Happy Feet

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What makes a foot happy? Do you think it's being inside of a tight shoe? A bulky shoe? Any shoe?

How would your hands feel if they were inside gloves all day? Literally, how would they feel? How could they feel? Imagine putting a baby in gloves all day and expecting them to develop normally. They would miss out on huge amounts of sensory input, right?

We have no problem strapping shoes to their feet once they're walking. If you have kids or toddlers, let them walk barefoot and see if it's different than them walking with shoes on. Our feet need to be feet. For hundreds of years, modern-day footwear has been shaped in an unnatural way--from high heels to running shoes. I guess this made our feet look better? However, the amount of injuries plaguing modern-day humans is at record high numbers.

More and more research is out there showing that aboriginal tribes who continue to be barefoot or with minimal footwear do not have the orthopedic problems that we consider normal. Tribes of Mexico who still to this day run many miles a day barefoot or in minimalist sandals do not show signs of arthritis or require joint replacements as we do by the age of 50.

The running shoe industry changed when Nike decided that a heel strike would allow for a greater stride length, however it did not take into account that it was changing human body mechanics. Our foot was masterfully engineered to be spring-loaded when allowed to land naturally. Once a cushioned pillow is inserted on the bottom of our foot, we will land on our heel and send a jolt of force straight up our joints. We are essentially putting on the breaks when we land on our heel and our body exerts far more energy this way.

In response to all the running injuries that are now accepted as "normal" and a "rite of passage" by runners of all abilities, the shoe industry went to work to fix our pain. Each brand created a line of shoes to address our needs: neutral, cushion, mild-moderate-max stability. They all had their own version of medial posting to correct "over pronation" so you could toss out your custom orthotics and just buy $150 shoes 1-2x a year! They introduced lightweight racers to trail shoes and the list goes on. And we all follow.

But, now we really need to stop, and educate ourselves. Just think, how did our hunter-gatherer ancestors manage to get from point A to point B for all those years without their moderate stability, max cushioned running shoe with foam insert? And don't forget their foam roller to constantly mobilize their IT Bands and calves?

We were built to run! We were specifically built to run on our feet! We've allowed this amazing structure go to waste and let them be overshadowed by our Chuck Taylors. Take your feet out of your shoes and move them. They can do so much more than which we give them credit.

Want to regain your foot independence? Start with an overhaul of your shoe collection, and then begin the re-education of your feet.