Steel-Toed and Barefoot · 12 September 2012

A friend of mine seems to like the idea of being barefoot, but his profession precludes him from having “barefoot shoes.” Kerry is a firefighter and would need steel toes to go barefoot on the job. There are others who have this steel-toed requirement, so there ought to be a pair of “barefoot steel-toed shoes.”

We were talking about shoes while I was explaining my new health regime. As we talked, I remembered my thought about mowing the lawn. I put on an old pair of sneakers to do ours, because my Merrells really do make my feet feel like they are bare. I cannot mow the lawn barefoot so I allow my feet to suffer just a bit when I mow.

The last time I mowed, I thought steel-toed barefoot shoes would be great. For mowers and professionals who required them, like firefighters. I even thought of how they ought to be designed.

First of all, the shoes would need to give the toes lots of room to flex and wiggle. Steel does not flex well so the toe box of the shoe would need to be large and make the toes feel like they were not enclosed. This is how my old steel-toed boots fit anyway, so the toe box would just need to be splayed out more like real toes are. Like the “barefoot shoes” are.

The next design feature to consider would need to be the heel. As I have shared before, I notice a big difference in how my knees feel when my heels are raised above my toes. As long as the steel-toed barefoot shoes had no heel lift, my knees and I would be happy. Others might be happy with a slight heel lift, but nothing like boots nowadays.

The last part of the design would be the toughest.

The purpose of the sole of work boots is to keep nails and other pointy things from piercing the foot. The purpose of the sole of minimalist shoes is to keep the foot in contact with the ground to let the foot do its feedback job. They seem to be opposing goals, but my conversation with Kerry put the finishing touches on the design. He said that his shoes had a Vibram sole. And I thought, “Just like my Merrells.” Now, I am not sure if there is some denser material between the Vibram sole and the ground or if the soles are just thicker than my shoes, but somebody had figured out work boots could have those soles. If the whole sole was not the Vibram sole, I figured tire treads or some other thick material could be put on the bottom of the shoes. After all, some of the runners in the book, Born to Run, just cut out soles from old tires and made sandals to run ultramarathons. As long as people could feel the ground through the soles and not have any support, the steel-toed barefoot work boots would be marvelous.

I have not done any research to see whether these types of shoes exist, but if they do not, somebody ought to make them. After all, there are firefighters and lawn mowers who would like to have healthy feet. Steel-toed barefoot work boots would fit the bill. Steel-toed barefoot work boots would give everybody a chance to feel barefoot all the time.

© 2012 Michael T. Miyoshi

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