Several times I have pointed to studies indicating that simple footwear is better than more complex, cushioned shoes. Our feet and our gait are disturbed by heavy shoes. People are using Vibram Five Fingers for example to try to get the advantages of being barefoot while also gaining some protection. (you can even play golf in them!)
One of my favourite outdoor writers is Chris Townsend. Thinking of all this minimal footwear approach he has a good interview explaining his preference for light, flexible shoes over stiff heavy boots for backpacking. Here is an extract:
Q: One thing that you talk and write about is “the ankle-support myth”. That is very strongly put. Could you explain what you mean by this?
Chris: One of the main arguments for heavy, stiff footwear is that you need it for ankle-support when carrying a heavy pack or hiking on rough terrain. This is not true.
To begin with most walking boots offer very little ankle support since their soft cuffs give easily under pressure. My plastic telemark boots give good ankle-support, but I can hardly walk in them. Stiff-ankled boots and natural foot movement do not go together.
What actually holds your ankle in place over the sole of a shoe is a rigid heel counter, found in good quality running shoes as well as trail shoes. And I’ve now done enough walking in sandals that I’m not convinced that any support at all is needed if you have strong ankles.