Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Barefoot Walking: Treating My Feet Like I Do My Hands

As you can tell from many of my recent posts, I am a little obsessed with barefoot/Five Fingers walking.  Yesterday for the first time I made it completely barefoot for my entire walk with Izzy which is just a little short of two miles.  I had my Vibram Five Fingers with me, ready to put them on whenever my feet gave any indication they were ready for them, but they never did.  They seemed quite content being naked.  However, when I got home and washed them, I realized they were a little beaten up and there was a slight burning feeling. 

What occurred to me as I checked out my feet is that we have very different expectations for our feet than we do hands.  Every spring when my kids were younger, their hands would get torn up as we headed to the park for the first time in the season and they hung from the monkey bars.  I would always say, "Yep, it takes time to toughen them up."  I never discouraged them to stop hanging from the bars because their hands might get hurt.  Whenever my husband takes a break from playing guitar, his fingers also get a little sore and cut up.  He always says, "It takes a little time to callous them over."  When I work in the yard, (which is rare) I often end up with cuts on my hands because I feel I do better work without gloves.  We don't seem to worry too much about our hands because we know they will be fine.  We are used to them going through this process of getting hurt.  We are used to them getting paper cuts, knife cuts in the kitchen, stubbed, and even dirty.  But when it comes to our feet, we treat them like royalty.  We are afraid of any little cut, except those that come with wearing new shoes of course.  I have seen parents that react to kids without shoes on as if they are about to run out in front of a moving car.  We are constantly worried about keeping them clean and for many people, there is a total aversion to seeing bare feet. (One of my students takes his flip flops off as soon as he sits down.  He always looks so comfortable.  It makes me envious.)

Today I started off in my Vibram Five Fingers rather than putting them on when my feet were ready just to make sure I didn't harm my precious feet. About half way through the walk I took them off as my feet were hollering to be free!  When I got home, they were of course dirty (although not as dirty as I would have imagined) and I washed them.  Other than that, they are completely fine!  They don't burn today and the torn skin doesn't seem to have increased at all.  In fact, the bottoms of my feet seem a little tougher.  The body, every part of it, really is amazing when we give it a chance to show its strength.