In Praise of Barefoot Living.

Sep 15

In Praise of Barefoot Living.

Happy ToesThere’s something truly wonderful about feeling earth beneath one’s feet. The feel of the rocks, grass, different textures, different temperatures. There’s a feeling of “connectedness” that happens when one is outside with bare feet.

Now my issue is that my feet are always cold, so bare feet isn’t always an option, but when it is, I’m all for it. Many of you are aware of the weird shoes I wear when I train, and the only time I wear anything else for training is when it gets below -20°C, and my Vibrams can no longer keep my feet warm enough to avoid frostbite – a discovery I made with some consternation last year.

Also, unless you’ve got (or want) really calloused, hard feet, you’re going to need some minimal protection to keep your feet from getting rubbed raw or stabbed by sharp rocks and glass. There are some great companies out there with shoes that totally fit the bill of being almost barefoot. Take a look:

Vibram Five Finger
Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot
Tom’s Shoes (and these ones come with a cause!)
Soft Star Shoes
Arrow Moccasins
Pocket Slippers
Walking Liberty Moccasins
Gola Store
Steger mukluks and moccasins
Socwa Shoes
Stem Footwear

Should be enough choice there for even the fussiest of tastes!

Of course, if you’re so inclined, you can even make your own: How to Make Cool Weather Minimalist Running Shoes – wikiHow

The problem is, we’ve all been brainwashed to believe that God had no idea what He was doing when he designed feet, and so we must make up for His lack of education. We’ve designed footwear with so much support and cushioning that our feet no longer know how to “read the road” and we get injured. In fact the injury rate in those who wear “properly designed running shoes” is much higher than in people who run barefoot. Don’t believe me? Check the evidence: Barefoot Science

Or take a look at this site, with some interesting video: The Definitive Guide For Going Barefoot

And then there’s this one that’s almost humorous from Stanford’s Athletics team: The painful truth about trainers: Are expensive running shoes a waste of money?

I think Vibram says it best on their site

The typical human foot is an anatomical marvel of evolution with 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors (over 7000 nerve endings apparently -DH), tendons and ligaments. Like the rest of the body, to keep our feet healthy, they need to be stimulated and exercised.

Some of you reading this have some real issues with your feet – plantar fasciitis, flat feet, etc. For those of you there is a great book called “Fix Your Feet: Build the Best Foundation for Healthy, Pain-Free Knees, Hips, and Spine” by Dr. Phil Maffetone with some simple, yet effective treatment for problem feet. (read teven Robbins, Edward Waked, and Ron Rappel. “Ankle taping improves proprioception before and after exercise in young men,” British Journal of Sports Medicine, 29(4), 1995, pp. 242-247 for more background information on his methods).

Now, if you’re used to those comfy shoes, don’t go whole hog on me and decide to go totally barefoot starting tomorrow. You need to break your feet in slowly – remember, all those muscles are now badly aligned and atrophied. You can’t fix that overnight.

Start going barefoot at home. Then get yourself a nice pair of minimalist shoes and wear them around outside in your daily activities. Take them for a longer walk, then use them to do your warm-ups and cool-downs when you run, etc.  Go slowly, and retrain your feet to work the way they were designed to work.

Ah, the joy of setting my feet free – it’s such a great feeling, that once you try it, you’ll probably never go back to traditional shoes.  I know I dread dressing up with heels…

Oh, and if you’re like me, cold feet all the time, you might want to check out this site: Cold Feet, and see if you can nail down the cause. I’m going to spend a little time here myself to see if I can generate nice toasty toes for myself!

What do you  think, am I nuts (well, ok, that fact has already been established numerous times!)  Have you tried this yourself?  What’s your opinion?  Comment below!  I’d love to have your input.

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The advice offered in this blog is based upon the author’s own experience. The author is not engaged in rendering professional advice or services to the readers. The ideas, procedures, and suggestions in this blog are not intended to replace a consultation with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. All matters regarding your health require medical supervision. The author shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity that incurs any loss, damage, or injury caused directly, or indirectly from any information or suggestion in this Program.
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One comment

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