Shoes: The Greatest Lie You Were Born Into.
Why do you wear shoes? Do you even know? Is it fashion, functionality, or necessity that shapes your choice of footwear? Think about how many people wear a ‘tennis shoe’ or a ‘cross trainer’ for everything they do, regardless of how much or how little physical activity they do. The truth is no one fundamentally really knows (most of the time) what their footwear is actually doing to their feet or their entire body. There is this idea going around that we need more sophisticated footwear, that we need arch supports, when in reality we actually need more natural ground connection and more barefoot training situations. Those people that 'help' you at Roadrunner and the people that 'prescribe' you at the Goodfeet store are actually NOT knowledgeable about functional anatomy or bio-mechanics (I know this because I've been quizzing them for years).
When my knees were bad I noticed in 5 minutes when I was wearing a poor pair of shoes, when I progressed more I switched from supported to more minimal shoes , at this point in time the only reason I wear shoes is to protect from cuts and bruises. I walk on 100% of my foot with a little effort here and there. Truly the only thing that forces more protected footwear is our blacktop and concrete world. And even then, you can Still overcome with a little adaptive work. Those shoe companies AND arch support companies just want money. if you believe in the feet you were born with you will really be impressed with the results over time.
If you wear a tennis shoe or a high heeled shoe or ANY shoe that lifts your heel up and sets your toes down, you better either be 'playing tennis, running, or living like a shark,' because you WILL feel the negative effects whenever you are standing still. The material of the shoe will always be mashed, it will always be defeated by your internal pressure and force even with the arch support whether you are a pronator or supinator by nature. The angle of the footwear will set the hips at an angle, ensuring that the lower back will be tighter and experience more pain. THERE IS NO PERFECT FOOTWEAR. there is only COMFORTABLE footwear. If your foot takes too much wear and tear or gets bruised too much THEN you will alter your movement anyway, THAT's why shoes were made in the first place. You have to pick and chose your battles: Per the situation and terrain that you are in, how much comfort do you NEED to work effectively.
The solution? No easy answer, no quick fix. It's taken me a few years, but the results are worth it. It requires a protocol, a system, a game-plan over time.
1. cycle through different footwear regularly. Different types of shoes, different situations. don't just wear same athletic shoe 100% of time, it will 'bias' your foot.
2. When the terrain allows, go barefoot. grass, mud, sand all have different feelings, but all let you feel natural ground connection with impact reduction
3. Only wear arch supports intermittently: reliance on them too much will NEVER let your ankle stabilize.
4. Resistance and functional training exercises that train feet and ankles as well as relationship to hip alignment, and regular stretching and massaging the foot AGAIN *different footwear for different situations, or even barefoot more and more
5. Think and develop awareness over time to LEARN how your foot and ankle work. everyone's physicality and energy is slightly different. The more you train with awareness, the more you feel natural connection to earth, the smarter you will be over time with your feet and your body without even thinking about it.
5 years ago if I wore a beat up converse and walked all around a steep hard ground camp for 3 days straight the arches of my feet would be sore and I would feel beat up and bruised, just this past weekend I did it and my feet and legs didn't hurt at all, my lower back had 0 pain. my leg muscles felt STRONG all weekend. THAT's what adaptive training and belief that you are 'better than the machine' can do.