The W.C. Russell Moccasin Company

The Orthotics Compromise
Having made true moccasin style footwear for 114 years, Russell Moccasin knows the benefits of wearing moccasin style footwear. A moccasin cradles your foot in leather, wrapping one, two or three layers of high quality leather around the foot. With wear your moccasin shoe or boot molds to the shape of your foot. Moccasin footwear allows the bones and muscles of your foot to “exercise” properly and grow stronger.

In the past 10 years or so, we have seen more and more people wearing orthotics. Russell feels orthotics are a compromise at best and does not recommend them unless medically necessary as they detract from the benefits of moccasin construction....they interfere with fit, feel, comfort and function of a true moccasin shoe or boot.

We would like to share two scenarios with you. The first involves one of our own employee’s experiences with orthotics. The second involves the running world’s move to minimalist footwear.

Scenario #1: A few years ago one of our employees who routinely speed walks five or six miles several times a week to keep in hunting shape noticed severe foot pain so he went to his doctor. His doctor told him he needed orthotics because he had worn out his feet from all of the speed walking and hunting he had done. He bought an expensive pair of orthotics and wore them for a number of years but the foot pain persisted. Following a lower back operation that left the outside of his left foot numb, it became impossible for him to wear his favorite expensive athletic shoes any longer due to the fact that with his narrow foot and the resulting numbness in his foot from the back surgery, he could no longer feel the ground and nearly broke his ankle on several occasions because the athletic shoes fit too loosely, even in the narrowest width he could buy. They were clumsy and loose so he quit wearing athletic shoes, the ones with the high cushy arch supports. He noticed that within two weeks his foot pain was gone. He had already given up wearing orthotics as wearing orthotics for several years had done him no good at all. The high cushy padded arch supports in his athletic shoes had been causing the pain in his feet as it turned out. He now walks in a pair of Russell Minimalist Shoes with no pain whatsoever.

Scenario #2: Dedicated runners have known for years the dangers that most high end athletic shoes pose to their feet, thus the nationwide move to Minimalist Footwear for running.

In the fall of 2009 a fellow by the name of Tucker Goodrich called us with an unusual request. Tucker was not a Russell customer at the time nor was he an outdoorsman in the sense of being a hunter or fisherman. He is however, a dedicated runner. He asked if we had ever heard of the barefoot running craze? No. Did we make a minimalist shoe suitable for running? No.

Now...with Tucker’s guidance and considerable input, Russell Moccasin offers three minimalist footwear models that have passed Tucker’s rigorous standards for minimalist footwear for running.

The key design feature Tucker requested, was that the shoe be built on the old Munson Army Last. Russell reintroduced the Munson Army Last about three years ago in a quiet stalking boot, called the Thula Thula, for the hunting industry. The virtues of this old last design are many. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.

Tucker explained the theory of barefoot running. Barefoot running is widely believed to improve foot strength and potentially avoid many common running injuries. But not all people are hardy enough to handle the ever present sticks and stones encountered while running...so the the next best thing is running in minimalist footwear. Minimalist footwear also allows year-round runners, specially those who live in cold climates, to run comfortably all year.

Tucker’s design wish list included, 1) a shoe based on the Munson Army Last so the toes and bones in the foot can move freely, similar to barefoot running, 2) a super thin yet grippy sole for maximum ground feel, 3) a flat sole with no heel lift, 4) minimal support and no cushioning overall, including the arch area.

Tucker is a serious, dedicated runner. His own research and applied application of Minimalist Footwear has proven that the concept works. We have to admit, we were skeptical when Tucker first brought this design concept to us. No more! We have tried it ourselves and it does work.

The point being, Minimalist Footwear is the antithesis....the exact opposite of the orthotic concept. Minimalist Footwear strengthens the foot by fully exercising it...where orthotics prevent the foot from moving as nature had intended. Non-medical orthotics, in most cases, are a crutch for “out of shape feet.” The Minimalist concept is catching on for one reason ---it works!
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