Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happy Feet!

How are your feet feeling today? Do you ever wake up in the morning and give thanks for your feet? What?...If you are like me then you might have taken or maybe still take your feet for granted. They are just there at the end of your legs and do their job without you taking much notice. Unless ofcourse, you have pain or an injury or even a broken toe, which will bring your focus very much down to your feet. Every day we tend to squeeze our feet straight into restricting, high or narrow shoes or lace them up in trainers to go pound the pavement, never acknowledging that we may be setting ourselves up for injury and bad posture.

What many people do not realise is that the foot is made up of 26 bones..yes, 26 bones in each foot and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Considering we only have 206 bones in our entire body, 52 bones in our feet is a lot of bones! They are therefore a very important and major part of our framework and should be treated accordingly. In fact the mere act of walking uses around 200 muscles! Wow! No wonder we love having our feet massaged so much. Just think of reflexology and the amazing impact the treatments have on our wellbeing. They are of major importance and should be treated with respect, don't you think?

Now I have to admit, I have a shoe fetish and a wardrobe full of impossibly high shoes, which are all very beautiful to look at but oh so horrible to wear. It takes about 5 minutes of walking before the 52 bones in my feet start screaming blue murder at me. I just don't understand how the likes of Victoria Beckham manage to walk around all day long in those heels! So anyway, back to the feet.

Earlier this year I suffered an overuse back injury which put me out of action for a good 3 months. I have always run and always suffered the consequences of running ie injury, without knowing why, blaming it on intensity or lack of sense! . I always bought the most expensive running shoes believing that they would support my foot, prevent impact and allow me to run pain and injury free. I even had special insoles made by a foot specialist who said that I needed to correct a weakness in my foot which was caused by un-stable ankles.....hmmmm, I now know that by doing all this I was simply making my foot weaker and causing imbalances in my alignment which was leading to these injuries. To cut a long story short, I decided to take the barefoot root. I had heard a lot about this way of running/walking and thought that now would be a good time to wean myself off my high-tech Asics, especially now that I was facing a long break from doing any exercise at all. The first step was to buy some lightweight, barely there trainers and although there are various ones on the market, I chose the Nike Frees. Needless to say I spent the following 3 months simply walking in them as I was un-able to do anything else and was amazed at the difference that I felt in my feet. No more aching ankles, painful toes or sore hips/knees. Once my back pain had subsided I started to run in them. This took some getting used to because you have to tread more carefully and correct your running motion and stride. I felt I wanted to take smaller steps and land more in the middle to front of my foot as opposed to "heel to toe", which takes a toll on muscles, bones and joints. My first few runs were cautious and very short and I felt a bit of pull on my calves, but nothing too dramatic. I gradually built my runs upto an hour without any pain anywhere, and although running is not on the top of my list of activities anymore, it is simply nice to know that my feet are happy to no longer be restricted in ill fitting and overly protective shoes.

During my recent trip to California, I went one step further and purchased a pair of Vibram five fingers, which are the nearest thing you can get to being completely barefoot and although they are not a pretty sight, my feet love them! Going barefoot can have a major positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing and could even change the way you do your workouts by strengthening your alignment and posture. Walking barefoot on a regular basis will stimulate the circulation in your feet and have a beneficial effect on all your organs. So before you take another trip to the chiropractor or osteopaths clinic, think about your footwear and how it may be the cause of many physical issues you may be experiencing. I realise that not everyone is going to dash out and by some ugly frog feet shoes, but do try and walk with no shoes on as much as possible when you are at home and consider donating your high tech running shoes to charity and replace them with some lightweight ones, which are also a whole lot cheaper!

Lastly, I also recommend that you read the book "Born to Run" by Chris McDougall which will inspire you to take the first step on your barefoot journey.

Also check out, and, for your footwear, all of which can be purchased online.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think or let me know about your own experience with barefoot living.

In health,


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