Minimalist Running – Barefoot Running Shoes by Vibram:
Feet are anatomically complicated…
The human foot consists of 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments. If you want to to keep your feet healthy, they need to be stimulated and exercised regularly. Walking is great for this.
Many foot experts believe the shoes we wear not only cast the foot in a protective form, but can also weaken our foot and leg muscles. This can result in more injuries.
Of course there are many times whene footwear is essential for protection, safety, and security, but when you are at the park, on the beach or on a nice forest path, it is equally important to stimulate and exercise your feet
To stimulate the muscles in your feet and lower legs, which in turn can make stronger, healthier and improve your balance then the Vibram Fivefingers could help you achieve this.
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Speed ladders have a lot going for ’em. They’re versatile, they’re easy to set up, they’re economical, they’re durable and they’re a great way to increase your foot quickness. Everyone can help to increase their “nimbleness” by doing a few simple speed ladder drills and exercises.
You don’t even need a speed ladder in order to take part in speed ladder exercise routines, you can simply mark out the ground if you don’t have a speed ladder available (remember Hop Scotch in the school yard . . . it’s along the same lines). How about simply laying a regular ladder along the grass, that way you won’t be able to cheat and stand on the lines (plus you’ll have to lift your feet and knees a little higher).
When you first start to take part in speed ladder drills you’ll be forgiven for getting your feet in a bit of a tangle, but if you start off slowly and then gradually increase your speed you’ll soon be amazed at just how nimble your feet have become simply by repeating certain moves, jumps and hops.
Speed ladders (or agility ladders as they are also known) really can help to increase your speed and your agility which are skills which every athlete needs . . . and also comes in handy when you’re walking.
You can learn more about speed ladders here.
Speed Ladder Drills to Increase Foot Quickness
There’s certainly no shortage of speedladder drills and exercises which can help to increase foot quickness, some are pretty easy . . . some might take a while before you really get the hang of them. Here are a few examples but remember . .. practice makes perfect.
- Speed Ladder In and Out – this one’s easy peasy and great for starters – face the rungs of the ladder and jump in with your feet together, then jump out again, them jump in again, then jump out again . . . rinse and repeat.
- Speed Ladder Lateral Drill – many people find it a little more difficult to move from side to side, so here’s a great lateral drill which you can practise on the speed ladder. There are loads of variations but this is probably the simplest . . . stand before the ladder with the rungs in front of you, then jump in with your feet together, then jump to the left, then jump back into the rungs, then jump to the right, then jump back into the rungs . . . rinse and repeat tons of times.
That’s just a couple of examples, but once you start to practice some speed ladder drills and see how much your footwork has sped up, you’ll probably be able to think of loads of new exercises and drills yourself.
I know it says that these speed ladder drills are for basketball, but it really doesn’t matter, they’re all designed to have the same effect . . . increase foot quickness and agility. How’s that for a load of great examples?
. . . Feeling The Sand Between Your Toes
Walking Barefoot along a sandy beach has to be right up there on the list of simple things which make you feel good, feeling the warm, silky sand between your toes tells you that although you may not be in heaven, you’re certainly in paradise . . . add the odd cooling paddle along the seashore and you’re certainly in one of my “happy places”.
Walking Barefoot has many benefits which have been largely lost along the wayside, I mean, urbanization has meant that there are very few places left when it is even safe to walk barefoot. Our streets are covered with tarmac or concrete paving slabs, we walk less along uneven fields of soft grass and more along rock hard surfaces. Fortunately some thoughtful soul invented shoes, but we really did lose something when we stopped walking barefoot, we lost our last feeling of being at one with mother Earth. Walking barefoot is kind of like having a foot massage with every step you take. Around 20% of the population of the earth never wear shoes!
Some shoes are really comfortable, some are definitely designed for style over comfort, but no matter how hard the shoe companies try they will never be able to make a shoe which really suits the shape of the human foot. Badly fitting shoes can not only make our feet deformed but also lead to injury . . . bad backs, hips, necks, even falling off your heels or ricketing over onto ankles is very dangerous and can be extremely painful.
Benefits of Walking Barefoot
Ancient philosophers believe that the life force energy known as Chi, Prana or Qi is absorbed through the soles of the feet, increasing your energy subconsciously while you walk barefoot increasing your capacity to think clearly and do more work . . . better slip my shoes off then, I’m feeling a little sleepy! So what are the real benefits of walking barefoot?
- Walking barefoot across the early morning grass in the summer time can have a cooling affect on your entire body and really set you up in a good place to deal with the rest of the day.
- Walking barefoot can help to prevent vein problems as the motion you get from your unrestricted foot activates a whole host of muscles in the legs and feet and really gets the blood pumping back to your heart.
- Walking barefoot can simply help tired feet to relax.
- Walking barefoot can even help solve the problems of flat feet.
- Walking barefoot helps to straighten out toes and prevent lots of deformities.
- Walking barefoot keeps you at one with nature, just your feet touching mother Earth without leather, plastic or rubber soles getting in the way.
Barefoot walking, however, is not without hazards. Footwear does help to protect your feet from standing on sharp objects which can cut or otherwise cause pain and damage, it also prevents you from stubbing your toes, which can be extremely painful in itself, but if you follow these barefoot walking safety tips and you won’t go far wrong.
- Keep a sharp eye out where you are walking for possible hazards, especially if it is difficult to see the ground clearly . . . walking through long grass or leaf litter for example.
- Make sure that you don’t walk barefoot through areas of hazardous waste or poisonous snakes.
- Make sure that you wash your feet as soon as you get home with soap and water, and check for any insects on the skin which can cause problems later.
