The Barefoot Conundrum

Remember what it felt like to walk on a warm beach barefoot?  Ahhhhh!  Taking the time to return to feet basics, like walking in the sand is not just for sunny days.  How often should you shed those shoes and get out barefoot?  Many research studies point to the possible benefits of shoelessness and there is even a whole new type of non-shoe call Vibram Five Fingers.  Why they don’t call it five Toes, I really don’t know, must be the marketing.  In today’s technologically superior stance, there is way too much information for the average person to digest.  Let’s get in the sandal and take it for a spin.

Studies have shown how important it is for a child to fully develop the foot before wearing shoes all the time.  Without shoes the foot will naturally develop the necessary arch and remain strong for a lifetime.  This theory has to do with how the brain is tracking the musculature in the body.  This is called proprioception: The unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself (answers.com). When there is too much cushion around the foot, the foot strike harder on the ground because the brain cannot sense as acutely.   With less cushion, the brain can better ascertain how much pressure is necessary and make lighter and less risky actions.

Maybe you daughter is on the track team and is having difficulty running.  What do you do?  You will get a litany of opinions depending on who you see; the podiatrist, chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapist or personal trainer.  Each professional has very specific training related to their scope of practice and the range of opinions within a profession can vary greatly.  If you look at only the foot and not the pelvic floor, the fix will only be temporary. I have a good friend who is an O.T. and loves to run.  She has run the Boston Marathon many times.  She will have custom orthotics before the race and throw them away when its over.  Our body changes that much!  If you treat the spine and insert custom orthotics, you may be missing key muscle or facial trains (muscle groups/connections).  I see how a combination of practitioners can work well.  A good Certified Personal Trainer will see how you move in the field and know how to develop specific muscles/muscle groups into balance and alignment.  A good Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist or Massage Therapist can treat a specific muscle injury to return the fascial trains to supportive balance/alignment with the skeletal frame.  Seeing the body holistically is what helps the body to correct itself and not just be temporarily fixed.  Being informed can help communication with your health care provider and their support network to see/treat the root cause of the pain/dysfunction and not the symptoms.

Getting to the heart of barefoot routines.   Barefoot walking/running is vital to knowing your body.  Integrating this into your routine(s) allows your feet to better tell your brain what’s up.  When we are more aware of our body then we can enjoy it’s functioning and support the healthy longevity of its miraculous form.  An important consideration is to take to being barefoot slowly.  The older you are the more time you give yourself.  A good habit starts slowly.

May delight and wonder visit you every day!

Scott Wurtz LMP PBP
Professional Bowenwork Practitioner