Okay, a return to the minimalist shoe/barefoot running track ...
First, the So what? shrug: I'm not a runner any more. Long ago and far away, I trained to run Boston, back where there were only two marathons of note in the country, there and the New York version, and I was doing six miles a day and ten miles on the weekends. I had to quit due to an injury, but it wasn't because of my shoes, it was because a drunk leaving the Federations of Eagles Christmas party almost ran me down and when I leaped off the road to keep from being hit, I stepped into a hole in somebody's front lawn and badly sprained my ankle.
It is unlikely any shoe I could have been wearing would have helped in that situation. You can sprain an ankle wearing combat boots.
That unhappy event put me in a cast for six weeks and I missed the window for Boston. (I'm not sure I would have made it anyway, since the cutoff for a number was three hours, and I wasn't there yet.)
Once we moved to Oregon, I discovered that running and ice storms don't go together, and instead took up swimming a mile or so a day, in a nice, heated pool ... inside. I did that until my hair turned green and I started to develop scales and gills ...
So whether the cushion under my heel in the cross-trainers is better or worse than the flat-foot arch-as-spring support doesn't matter vis a vis me running, 'cause I ain't gonna be running.
I do, however, walk a mile or two every day at Corgi pace, which is actually fairly brisk compared to an amble or stroll.
I am here to tell you that wrestling shoes don't make my feet happy for that activity, not upon concrete sidewalks.
To those who say I haven't given it enough time? Yes, I have. How long does one need to suffer aching feet in order to get back to where one was in the first place?
Frankly, I don't see a lot of science on either side of this argument. The studies that get waved by the pro versus those bruited by the anti tend to be more anecdotal than evidentiary.
Yeah, yeah, we didn't evolve with shoes on our feet. Neither did we evolve wearing trousers, hats, leather jackets, or wristwatches. "Natural" is an overused and, given how we deal with the world, fairly silly term to use when trying to justify diet, exercise, or iPads. Move along–droids aren't natural.
For every claim that the heel strike is a no-no, there are those who say bare feet have caused a dramatic rise in stress fractures. A bad knee here gets swapped for a fallen arch there. A lot of, "Yes, but–" going on.
Where does bad technique end and kinds of shoes begin? How does weighing one-forty matter compared to weighing two hundred?
Back when I started running, I didn't see any other guys out doing it. (Louisiana, in the summer? I can't imagine why.) I didn't even know any other serious joggers. The Runner's World shoe issue ran two pages. Now, everybody and her kid sisters are out shuffling up and down the road, and a lot of them aren't in good enough shape to be doing that without courting injury. Not only is barefoot running not for everybody, any kind of running is not for everybody. If you are morbidly obese, haven't done any exercise in years, and you decide to strap on shoes of any stripe and try for a couple miles? Might do you more harm than good.
Yep, we can point to this guy: Hey, he won the Marathon back in the day, running barefoot!
And then he won it again four years later at a faster time, only this time wearing shoes ...
What we have on both sides are Believers, and they tend to hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest.
Both sides point at the other and cry "Unclean! Unclean!" and it seems to me that there is a middle ground. In some folks, barefoot running, or minimal shoes help; in some, they don't. Some folks can run in padded shoes just fine, others have problems. When I was running forty miles a week, I didn't have foot or knee problems. I did pull my back once, but the only thing it had to do with my shoes was that I bent and twisted at the same time to re-tie one lace, and that was my fault, moving in two planes with a tight back. And even then, I could have worn Velcro closures.
Of course, I was thirty and not sixty-three. I weighed about 180, and now I'm fifteen pounds heavier and have had some internal knee padding removed, secondary to a non-running, non-shoe injury. Size matters. Age matters.
I'm happy to go shoeless in the summer, on nicely-mowed laws, in the sandpit–though there is some discussion that walking in sand barefoot isn't all that good, either–and upon surfaces where I am less likely to encounter sharp pebbles or broken glass. Otherwise, when I trip the concrete byways, I'm going to do so clad in a real shoe.
A few places you can see the edges of the argument:
Bare feet, hurray!
Bare feet, maybe!
Bare feet, No way!
Do your own research and make your decision, if it matters. I have ...