Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The siren song of fresh asphalt...

Today after a solid morning of studying, taking an exam and writing a three-page paper I decided to head out of the house to get some fresh air and a bite to eat. I stuffed my huarache sandals in my back pocket for backup and hit the sidewalks barefoot. Right out of the gate I got a little surprise when I crossed the road due to some paving that's taking place. As I waited for a break in traffic I admired the smooth, fresh, black asphalt, imagining what it would be like to run barefoot on it (yes, my mind is becoming corrupted...). When my opportunity came I started to mosey across the two lanes of traffic that they paved yesterday and became fixated by the third and fourth lanes that hadn't seen a single car tire on them. As I set my foot on the virgin pavement

Monday, June 27, 2011

Slowly Progressing

It's been another week and things are progressing nicely, I can feel steady improvement in my evolving pancakes. I didn't touch the orthotics this week and went barefoot as much as possible, only wearing my invisible shoes when I had to have something on. The upside? I experienced little-to-no ankle pain this week like I did when wearing orthotics. One difference though is that my ankles, feet and calves do get tired faster when I'm standing around, I'm sure that this will slowly get better as my muscles strengthen. Usually in the mornings I experience soreness across the top of my foot and a little in the calves but it only sticks around for about 30 minutes.

Tonight we had another softball game and just like last week, my feet feel the best they ever have after that kind of physical activity. One cool thing I noticed tonight when I took my cleats off was that my socks weren't dirty over the whole bottom of my foot (from dust getting in my shoes). Only on the balls of my feet, around the outside edges and my heels were brown, imagine a normal wet footprint... In the past the entire bottom of my foot would be brown because they were so flat. That's pretty exciting for me since I'm only two weeks into the barefoot thing! It seems that I might actually be beginning to form arches! Even if my feet don't change any more than they have in two weeks I can't ever imagine going back to orthotics and motion control shoes. Sure I can stand around longer in them but I'd much rather play and have fun with no painful aftermath...

Oh, I also wanted to note that I did throw on a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor's to ride my motorcycle and had to walk in them for about an hour. My little pinky toe has never been so vocal!!! It didn't take long to rub a layer of skin off the outside of that poor little guy. Now I'm starting to see why some of the barefoot runners refer to shoes as foot coffins. ;)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pain-Free Sports?

Last week I reported that I wore my orthotics in my cleats for a softball game and my ankles just killed for the following 24 hours after having been barefoot for a couple days prior. Well, tonight I had another game and decided to try my cleats without the orthotics seeing as how I've been barefoot for over a week now. Just so you know this is a HUGE step for me. I've wore orthotics in my shoes for about 20 years (I'm 32 now), and I was especially diligent to do so when playing sports. We played our game (and won!) and and the verdict is in . . . I'm pain free! My ankles feel no worse than they do at the end of any other day! It may not seem like much but I am ecstatic, this is potentially a life altering step for me!

Small Run Today

Today I went for a small 1/3 mile barefoot run down the street. I started out on the cobblestone street for the first half then came home on the sidewalk. I think I like the street much better... It's totally not level but it is SO much smoother than these old sidewalks. Today I decided rather than try to force my foot into proper alignment and not overpronate I would let it fall where it may. Everything I've read up to this point supports this idea as well, they say that your foot will slowly strengthen and the overpronation will become less severe. I'm not sure what to think. It's easier to run this way as it requires less muscle but OUCH! Half way in my ankles started hurting and it was not a comfortable way to run at all. Apparently the danger to forcing proper alignment is that I can cause stress injuries to tendons like my achilles and peroneal tendons but I'm not sure if it's worse to do that or to micro-sprain my ankle with every step... I threw up the question at the Runners World Forums and we'll see what the guru's say...

A positive is that in normal day-to-day walking around I'm walking with much straighter ankles and my feet actually seem to have a slight arch to them. If I completely relax I can still pancake my feet but I'm finding more often than not I'm walking more "normally." Also my wife commented out of the blue that my posture seems to be improved!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Old Sidewalks = 5 Grit Sandpaper!

