Article – Feet are Neat: Do barefoot activities behoove you?
by: Nate Burrous
When you take time to think about it, feet are pretty neat. The feet and ankles possess more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, 33 joints and a whopping 52 bones. That is more than 25 percent of all the bones in your body and nearly 30 percent of its joints. All of these structural components, when healthy, act in concert to stabilize and propel our bodies over any terrain while signaling proper alignment against the forces of gravity. Feet are also distinct in other ways. They have more sweat glands than any other part of the body at nearly 125,000 per foot and can sweat up to a pint of fluid per day. They also have more sensory nerve endings per inch than any other place on the body.
Artists famously paint hands and scientists marvel at their complexity and abilities. Meanwhile we stuff our equally amazing feet into shoes and step on them all day. Of course we are having a little fun with that but it is definitely worth some discussion as to how our behaviors and footwear selections can affect foot health. Choosing the word ‘discussion’ was very intentional. Barefoot activities are a hotly debated topic with passionate people on both sides.
Fitness Trends: The buzz on baring your soles.
The premise that is in dispute is simple and logical. That doesn’t mean it’s correct, but it’s intriguing. This is the heart of it: Feet are designed to operate without shoes. Shoes allow our bodies to move in ways they otherwise would not. Therefore shoes are responsible for the deterioration of our movement, are evil and must be destroyed. The casting off of footwear will restore our relationship with these complex extremities and return our movements to their pure forms.
‘Born to Run,’ a bestselling novel by Christopher McDougall, brought the barefoot running trend to the forefront of American running culture. Barefoot running has grown in popularity to the point that all major shoe manufacturers have responded to the theme of less is more when it comes to active footwear. An ultra-marathon (or simply ultra) is a footrace most often covering a distance of 60-100 miles, usually over rough and mountainous terrain. Some competitors actually race barefoot, but what is most common is to race in shoes that resemble techy slippers more than a traditional running shoe. They have little to no padding under the heel. This shoe style allows the runner freedom and mobility in the foot and ankle but does not support a heel strike. The front or mid foot makes first contact, allowing the complex structure of the foot, in cooperation with the Achilles tendon, calf and leg muscles to act as shock absorbers. This spares the knees and hips from punishment, allowing the runners to cover great distances.
This isn’t to say you should shed your shoes and take off running. Most of these Ultra runners are incredibly fit people who have been running most their lives, train often and most likely have a favorable genetic inheritance. The American Podiatric Medical Association’s (APMA) position statement on barefoot running is simple. There is a lack of science based evidence to draw a conclusion on whether it’s hurtful or harmful. There is a plethora of anecdotal evidence of people inspired by these feats who embark on a liberating shoeless journey only to return with a broken metatarsal or torn Achilles tendon. Others train successfully for months before developing plantar fasciitis. There are also many athletes and a growing number of programs (Including Stanford track and field) that have achieved sparkling results and reduced injuries. The Ultra runners are a part of this discussion because they are an example of what is possible.
Another trend gaining momentum is the strange sounding ‘Earthing.’ Earthing, or grounding, simply involves spending time, every day, walking or standing barefoot on the ground. The theory behind this activity is that our feet receive electromagnetic, or vibrational, energy from the earth which ‘tunes’ or upholds our bodies own bioelectricity. Does this sound bizarre? It could be some hazy, new age, cosmic woo-woo dogma. It could also end up being supported by physicists and doctors alike. Whatever comes of it, the practice is certainly benign provided you aren’t earthing with your eyes closed through a field of Cholla cacti.
The last trend we will touch on (sorry fire walkers) is barefoot training. This simply involves taking your shoes off for whatever your current training or exercise regimen involves. You’ve probably noticed several of the trainers at BodyBasics strolling around barefoot. The level of stress your feet endure will obviously fluctuate with your activities. Jumping and quick lateral moves (think agility ladder) pose a high level of risk while activities like body-weight squatting are safe for most.
This is the sticky part. The topic is thought provoking. Some podiatrists claim too much time spent barefoot can cause fallen arches. It’s interesting to look at early childhood development and what it has to say about this. A baby has fully formed feet after about 8 weeks in the womb (although the toes are often still webbed). They don’t develop arches until age 2-3. So we actually develop our arches (the most stable, strongest form in nature) through early attempts at walking. If you’ve watched a baby around the house it involves a lot of tip-toe maneuvering. Standing and walking high up on the forefoot.
When it comes time to actually decide what barefoot activities may be appropriate for you, there are many things to consider. First and foremost is your current level of foot health. Do you wear orthotics? Do you have club toes, fallen arches, extra bones or any other number of issues that commonly develop in the feet? If you are currently or ever have been under care of a professional for any foot or ankle problems you should clear any barefoot activities you may be scheming prior to beginning.
It’s also important to consider your age and history with footwear. If you have been wearing bulky shoes with the most support possible for 50+ years, switching to toe shoes or nothing at all could cause injury. Switching to a lighter shoe first could be a good step. Flexing and extending your arches and toes and rolling your ankles while sitting is a great way to get started. Sitting with cotton balls between your toes or rolling your arches over a tennis ball are also helpful. The goal is to get your feet moving. Movement is vital to health without exception. Look at your toes. If they don’t have hair this could be a sign that they lack circulation. Regular movement can help that.
Pain is like a good friend that will always tell you the truth. “Yes, that dress does make you look fat.” “No, the waiter is right, you did order that dish.” If pain is telling you that your barefoot activities aren’t good for you guess what… it’s telling the truth. So don’t be a hero. Pay attention to your toes, arches, heels and ankles. Artificially supporting your feet until they operate like blocks of wood is not healthy. Neither is barefoot soccer. Make sure you scale your activities. The goal is to get more circulation, range of motion and strength. If you want some ideas, ask a trainer next time you’re at BodyBasics.
