Originally Posted by WildVolley
I'm rather late to this discussion but I'd like to chime in to defend the minimalist position.
From personal experience, I've found that shoes, especially "supportive" shoes do weaken the feet. My journey to minimalist shoes was due to having wide-forefeet and getting foot pain and plantar fasciitis. I read a variety of sources and found going to Crocs and then barefoot substantially strengthened my feet.
I'm not a believer in using orthotics for long periods of time as they tend to act like casts. Casts can help something heal by limiting motion, but they also weaken muscles and connective tissue by limiting motion. IMO, wearing orthotics after the pain from an injury has decreased is like continuing to wear a cast on your leg after the bone has healed.
It is possible to play tennis barefoot on grass, but abrasion is a big issue on hardcourts. I'd like to see a serious tennis shoe with zero drop, minimal stack height, a durable outsole, and an upper that holds it tightly to the foot. I'm not happy that so many companies have followed Nike's lead and have such a large drop from heel to toe on their shoes.
I agree with the minimalist position. After several years of dealing with plantar fasciitis, I decided to do nothing but stretch. No time off for healing, threw away my gel inserts, no special shoes. Just stretching 4-5 Times a day, rolling a tennis ball on instep. Pain was always mild to moderate.. heel stiff and sore in morning or after heavy exercise. Fine when loosened up. I'd say it's about 75% better, and still improving, after about 2 months of stretching.