What shoes should I be wearing

“Get out of those corsets, they’re killing you”

– Catherine Beecher

Catherine Beecher lived during the 19th century and is mostly know as a proponent of education for women. The quote above is directed towards physical health rather than education. In Catherines time, corsets were tight, and designed to hold and shape the torso of women into a more desirable, aka fashionable, shape. Without question, these 19th century corsets were not good for your health. Using an item of clothing to re-shape your body to something other than its natural shape is a bad idea.

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Today I’d say, “get out of those shoes, they’re killing you“. Shoes started out as a means to protect your feet, and your feet do need protection. But we’ve flattened our world. Gone are the rough and rugged terrains we used to wander, replaced by flat footpaths and flat floors. Even as the ground beneath our feet has gotten flatter, the soles on our shoes have gotten larger. How much protection do you need from a flat surface?

The modern shoe is not a functional item, its a fashion item, and it re-shapes your foot to something other than its natural shape in the name of aesthetics. Most day to day footwear is harmful. Men have it bad, women have it worse, high heels anyone?

Most running shoes are harmful too. Gift wrapping your feet in fully padded, air pumped trainers will disrupt the natural biomechanics of your run and do harm to more than just your feet, it will ricochet upwards to your knees and hips.

The new normal is to have shoe shaped feet, instead of feet shaped shoes. This needs to change. The number one priority of your shoes should be function, not fashion. If you’re interested, these are what I wear. These guys also make nice children’s shoes, Anna and Paul

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Feet shaped shoes or shoe shaped feet
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Took this from NatGeo’s insta page – an Ashaninka Indian. Human feet shaped by nature

 

Disconnect to Reconnect

I’m a big fan of Vivobarefoot footwear and they are currently doing a minimalist challenge. Week one of the minimalist challenge was to enjoy a digital detox, to disconnect from our devices and reconnect with “the real world in all its sensory glory.”

I work at a computer screen all day which can’t be avoided so for this challenge I decided to stay away facebook, instagram, games on my tablet, no television or netflix, and I checked my personal email only once a day. I also tried limiting my Whatsapp use but that was a bit trickier, there is a fine line between disconnecting from your phone and being rude by not responding to people when they are trying to get in touch.

After one week of disconnecting this is what I’ve learned:

  • facebook, instagram, netflix, etc are all great tools. They entertain us, they inform us, they enable us to share and connect with one another. They all serve a purpose and I see that more now than I did before.
  • Somewhere along the road I turned all the above mentioned technologies from tools to entertain, inform, and connect, into just another chore. I had to stay up to date with my social feeds, I had to progress through my Netflix shows.

Staying away from my phone, TV, and tablet, even for just a week, removed these self-created chores from my life and I felt stress free without them, like a burden had been lifted. I had reclaimed spare moments in my life by switching off my devices. The week has passed and I’m back into the digital world again but less so than before. Now that I’ve had a samll self-revelation I only use facebook, instagram, netflix, etc when I want to, because I want to, and not in the near automatic way I was before. Its scary how much I instinctively reached for my phone before, to pass every moment of downtime. I also found it funny how facebook very quickly started sending me A LOT of emails about updates from my friends I was missing, clearly they were not happy that I stopped logging in. Three days post digital detox and the TV has been the biggest causality, I’ve yet to turn it on again, I will, just not sure when.

Healthy mind, healthy body and vice versa. Keep those minds healthy and enjoy a digital detox.

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My Shoe collection

All my shoes are made by VivoBarefoot. They say we are in the second barefoot revolution. The first revolution took place a number of years ago when minimalist and barefoot shoe brands started gaining popularity, but the revolution seemed to end in lawsuits against shoe makers and injured runners. We are now in the 2nd barefoot revolution as minimalist shoe brands are again gaining popularity, only this time there is a greater level of education among the wearers. Runners sustained injuries the first time around mostly because of a lack of education and small bit of arrogance. Runners don’t want to be told that a lifetime of wearing an inch of rubber beneath your feet has warped your natural stride into an unnatural one. In contrast, todays barefoot runners seek advice from professional running coaches before running in minimalist runners. I recommend these coaches.

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My shoe collection

Reading up on the subject of running is likely to lead you to a large and confusing array of articles and publications that will range from telling you that you’ll be running ultra-marathons with ease the day after you go barefoot, to the other extreme that you’ll lose the ability to ever run again such is the destructive force of barefoot running. Articles like this one make me want to steer clear of too much reading. The best thing you can do is to try yourself.

I’m absolutely not a running coach but I can tell you the benefits I’ve experienced after I switched my running and everyday footwear to Vivo shoes. This is of course anecdotal and applies to me, I can’t speak for others:

  • increased toe dexterity – my toes move much more than before
  • better proprioception through my feet – I didn’t notice this until a day when I had to wear “normal” shoes and the lack of feedback I was getting from my feet about the surface I was on was unnerving
  • Stronger soles – the soles of my feet are just tougher
  • No more knee pain – I used to be immobile on the coach the day after a race. I’ve never experienced this since I started wearing minimalist runners.

I do think the term “barefoot” is off-putting and misleading. As you can see from the photo, I’m anything but barefoot, I have 5 pairs of shoes. I don’t walk around outside in my bare feet, even in my house I usually wear socks. What I am doing is wearing shoes designed around the shape and movement patterns of the human foot, shoes that have a wide toe box, and a thin, flat sole. I’m so pleased with my Vivo’s, I even invested a small amount with them when they were crowdfunding, see this article.

 

 

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