Of course it’s cold, it’s snow! Good on you for having a try, I bet that woke you up!
If walking bare foot really isn’t an option, then how about trying some walking sandals, they’re really comfy and can bring your beach walking, or beach running to life!
Be sure to stretch before you start a vigorous walking program.
. . . These Shoes Were Made For Walking!
Walking Shoes are the single most important piece of equipment you’ll need if you’re a keen walker, so it’s important that you get the right walking shoe with a proper fit. It’s no good buying the cheapest, they won’t give you the correct amount of support, but on the other hand it’s no good buying the most expensive or the most popular, it’s got to be the right type of walking shoe for you, your feet and your walks.
Walking Shoes – How Far Do You Walk
- Walking Shoes for short distances, taking the dog for a quickie around the park every morning before work or just the occasional Sunday afternoon stroll. If this is what you need your walking shoes for then a pair of lightweight trainers should do the trick.
- Walking Shoes for those who walk long distances however, you know the sort of person who goes on an all day hike every weekend just for the hell of it, well, those walking shoes will need a little extra cushioning for comfort.
Walking Shoes – How Much Do You Weigh
That’s a bit personal isn’t it, and although if you go to buy a pair of walking shoes in a “proper store” and seek the advice of an expert, they won’t ask you your weight (they won’t need to, they’ll be able to see just by looking at you), but they will advise you on the best walking shoes for you. Another question which you need to ask yourself when buying a pair of walking shoes is how you walk . . . well, I generally put one foot in front of the other and that works pretty well . . . no, I mean do you overpronate? Well, if I do I’m sorry and I’m sure that I can get some cream for it.
Walking Shoes for Overpronators
Overpronators do not need cream or to apologise for making unsociable noises . . . it’s just how they walk. If you overpronate your ankle will roll inwards on each stride and then continue to roll inwards and downwards throughout the step. The only problem is that if you overpronate you will be putting extra strain onto your ankles, shins and knees, so you need motion control walking shoes which have a stiffer heel and a bit of extra support so that your foot can’t physically roll too far inwards. If you walk “normally” then you won’t need this type of motion control walking shoe.
Let’s now look at a few more details you need to take into consideration when you’re buying a new pair of walking shoes.
- Walking Shoe Fit – go to the best store in the area where all of the really serious runners and walkers go to buy their shoes, that way you’ll know that there’ll be a proper expert to help you, somebody who will actually take the time to make sure that you buy walking shoes which fit correctly rather than a “gum chewer” who just wants to take your money. If you get the right fit of walking shoe the first time, then you’ll know what to look for when they need replacing and will have the confidence and knowledge to maybe visit a discount store or shop online.
- Walking Shoes should be pretty flat with no flare. The heel should measure no more than one inch higher than the sole, although some running shoes have a higher heel for runners who maybe strike mid-sole. Walkers don’t need that.
- Walking Shoes need to flex as you walk, otherwise your foot will be constantly fighting with the shoe to try and bend it which can result in shin splints. You should be able to twist them, and they should bend only on the ball of the foot, not halfway through the middle of the arch.
- Walking Shoes don’t have to cost the earth. If you buy the most expensive walking shoe that you can find there’s a good chance that you’re following a fashion trend instead of buying the best walking shoe for your needs. You should pay somewhere around the $60 – $90 mark, if you pay less then you’re probably getting a pair of “knock offs” which won’t offer the same comfort, if, however, you can buy some walking shoes during the sale then you’re on to a winner.
Need a little more information on how to buy a pair of walking shoes? Well, you can find more information on walking shoes here.
Of course, if you wanted to “up the pace” a little from walking to running, you might need a pair of these!
Alison certainly likes them.
According to a study in 2005 by “Archives of Internal Medicine”, walking can also help you to live longer. They discovered that 30 minutes of walking each day can add 1.3 healthy years to the average persons life, not a bad trade is it, because not only will you live longer but you’ll be happier too.
The Scientific Bit about Walking
OK, let’s look at this scientifically. Walking is what’s known in the trade as a low-intensity work-out, which means that your body will burn calories first, and then burn off fat. Actually, if you want to lose a few pounds and build up muscle (and who doesn’t?) then walking is actually a better option than jogging or doing aerobics.
Low intensity exercises such as walking burns off around 5-8% of protein (muscle), 70% in carbohydrates and 15% in fat. Even after you’ve finished walking your body still burns off this fuel, so you’re still burning fat even after you’ve stopped walking.
OK, now that we’ve established that there are more health benefits of walking than you could shake a stick at, let’s realistically look at how you can incorporate walking into your day.
- If walking to work isn’t an option, then why not park a little further away than usual and walk the remainder.
- If you generally go to work by bus, jump off a couple of stops sooner and walk the rest of the way.
- Buy a dog, they love walking.
- Walk somebody elses dog, they really are good company.
- Don’t just sit at your desk over your lunch break reading glossy magazines and dreaming of the perfect figure, get out for a walk, it’ll really help you to focus for the rest of the afternoon.
- Wondering how to spend your Sunday mornings? Drive somewhere nice and then go for a walk.
Are you a bit more adventurous? Try going for an extended hike in one of the many National Parks in the US.
You see, anybody can do it and it really is one of the best, and easiest ways to improve your life. You’re never too young to develop a love of walking.
What a way to spend a few days . . . mmm, the health benefits of walking, I feel better already just watching these videos! And what about those marshmallows . . . . delicious.
Go on, get out camping with the whole family, walking and discovering new things . . . you’ll love it.
Now, go out and buying a pair of walking shoes