Go Bare!

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Do you suffer from back pain, knee pain, and poor balance or ankle sprains?

This blog is not about blaming shoes it’s about looking at research, experience and allowing for a more openperspective.

Why do we wear shoes? Is there a valid reason or is just what our generation has been bought up to think is the right thing to do? Could we all just be victims of some very powerful marketing? Protection from the ground I’ve heard to be a reason, I’ve also heard that running is too high impact and we need to wear shoes to prevent injuries… Well since shoes were created in the 1970’s injuries have neither increased nor decreased. Have we become soft? If anything our roads have become gentler to walk on, more pavements, less stones and gravel. Modernization in suburban areas you may find glass but that’s the only real danger. Our pathways are predictable and therefore we don’t need adjust our balance or think as much when we walk.

We have in the sole of our foot 100,000-200,000 exteroreceptors, our feet being the most nerve rich parts our body. A little bit of physiology… To create a muscle action a connection with the environment is first felt through our exteroreceptors the information is then passed to our brain to create the reaction/movement necessary. The cutaneous receptors have an important role in our finer movements and the fine precision needed for a muscle action when these receptors are damaged one of the most noticeable effects is on our balance.

So what does this have to do with wearing shoes? Well by wearing shoes your feet can no longer make that full connection with the earth to gather appropriate feedback to pass to the brain and determine body adjustments for your movement. They are impairing that biofeedback causing the information being passed to be clumsy and consequently your movement action will be clumsy. For example if you broke your ankle you may need to wear cast, the cast is designed to restrict that area of your body from movement, it is protected if you hit it on something hard and it allows that area to rest and heal. What happens when you take the cast off? The area is weak the muscles sometimes is so weak that it has visibly shrunken from not using it. Wearing shoes will have the same affect we are unable to fully use our feet to its full capability we are blocking its senses and feedback from the earth and we are making surrounding muscles work a lot harder to compensate for those being weakened from the shoe. Still wondering why you may be getting injured?

We’re making our feet weak and what happens after winter when the weather gets warmer? We start to de layer, we don’t want to wear as many clothes or shoes. At the start of summer you always look a bit ridiculous walking over stones to the beach “oh… ah… ouch,” surely being barefoot is not a good thing if you feel this pain…. right? Wrong… All of a sudden we are allowing our feet, our body and our brain to work together fully connecting with its surroundings and using all your muscles groups and receptors. But we have rarely used all of our exteroreceptors because they have been in a cast shoe so all of a sudden, BAM! Sensory overload to the brain. The only way the brain can interpret all these new sensations is by sending information back to that area as pain.

So how do we go from that pain feeling to calm and natural? You can practice you train your feet to feel again you train your body to move again and you train your body and your brain to work together effectively. Definitely don’t go out there running marathons barefoot, you treat it like rehab. Think of that broken ankle in a cast, once it comes off you start slow, you build strength slowly start to move more frequently on it and doing more and more weight bearing activities. This is the same situation, work on your mind when you’re barefoot tell the brain to relax that these sensations are not pain that they are natural. Walk on different surfaces, grass, sand, gravel, rocks etc. Allow yourself to fully feel the earth. It’s almost as if your feet have been blind and they are now learning to see, when you wake up and the light goes on straight away it hurts right? You haven’t allowed your eyes to adjust properly yet, give it time allow your feet and body to adjust and notice the whole body difference it makes.

Go Bare and enjoy! IMG_1314

Published by jdv05

I'm an Exercise Scientist leading Personal Training and active tours around Parks Victoria protected spaces of Warburton and the Mornington Peninsula. A lover all things movement, incorporating nature into our sessions and personal workouts. I spent 2014 in Japan working as a tour guide and researching trails and writing active trips for both Australia and Japan. I enjoy competing in fun runs and trail runs, with my favourite being the Two Bays trail run. You can check out some of my workouts and fitness tips on my personal blog, www.getfitadventurept.com Qualifications include: Bachelor in Sport and Exercise Science, Certificates III and IV in fitness, Level 1 instructor in Mat Pilates, Wild fitness trainer, Level I and II boxing instructor, Surf instructor.

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