An Experiment · 1 September 2012

Day 5: August 31, 2012

I did a little experiment with my feet yesterday. I wore a “normal” pair of running shoes for much of the day and then wore my cowboy boots to a more solemn occasion. It was an enlightening day for my feet.

There are several days before school when the staff needs to be back to prepare for students. We have meetings and trainings so we sit much of the time. My “normal” shoes have thick soles, arch supports, and amenities we have come to expect in athletic shoes these days. My Merrells have none of those things. They are really just soles to protect the bottom of the feet and a covering to connect those soles to the feet. Common sense would suggest that the supported and padded shoes would make my feet more comfortable, but that was not the case.

I have been wearing my Merrells for about a month now. It is almost like being barefoot. When I wore my “normal” shoes, I was aware that I might be biased against them because of my reading and due to the fact that when we know we are being observed, we usually change our behavior. Still, my feet felt pretty good all day. But I wondered if they were just being accommodating and adaptable. To test this out, I slipped off my shoes during one of the meetings. My feet were relieved. While they had not been sore, they really did feel better when the shoes came off. And all I was doing was sitting. It seemed wrong somehow.

Later in the day, I attended a memorial service for a dear friend. My dress shoes are my cowboy boots so I wore them with my suit. Cowboy boots do not have any support or padding. The soles are merely a piece of leather with a heel. Then, there is a large piece of leather to connect that to the feet and protect the calves (from the horse or cattle, I imagine). It was a standing room only service and afterward, I stood talking to people as we remembered our loved one. My feet felt fine during that whole time. My toes were a little restricted, but everything else was great even though I actually stood for several hours. The only ill effects were to my calves (there were no cattle rubbing against them, but I felt a twinge of cramping) and to my knee.

While I was standing chatting to people, I could feel the strain in my right knee. It has been a bit sore from doing a few more single-legged squats than I was probably ready for (I have neglected doing them most of the summer). But that was it. When I took off my boots, my toes were excited and my feet were cooler, but they had not been screaming to get out. And unlike my “normal” shoes, there was little difference with them on or off.

I learned a lot with my little experiment yesterday. In those times and on those occasions where footwear is required, my feet and toes much prefer those shoes that are really just soles. In other words, they like my Merrells and cowboy boots much more than my “normal” shoes. But when it comes right down to it, my feet to be bare as much as possible.

© 2012 Michael T. Miyoshi

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