Kuru Footwear Gonna Help Your Plantar Fasciitis? Highly Unlikely

Kuru Footwear is the latest example of superficially treating the symptoms of a foot injury without addressing the underlying cause. In this case, Kuru has planted its feet-first flag on plantar fasciitis, the scourge of runners. If you’ve had plantar fasciitis, you know what an icepick-jabbing-in the-bottom-of-the-foot nightmarish pain it can be. Kuru’s “remedy” is more shoe and lots of it. Its complete product line of walking and running shoes feature a reinforced arch, energy-return foam piece, a whopping big insert called a HeelKradl, a molding sockliner, EVA midsole, and the dual density outsole. Yet ironically, the Kuru says right there on its website that its design philosophy is “less is more”.  It also says it’s “the world’s most anatomical footwear”. I don’t believe either claim.

Kuru shoes are based on the idea that a person’s foot should be supported completely and entirely throughout the shoe.  Its motto is “if your foot isn’t flat, then your shoe shouldn’t be flat”. This is interesting because in a way, it also wrongly assumes that everybody has a similar arch depth in their foot, and, despite any evidence, wants the arch of the foot  to be supported when walking, running, or even standing. Clearly nobody at Kuru bothered to look at the actual biomechanics of the foot and realize at least one simple fact – the arch is a major source of proprioception – which ultimately means that it tells your body where you are in relation to the ground. Balance, stability, and fine motor skills all rely on this proprioception from the arch – not from your orthotic Kuru shoes. Plus, the arch is designed to bend, not be supported.

You gotta admire the sheer chutzpa of Kuru’s website. It’s one of those “feel good” sites that sugarcoats the questionable product being sold. Kuru, I found out, is a former city in Finland. I don’t know why it’s no longer called that, but the people at Kuru Footwear say that the water there is so pure you can drink from the streams. I checked out Google Maps and saw a stream by the main highway.  In any case,  the company is headquartered in Salt Lake City, UT, where drinking water needs to be piped in.

Kuru’s  primary marketing pitch is the plantar fasciitis angle. Yes, when someone does develop heel pain or pain near the arch and it’s diagnosed as plantar fasciitis, support typically does help. But it sure won’t fix it. Plantar fasciitis is due to a weakening of the tibialis posterior muscle, which sits behind your shin bone. This muscle starts just below the knee and extends all the way down to support the main arch of the foot. So when the tibialis posterior muscle doesn’t function well, the arch fatigues to some degree, and plantar fasciitis results.

Plantar Fasciitis Pain

Plantar fasciitis symptoms are usually worse in the morning, and tend to ease off or go away as you walk throughout the day. The pain can be sharp over one specific point, or more diffuse throughout the fascia (sheath of muscle) of the foot. Today this is treated conventionally with “night splints” to help stretch the fascia, and reduce muscle contracture. It is not a very comfortable way to sleep and the therapy is about as beneficial and primitive as a caveman making a square wheel. As with most pain, anti-inflammatories are prescribed—and they only further mask the symptoms.

Often muscle trigger points (sore spots) can be found in the calf muscles, especially just behind the tibia – that’s your main shin bone as people know it. Rub them out, they’ll be sore. Orthotics, braces, and Kuru, will not cure your plantar fasciitis because they don’t do anything to fix the problem. But wearing improper foot wear will create and/or support plantar fasciitis. Hey, just listen to an exact quote from Dr. Roger Sheffield on the Kuru site, “I’ve developed plantar fasciitis and my Kuru’s are by far the most comfortable shoe as I deal with this condition.” Deal with this condition, but don’t address the problem?  (A Google search informed me that Sheffield is an ER doc in Utah.)

There are much better ways to correct plantar fasciitis than investing in a pair of oversupported shoes that won’t do justice to your feet anyway.  If you have plantar fasciitis you are under more stress than you can handle – whether that be from overtraining (too much anaerobic activity, or lack of an aerobic base), working too hard, dietary stress (too much sugar, not enough protein or nutrient-dense foods), emotional stress, or other physical trauma/stress – which can be anywhere in the body, not just in the foot.

Even a pair of poor-fitting pair of shoes can cause plantar fasciitis. The calf muscles are also commonly involved as often are other leg muscles in the thigh and hip. The imbalance in the muscles causes the plantar fascia to tighten and spasm to help support the foot. Addressing the reason for the muscle imbalances will address the plantar fasciitis problem, and the reason is not because you need to stretch it more, or didn’t stretch it enough. Often muscle trigger points (sore spots) can be found in the calf muscles, especially just behind the tibia. Rub them out, they’ll be sore.

