Wednesday 5 July 2017

Barefoot Hippies and Bad Backs!

Have you ever wondered why the barefoot brigade are so staunchly hippie with their big feet and their huge wide shoes?

If you have lived in restrictive shoes most of your life - I include trainers in this as well as any shoes that do not allow your whole foot to feel the ground - then you will have no way of understanding how the transition into a barefoot or minimalist shoes changes your life.

You could say that it is the visual equivalent of living your life in black and white and then suddenly someone gives you colour.

For example, if I walk through our local park barefoot, I can feel the difference in temperature between the grass in the shade and the grass in the sun. I can feel the damp dew. Daisies feel like little sponge balls below your feet. The longer grass feels luxurious as it caresses around my ankles. Moss is amazing and the tight ground around the golf holes looks hard and smooth but is surprisingly velvety. Tension eases from my back and shoulders as I move and I feel encouraged to breathe deeply. Sounds like a hippy mantra but it is truly fab and if you haven't experienced it then you are missing out.

There is of course much more to barefoot locomotion than the sensory experience. Away from the protection of a heavy sole and heel we alter the way we hit the ground.

To illustrate.
Imagine how you run barefoot around a swimming pool compared to how you run in cushioned trainers. In the swimming pool scenario you would bend your knees and stay on your forefoot, you would keep your bodyweight directly above your feet. (Otherwise you'd risk a nasty fall and hurt your heels.) This motion absorbs the shock as you hit the ground saving your heel from the pounding of your foot strike and the shock that would follow and travel up your spine. This type of movement is, of course, how you were designed to work. Nature made us a beautiful strong supportive foot and ankle with tremendous shock absorption  and an amazing ability to not just absorb the energy of hitting the ground but to to store it like a superball and release it back to us for the next step with amazing efficiency.

It is therefore no wonder that being barefoot it is a relaxing experience. It is no wonder that small children resist socks and shoes and remove them at every opportunity. It is no wonder that bodies ache when footwear stops our feet from becoming these strong super machines and leaves us tottering on dead blocks sending shock waves to our painful bodies.

I don't suggest that everyone throws off their shoes and goes barefoot. This is not practical in our world of cold streets and office dress code.

Note that the foot overhangs the soul of this
shoe.This reduces your stability and restricts
 the function of the foot
But I do urge everyone to make small changes on behalf of their body. So I urge you to do this for yourself.

If the sole of  the shoe is smaller than the sole of your foot, then it is too small for you. 
         Don't buy it.

Draw around your foot and take the cut out shoe shopping. This means that you will have difficulty finding shoes. But once we start buying foot shaped shoes, shops will stock them and designers will make them fashionable.

Let's stop self mutilation!