Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wearing the Wrong Shoes

At work recently, I was on the task of pruning and hauling branches from an overgrown area near a roadway. Since this was going to require stepping on uneven ground with thorny branches from osage orange and honey locust trees as well as broken bottles and possibly worse, I wore my old cross training shoes from before my nearly barefoot days. The day was, for me, a stark reminder of why I wear the shoes I do.

I cannot believe I used to run in those shoes. They have a stiff, thick sole, thick leather uppers, and a bit of ankle support. These features are great for keeping thorns and glass out, but as far as foot function goes, I got a re-education on what is wrong with athletic shoes.

First of all, if it were not for the thick soles I would not need the ankle support. The thickness of the sole made me feel like I had 2x4s attached to the bottoms of my feet. The taller the platform under the foot, the more instability there is, simple physics.

Second, heel to toe drop. All day long I felt like I was sliding into the front of my shoes. I felt that way because I really was sliding into the front of my shoes.

Then there are the narrow toes, my shoes are an extra wide size and I re laced the laces to make room for the front part of my foot, and still, the outside of my feet were hanging over the sole, pressing against the sides of the shoes and deforming the shape of the upper as well as deforming the shape of my toes.

I couldn't feel the ground under my feet and spent the day stumbling around on the uneven ground. A problem I don't have in minimal shoes.

The worst instance all day was when I stepped on a small stone. Since I could not feel the stone under my foot before I put weight on my foot my foot rolled to the outside. As the bottom of my shoe made contact with the ground, the platform of the sole of the shoe caused my foot to roll further. I really feel that if I had not strengthened my lower legs through nearly barefoot running I would have injured my ankle.

On the bright side though. No honey locust thorns in my foot.