Barefootwear - An interview with Nick at The Foot Collective

Barefootwear - An interview with Nick at The Foot Collective

Each and every one of you has different reasons why you love your TRUE’s.

A primary reason we exist is because we really care about the comfort of your feet. We set out to help people #EnjoyTheWalk by creating a more comfortable golf shoe, designed to fit your feet naturally and promote healthy foot function.

This concept is rare in the footwear world. As we learn from the below interview, Nick (an expert in the field) believes, "...most shoe companies aren’t focused at all on foot health. They are primarily marketing and technology companies who happen to make shoes."

Over the years we’ve connected with quite a few people from varying professional backgrounds that share a similar passion for foot health. We thought we’d begin to share some of those connections with our fellow wayfarers, so we would like to introduce you to Nick St. Louis of the Foot Collective. The Foot Collective is a group of Canadian physical therapists on a mission to help humans reclaim strong, functional and pain free feet through foot health education.

Nick and the team at TFC are opening up a new retail store with shoes, a movement center, and float tanks for sensory deprivation in Ottawa Ontario. We put Nick on the hot seat a couple of weeks ago in effort to share his viewpoints on the importance of foot health and how proper footwear is elemental to that end.

As a disclaimer, we at TRUE are not Doctors, physical therapists, or physicians. So please do not take this interview as medical advice. We merely want to share with you things that we are learning and things that Physical Therapists around the world are doing to help promote foot health. As always, please consult your doctor before beginning a new workout routine.

Now let's hear from Nick:

Q. Can you tell us a little about your background, Nick?

"I'm from the Ottawa Ontario and The Foot Collective is based in Ottawa. I studied biology and physiology in undergrad. I then went to physio school in London, Ontario. I had been interested in science since high school primarily medical/dental/physio…then realized I didn’t want to stare into peoples mouths for a living and that I did not want to go through medical school.

Then out of physio school I started work in sport specific physical therapy"

Q. What originally interested you about foot health and how did TFC come about?

"A couple years ago, I attended a seminar where some of the athletes in attendance were really focused on the concept of foot health. As I started learning about foot/ankle health, I started realizing that there was a lack of information available on related to foot and ankle health. And more than just a lack of information, I saw a lot of bad advice being given to people who were having foot, hip, and low back pain. I then came together with a couple other like mind physical therapists in Ottawa and the foot collective was born."

Q. What all does TFC do at the moment to promote foot health?

"In addition to a PT clinic, the TFC website promotes foot health through education, product recommendations, and exercises and tools to help improve foot and ankle health and function.

The larger goal with TFC is to create a health content company that gives people the information, education, and products they need to function naturally. We really wants TFC to be a company that adds value to their daily lives."

Q. What are the biggest issues that you see with footwear today?

"There are two main issues...

First, most shoes have heel lift. Meaning that the heel of the shoe is higher than the toes of the shoe. This makes a persons body lean forward placing more stress on the quads and limiting full ankle range of motion. Essentially the shoes are not neutral.

Another is that most shoes are extremely ridged and unflexible. This gradually causes the foot to lose its mobility and it causes the stabilizing muscles in your foot to shrink."

Q. What are some additional health issues resulting from a lack of unhealthy foot function?

"Many foot related issues actually stem from problems occurring upstream in the leg. Sitting is one of the biggest issues affecting natural lowerbody function. Sitting with your hips at 90 degrees all day long causes you to start losing the ability to fully extend the hip, which leads to a lack of glute and lateral stabilizer strength. These hip related issues flow up to cause low back pain and flow down to cause knee pain, knee internal rotation, plantar fasciitis, and flat feet. A healthy foot should have a strong natural arch that helps provide stability for the foot itself.

Proper hip and foot health will improve balance, strengthen the supporting muscles of the knee, and can improve or eliminate lower back pain."

Q. How can shoes be designed to better accommodate the human foot?

"I believe most shoe companies aren’t focused at all on foot health. They are primarily marketing and technology companies who happen to make shoes.

In general a shoe should provide minimal support so that the foot can feel the ground underneath it. The shoe should be zero drop and it should have a wide toe box to allow the toes to move naturally.

Advances in materials science will allow companies to start making thinner and more durable shoes that support healthy foot function."

Q. What are a few exercises that people can do to start to regain natural foot function?

"There are 3 videos on the TFC website that can help to reset and regain natural foot function. The videos focus on:

Foot mobility work, hip mobility work and upper glute release." (Check them out here:

"Additionally, spending more time walking around the house barefoot and trying to balance barefoot on one leg with your eyes closed can be extremely helpful."

Q. How do you best transition from normal footwear to zero drop?

"The body can adapt to zero drop footwear fairly quickly. Where we see issues is with transitioning to running in zero drop footwear. This transition should happen gradually as you strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the lower leg that haven’t had to work as hard in traditional footwear. Spending more time barefoot and focusing on balance can be extremely helpful."

Q. Is there any other helpful information about how minimalist footwear can effect your golf game or swing?

In addition to the general health benefits described above, foot and ankle health should help you perform better on and off the course. Healthy feet prevent injuries, allow you to function with less pain and increase your movement efficiency. Shoes that allow you to feel more of the ground allow for more integration throughout the lower body, engaging the hips, and creating more rotational torque.

We want to thank Nick for sharing some of his thoughts with all of us Wayfarers. Check out the Foot Collective website and remember to EnjoytheWalk.