Three generations of feet - My 20 month old granddaughter, Claire, 19 year old daughter, Rox, and my own 54 year old feet standing on our indoor cobblestone foot playground texture path made of various stones to stimulate and massage the many muscles and nerves in our feet. Feels so good! Notice Claire's feet are widest at her toes, not at the ball like the adult feet that have been confined and conformed to shoes.
How I love beautiful high heel stiletto shoes! Well…to look at! I no longer wear them...I’ve kept a few of my all time favorite stilettos in my closet to remind me of the pain and malformations my feet were going through by wearing them most of my life.
This is one of my favorite pairs of stilettos that I keep in my closet. One can see how wearing shoes like this is going to inflict some major foot problems!
After experiencing ongoing severe foot, knee, and back pain a few years ago, I started to research why this was happening to me and what I could do to remedy these painful problems. I always say, "God doesn't make mistakes!" I've learned that whenever my body is in pain or not functioning correctly, it's something I'm doing to cause the problem. It didn’t take me long to figure out the source, as I’ve always known that wearing tight fitting shoes, and ones with very high heels, would eventually cause problems.
If you don’t know me, I’m the girl who promotes taking back our lives by living a more simpler, natural life. One where we live like our ancestors did. We haven’t had a television or microwave in our home for almost ten years. And we certainly don’t miss those items! We have more time to live and enjoy all that life has to offer…including making real whole food from scratch!
Back to the heart and “sole” of this blog! (I know, I just had to include that!) Shedding our shoes! When you have worked a long day and enter your home, what’s the first thing you do? Take off your shoes? Yes, it’s the right thing to do to keep our homes a bit cleaner…but we take off our shoes because it feels so good to release our feet from the captivity of our shoes and even socks! I believe it’s an inborn instinct we have to prefer to be barefoot! Even watching my 20-month-old granddaughter who truly dislikes wearing shoes, has taught me that we are born with the instinct to go barefoot. Society has us believing that our feet must be protected in the latest styles at all times. These poorly designed shoes are altering the anatomy and mechanics of our feet. This weakens those precious bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons in our feet.
Rox and I feeling the beautiful texture and temperature of the cool moss on a fallen log in the woods! This wakes up those nerve endings in the bottom of our feet and keeps our body alive and alert to change. Rox's feet have wonderful spread out toes as she has never worn high heels or shoes with narrow toe boxes. My feet are getting wider and my toes are beginning to spread out. Fifty plus years being confined in very tight shoes will take time, but over the past few years great healing changes have taken place!
Let’s look at the design and science behind our amazing feet! Each foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and tendons. The 52 bones in our feet make up about 25 percent of all the bones in our body! Why so many located in one small region? Because our feet take on so much force throughout the day, and that radiates throughout our entire body. How our feet respond to their environment determines how our overall body reacts. Our feet have an incredible job to do each day. We need to allow them to function as they were designed to function. Once I stopped listening to the mass media always promoting footwear that had some kind of raised heal, supports, highly padded, and narrow toe boxes, and started feeding my feet what they needed: Freedom to truly move, Feel Texture, Terrain, and Temperature – my entire body started to heal. It’s been a few years for me without the standard 21st Century shoes, and only wearing barefoot minimalist shoes or just going barefoot whenever possible. No turning back for me!!
Claire enjoying the texture of sand between her toes. Such a wonderful workout for her developing feet!
Think back to being a child...running barefoot whenever possible! That's an inborn trait that we posses from birth. Caring for a child's feet will benefit their health, mobility, and well-being throughout their entire lives. According to the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, the 26 bones in our feet are not fully hardened (or ossified) until the ages of 12–18. In fact, children's feet are composed of relatively soft and flexible cartilage that will gradually convert to bone with age. While children's feet are developing, the soft cartilage centers are fusing together. With that said, the foot is at risk from injury and deformity due to ill-fitting footwear. Any foot abnormality can have an ill effects further up the body and permanently alter posture and walking style. Since I've transitioned to this natural way of moving, I've seen my feet actually changing as time goes by. My toes are splaying nicely, my large toe joints are moving back in place, and a bone on the top of each foot that became arched has now basically moved back into correct form. Both Rox and I have witnessed our knee, joint, and back pains have disappeared!! Truly amazing to watch these transformations taking place!! Now that warm weather is here, encourage your children, the entire family for that matter, to go barefoot whenever possible! You'll find us running around our village and local parks barefoot. Rox and I keep a pair of barefoot sandals or shoes in our car, to slip on before entering a store or restaurant. Always best to follow restaurant or store policies about wearing shoes! Otherwise, we’re almost always completely unshod, when the weather permits.
Researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, published a study titled “Shod Versus Unshod: The Emergence of Forefoot Pathology in Modern Humans?” in the podiatry journal The Foot. This study examined 180 modern humans from three different population groups (Zulu, Sotho, and European), comparing their feet to one another’s, as well as to the feet of 2,000-year-old skeletons. The researchers found that, before the invention of shoes, people had healthier feet. Among these modern subjects, the Zulu population, which are most often found barefoot, had the healthiest feet. While the Europeans who persistently wear shoes, had the unhealthiest. One of the lead researchers, Dr. Bernhard Zipfel, when discussing his findings, stated that the American Podiatric Medical Association does not “actively encourage outdoor barefoot walking for healthy individuals. This flies in the face of the increasing scientific evidence, including our study, that most of the commercially available footwear is not good for the feet.” Are you ready to rethink shedding your shoes yet?
We were designed to go barefoot and not place our feet into casts each day making them unable to move and feel the earth. In my quest to find the cause of so many foot and body ailments I came across this incredible study that was done over 100 years ago! This made me convinced that going barefoot or wearing barefoot/minimalist shoes was indeed the only way to go! In 1905, an orthopedist named Dr. Philip Hoffman published a powerful study in the American Journal of Orthopedic Surgery, comparing the feet of barefooted and shoe-wearing people. (See a few of Dr. Hoffman’s incredible pictures below.) Dr. Hoffman found that those people who spent their lives barefooted displayed wider feet with wider toe beds and fewer foot abnormalities. Those who wore shoes displayed narrower feet and toe beds, and a great deal of foot malformations and impairments. Interestingly, those who had been barefoot most of their lives and then started wearing shoes experienced substantial, rapid changes in their foot structure after only a few weeks of wearing shoes. Dr. Hoffman found that of the 186 pairs of primitive feet examined, he didn’t find a single foot associated with symptoms of weakness that we often see in adult shoe-wearing feet.
Notice how wide apart the toes are! I bet this person had really good balance!