Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Latest Experiment: Living Barefoot

In reference to this

A couple months ago I read an article about the lack of science behind the modern running shoe. A lucky find in my random surfing. I sent it around and my friends and I talked about it for a bit and mused about what the ideal shoe would be like. Well it didn't take long to discover that several companies were already working on the ultimate minimalist shoe.

In short order I'd found a local retailer for Vibram FiveFingers and had a shiny new pair of KSOs to run around in. It didn't take long to wonder if I could wear the shoes full-time and with that curiosity came more surfing and searching. I was amazed at the number of people around the world who had sworn off shoes entirely, never mind the whole minimalist shoe concept. I was intrigued, to say the least.

I never did like shoes, and it was as if I'd suddenly been told I was right all along. Ya ya, don't believe everything you read, I know... but that begs the question of why do we wear shoes in the first place? I've always been one to question the status quo, so I did. As of this writing, I haven't worn shoes (flip flops, actually) for more than a few steps inside restaurants and public bathrooms in the last month. And that was after a full month of wearing my KSOs full-time.

My feet have changed shape, and I have started developing muscles below the knees the average person has no use for. When I say my feet have changes shape, I'm serious. After wearing KSOs for a few weeks, my Airwalks and New Balance runners started feeling very different. Tight across the toes and forefoot. Almost too tight to put on and certainly too tight to wear for any extended periods. At this point, I can honestly say that I don't even know if my "normal" shoes even fit me anymore!

Where was I? Oh ya... searching the intarwebs..

While in search of local barefooters (running, hiking, whatever!) to meet and learn from, I stumbled upon Al's meetup.com profile, which had a link in it to the Living Barefoot website. There I found forums and a small collective of barefooters from around the world. It's only a few months old, but it sure seems to be picking up in popularity. Oh, and how awesome is this, they are putting together The Living Barefoot Show. If the teaser is any indication, it promises to be a killer show.

After finding several excellent websites about the ins and outs of going barefoot, I was eager to find something in print. I soon learned that, at that time, such a book was mere weeks away from publishing. Born To Run is one of the best books I've read, on any topic. Granted, I don't read a lot of non-programming books, but it's still true. It's an excellent account of the author's journey into the world of ultra-running, minimalist footwear, and the idea that humans are actually natural born distance runners. As it turns out, that first article I read that got me started on this path was actually one of the chapters in this book.

So, if any of the two or three people following this blog have any secret desires to liberate their feet or even just meet some cool people, stop by the Living Barefoot Forums. I post as "Ryan".

If you're looking for great blogs by people on the forums, Barefoot Moe, Tina, and Barefoot Michael are all very active on the boards.

2 comments:

Jennifer said...

Hey there Ryan,

How are you? My name is Jennifer and I'm a Globe and Mail reporter. I'd love to talk to you about your new barefoot experiment... would you be available for an interview? I can be reached at jyang@globeandmail.com

Thanks! Hope to hear from you soon.

Cheers,
Jennifer

Barefoot Moe said...

I can very much relate to your experience, especially the foot shape/structural changes. I think it's the first sign on how our foot muscles, bones and tendons start awakening after years of confinement and misuse.