Part of the barefoot journey is not just about freeing the feet from ill-fitted shoes, but also rethinking our relationship with our feet. Many of us don't give them the respect they deserve and often have a negative relationship with them, preferring to keep them undercover and interact with them as little as possible. How did we come to have such little regard for the two things that allow us to stand tall and move through the world?
Since we were children, many of us were forced into shoes, usually stiff ones that made it hard to walk. Honestly, at the most inopportune time of trying to develop the very skill that would help us move physically throughout our environment. Despite the struggle of many parents to keep those shoes on their children's feet, they persisted with the mindset that it was normal wear and continued to put them on, even when the children weren't at a walking age yet.
It is due to what is generally accepted in society as normal and necessary that we wear the shoes we do. It wasn't until I started delving into the concept of natural movement that I was able to break free from that normative behavior. One of the first books that opened my mind to the natural abilities of our feet was biomechanist Katy Bowman's book, "Move Your DNA." In this book, she explores the true abilities of our bodies and how societal norms have negatively shaped them. While she discusses the whole body, what immediately piqued my interest and led me to take action was the condition of my feet. And so, the journey began.
I immediately started spending more time barefoot, both inside my house and outside it. The hardest part? Learning to set aside what I thought I should do according to the outside world and focusing on what I knew I should and could do according to natural movement. Although I didn't start this journey due to pain, I embarked on it as a means of further exploration and a drive to move better and feel better in my body.
What has emerged from this experience? A newfound appreciation for my feet. An understanding that my feet deserve more than stiff shoes that are not built for actual feet. A validation of my childhood dislike for shoes and socks and a desire to be barefoot all the time. Ultimately, this journey has given me a new perspective and respect for my body and all that it can do.
Here are a few books that can help you start your exploration or just help you learn more about your body and human movement.
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Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief by Katy Bowman: I love this book because it is practical, easy to follow and short so you don't feel like you are reading an anatomy textbook. Check it out here: https://amzn.to/3ObwLth
Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman: If you want to go beyond the feet and rethink all your movements from head to toe then you will love Move Your DNA. The exercises in this book are practical to our everyday movements and they are a great guide to see where you compensation areas are. You can find it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/44JIkxc
Barefoot Strong by Dr. Emily Splichal: I have taken courses, watched webinars, and read many articles by podiatrist Dr. Emily. She has helped countless people reclaim their foot health when other doctors would have prescribed less barefoot time and harsh insoles. Check out this read at: https://amzn.to/3PWkUAS
This is not by any means an exhaustive list but just one to get you started and not overwhelmed. Happy reading my friends.