your ordinary everyday tennis shoe (wait.... tennis?)
From the perspective of someone who does parkour, shoes are a VERY important part of my..... im going to refrain from calling it a sport and just call it an activity. Shoes in parkour have to serve many purposes, grip the walls and rails, be thin to help us learn proper landing techniques, not be bulky enough to raise risk of rolling an ankle, and then you get the minor things like breathe-ability and toe box room.
Now my personal take on the matter is, i HATE wearing shoes. EVER. its winter here in cali (no snow just wind, rain, and cold) and im still walking around college barefoot, flat sandals at work, and only some thin onitsuka tigers (ultimate 81's recommend them highly) for parkour on the weekends. Here's my reasoning on WHY i dont like wearing shoes; i like feeling the ground beneath my feet, it grounds you from static electricity, you forefoot strike instead of heel striking and save yourself a lot of joint damage, it improves your movement mechanics, landing hurts so you learn to do it right, rolling your ankle becomes very difficult if you maintain levels of natural mobility. When i DO wear shoes the reasons would be things like: i know the terrain will be VERY unfavorable to barefooting (i.e. long hike and sharp things like thorns) though i do hike barefoot. temperature sometimes, parkour for grippy-ness and aid in landings (even though i tore the insoles out of my tigers and they're even thinner), and thats about it.
my tigers, im wearing them as i type this
Now we get to the juicy bits, why most shoes are TERRIBLE for your health and joints and just about everything.
- arch support causes flat footed-ness by allowing the muscles of the arch to relax because if they're cushioned, they dont have to work to hard to maintain the shape now do they? then they give you orthotics... idiots...
- shoes (even tigers) cause a natural inclination to heel strike sending a shock wave of force up through the calcaneus (heel) to the knee and distributing the force on the way up but mostly seriously damaging the cartilage in the knee, runners in tennis shoes just ask them about their injuries if they have none, check back REAL soon.
- because of all the padding on conventional shoes your foot is raised up higher than it normally is and standing on something like, say, a rail road track if you lose your balance (because hey, its hard to balance with a cast like shoe on) you could roll your ankle a lot easier than if you were barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes.
- not really a terrible thing for most people, but you lose feeling with the ground and the earth and it can cause a level of spiritual disconnect, take your damn shoes off once in a while and feel the damn grass and dirt between your toes.
- raised heel or high heels causes a tightening in the inner and outer calf muscles that reduces squat mobility and essentially ruins your ability to sit like humans were meant to (for deification AND relaxation:
We can see the natural bottom squat position if you spend enough time watching babies and young children with near full mobility, they do the most amazing stuff because they haven't been exposed to modern living as long as we have. Shoes destroy alot about your health, because if you damage a tree's root you can kill the whole tree, the same goes for you kinetic chain, and all your joints, your body doesn't work in isolation, EVERYTHING is connected.