Because I can.
In addition to barefoot training and barefoot running, my barefoot advocacy stems from research of human movement science, anatomy, physiology and personal experience.
Barefoot: Strength From Your Foundation Up
• Structures of: bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles and innervation
o The structures of the foot each work harmoniously to produce movement, decelerate movement, absorb shock, create a system of checks and balances by sending messages to the brain to aid in balance and serve as the foundation of the kinetic chain.
• Kinetic Chain and Arthrokinetics
o The “head bone’s connected to the neck bone, the neck bone’s connected to the shoulder bone….” All bones are connected and their articulations and movement influence the movement one another.
o What is the kinetic chain?
- Kinetic chain pertains to the body’s systems involved in producing movement (nervous, muscular and skeletal systems). If one of the components of the kinetic chain isn’t functioning properly, it will affect the other components and ultimately affect movement.
- Nerve endings (sensory receptors sense pain, pressure, movement to the brain causing an appropriate message to be sent to the muscles to dictate a physical response via movement. Increased use of those pathways, promotes efficiency and healthy function of the neuro-muscular systems. Barefoot allows the receptors to freely receive feedback, provide input to the brain and allow the body to respond in a way that produces safe and efficient movement.
- Nerves and proprioception. Proprioception is the sensing of your limbs during movement, important in keeping your spatially oriented, balanced, protected from faulty movement etc. The more sensory nerves you have exposed to the elements, the more messages are sent to the brain telling it what is going on with your limbs and the brain influencing the right movement at the right time. These neural pathways are important in adjusting gait to adapt to uneven ground, respond to a harmful stimulus (heat, pressure, tension etc).
- Blocking the sensory receptors can lead to delayed neural response, decreased neuro-muscular efficiency, decreased proprioception and decreased balance. The more your foot feels the more information is sent to your brain, the quicker it can send the right message to produce the right movement.
o How can weakness in the foot create low back pain?
- The muscles that support the feet and ankles are connected to and support knee movement, when there is weakness in the muscles of the lower leg, muscles of the upper leg also become imbalanced which can further contribute to faulty movement patterns and increased muscle imbalances of the knee, hip and ultimately spine.
o Raised heels and back pain
-When the heel is raised, the foot is put in a position of plantar flexion forcing the body forward at the ankle. In order to maintain eye level along the horizon and to avoid falling forward, the upper body is brought back into upright position at the hip, anteriorly tilting the pelvis and putting the lumbar spine in a position of hyper-extension which can ultimately lead to low back pain. Muscle imbalances ensue leading to more faulty and painful movement.
So, Why Barefoot?:
-Ankle, knee and hip stabilization
-Increased neuromuscular efficiency and balance
-Proper spinal alignment
-Increased body awareness
-Decreased impact and ground collision force