Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Adventures in walking

Recently I read an article about walking in shoes versus barefoot. According to this, shoes are not healthy for feet, no matter how good they are. In fact one study appears to show that expensive shoes do more damage than cheap shoes! The article then talks about footwear available for walking "barefoot".

Ironically, you can spend lots of money to regain the sensation of walking shoe-less. The idea is that you need to use your feet as they were intended to be used, but in this day and age, you also need to protect the soles of your feet from broken glass and other hazards of modern life. To this end you need something on your foot that is very very flexible but puncture-proof. The article describes a couple of shoe options now available for this purpose. I looked them up and one of these shoe options is available from Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) for $80 or $90 (cold weather version). But in thinking about it I realized that I got the same effect from wearing cheap-o Aqua Socks ($7.50 at Canadian Tire).

So for the last few days I've been experimenting with wearing cheap slippers around the house and Aqua Socks outdoors. The slippers are no big deal, I wear them anyway. They are just slip-ons with very thin flexible soles. Really all they do is protect my socks, and I wear the socks to keep my feet warm, since I have rather poor circulation there.

The Aqua Socks are another matter though. Truly, you have to walk differently wearing them. I am definitely noticing that. I am using calf and foot muscles I hardly ever used before, and my feet and calves are aching from that. But it is the kind of ache that I get from muscle use, not from pavement pounding. Because when I don't have cushioned soles, I automatically walk a lot more gently to avoid jarring myself with every step. Gently means flexing my entire foot more, and that seems to involve muscles from my knee down to my toes. In spite of the ache, it feels right, it feels like I am supposed to walk that way.

The down side of this experiment is that I am walking less distance, but using a lot more muscle power to do it, and ending up with sore feet and calves. Assuming I am right, this should be a temporary state of affairs. But I've had to add the purchase of a couple more pairs of Aqua Socks to my ever-expanding To Do list. Seems like it is growing not shrinking, I am adding items faster than I am ticking them off.

I'll just be used to the Aqua Socks when winter comes around again, and then I'll have to decide what to do about cold weather. I don't think Aqua Socks are going to carry me through the winter, not here at any rate.

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