Today I decided to take a one mile walk downtown to get some lunch from The Hotdog Cart and decided that it would be a good idea to try it barefoot. Everything was going pretty good for the first 1/2 mile. At that point my old baby-blister decided that it wanted to open back up and my feet started to feel like I had been walking on 5 grit sandpaper; literally! I think if you got down and counted a square inch of the old sidewalks around here you would probably count 5 rocks... I'm very happy to report that I didn't form any new blisters today but I think I got about as close as possible, my feet are slowly getting tougher. As long as I remember I've had a callus on the bottom outside edge of each foot (right where they bulge out on the inside of my ankles), this is from my orthotics rubbing on my flat feet day after day.  An interesting thing is that those callus' are starting to soften from that part of my foot not touching anything now. Not that it really matters that much but it does seem that my feet are slowly starting to transition toward the normal side. Not that I ever expect to be normal... ;)

Today, after having a couple down days sitting around studying, my calves were pretty-much completely pain free. That was, until I went walking! After my walk my calves were SHOT! I think going barefoot is going to make them explode! (In a good way...) But, I am expecting my legs to look like I've got bricks stuffed under my skin by the end of the summer... Not having shoes on really makes me walk differently and step onto the ball of my foot rather than heel.  I'm interested to see how I feel tomorrow.

My major take-a-way today was: Throw my Huarache Sandals in my pocket if I'm going to do anything barefoot for an extended period away from home...

I Figured Out How To Make Huarache Sandals!

I just successfully finished making my first pair of Huaraches, based off the running sandals used by the Tarahumara Indians. It must have been the native Alaskan in me. (OK, so I don't have native blood but I was born and raised in Alaska...) Anyways, back to the point. These things are really cool! They're pretty much the closest thing you can have to barefoot without the bare feet. Vibram FiveFingers (VFF's) are very similar but some report that they are a little stiffer than these and feel a little more shoe-like because of the encapsulating top. An added benefit to Huaraches is that they don't smell, which is an oft complained of "feature" of the VFF's. (That being said I'm very interested in trying some VFF's and may be purchasing a pair myself in the future.)

On to the build:
The absolute best site for all things DIY Huaraches related is www.InvisibleShoe.com The founder of the site, Steven, has put together an excellent resource if you're interested in making a pair, there are full instructional videos and forums dedicated to the shoes. Also if you are wanting to build or buy one pre-maid pair you can't beat his prices.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Free Must Read About Going Barefoot!

First off,  thank you Jason Robillard of barefootrunninguniversity.com for making your book free! In my first post I mentioned a book that I was reading on barefoot running, The Barefoot Running Book. I'm about half-way through the first edition of the book (it was $7 cheaper than the second edition) and it has been a very valuable resource to my new adventure; it's a fun read and very informative. Well wouldn't you know it, just last night Jason decided to release the second edition of his book in pdf format FOR FREE! Here's his reasoning: "I want to change the world by revolutionizing the running world, and this book is my front-line assault!" I highly recommend this book if you're the least bit curious about the benefits of bare-feet. Just a few of the topics covered are: why run barefoot, training schedules, differences in minimalist shoes vs. barefoot, technique, form, common problems and much more.

Download the pdf book from my dropbox here: The Barefoot Running Book Second Edition: A Practical Guide to the Art and Science of Barefoot and Minimalist Shoe Running

If you're more organic and want a tree in your hand as you read then you can buy the book here:

Stay tuned, I just got the rubber to build myself a pair of invisible shoes (otherwise known as huaraches)...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Feet Pictures - Day 0

So here are the baseline photos for my feet. They're quite FLATtering if I do say so myself...  I'm planning to take photos every week or two to document any changes in my arches or pronation. If you can think of any other shots that would help to better document things let me know.

Foot length: 29.4mm

Today almost feels like I've taken two steps backward in my progress although I know it's just part of the process. I don't think my calves have ever been this sore! I'm walking around like I'm 90! I think between the short run destroying my calves and the softball game yesterday killing my ankles I can justify taking a little breather. I went barefoot almost all day today, but yikes my feet are definitely letting me know how much is too much too soon (TMTS). Hopefully I'll wake up tomorrow with a little more bounce in my step!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Do I already loath shoes?

