Wednesday, April 21

A Whole New Way to Look at Feet

I've been on a bit of a blog-hiatus. It isn't for lack of excitement in my life but for the abundance of it and the inability to talk about any of it! Basically placement is a time-suck, but mostly in a good way. I am learning so much and have had so many cool experiences (and some bad ones too, of course!) but they are all confidential. Everything in this biz is confidential. I feel like I'm working for CSIS. If I wanted to transport anything with client info (even client initials) then protocol is to place the pages in a locked briefcase and place the locked briefcase in the locked trunk of the car. Even yesterday, I had the coolest session: the end. That's all I can really disclose.

This post isn't really about how much I can't tell you, though. It is about a book I'm reading and how it has changed the way I look at my feet. Actually, it made me stop and take the time to consider my feet. You see, I've been running 3-4 days a week since September. Dedicated I'm not and I'm not really improving but I just want to be a person who loves to run. In comes this book: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

The author, an injury-prone runner, sets out to find a cure for his aching back and plantar fasciitis and ends up in one of the most dangerous regions of Mexico (both for terrain and narco-wars) to race with the Tarahumara, a secluded tribe that lives peacefully, parties hard and run super-human distances. McDougall begins to research the culture of ultra-running (races of 50, 100, 250+ miles!) and gains a whole new perspective on what humans were made to do. There is a growing movement to shed fancy running shoes that weaken arches and cause us to strike the ground with our heels: something human feet were never meant to do. Out of this has come the barefoot philosophy; that feet are a marvel of bio-engineering that can handle what we have to dish out all on their own without fancy cushions or springing heels. In fact, the book cites studies that have shown two things: sports injuries do not decrease with 'better' (more techonological, padded) shoes; since the advent of cushioned, engineered running shoes in the 70s the incidence of running injuries has actually increased!

This is where the barefoot movement comes in. Let feet do what they do naturally: support us, flex around surfaces, feel the ground beneath them. Of course, shoes also provide protection from sharp rocks, street filth and other foot hazards. The new rage is Vibram Five Fingers, basically a foot-glove that protect your feet while letting them grip, bend and support. Apparently they generate quite a few stares when worn out and about, though.

Tonight, I walked the 5km home from placement (I stopped trying to jog it because I have to lug my 15lb backpack too). All I could think was my ever-weakening arch until I flipped off my Nikes for the last km and gently trotted home in socks. It felt wonderful (except for the stones....).

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