By Matt Stone
I admit – I have dabbled in the world of peculiar health-oriented footwear – to some degree. For a couple years I wore a pair of those fugly Vibram 5-Fingers shoes. They were alright. I used them mostly for hiking in mountains and desert – hard on the feet but good on the body, as you had to walk carefully and gingerly to an extent that a lot less shock was being sent up into the knees, hips, and back.
But my feet never really adjusted to the lack of protection because I just couldn’t bring myself to wear them daily. While the internet gives me electric courage (similar to the liquid courage of alcohol), and I speak my mind, cause an occasional ruckus, and intentionally draw attention to myself whenever possible – in real life I am the exact opposite. I don’t like wearing footwear that everyone gawks at, nor do I like fielding the same annoying questions about my footwear every 10 minutes in a public setting. I did enough redundant question-answering?in my days as a forest Ranger.
I had ambitions of doing some barefoot walking for a while too because I am compelled by this idea of being earthed or grounded (discussed in this important post)?as well as the mechanical and postural reasons for walking with a natural stride. Plus, I knew someone who didn’t wear shoes for the first time until age 18 and her feet were incredibly resistant. She ran 120+ miles per week on them with no foot problems. I’m so jelly. My feet?have always felt like they were Made in China.
So in 2011 I?was walking greater and greater distances in Florida with no shoes at all until one day I walked across some pavement that was too hot. Felt fine at the time aside from a light stinging sensation, but after I got home blisters broke out all over my feet that made walking uncomfortable for about a month. Project Barefoot came to an abrupt end.
And speaking of not wanting to draw attention to oneself, I saw a goofy-looking m’fer walking around barefoot just yesterday. In the less than 10-seconds it took for us to walk by each other in passing, a car drove by and someone shouted “Why are you not wearing any shoes?!!”? True story. No thanks. By the way he yelled back “Because it’s comfortable!”? That’ll’teach those punk kids to mind their own beeswax.?But a?better response I guess than shouting “Because contact with the earth resets?your circadian?rhythms and protects you from EMF’s!”
If that happened in a 10-second sampling of his life, I can only imagine how much?harassment he gets over the course of a full day.
Surprise Billy Barefoot! I was grounded too sucka but no teenagers were pestering me (reminds me of when I was 12 at the mall and some kid in combat boots with a mullet was making fun of me for tightrolling my jeans). I was’sporting the result of my latest health fetish footwear – Earth Runners.
Earth Runners?look a lot like a normal pair of Chaco or Teva sandals, but they are a?lot?lighter, are custom made to a trace of your foot and thus fit better, and have conductive copper studs in them to keep?your feet grounded to the earth.
The shoes have a minimal sole so they take some time to get used to. Your feet will probably hurt at first but they toughen up quickly if you wear them daily and slowly expand the distances you walk in them.
Anyway, I am liking them and they actually look pretty cool. At the very least, I’m doing more walking and spending more time outdoors and that simple, underappreciated change has always treated me better than any other health practice I’ve pursued – especially since becoming a computer slave in 2005.
While I haven’t discussed Earthing much on the site except for a brief mention in 10 Health Reasons to Spend Time Outdoors (where one of the authors of Earthing commented), I hope to discuss it soon because it is the perfect example of a “can’t hurt, might help” health intervention. The reasons for earthing oneself are quite compelling and are perfectly in-line with the broader objectives of this site (calm nervous system, lower cortisol, warm extremities, higher metabolism). I will write a post specifically about Earthing very soon.
You can get yourself some of these fancy shoes at www.earthrunners.com. Don’t expect some perfect factory sweatshop creation. They take some getting used to, the straps are like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube at first, and it just generally takes a little while to sort of figure them out.