Protect Your Feet · 23 May 2013

Conventional wisdom says that we ought to protect our feet. Along with barefoot runners everywhere, I question that wisdom.

It is logical for us to believe that we ought to protect our feet. Certainly, we need to take care of them for they are the point of contact between ourselves and the earth. But taking care of them is not the same as pampering them, which is what conventional shoes and conventional wisdom seem to dictate. Our feet do not need to be encased in padding lest they get hurt. They do not need cushioning all around to keep them safe. Quite the contrary, they need to be in close contact with the ground in order to be fit for their particular duty.

When I first read about barefoot running several years ago, I was skeptical to say the least. But when I decided to start barefoot running, rather running in minimalist shoes, I decided that I needed my feet to be in minimalist shoes whenever they were not bare.

After making this decision, I watched and learned something about people. The students in my classroom and the athletes on the field who wanted to take their shoes off and walk or jog around were just being natural. They were trying to listen to their bodies and take care of their feet. They were flying in the face of conventional wisdom and letting their feet touch the ground. And they were right.

I have been in shoes with no support all school year. I am on my feet all day long and contrary to conventional wisdom, my feet have not rebelled. Indeed, they have thanked me for letting them do their job without the padding that just made them weak.

The saying goes: use it or lose it. That saying fits our body, especially, our feet. When we put padding around our foot muscles, they do not get used. Or at least they do not get used properly. Our feet were engineered much better than our shoes will ever be so we ought to leave well enough alone. We ought to let our feet do the job they are supposed to do and let them touch the ground. Or get as close to that as possible.

Now, that I have gotten my feet so close to the ground, I do not have any plans on going back. For the health and strength they have received, my feet and the rest of my body have thanked me. Which is why I question the conventional wisdom of protecting my feet.

© 2013 Michael T. Miyoshi

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