My friend, and one of my housemates, for Ironman Coeur d'Alene was Tina. Tina had brought with her to CDA her partner, Andrew who was racing, her puppy Kiya who was our Irondog, and these very fascinating pair of shoes.
I had never seen such a pair of shoes - they had TOES. Yes, that's right, just like my favourite pair of purple striped toe socks, they had toes! I had to know more about them!
It turns out they are made by Vibram, are referred to as 'barefoot' shoes and are for running, swimming, sailing, paddling, yoga, climbing and pretty much everything else you can think of. Tina had done a fair amount of research on them and when I got back from the race I started asking more questions. She sent me some articles that indicated that wearing them, or rather being barefoot, actually helps rather than hurts your feet. Unlike the wonderful sneakers and shoes we all tend to wear. Hmmm...
All I really had to know to love them was the fact that it was like walking around barefoot, which I LOVE to do, and that it kept you connected with Mother Earth. Ahhh. Oh, and it helped that I thought they looked super cool!
I borrowed a pair of Tina's, as she now has FIVE pairs of the darned things, and wandered around for a day to see how I liked it. I loved how they felt - so I bought some. I should add that was a bit of a task as I wanted the black classics, which apparantly everyone else in the world want as well. They've only been in Canada for about three months so not many stores carry them...Tina helped me track them down though.
I guess I should add some of the medical hub bub. As far as the the research indicates, how are feet are at birth is 'normal'. Then we start to wear shoes and our feet get really squished. Next thing you know toes are bent under other toes, bunions and corns happen and other good stuff. Take the following foot for instance...gack...
Okay, granted that is an extreme example, but it makes a point about what shoes can do. So what does all this squishing do? Well, contrary to popular believe, it actually weakens our feet. Even the support shoes! The theory then is that if you walk around in barefeet, or in shoes that have no support so are essentially like being barefoot, that your feet and legs get stronger.Finally, last Friday my shoes arrived. To say I was excited is an understatement. I put them on immediately and have worn them every day since! Behold my new shoes! Aren't they awesome?!
Yes, I actually wear these with my dress pants at work, and yes I have gotten some strange looks. They are quite the conversation piece though and I've had everything from 'How cool!' to 'Oh my god having stuff between my toes would drive me nuts!'. To each their own I say.
I have loved wearing them. My toes feel like the are separating a bit already so they are much happier. Now in yoga when they say to spread your toes, I can actually spread my toes! It's awesome.
It did get me wondering though if I'd actually get my toes to be straight and apart like they were when I was a tot. I discovered this picture of my barefeet taken on a beach in Malaysia. So this is what they started out like - it will be interesting to see what they look like in a few months! It's hard to see in this picture, but my baby toes actually curl under a bit. I've had to tweak them to get them to go straight in the shoe.
Oh, and the other exciting thing is that I'm going to start 'barefoot' running in them! Of course this task will be taken on very slowly so my feet get used to it. I tried out 5 minutes on the treadmill the other night and it didn't feel too bad. Your legs and feet sure work more though as you actually do a proper foot plant so have to support that. I will build it up a little bit at a time and see how it goes. Who knows, maybe there is a barefoot Ironman race in my future?!
Peace out and hang ten my glorious friends!