Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Learning to Walk

Came across this article on Walking on Anthropik some weeks ago, and was really impressed by it. A lot of weeks ago really, but I've kept a link to it because it made me think about our poor feet. In the article Jason describes how a bare, unshod foot would naturally come into contact with the ground, and would flex during the walking movement.

It made me realise how constraining our shoes are. I have always presumed that shoes were there mainly to protect our feet and soles from injury and harm from things on the ground, due to the relative weakness of the human foot and because of man made roads and floorings. What I had not realised was that in doing this shoes have really become little prisons, isolating the feet from all around them. Being a man and wearing standard black shoes to work each day, I realised that my feet had very little degrees of freedom within the shoe. All I could really do is flex it forwards and backwards, as in putting my heel down when walking, and then rolling forwards to push off from the ball of the foot. But this article made me realise that the foot is a lot like the hand, and can flex in the three dimensions and not just in one. Which kind of means that our feet are all crippled in a way, because they cannot move naturally in the way that they have evolved to over time.

The article is reasonably short, and just describes how there are actually different styles of walking and ways of the foot coming into contact with the ground and bearing our weight. But when wearing shoes there is only one way our feet can move, and so only one way of walking.

Another example of how this modern civilisation tricks us into thinking something is a benefit to us - the shoe protects you - while really we stand to lose a lot more than we gain. And of how quickly we forget how things used to be, and maybe should or could be. Being barefoot is surely more natural than wearing shoes - you don't wear gloves all the time do you? But we have been fooled into believing that we should wear some kind of footwear all the time. Babies and children have shoes put on them from a young age, when really quite the opposite would be the most benefit to them.

And it has gone beyond just being functional into being fashionable. Many people now buy shoes because they look nice, not because of any physical benefit from the shoe itself. Talk about losing the plot!

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