Tight calves, slightly sore arches, what is going on here? My calves are rock solid right now (and these pictures don’t do justice to their chiseledness). Why? Today I am going to discuss barefoot training. I could go through a list of benefits and science, but today I am going to take the common sense approach, personal experience and personal awareness to get my point across. I’ve been wearing Five-Fingers for over three years now, I’ve dedicated my life to being barefoot (at the risk of losing my best friend who considered it an unforgivable sin to give away my stellar high heel collection). So as you can see this is something I take seriously, it’s not a trend or just something to do (although I unintentionally tend to be trend setting). So why? Why the commitment and why are my calves so sore?
Initially when my arches began their waning complaints I thought maybe I had strained them. But my epiphany place: the mountains brought some resolve. I’m use and training more with my barefoot shoes. More hiking and actual movement, not sitting at the shop. My arches are merely changing shape. Sitting on the bed I looked down at my feet. Holy cow, I must not truly look at my feet often because they have really changed feet. I wish I had a picture of them three years ago, but they were definitely not the same shape. Although not flat-footed, there a major curvature increase in my feet.
Now this is something I’ve noted over the past years. Shoes nowadays weaken the feet (bypassing the small tendons and muscles in your feet, they actually jack up your whole posture). I have felt the shoes working and strengthening their way up my body. Initially you have the toes. First they don’t like to be separated, and then you are forced to use them. They whine and complain as you push-off them, they (like people sometimes) are resistant to change. I remember my brother-in-law Todd, who wears some kind of shoe virtually all the time, had the worst toes pains when doing lunges minus the shoes. The shoes aren’t done at the toes, they keep working. I’ve felt this intermittently the last several years, as my ankles, knees, hips, and lower back go through the process of strengthening. I believe part of the reasons we have so many joint injuries today, is this weakness. Hiking in the mountains, maneuvering around rocks and cliffs I am better able to adjust/adapt. My feet mold to the shape of the rock and my toes dig into the earth propelling me forward. adaptions is key to live and injury prevention. I believe modern shoes don’t allow adaptions and their weakening side effects only add to this.
Although we promote the barefoot shoes for kettlebells, I realize now that I must emphasize the importance of training with them. Most of my exercise training is slow aerobic (hiking and walking). We need to spend hours a walking in them, practicing getting on our toes sometimes. You don’t have to wear them all the time like me (I tend to be an extremist), but you do need to train barefoot, it is one of the best things you can do. I can’t tell you how much I’ve seen my legs change since picking up my training. Those tight calves are reshaping to a beautiful toned curvature. My quads are sculpting. My arches are elegant and curved. I think the man stopping me to tell me my legs are pretty and I need to have them insured, is testimony enough to this.
Barefoot training: a must for strength, posture and tone.
I probably do less than 2 hours of exercise (kettlebells and running fast) a week, but I do several hours of barefoot walking. Before in Terre Haute I was not getting as much walking in. Now I’ve doubled if not tripled my walking the last two weeks. Hence my calves and arches (which have been tight as well).