Kurus  won’t cure plantar fasciitis. But the company does offer a money-back guarantee if you return them within 35 days. But please note, the shoes  must be in “new” condition. So if you’re going to test them out, do so indoors and maybe even in bed.

How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis

  • Rub out any muscle trigger points behind the shin bone all the way down to the Achilles tendon
  • Strengthen your foot muscles by walking barefoot as much as possible
  • Wear minimalist-type shoes with a wide toe box, low to zero-drop, and little support.
  • You may need to ease into these if you’ve been in thick-heeled supportive shoes for a long time
  • Do not stretch your calves, since this will only lengthen the injured muscle.
  • See my plantar fasciitis video here.

 

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Comments

  1. subyruba says

    I disagree about Kuru’s. I have Plantar Faciitis, a torn Achilles Tendon and Calcification. I’ve tried everything treatment short of surgery – PT, ART, Steroid, lifts, acupuncture. I walk with pain every single day. As a result I now have significant muscle loss in the effected leg. With Kuru shoes I can walk without pain for the first time in 5 years. I’m even starting to rebuild the calf muscle.

  2. Merry says

    As far as my feet are concerned, Kuru shoes have cured my miserable plantar faciitis. I too tried everything, different expensive shoes, exercise and wearing the shoe/foot splint at night. I’m sure that helped too, but the Kuru shoes, I cannot do without. That’s been my experience, anyway. Hope this helps.

  3. Mandy says

    Wow this is the weirdest article I have read about plantar facitis,it is literally the opposite of everything an orthopedic doctor would tell you. I will do more research but this guy sounds totally wrong!

  4. Eileen says

    I have to say PLEASE don’t do what this guy recommends for plantar fasciitis ! Any podiatrist or ortho dr will tell you that walking barefoot is the worst thing you can do. And since I stopped walking barefoot, my plantar fasciitis is not as painful. The writer also say don’t stretch your calf muscles. If I walk any distance without stretching first, my feet will be very painful. If I stretch first, my feet don’t hurt. I really don’t understand the writer’s approach to plantar fasciitis at all & wonder if he has ever suffered with it.

    • says

      Perhaps you should read the other articles on this site and realize what it means when you suffer from a “stretching deficiency” and need oversupportives shoes to manage your PF.

  5. Deana says

    Wow. Walking barefoot on hard surfaces is a sure fire way to trigger plantar fasciitis for me. The second best way for me to have it flare up is to wear flat, non cushioned and non supportive shoes. I landed on this article because of doing a google search about why Kuru shoes work because I just got my first pair and have been able to walk pain free for the first time in months. I don’t particularly care if it’s not “cured”..it doesn’t hurt and that’s good enough for me.

  6. Worma says

    Everything this guy says is the exact opposite of what every doctor I have seen has told me – which, I know, is what other people have already said.
    This is a pretty scathing review of a particular brand of shoes that the reviewer has apparently never worn. The entire review is dripping in “hey look at me, I’m so clever with my sarcastic remarks” and nothing of real substance – except for recommending the exact opposite of what other more qualified individuals would recommend.
    Having said that, I was unsure about whether or not to give the Kuru shoes a try, but this review settled it. I’m off to order a pair now.

  7. jeff says

    I just gotta chime in here, I am 1 year pain free because of Kuru shoes. And I got the referral from another guy who was cured. Sorry, it may not work on everyone. But its worth the $120 to find out. Ill never wear another shoe. I tell EVERYONE about them. The relief took about a week and a half for me to start, I was sceptical during those days, but hey, I paid that much, I was wearing them! I am a painter and go up and down ladders, on my feet all day..and man…just try the shoe if you are hurting. My heart goes out to those who are suffering! GET THE SHOE

    • says

      Cured means that you wore the shoes, got better, and no longer need them. If you have pain without wearing ANY supportive device, (any shoe, including Kuru), then you’re not curing anything. You’re simply masking the symptoms, and the problem.

      • Don says

        I disagree with the SockDoc. For example, if you have environmental allergies, you don’t choose to avoid smelling car exhaust until you are better to then test the theory out and take in deep breaths from a running car’s tailpipe. The one thing you appear to assume is that feet were designed to walk/run barefoot on hard surfaces. Maybe this was more practical a few thousand years ago and the body adapted to a degree, but in today’s world, it is not practical in day to day living. I believe the feet were designed to be cradled, as the Kuru does, and therefore they help to PRESERVE the thickness of the fatty tissue under the heel while walking/running. I believe that any good specialist will say the same. I bought a pair and they relieved my pain from standing in place at work (I also run in them pain free as well.) My above comments are completely unsolicited!

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