Thursday, June 28, 2012

Barefoot Walking Video

For the walkers out there, here's a video for you.  I got tired of watching barefoot running videos, and decided to make my own walking vid. 

How to stretch your feet, massage, and walk barefoot (or almost barefoot) without hurting yourself.
Start slow!

Let me know what you think!
I appreciate all comments.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Walk Like the Tarahumara

I am no runner. I've tried running, ran track in high school, ran with friends in college, but I didn't like it much, and running didn't seem to like me.

So why am I reading about barefoot running? Well, there's precious little information out there on barefoot walking, while barefoot running is all the rage. The physics of both are very similar. And so are the benefits.

 I'm reading about my new shoes, my huaraches, and found this fascinating video about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, the people who run hundreds of miles barefoot or in huarache sandals. If you're not a runner, bear with it. The information about wearing less supportive shoes is useful for all of us who want to avoid knee and foot injuries.

Video: The Tarahumara

So what do you think of barefoot walking?
Already tried it and love it? 
Hate it?

Think it sounds ridiculous?

Have an experience or advice to share?

Leave a comment and let me know. 


Saturday, June 16, 2012

New Shoes » New Hems

 My new huaraches, from Invisible Shoes.
Inexpensive, and so comfy.
I ordered the soles to my foot length, then trimmed to fit my narrow feet.

These should protect my tender soles without restricting my toes, and without flopping around like my flip-flops do. 

(Once again, inspired by my sister Lisa!)
With the thin soles on all my new shoes, now some of my pants are too short!
Tonight is hemming night.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Real Barefoot Walk

Tying up the cherry tomato
Dirt washes off!


Cool grass

My first barefoot day!  I gardened barefoot.  When the concrete got too hot, I stepped on the soft, cool grass or the dirt.  I finally had to stop because it became too hot to work outside. 94ºF.


Later in the day, I took my first really barefoot walk around the neighborhood.  I've been walking in "barefoot shoes" for several months, so I'm used to the different gait, but this was a completely different experience.

When walking barefoot, it's very important to walk softly.  You very quickly learn to avoid heelstrike, which is landing heel first.  With cushioned shoes, we normally do land heel first, so it takes awhile to relearn how to walk.  I've searched for good barefoot walking videos, and have found none that were helpful.  Lots of barefoot running videos, but I'm not a runner.  It helps to watch barefoot running, though, because you see the idea.  As my dad, the track coach, says, "Your heels just kiss the ground."

•shorter strides
•your foot lands under your body, not in front
•you land first on the ball of your foot, then the rest of the foot comes down
•your foot acts as a shock absorber

(from, originally from
One really helpful description was found on  They liken barefoot walking to walking like a native american tracker.  This is called fox walking.

By far the best barefoot walking site I've found is by Jessica Lee and Michael Sandler.  They explain better than I ever could the benefits of going barefoot.  And their site gave me the push I needed to start REALLY going barefoot.

Smooth concrete
The most challenging element yesterday was the ground surface.  I have always been a tenderfoot.  I remember as a kid trying to walk barefoot across the gravel driveway, "Ouch, ouch! Ouch! ouch!"  I found that walking on the sidewalk was fairly easy.  I just had to look out for sticks and other sharp objects.

Smooth concrete squares felt so much nicer than rough concrete.  Who knew?
Regular concrete

Ouchie asphalt street

The trouble was the asphalt.  It has those big chunks of gravel mixed in, for a very rough surface.  So every time I had to cross the street, "Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!"  Sometimes a little particle of sand or gravel would stick to the bottom of my foot and irritate it, and I'd have to brush off the particle on the grass or stones.

The most amusing moment: when two little kids on bicycles exclaimed, "She's going barefoot!"

Here's hoping my feet get tougher fast!

