This is what bothers me about #barefoot.
1. It’s cold.
Inside and outside, it’s always warmer with socks and Ugg boots.
2. That my feet don’t look very good.
Of course “good” is subjective. I think that my callouses and dry patches and rashes and bumps and mangled dogs perform exquisitely, but ain’t nobody going to hire me to pose for their foot photo.
3. That when you’re barefoot, you realize that there is crap ALL OVER THE FLOOR. A situation made worse when you feed your 11 month old on the floor. It’s a creepy feeling, all that stuff underneath your feet, see:
4. That people are stripping off their shoes after years and years of use and don't realize that they're asking their atrophied muscles and poorly conducting nerves to support their mis-aligned body weight before doing any sort of restorative work on their lower legs, ankles, and feet. Seriously? If you took a cast off your hand after 20 years, would you start doing cartwheels? No way.
Two words: Get this book (this book right here -- click) and realize strong, healthy foot muscles, bones, plantar fascia, ankles, knees, calves, and hamstrings.
Who just counted those words? Ha. Caught you.
5. That Universities (our public universities, supported by government dollars) are exhausting barefoot research on topics like barefoot running. I don't mean this as snottily as it looks in print, but come on folks.
Improving intrinsic muscle use in the foot can drastically impact a human's physiology. Nerve health. Bone density. Osteoarthritis. Pelvic floor disorders. A child's physical and mental development. Health care funding. A decrease in the 12 BILLION dollars spend annually on lower leg amputations. Diabetes. Metabolism. Balance. Fall risk.
Why are we spending millions of dollars researching extra curricular activities when we have a nation full of people suffering due to their lifetime of stiff-soled, positive-heeled footwear use? Let's start doing some helpful studies, and by helpful, I don't mean to a footwear company or a small percentage of athletes but to the broad field of anatomical, physiological, biological, medical, and human development science.
This is what I love about #barefoot.
1. I'm improving my ability to regulate my body’s temperature. Sensing heat and responding with the appropriate physiological response is a skill that needs to be developed or you lose it. This physiological ability depends on one's exposure time to actual cold. So, I guess I’m OK with the cold. Now that it’s Spring, I’m OK with it.
2. That my scaly dragon feet aren’t dragging down my knees, hips, and spine with every step. Yes, my feet are scaly and inflamed, but you know what parts aren't? My joints. Those are (probably) pink and pretty and ready for a photo shoot. You get to pick, see -- red scaly feet or red scaly knee cartilage. And, P.S. Skin turns over faster than cartilage does, and is designed to keep sloughing off; your cartilage isn't. You make the call.
3. That I am not one of the 20,000,000 people in the US who have neuropathy of the feet. That I can feel something as tiny as a grain of rice under my foot. And, even though that little grain of rice makes me want to kick my feet about the place, my nerves aren’t in the process of dying. The rice is there to let me know that the use of my foot muscles are keeping foot death at bay. Thank you, foot muscles. Thank you to my son who spread rice all over the floor. (www.neuropathy.org)
4. Grounding. Have you heard of it? Researchers are beginning to examine the human's relationship with the Earth. Evidently, when you walk barefoot on the planet (natural surfaces) there is something happening in terms of exchange. Evidently, the exchange between human and planet is different than between human and footwear. Or footwear and asphalt. The research was just published this year, but the fact that research is being published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health means that there is something to the data.
Abstract: Environmental medicine generally addresses environmental factors with a negative impact on human health. However, emerging scientific research has revealed a surprisingly positive and overlooked environmental factor on health: direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth. Modern lifestyle separates humans from such contact. The research suggests that this disconnect may be a major contributor to physiological dysfunction and unwellness. Reconnection with the Earth's electrons has been found to promote intriguing physiological changes and subjective reports of well-being. Earthing (or grounding) refers to the discovery of benefits-including better sleep and reduced pain-from walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems that transfer the Earth's electrons from the ground into the body. This paper reviews the earthing research and the potential of earthing as a simple and easily accessed global modality of significant clinical importance.
Significant clinical importance? Simple and easy? Intriguing physiological changes and well-being? Yes please!
5. That transitioning toward barefoot has never been more simple. Do you have to bare all to get any benefit? No way. You can start by just doing easy exercises at home, no shoe change required. Then, you can start moving toward more minimal footwear. Here are four ways to evaulate your footwear (also from my book):
- Flexibility of sole.
- Width of toe box.
- Minimal (read: NO!) heel
- Fully connected (read: no gripping to hold a shoe on)
Making a change to any or all of these characteristics will have positive benefit on your whole-body health.
So, what do YOU like and dislike about #barefoot?