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Barefoot running and prehistoric man

I hope that I'm directing this question at the right people. If I'm not, please forgive the intrusion. If you do know anyone who can field my queries, please let me know.

My question actually stems from the recent trend of barefoot running around the United States. Many people laud the benefits of barefoot running, claiming that this more natural approach actually helps to improve things such as posture and muscular imbalances and helps to eliminate pain in the lower extremities, specifically the knee and ankle joints and the lower back. Basically, the argument is that if prehistoric man and even ancient cultures didn't see the need for shoes, why should we? 
I find several issues with this line of thinking, but I'm always interested in finding the truth, or fact, about things. People believe all sorts of wacky things on scant information, only to discover their folly years later. In this case, though, 've done some reading so far and it seems that many cultures, including the ancient Greeks and the not-so-ancient American Indians, saw no need for footwear a majority of the time.
That's an interesting discovery for me, but it still doesn't tell me enough. So I figured I'd appeal to the authority on the subject; that is, people who have analyzed remains of people from many different cultures in which footwear wasn't in vogue.
So, I ask you, while examining the remains of people and cultures, have you discovered evidence to support the idea that older, even ancient or prehistoric peoples were actually healthier because they traipsed around the world without shoes, or does the evidence support otherwise? Things like arthritis in lower joints, shin splints and stress fractures all seem like decent indicators that prehistoric footwear (that is, nonexistent or poor footwear) isn't actually a better alternative to a comfortable pair of New Balances. The frequency in which they are found also seems important. But you're the experts, and I'm all ears.
My second question may be outside the scope of your expertise, but if the evidence seems to support the healthfulness of living sans shoes, would it be a safe application today considering the toughness of modern surfaces such as asphalt, which a majority of people are walking on?
 I appreciate any time you take to answer these questions. Thanks! I hope to hear from you. 

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