Written by Hannah Dykstra
I am asked all the time why I walk barefoot or why I purchased a pair of such minimalist shoes from Vivo Barefoot. Our feet are the foundation by which every single pattern of movement begins, full engagement of every single muscle in our foundation leads to full engagement of every single muscle up the chain. We have muscles and movement patterns for a reason and we need to recall how to properly function in the correct patterns. That is close to impossible to execute when you essentially “turn off” muscles that activate these patterns.
The natural foot is a sensory organ that has 200,000 nerve endings. According to researchers at VIVO, 70% of our brain’s movement information comes from our feet – the part of the brain that gets information from the feet is the same size as the part of the brain that gets information from the hands. So if we take this feedback away, or mask the feedback with cushioned shoes, then the brain becomes confused. This confusion leads to compensation, compensation leads to imbalance and imbalance leads to pain.
We are born with everything necessary to survive – lungs, heart, brain, fingers, limbs and hmm… BARE FEET. We have structural tissues in our feet for a reason – children are born barefoot and learn to walk barefoot. Arches in the feet don’t begin to develop until the age of six, so why put shoes on feet to restrict that development and turn those muscles off?
With the restriction of proper foot development and recruitment comes weak feet and lack of toe-mobility (toe-bility?). The way your big toe touches the ground effects the entire gate of the rest of the body so if the arch collapses then the fibula and tibia are no longer in alignment, therefore the knee internally rotates which will then disengage the glutes. Proper engagement of the big toe leads to proper engagement of every other muscle in the body. When you move balanced and properly, you can live pain free!
Big shoe companies tell us that we “need” heavy bulky orthopedic cushioned shoes to withstand the weight we bare day to day. Did our Paleolithic ancestors need shoes to run, hunt, kill, and carry that 1500 bison for dinner that night? I don’t think so… why do we need to wear bulky shoes to perform exercise?
We’re all victims of the cushioned shoe scheme – they may be comfy but they are detrimental to the rest of the body. Here’s some tips and exercises to help with your feet or lack there of…
1. GO BAREFOOT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!!! Or buy VIVO barefoot shoes at https://www.vivobarefoot.com/us
2. Toe-ga exercises
3. Feet strengthening exercises