I have decided to take advantage of this wiki-weather and after writing this week’s columns for various publications, I have put my (bare) feet up, of the with a cup of coffee and am indulging in a little research about being barefoot or unshodden. And it’s gripping stuff!
On the first website I stumble upon I read, “It turns out that most people not only have very weak feet and ankles, they also have immobile feet and ankles. This is largely due to over engineered footwear being the norm across the civilized, modern world. Think about it – what does putting on a work boot do to your foot in terms of mobility? It limits it to a pre-determined range of motion. Sure, it stabilizes your ankle and protects your toes from falling objects, but it also prevents your ankle from moving through a full (and natural) range of motion, which means over time your ankles and feet will get progressively weaker.”
And only yesterday I wrote about my ankles feeling as though they were working harder as I ran on a treadmill barefoot for the first time and there’s more …
“We also already know that running barefoot takes about 4% less energy than running with shoes.”
Exactly what I experienced and shared with you yesterday – running actually felt easier! This is so exciting. It feels so real, so authentic. My inner critic chastised me yesterday for waxing lyrical about the obvious and immediate benefits of training unshodden, but here it is in black and white and written by a fitness professional and experienced bare-footer!
To read the whole article and see an video of how much more beneficial running unshodden actually is pop into www.physicalliving.com/the-definitive-guide-for-going-barefoot. And thank you John.
I had already read about the Vibram Five Fingers ( a kind of ‘foot-glove’) as a ‘safe’ option to being completely unshodden and will look into them in a bit more detail in due course, especially for Fell Running but I am also intrigued by Barefoot Ted’s Huaraches, a ‘rustic-looking bespoke sandal’ also available in kit form!
To be honest I am more intrigued by Barefoot Ted, so a quick click leads to another enchanting pathway of unshodden discoveries. Ahhh, so Barefoot Ted is “an independent athlete, committed to re-discovering primal natural human capacities and encourages others to do the same.” – www.barefootted.com – It appears Ted has spent the last seven years mastering long distance barefoot running …. could be a good guy to talk to then! He also runs a sandal company called Luna sandals –it also seems that it’s a good idea to have an ‘almost-unshodden’ option to, er, ‘fall back on’.
BFT as he’s obviously known to his friends, is also a Barefoot Running Coach … he holds regular sessions at Capitol Hill – in Seattle, USA. I wonder how easy it is to get through an airport unshodden? Shouldn’t be a problem seeing as how you have to take off shoes, jackets and belts for security checks anyway but they do expect you to put them all back on.
But wait, there’s also ‘Barefoot Ken Bob’ on the original Running Barefoot website est. 1997 – www.therunningbarefoot.com – who advises, “Before we begin, Take OFF that FOOTWEAR! If you want to take baby steps in your transition to Running Barefoot, fine. But, no baby, I’ve ever seen, was born wearing protective footwear, so they could run further, before they learned HOW to run – before their bare feet were strong enough for running! If your bare feet aren’t currently tough enough to run a mile while barefoot, then DON’T run a mile barefoot, not yet! If you wear some kind of minimalist, or “transitional” footwear, before you have had the advantage of LEARNING how to run while actually barefoot, you’re just asking for problems.
OK, information overload. I am aware that most of this info is about running bare foot, not just being unshodden and to be honest Barefoot Ken Bob looks a bit weirdy-beardy. I do try not to judge but well, I am. I don’t want my great unshodden experience to lead to a great unwashed existence. Oh, does that sound awful? I do hope not …. but on that (foot) note, I’m off for a bare-foot bath… What???
I’ll leave you with this wonderful quote: “… Barefoot, we’re almost always at peace. We’re gentle and tolerant with our fellow man. Stress and anxiety evaporate and grief itself seems bearable as long as our feet are free …” ~Barbara Holland~ in Endangered Pleasures: In Defense of Naps, Bacon, Martinis, Profanity, and Other Indulgences
Lynne Allbutt – From the Archives.