Whenever I wear my Vibram FiveFingers I often see people looking down at my feet, and at work I normally have someone ask me why I wear these shoes. Simply put, I like them. I find them to be very comfortable [that obviously took some getting used to] but I do find that I enjoy walking “barefoot”. But specifically, these shoes do a lot for our bodies.
For those of us with back pain, a simple switch of the shoes might do the trick. The Vibrams promote proper posture and spinal alignment. That can have a positive snowball effect to the rest of our body.
Most of us are under the impression that the more cushion in a shoe the better for our feet, better for our body. I’m telling you that it’s the complete opposite. The foot and toes move more naturally. Meaning our feet and toes are actually making the movements that should be as we walk as opposed to a shoe with soles where our feet are underperforming. With that underperformance, our neurological receptors in our feet don’t get the information we need to our brain.
We didn’t start our time here on Earth with a pair of thick-soled shoes on our feet, we didn’t have shoes at all. We were made to walk barefoot. So why do we put so much faith into shoes that have thick, comfy, soft soles on them? What we are doing is not allowing our feet to feel the Earth underneath them. If we allow them to feel the Earth, our brains are actually receiving information from the ground and relaying it to our feet so that we move and react to things on the ground accordingly.
Christopher McDougall, the writer of Born To Run learned how it was possible that a group of Indians in Mexico could run hundreds of miles at a time with nothing but tire tread on the bottoms of their feet without rest or injury as opposed to the runners here in America with all the technologies that we can possibly have in our shoes, and are still suffering from injury. Simply put, we don’t need that cushion in our shoes.
Running and walking naturally has a lot to do with it, but when running, form plays a huge role as well. I’m sure you’ve jumped rope before right? When you jump rope you continually land on the front of your foot, it’s natural to do that. Now, I’m pretty sure you haven’t jumped rope landing on your heels have you? Let’s try it. Stand up and pretend you’re jumping rope, landing on your heels. I’ll wait…
Now that you’ve done that, I know you felt awkward doing that as well as the shock that went straight from your heels to the back of your legs. As a heel striking runner, that is what you’re continually doing to yourself while you run. Sending those shocks up the back of your legs and eventually into your back. Causing injury to yourself over a period of time. Now let’s go back to jumping rope and landing on your forefoot. When running we should be taking this same approach. Landing on our forefoot, we utilize muscles in our legs that act as a natural spring, allowing us to use less energy and preventing injury.
If you’re lucky enough to live in the DFW area, we have an authority here that specializes in teaching the natural running technique. Please visit his site to contact him and see if there is a workshop coming up in your area that you’d like to attend.
So next time you see someone wearing a goofy looking pair of shoes, ask them how they’ve changed their lives instead of asking them why they wear them. They may not be a fashion statement pair of shoes, but they definitely are a life-changing pair of shoes.