Manwich, that's an interesting thing you bring up about shoes. I remember reading comments from Lydiard back in the 1970s, if I recall, about how “modern, overbuilt shoes” (remembering this was a long time ago, when the shoes were nothing compared to the bulky shoes we have now) were causing more problems than they were solving due to just what you brought up, they weakened your feet and lower legs, which made them more susceptible to “overuse” injury. I finally decided this year to play around with this concept and go to more minimal shoes that would allow my feet and legs work more naturally. So far, I'm actually feeling more efficient in training and races, my transition from training to racing shoes has been much easier, and I'm still getting just as many miles on a pair of shoes (that I can usually find at good clearance prices) as I could with my old, much heavier, shoes.
I agree with you ryan about the thickness of todays shoes. Very early shoes were so thin that they never negatively effected our foots strength. They just provided a light covering to keep the feet warm.
It really makes me question if it was even beneficial for people to go from thin training shoes from the 70's to the bigger ones now? Are the training shoes today really “better” than the olden day running shoes? Maybe the solution is not making our shoes thicker but rather making our feet stronger? Or better yet preventing our weakening before it started happening in the first place. Its easy to weaken our feet but difficult to re-strengthen them once they get weak. It is difficult to re strengthen because once you try to regain strength that could have been lost for as many as years or even decades you run the risk of getting injured. But I it is definitely possible. You just have to do it really slowly and carefully. Going out and running barefoot for a week for 1 + hour runs everyday will likely get you injured (assuming you were not barefoot raised or have run in canvas thin running shoes your whole life).