Do you remember when you were a kid and you ran around outside without any shoes on, feeling the grass beneath your feet? Do you remember how free you felt? How you felt connected to the earth and the world around you? Stop for a second and just remember.
It felt good, didn’t it? But somewhere along the line it stopped feeling so good, until now even the thought of going outside without shoes on is painful. So what happened? Our bodies respond to stimuli and adapt. So, when we put our feet in shoes, they still want to feel what is going on, so they become hyper-sensitive. Now, when you step on a tiny rock it hurts like crazy.
But I have good news. It can be undone.
Most of my friends know me as “the barefoot guy”, but I wasn’t always that way. Then one day I decided to get into barefoot running. However, before you can run barefoot you need to walk barefoot. I distinctly remember one of the first times I did this, walking on asphalt and having every little bump hurt so bad. Now I can walk on gravel comfortably. Isn’t the human body amazing!
Our bodies are designed so that our hands and feet are the primary ways interact with the world. Our hands interact with objects by grabbing, lifting, throwing, and climbing, while our feet interact with the ground. When we put our feet in shoes we prevent them from doing the one thing they were designed for.
If you have foot pain, it is likely because of shoes. The common misconception is that “arch support” is a good thing. However, the arch is actually one of the strongest and most stable structures. When you support it, it actually gets weaker. The same holds true for your foot. It is antifragile, and it thrives on interacting with the ground.
Being barefoot is so healthy for your feet. It allows all those little muscles to work and become strong. It teaches your toes to work like toes (yes, you are actually designed to be able to control your toes like you do your fingers). Plus, it feels amazing! Yes, there’s a bit of a “learning curve”, so to speak, but allowing your feet to move as they were designed will do wonders for your body.
The health of your feet is completely in your hands. If you want to live without pain, take off your shoes. Feed your body some "movement nutrients" by walking on different surfaces like grass, carpet, and sand. Your feet will thank you.
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