Saturday, June 5, 2010

Gotta Have Sole

Or not. Depending on the activity, shoes may not even be required. Sounds crazy? Crass? Well, it is true. Research has shown it. Research involving scientist. So, HA!

Shoes play a major role in some activities, others, not so much.


Seriously, humans were designed to run. During the course of our evolution, however, we weren't evolved with Nike's on our feet.

We are lean, upright, and designed to run. From our ability to sweat to our keen sense of coordination and balance. (some of us anyway). Companies like Nike have set us back and in a way, attempted to re-invent the wheel.

Let's take a closer look at the foot. Its complex, consisting of 26 bones, 33 joints and 20 muscles. Putting a shoe on that is literally like being in a cast. We have been running for millions of years and the modern running shoe wasn't around until the early 70's. Tribes used minimal equipment from thin soled sandals to moccasins in order to protect from gravel and thorns. That's all they had. No "memory gel" or "Sensory foam". Not even a "scientifically designed support system". Its all bullshit. We are made to run. The arch on our foot is an architectural wonder. There is a reason that the Roman's used them in structures. They support weight. As a runner it's important to absorb pressure, as up to 2 and a half times your body weight can come down on your foot. Sounds intense, but trust me, the foot can handle it.

If you do decide to chuck your nike's or toss your adidas on a telephone wire, take it slow. Barefoot running is an amazing feeling and it is easy to get carried away and take it too far too soon. Start slow, if you feel pain, stop. Its simple, listen to your body.

Another starter shoe is a thing called a Vibram five fingers. (Pronounced vee-brum) This are quite literally, gloves for your feet. They provide maximum range of motion and a minimalistic design with a thin rubber sole to protect from cuts and scrapes.

Do your research, read the book "Born to Run" and experiment.


It's macho, sweaty and testosterone driven. So lifting weights in mechanics boots or some other bad ass foot apparel may seem like a fantastic idea right? Wrong. Imagine walking into a dark, musky gym with chalk hanging in the early morning sunlight. The sounds of big steel plates banging against one another. Then picture a 280 pound power lifter prancing in with his barefeet slapping against the rubber matted floor. Sound dirty? Feminine? Well, that guy can lift 500 pounds off the ground. Sound dirty or feminine now? I didn't think so.

Like running, our feet strive to make contact with a solid surface. The more it has to fight through padding and foam, the more strength you are going to waste on pushing your foot to the ground. Think of it this way, in a lift with barefeet, there are 2 forces. The lift applied to the bar, and the pressing of the heels into the ground. That's it. Now when you stroll in the gym with pillow like shoes on, Im going to A) laugh and b) tell you that there are technically three forces at play. The first being the lift applied to the bar, the second is your foot pressing through the layers of foam and rubber and the final is your foot eventually pressing into solid ground. Make sense?

If not, I have one more way to look at it.

You're MAD. Some navy dude just banged your girl. Ooooh, what are you gonna do tough guy? Hit him? Yea? Ok, well he has a nice fluffy pillow around his face. Do you think you'll apply the greatest force you can to his smug little grin? Probably not.

The picture should be clear by now. I also recommend lifting in Chuck's. Not only do they have a bad ass iconic value, they provide some padding underneath and are also acceptable for those gyms that have certain policies against bare feet. Also, like I mentioned above, you could go with some Vibram Five Fingers.

Almost any exercise in general, can be done barefoot or with some chucks or Vibrams. I still do occasionally lift in shoes, and I pretty much leave it up to how my feet feel that day. In my humble opinion, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and stay barefoot as much as you safely can.

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