Going Barefoot…almost! My barefoot experience and is it right for you? Part I

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Going Barefoot...almost! My barefoot experience and is it right for you? Last week, a reader of our blog Diary of a NJ Chiropractor called me up regarding a post done a while ago concerning barefoot shoes for runners and the suggestion that since we are built differently, some of us may be better off barefoot and some may not. The reader, it turns out is the owner of a recently launched shoe company called Tune Footwear (http://www.tunefootwear.com/). Apparently, he started this company because he, as many runners believe that we were meant to be barefoot and that shoes create an unnatural way of walking, weaken the intrinsic muscles of the feet and results in many gait related issues we experience as runners or just as people who walk. He offered to send me a pair of shoes, and in my case, the penny (http://www.tunefootwear.com/penny/). Since I have been in shoes all my life, other than when I walk along the beach or in my home, the idea of walking all day in a shoe that makes my foot operate as if it is barefoot intrigued me so I said OK. Here are the shoes he sent me   If you look closely, they have a negative heel, meaning the heel sits lower, similar to the way earth shoes affected your feet in the 1970's, although the effect is milder. What do they feel like? Unlike a traditional shoe, where heel strike is important and the shoe has a heel to absorb impact, these shoes have you walking more mid foot (which may help some with plantar fasciitis) with the heel being deemphasized. I was warned by him that my feet and legs may be sore for a few days as I address the way I walk with this new shoe and my muscles begin to work differently. They have been sore but by the third day, today, I am getting used to them. In about two weeks, I will revisit this blog and in Part II, I will be able to give you much more information regarding my experience going barefoot. Is this right for you? That may depend on your body mechanics. We are all built differently, however proponents of the barefoot movement would like everyone to believe this is best, however, those who have gone barefoot because of problems running shod had issues barefoot, but different issues in many cases. You cannot escape your body mechanics but some people may do best minimalist with perhaps a minor adjustive off the shelf insert such as the black superfeet for dress shoes which work well in those shoes. You may wish to check out the book Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain which is available through Amazon.com to understand body mechanics better (it was written with the consumer in mind). There is no harm in trying out this approach and see if you like it. Right now, I am exploring my inner barefootedness during the day with my barefoot shoe. I have also ordered a Vibram 5 fingers running shoe (they were on sale yesterday at woot.com for $35.00, such a deal) to try out on my treadmill to see what near barefoot is like. Stay tuned for my experience with these. They just shipped. If you are not familiar with these, here is a photo. I will let you know how I do. What do you think? As always, I value your opinions.