Episode #38

Steven Sashen from Xero Shoes

Also available on:

In this episode of Beyond the Inbox, Steven Sashen, the founder of Zero Shoes, joins the conversation to discuss the importance of natural motion and form in running and challenges traditional beliefs about footwear. Sashen starts by highlighting the drawbacks of cushioned shoes, explaining that they may spread out pressure but still transmit force to the body, particularly the joints. He emphasizes that comfort doesn't necessarily provide the benefits we expect.

According to Sashen, true comfort comes from allowing the body to move naturally, with muscles, ligaments, and tendons acting as springs, shock absorbers, and joint protectors. He emphasizes that running properly is not about footwear but about form. Good form feels good, while bad form hurts. Sashen adds that running barefoot allows for a more enjoyable experience when done correctly, although he doesn't recommend running completely barefoot.

Sashen appreciates a particular video that challenges the common belief that cushioning in shoes is beneficial. He enjoys responding to skeptics who only listen to the first few seconds of the video by asking them which part of his argument they disagree with, as it prompts them to consider the benefits of stronger muscles, feeling things, moving freely, and maintaining proper alignment.

The conversation delves into the challenges faced by Zero Shoes in revolutionizing the footwear industry. Sashen explains that the company is up against 50 years of shoe companies promoting shoes that may not be good or benign for foot health. He points out the negative effects of shoes with pointy toe boxes, elevated heels, and arch support, which can weaken the foot muscles over time. The goal of Zero Shoes is to challenge these deeply ingrained beliefs by being provocative and pointing out contradictions in people's own experiences.

The discussion also touches on the psychology behind changing beliefs and the importance of timing. Sashen shares how he became hyper-aware of the stories people tell and developed a knee-jerk reaction to question the opposite or seek alternative causes. He believes that now is a good time to challenge the traditional footwear narrative, as interest in barefoot shoes is growing, with more minimalist brands emerging. However, Sashen acknowledges the need to differentiate themselves in a market dominated by established brands.

The episode concludes with Sashen emphasizing that change happens when communities start adopting new ideas, and as more people question the traditional narrative, awareness spreads. He encourages individuals to explore the Zero Shoes website and find local stores carrying their products.

Overall, this episode provides valuable insights into the importance of natural motion in running and challenges the conventional beliefs surrounding footwear. Steven Sashen's passion for promoting proper form and debunking myths about cushioning and support in shoes shines through, making for an engaging and thought-provoking conversation.

Read the transcript:

  • (00:00) Introduction
  • (09:27) Discussion on the impact of cushioned shoes on the body
  • (10:18) Importance of proper form and natural motion in running
  • (11:13) Critique of traditional shoe design and its effects on foot strength
  • (12:27) The power of storytelling to challenge preexisting beliefs
  • (13:37) Focus on natural motion and function rather than footwear
  • (14:40) Personal experiences of individuals transitioning to minimalist shoes
  • (15:46) Addressing skepticism and inviting individuals to try something new
  • (16:43) Psychology and cognitive dissonance in changing beliefs
  • (17:47) The importance of critical thinking and questioning popular narratives
  • (18:45) Timing and trends in challenging the traditional footwear industry
  • (19:35) The growth of the barefoot shoes market and its impact
  • (20:28) Individual experiences and the need for personalized solutions
  • (21:50) The role of timing and Richard Branson as an example
  • (22:46) The limitations of replicating others' success and the importance of individual psychology
  • (23:37) Steven's background in psychology and cognitive psychology
  • (24:15) The need to challenge traditional beliefs about footwear
  • (25:19) The spread of ideas through interconnected communities
  • (26:48) Timing, trends, and the growth of minimalist shoe brands
  • (27:56) Where to learn more about Zero Shoes and find local stores
  • (28:05) Conclusion