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it’s one of the evolution’s finest hours, and then we’ve gone and messed it up. It’s like <laugh>, you know, it’s like saying, this guy is an amazing piano player. He is, you know, he, let’s put mittens on him. Let’s put oven mitts, <laugh> on, on him or her, and, and have her play Rachmaninoff. Right? Yeah. Yeah. That’s kind of what it’s like with, with footwear these days.
Well, let’s change that one day at a time. Thank you so much for listening. Watching Mark Sissom Peluva.com. Follow them on social media. You should probably do some sort of a giveaway discount or a giveaway. Let’s do a giveaway. Yeah. Okay. All right. Send, send us an email. All right. firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll, we’ll pull your name for a winning pair of shoes. There you go. Right on. Okay. That’s a wrap.
Thank you so much for listening to the B.rad podcast. We appreciate all feedback and suggestions. Email email@example.com and visit bradkearns.com to download five free eBooks and learn some great long cuts to a longer life. How to optimize testosterone naturally, become a dark chocolate connoisseur, and transition to a barefoot and minimalist shoe lifestyle.