1. What was the reason you decided to go to a trainer?
I had been to another gym for about nine years prior to coming to BodyBasics. The reason I have been doing sometype of exercise for over 12 years is to keep my bones and muscles healthy. And mentally exercise has been a good stress reliever. As I age, I want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, so if something unexpected happens to my health I will be in a better position to recover. Health is everything as I age.
2. Did you consider or participate in any other form of treatment for your reason before seeking a trainer? Examples: physical therapist, acupuncturist, medication
3. How did you hear about BodyBasics?
By bringing my mother for her training sessions.
4. Did you evaluate other gyms or trainers before deciding on coming to Us? If yes, what were other places missing that BodyBasics was able to provide?
Previously I had worked one on one with a personal trainer one day a week and went to the gym on my own 1-2 days week. I wasn’t always as disciplined as I needed to be. So I was looking for more of a structured work out multiple times a week that I could afford.
5. Ultimately, why did you choose BodyBasics over other options?
I wanted to experience the small group class that focused on resistance training, stretching and cardio and I had never really seen this type of class before.
6. What goals did you have when you started at BodyBasics?
When I first started my goal was to come twice a week, but quickly changed to three times a week. I had hoped with my exercise I could impact my weight in a positive way. But I realized last year I could not exercise my way to a reduced weight and that is when I began the Precision Nutrition program.
7. How long have you been training at BodyBasics and what specifically have you achieved over that interval?
I have been coming to BodyBasics for about 2 1/2 years. During that time I have consistently attended the group classes and began the Precision Nutrition program about a year ago.
8. What current goals are you pursuing with your trainers at BodyBasics?
I am finishing my one year nutritional program which helped me be successful in meeting my weight loss goals. So my upcoming goal is to maintain my new eating habits.
Welcome New and Returning Clients
The greatest compliment we can receive is a referral from one of our clients or allied health network!
Bill Chambers ~ referred by Dr. Tait, owner of Rejuv Medical Southwest
Laura Haines ~ referred by Nikki Imhof at ProActive Physical Therapy
Patti Lane ~ has known Chris since his kids were just born
Shout outs are about us voicing victories we witness you all having at BodyBasics. We’ll keep it to our top 5 each month.
Carole Bischof ~ for her zeal for health and dedication to getting the most out of each and every workout she does! Now time to master the deadlift!
Bob Plymyer ~ for working out 3x even while enjoying a recent cruise!
Edrice Ivory ~ for walking 6 miles everyday during her recent trip to Israel!
Jane Spitzer ~ for continued improvement toward listening to her body and incredible dedication to her away from BodyBasics program!
John Sipe ~ for achieving his longstanding goal of being able to drive his hot rod once again!
Recipe – Green Onion, Kale, and Bacon Frittata
This month Spring is in the air and it’s calling for this delightfully tangy and rich egg-based Italian dish. Although frittatas are similar to omelettes or crustless quiches, they tend to boast much more flavor and customization. But that’s not the best part. A well-made frittata is one of the world’s most perfect foods. That’s right! It’s cheap, quick- cooking, and an efficient vehicle for leftovers—not to mention equally delicious at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I encourage you to try your hand at this frittata recipe. Its nutrient-dense egg base contains high-quality protein and offers all nine essential amino acids.
- 12 Eggslarge
- 3tbsp coconut milk/cream*see note
- salt and pepper
- 1cup green onionschopped
- 2tbsp Olive oil
- 3-5ounces Baconcut into inch-wide strips
- 1/2cup fresh kalechopped
- 4ounces Goat Cheese**crumbled , divided into two 1/2 cup containers
1 Adjust oven rack 5 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.
2 Whisk eggs and coconut cream in a medium sized bowl.
3 Add 1/2 cup of goat cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to egg mixture and stir. Set aside.
4 Melt olive oil in an ***oven safe, nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium heat, and saute green onions, bacon and kale for 5-7 minutes, adding oil/butter if needed. Once bacon appears cooked, spread mixture evenly across skillet and lower heat to medium-low.
5 Add egg mixture to skillet. Frequently mix with spatula until large curds form and spatula begins to leave a wake but eggs are still very wet, about 3 minutes.
6 Shake skillet to distribute eggs and evenly cook without stirring to let bottom set, about 30 seconds.
7 Distribute remaining 1/2 cup goat cheese evenly over frittata. Slide skillet under broiler and cook until surface is puffed and spotty brown, yet center remains slightly wet and runny when cut into with a knife, 3 to 4 minutes. Using potholder (skillet handle will be hot), remove skillet from oven and let stand for 5 minutes to finish cooking; using spatula, loosen frittata from skillet and slide it onto platter or cutting board.
8 Cut into wedges and serve.
* If you want to avoid half-and-half, coconut cream is a great substitute. Just chill a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge, and when ready to use, open and skim coconut cream off the top with a spoon.
** The goat cheese will crumble more easily if it is chilled.
***A 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet is necessary for this recipe. Because broilers vary so much in intensity, watch the frittata carefully as it cooks.
Exercise Video of the Month – Tips for Improving Your Kettlebell Squat
Community Events – 2nd Annual Torture the Trainer Event April 21st!
It’s almost time once again for you to get your opportunity to put one or more of us through our paces. Last year’s inaugural event was a huge hit, not only because of all the creativity we realized all of you, our wonderful clients have, but also because we were able to raise nearly $2,000.00 dollars for Sister Jose’s Women’s Center. Mark your calendars! Our next event will be on April 21st from 1-3 p.m. Start planning your exercises. We’ll start selling tickets in the next couple of weeks. I still want to finalize our charitable recipient. More to come on that!
Chris, Kris, Myrya, Kristian, Lance, Rachel, Ben and Amanda