• Mark Wilkinson

These FEET were made for walking

Walkoach extols the value of combining coaching with walking but enough about the coaching for a minute. It's time to put the spotlight on the parts of your body that enable you do the hard work when you walk - your feet! That they are evolutionary masterpieces was recently highlighted in this excellent podcast 'These shoes are killing me' by Freakenomics' Steven Dubner and I'd urge you to listen to it too (find it at this link)

In summary Steven's interviewees make some fascinating points. For instance that we evolved to run and walk and are the only surviving primate to practice persistence hunting. That is using a combination of running, walking and tracking to pursue prey into a state of heat exhaustion. And of course we did all this on bare feet (ouch!). Fast forward 6 million years and we encase our feet in coffins as one scholar puts it.

Steven goes on to weigh the relative benefits of shoes, largely concluding that less is more. Our feet are mechanically similar to our hands yet encasing our feet in shoes restricts them from developing the articulacy and dexterity they're capable of. More importantly, the reduced amount of information the nerves in our feet can tell our brain about the surface we're on means we risk not developing the stronger leg muscles, joints and tendons which can help us later in life.

Less shoe cushioning can actually be better for some people and two experts recommend that everyone go shoe-less as much as possible, especially at home, and that we also regularly practice exercises such as picking up marbles with our toes!

Ever since listening to this podcast I've been taking every opportunity to go shoeless and would recommend you do too. It just feels so much better and more natural. There's another major reason why you should too. Going shoeless enables you to feel so much more connected to the ground and thus yourself. In fact kicking off your shoes and placing your attention on your feet is one of the techniques I teach on my wellbeing training workshop as a way to develop participants language with their body and their senses to feel more in the present.

So well done Steven Dubner, for shedding light on another unsung and overlooked area of our natural lives. As usual, feedback welcome.

#walking #feet #shoes #freakenomics

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