So here's my story. I am actually not attempting to sway anyone to any particular opinion. I am just here to tell my story.
I am cursed with the feet of my father.
For a long time I have suffered with Plantar Fasciitis, which meant that my feet (arches) ached pretty much all the time, particularly in the morning. When I woke up in the morning, or after sitting for a long time, I would just hobble in terrible pain until after I had been up and moving for a while the pain would lessen.
I visited the podiatrist who recommended stretching, icing, orthotics, Aleve, shoes with good arch support, the whole 9 yards. I followed the suggestions and found some measure of relief, but not to the degree I had hoped. Sometimes it was better than other times, but I just figured that this was the Curse of My Father and something I would just have to endure.
Enter my (sad) attempts at running. From the beginning, the inital part of the run was just a killer on my arches. It would subside some as I ran, but then afterwards my feet would be as sore as my legs. Again, I figured this was just part of being a Walker and I would have to learn to ignore it.
So I went to a running class at Runner's Corner earlier this year. I took along my trusty Saucony shoes which I have loved because they offer as much arch support as any shoe I have found. The trainers at Runners Corner showed me how I've been running all wrong and what I needed to be doing instead. They also discussed shoes.
Their explanation of shoes was something I found to be quite interesting. Basically, their postion was that the thick heel of the traditional running shoe forces a runner to strike the pavement heel first, resulting in injury to the runner. Additionally, all of the high-tech arch supports in the modern shoe were actually making arches weaker, not stronger. This is based on the theory that the more you support a thing, making it do less to support itsself, the weaker the thing becomes. They suggested that the way to go was minimal. No giant,cushioned heel. No arch support. Basically the shoe should provide protection from the ground, and that's about it.
I wasn't quite ready to go the minimalist route, but I was intrigued by their logic enough to meet them half way - a 4 mm drop from heel to toe, with just a little arch support.
Or as I affectionately call them, my Mint Brownie Shoes.
I have had them for a while now, and I have found that while I don't love them for jogging, I like them at least as well as my cushion-y Sauconys, but I absolutely LOVE them for hiking. They are actually categorized as a trail shoe and they are perfect for that.
So after finding that I don't love them for jogging (my feet noticeably roll inwards when I jog in them), I decided to look in to the whole Zero Drop concept presented at the Running Class.
I did some research on the internet (because, of course, everything on the internet is true) and read the book they recommended, "Born to Run." It was a really good book, except for some unnecessarily colorful language, and I learned a lot about the evolution of the modern running shoe and the current trend back to minimalist shoes and even barefoot running.
So I decided tht $100 was worth the gamble based on what I had read and we went back again to Runners Corner and I tried both the five-fingered shoes (Jack calls them gorilla shoes) and the Altra brand zero-drops.
While both were surprisingly comfortable, the Altras didn't look so freaky as the five-fingered shoes and were way easier to put on. So I bought the Altras, and read the literature that came with them regarding transitioning to a zero drop shoe.
Once I recovered from the inital blisters that are my torment with any new shoes I get, I followed the transition rules (mostly) until now the Altras are my only jogging shoe.
I am not telling this story to brag about my prolific jogging abilities (1 mile - Whoohoo!!!), but rather to explain what has happened with my feet.
I try to be barefoot (or in socks only) whenever I can. When I come home from work, I immediately take my shoes off and keep them off unless I'm going outside.
When I can wear casual shoes, I wear my Altras.
RESULT: I have had no pain . . . NO PAIN . . . in my arches since I made the transition. No pain in the mornings, no pain when I'm jogging, no pain ever.
These are my Altras, they are called Delilah, and I love them.
Again, no attempt to preach. Just a testimonial of my experience. :)