Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Barefoot Walking, Vibram Five Fingers, and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Last week we were in Wichita, Kansas visiting my family.  We were fortunate to have one day that was in the mid to upper 70's and the other day in the low 80's.  Beautiful.

Knowing the temperatures were going to be high, I opted to bring my Vibram Five Fingers with me on this trip.  How do I feel about them now that I have been able to wear them outside? Well, I have mixed feelings.
  • My left foot continues to fit into this glove like shoe quite easily and feels completely at home.  My right foot never seems to find a happy place. 
  • While my left foot feels no pain in these minimalist shoes, the toes on my right foot feel numb as in all shoes these days, even my reliable Dansko clogs.
  • I love the way my legs and hips feel when I am wearing these odd looking shoes.
  • The verdict is still out on how much I will wear these shoes.
After walking in the Five Fingers with numb toes and warm temperatures, I felt my feet calling out to me, "It's time to go barefoot Cathy."  As I have shared before, I grew up with strict instructions to always have shoes on when leaving the house, so this was a little scary, even though I have been dreaming about it all winter.  As I prepared to leave my sister Robyn's house, I velcroed my Five Fingers together to take along "just in case".  (They are super light and easily velcroed around the treat bag I carry for Izzy.)  Robyn has always defied the rules of wearing shoes and quickly slid out of her flip flops to join my feet as they felt the warm concrete.

How was my first official barefoot walk?  Lovely!  Besides walking on a few pebbles and fertilizer (yuck), my feet felt completely happy! Frequently when I finish my two mile walk with Izzy I can't wait to get out of my shoes because the balls of my feet hurt so much and as of lately, my toes are numb.  I didn't experience any of that while barefoot walking.  A few pebbles are nothing in comparison to how my feet feel in shoes and I figure with more barefoot walks my feet will toughen up a bit and handle the pebbles with more ease.

The sad news?  After such a wonderful first experience walking barefoot, I returned to my home in the Chicago suburbs and my feet are once again freezing which means no barefoot walking for me right now.  But I got a taste of it and I want more.  Come on warm weather!  I am ready for you!

To read more about shoes and rheumatoid arthritis, see my newest post at MyRACentral

For further barefoot reading check out this blog : The Barefoot Professor .  Dr. Daniel Howell wrote a great book on barefoot walking/running but also had lots of good information on his blog.

Although I am a walker and not a runner, I have been reading and watching a lot of videos about barefoot runners.  This is one of many videos I enjoyed. 



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