Today I pushed my barefootedness a little farther and it did cost me a little bit. I went for two short little barefoot jogs on the sidewalk, right at 1/2 mile total. At the end of the second one I noticed some missing skin on the pad of one of my toes where a blister formed and popped. After doing a little reading it sounds like I'm pushing off with my toes which is a no-no when barefoot, I need to focus on lifting my feet off the ground rather than pushing forward off them.

So about the loathing shoes comment... Tonight I had a softball game (Go Oakridge!) so I put on my cleats with orthotics. Within two minutes of putting on the shoes my arches were burning and my ankles were hurting! The whole night I was focusing on trying to not let my feet roll in too bad but walking in those shoes makes it nearly impossible. Tonight my ankles hurt more than they have in a week and it only started after I put on my shoes...

It's just a little one. I'm liking the Liquid Bandage right now...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

First Update

I'm about three days into my journey of trying to get used to walking around barefoot vs. using shoes or sandals and I'm finding that it's crazy how much different shoes make you walk! When I'm barefoot I can walk more on the balls of my feet rather than "heel striking" with each step which I'm virtually forced to do in shoes. I've found that when I roll heel to toe it's very difficult to keep my ankles from rolling in and my feet flattening out, but when I weight the ball of my foot first it causes me to weight the outside of my foot as my heel comes down keeping my ankle from rolling. I'm also shocked at how little my ankles hurt. Spending this much time barefoot in the past would have caused me some serious ankle aches but I'm hardly experiencing any of that; what I am experiencing is muscle soreness... I never knew that there are muscles on the top of your feet! Also my calves are pretty sore from the extra weight on the balls of my feet.

That leads me to another finding. I have knees that hyper-extend and when I'm just standing around I usually have them locked back. I've found that when I do this it cases me to roll my ankles in and stand completely flatfooted. By ever-so-slightly bending my knees and putting a little weight on the balls of my feet I naturally shift weight to the outside edges of my feet keeping my ankles in line. This definitely has to be an intentional change in posture and one that I keep having to remind myself of but I think that if I can keep it up I will spend a lot less time flatfooted...

A lot of the research that has been done on running barefoot and the idea to try returning to that comes from studying the Tarahumara people, a native tribe from Northern Mexico that are known for running barefoot or with huarache sandals for up to 120 miles nonstop. There's a book written specifically about them that I would like to read called Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.

Until next time!  -Ty

Welcome To My Experiment!

Through this blog I'm hoping to share my experience of transitioning away from orthotics and motion control / stability shoes to very minimal footwear without orthotics. I've grown increasingly dependent on supportive footwear to mitigate the ankle pain I experience after extended time on my feet and I'm tired of the limitations, and the pain...  After reading quite a bit on barefoot running and some of the benefits that many have experienced, such as reforming fallen arches and correcting overpronation, I've decided to perform my own experiment. I'll be ditching my orthotics and shoes for bare feet and huarache sandals in an attempt to strengthen my feet and regain the arches that I never remember having. Along the way I'll be documenting my progress and posting some pictures of the current state of my feet.

I have to give a shout out to the fine folks at the Barefoot Running section of the Runner's World forums for the great information they've made available and the encouragement they've given me to document this process. I also want to mention a book that I found out about on those forums: The Barefoot Running Book Second Edition: A Practical Guide to the Art and Science of Barefoot and Minimalist Shoe Running. I just started reading it and have been enjoying it quite a bit.

I'm quite gitty at the prospect of being able to run! It's something that I've never been able to enjoy because of the pain I encounter from misaligned joints. I hope you enjoy my chronicles and hope we can both gain something from this adventure!

ps - If the name of the blog doesn't make sense it might help to know that my name is Ty... ;)
pps - Here's the post that started this whole thing: SEVERE Overpronator w/ FLAT feet interested in BFR...