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Summer is Here, Take Care of Your Feet

18-07-2013 · Xavi Mendez

In several occasions I’ve discussed with osteopaths, physiotherapists and personal trainers the pros and cons of using minimalist footwear for training and for everyday use. I first heard about FiveFingers shoes a few years ago and it was like entering a whole new world for me.

I started using minimalist shoes gradually because I knew it was going to be a big change for the biomechanics of my foot.

Barefoot runningI was introduced to FiveFingers by a friend and I was very surprised, like everyone else is when they see them for the first time. I was amazed when I saw the toes individually loose, and such a good sole. They are very flexible shoes and when you wear them you can feel the floor. I started reading up about them.

These shoes are a great product, something to be used on an everyday basis but they have also become an object of desire; a luxury item. When we buy a new pair of shoes, we’re happy like a child with a new toy. They are an essential item for everyone.

Some shoes promise they’ll “help you to lose weight”, some others make you “float while you walk”, others activate the blood flow on your feet, etc. I wondered if minimalist footwear was just another marketing ploy or there was something more to them.

The more I researched, the more questions I had. Whilst I was reading “Born to Run”, I remembered that the human body can adapt to anything; it is magical. It can run a marathon even without much training (with consequences of course), and it can catch an object mid -air without needing to calculate its weight, speed or trajectory.

In “Born to Run”, I learnt of an interesting fact that may surprise you too. The Tarahumaras suffered injuries when they stopped using their minimalist footwear and started using regular trainers. The injuries were caused by bad adaptation. I think it is a curious fact because this is what happens to a lot of people, but the other way round, they suffer injuries when they swap regular trainers for minimalist footwear when they don’t follow an adaptation process.

That helped me to understand why physiotherapists’, osteopaths’, massage therapists’ and podiatrists’ practices are busier than usual at the end of August beginning of September. A lot more people suffer plantar fasciitis, perostitis and other injuries on the feet tissue, ankles and calves.

Everyone looks surprised when they see me wearing a pair of trainers that, at first sight, make me look barefoot. They are the same people that in summertime go from wearing winter closed shoes where the foot doesn’t do any work, to wearing flip flops with the foot loose and almost BAREFOOT. On open shoes, the foot expands and starts working hard overnight after being idle for so many months. Another issue that causes injury is the change of the drop, you can read about it in this article in my blog.

The adaptation period is important and should be followed when changing into summer shoes. If you are going to start using flip flops, clogs or sandals, start wearing them a little bit at home first, then on the street, and increase the time you wear them progressively until you are able to bear them all day, like I did with my FiveFingers.

Xavi Méndez
Article published in xmentrainer.es

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