Feet…ah good old fashioned feet. Where would I be without you and the ability you give me to stand up and walk?
Yep, this is all about feet and the problems I have been having since last year. I guess it’s only to be expected really. You can’t walk around the world and expect your feet to stay happy. Especially if they’ve spent their life wrapped up in a shell, squashed out of shape and not really being fully used to their capacity.
So what’s this all about? Well, the answer is quite simple…BAREFOOT FOOTWEAR.
I’ve got through a lot of shoes in my life. When I was running in Madrid I had a special pair which were supposed to help with, and compensate for, “my pronation”…I ended up getting many more injuries than ever before.
When I started walking I twisted my ankle after just 2 weeks and was saved by a pair of flat soled mid-boots. When they gave out due to large amounts of rain, I got myself a pair of Italian walking boots (I was assured that because they were made in Italy they were of optimum quality compared to their Chinese cousins). 6 months later, my feet and toes in tatters, I abandoned them for walking sandals.
Then last October, Zamberlan agreed to sponsor me, and gave me a pair of lightweight hiking boots. Winter was approaching so I should say that I was very happy at the time, and very grateful to Zamberlan for agreeing to help me out.
Unfortunately, since October my feet have been a complete mess – a disaster even. At the beginning I thought that it was just a case of needing to walk in the new shoes. But as it turns out it was a little more serious than that. Non stop blisters on my toes and parts of my feet that I didn’t even know could get blisters. In fact, the shoes were so bad so that I developed tailor’s bunions. And what are they you ask?
Basically, tailor’s bunions are created when the little toe is squeezed and the fifth metatarsal begins to poke out so that it is constantly rubbed by the inside of the shoe. Here’s some more information on tailor’s bunions. I can tell you it’s not fun, and when you are walking all day it’s excruciating. And it takes little time to occur – in my case less than a month. Oh and it is more or less irreversible. It’s particularly common for women in high heels and comes from using shoes which are too tight or just plain don’t fit your foot shape.
Which brings me on to my main point. Look at the shape of your foot, and then look at the shape of your shoe? I think for the majority of people it is completely different. But fashion and an idea of correct footwear is so ingrained in our lives that we will forgive such things without really thinking about it.
I was listening to a fantastic TED talk by Hugh Herr recently. He is a professional mountain climber who lost both legs in a climbing accident 30 years ago. Now he not only has an incredible philosophy on life, but is building the next generation of bionic limbs and robotic prosthetics inspired by nature’s own designs. In his talk Herr says:
we still do not understand how to attach devices to the body mechanically. It’s extraordinary to me that in this day and age, one of the most mature, oldest technologies in the human timeline, the shoe, still gives us blisters. How can this be? We have no idea how to attach things to our bodies.
I completely agree!
When I contacted Zamberlan to tell them about my problem, the answer was unequivocal…silence. Luckily I stopped for the winter and spent some time thinking about what I could do. I am convinced that my foot problems come from conventional footwear. The solution? Barefoot shoes.
I did a lot of investigation and reading, and discovered that there are thousands of people out there who have come to same conclusion as me: barefoot is best. I already love walking barefoot whenever possible, but in todays world of concrete and tarmac it is really difficult, so we need alternatives. This fantastic article, by a podiatrist, is definitely worth reading: The Foot: Evolutionary Disaster or Persecuted Masterpiece?
And if you like that, then also have a look at this article and read more about barefoot technology. It’s fascinating reading!
So what did this mean for me? I was stuck in the middle of the mountains of Greece, a country where barefoot footwear is almost non-existent, with feet that were slowly falling apart from abuse. I began searching for a solution, looking into companies making barefoot footwear (there are a lot by the way!). I decided to write to some companies and explain my dilemma and get some advice, and hopefully a new sponsor.
After countless knockbacks, I came acros LUNA SANDALS, a company founded by Barefoot Ted, an Ultra Marathon runner. When I read through their website I found myself smiling, laughing and happy: it was like their personality and joy for life was jumping out through the computer screen at me: you can see they LOVE adventure. I found myself agreeing completely with their philosophy, on life and business. The idea of using simple sandals to make my feet work as feet should was appealing – after all I have been walking through Greece for the last year, a country where the ancient warriors went to war in sandals! And plus who wouldn’t want to be a LUNA Monkey (that’s what the tribe of LUNA users is called)?!
When I wrote to them I received a message a few days later from Barefoot Ted saying they wanted to help me out! Over the next few weeks I was taking precise foot measurements, sending photos and a few weeks later my own specially made LUNA sandals arrived in Greece via courier! AMAZING! And not just sandals but also toe socks, which mean I can use them in colder weather too!
According to their website, my OSO sandals
“are made for epic adventures in the mountains, deserts, rivers, and oceans. They are great for hiking, river rafting, trail running, backpacking, exploring, and just about any other adventure you can dream up in this big beautiful world”.
Well, I think I dreamt up a suitable adventure 🙂
Since then I have been putting them through a fairly rigorous testing programme, walking through Northern Greece (Macedonian Greece and Thrace) – the weather has been variable, the terrain both flat and mountainous, and I can say only thing: THANK YOU LUNA SANDALS!
My feet are beginning to feel happy again. And if my feet are happy then i’m fairly sure that my soul and body will follow. And when the summer kicks in…I will be almost living in them 🙂
You can check out LUNA sandals here