I am going to admit publicly right here and now that I was wrong. Those who know me will know this is a big deal. Years ago, when barefoot running or running in those ridiculous looking 5 fingered shoes became popular, I was dead set against it. My tune has changed. I incorrectly thought that humans were not meant to run on pavement without cushioned shoes. I was also adamant about having arch support at all times. I now know from experience that I was wrong.
The number one job of our feet is to be sensors for the body so that we are aware of what is happening on the ground that we are moving along. Wearing shoes has impeded that ability. The foot is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints and 100’s of muscles, tendons and ligaments. By wearing stiff footwear we have restricted the natural movement of our feet. Imagine spending the day with your hand shoved into a mitten made of a thick plastic. That’s not an inviting idea, and it begs the question: Why do we do that to our feet?
Take a moment now and spread your fingers as wide as you can. It feels good, doesn’t it? Now do the same with your toes. You may not be able to spread them apart very much. Don’t fret if you can’t because you can change that, and here are some ideas on how to get started:
- Spend more time barefoot. Focus on walking with your toes spread, and with your weight slightly forward.
- Spread your toes often. Either do this by putting your fingers between your toes (great activity while binge watching Netflix) or getting a set of toe spreaders. As with anything new, start with a few minutes at a time and build up from there as your toes adjust to the new position.
- Massage your feet using a lacrosse ball (any ball will do, but the lacrosse ball works well). Starting with a minute of rolling back and forth the length of your foot. Then, with your heel on the ground do a side-to-side movement.
These activities will start the process of “unshoeing” your feet. The goal is to loosen up every part of your foot so it can do what it was meant to do. It will take time. It’s taken me 8 months. It has been worth it. I’m not experiencing some of the aches and pains that I was before. I have always believed that our feet are our foundation. Where I was wrong was in believing that we had to protect our feet instead of using them in every single way they were meant to be used.
I am considering buying a pair of those 5-fingered shoes now, when I finish eating crow!
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