Sunday, June 10, 2012


 So here's your foot.  Unadulterated, in it's birthday suit.
 We know we're not supposed to wear high heeled shoes.  They're obviously bad for our feet.  It always makes me cringe to see grown women wearing what I call Barbie shoes.  Those shoes that squish up your toes and twist up your ankles.

But how about those walking shoes and running shoes that everyone seems to be wearing, the ones our doctors most often recommend, the ones that are supposed to give our feet the support and stability they need?  When my feet have been sore after work, I have generally tossed the silly shoes aside and slipped my tootsies into a pair of comfy running shoes.  I even keep a pair under my desk at school.  You know, the sensible shoes.

Well, look at how high the foot is when we're wearing those shoes.  I've talked to several people who've actually injured themselves falling OFF of their running shoes.  And two years ago, after the physical therapists told me to wear orthotic inserts for even more arch support, my feet began to hurt more.  Until I was diagnosed with hammertoes, and began to search for alternatives to surgery.

So it's back to nature for me.  Good old bare feet!  But the problem comes when you want to enter a place of business, or a school, or a library, or an airport.  Of course, they make you take off your shoes, but certainly expect you to put them back on after you pass through security.  So what kind of shoes should a person wear?

Kinds of Minimalist Shoes

There are all kinds of cool shoes out there for people who want to sport the cool, new low-rider shoe look.

There are the strange shoes with little fingers for your toes.


 These were my first minimal shoes, initally very difficult to put on, as my little curled-up baby toes didn't want to go into their individual fingers.  Now they're my faves.  And when they get dusty from the trail, I throw them in the washing machine.

 These get plenty of odd stares and comments, and also pleasant compliments from cool young people on the street, as in "Nice veebs!"

There are shoes for those who don't want to have their feet stared at.


See, everybody's jumping on the minimal shoe bandwagon.
New Balance

I hear these are nice, too.

 These are my second pair of low-rider shoes.  They are just as comfy as my Veebs, but don't get the stares.

And then there are shoes that are even more minimal, even less shoe:


You can buy them.

Invisible Shoes 

 Or make your own. 

homemade huaraches

My sister has been doing this.  She runs miles and miles in them!  You can buy materials that costs about $5, and make your own custom huaraches. 

Whatever you choose, it's important to pick shoes that
#1 are comfortable
#2 are low to the ground
#3 have a ample room for your toes, or a wide toe box
#4 are flexible
#5 let the arch move up and down, like a natural shock absorber.

The Foot Bone's Connected to the...

The Anatomy of the Foot 

I recently read that the knee is quite complex, because it has so many tendons and ligaments, and allows us to move in so many different ways.  Many human joints are intricate, but the foot is by far the most complex.  If you don't believe me, consider this: the foot contains 26 bones, 106 ligaments, 19 or 20 muscles, and 38 to 40 tendons.  Wow.

This video by Dr. Nabil A. Ebraheim illustrates well the complexity of the foot:

No wonder it's hard to design shoes to support our feet! 

So I'm not supposed to wear shoes?  That's not what my doctor told me!

As it turns out, wearing shoes may have helped to cause my foot and knee problems.  And many doctors, physical therapists, and podiatrists may not know about options other than orthotics and surgery.

The shoe paradox, according to Adam Sternbergh's article "You Walk Wrong" in New York Magazine, is that "wearing shoes simply creates the need for wearing shoes."  Or, as my sister once told me, our feet started to atrophy the moment we started wearing shoes.

Schierlitz, Tom. You Walk Wrong. By Adam Sternbergh.  New York Magazine April 21, 2008. Makeup John Maurad and Jenai Chin. 

In a study conducted at Rush University Medical Center, walking barefoot or with minimalist shoes could be healthier for more than just our feet. Dr. Najia Shakoor, the principal author of the study, says, "Our study demonstrated that flat, flexible footwear significantly reduces the load on the knee joints compared with supportive, stable shoes with less flexible soles."  So there's scientific evidence to support the knee/foot/shoe connection.

Next blog entry: What Shoes to Buy