“My feet are free to move”
‘People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures’, said FM Alexander.
Information and knowledge are useful. Putting these into action is even more useful. Committing to doing this thinking-in-activity one, three, or ten times a day – then you’ll really start to notice the benefits.
As many of you know, one of Alexander’s major discoveries about us mammals is that the relationship between the head and spine govern the coordination of the rest of us. Yes – all of us! Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – we don’t separate – its all one thing – our Self.
Two of my favourite shoes, not yet worn together
“Two of my favourite shoes – my feet are free to move”
Yesterday I gave a list of some of the ways in which our body gets restricted and set in its ways.
Today I’m showing you two of my favourite shoes. Since being in Lockdown, I have been in one or other of these every time I’ve been for a walk or a cycle – which is every day!
The brown ones are so soft and moveable. They are made of cloth with a fleece lining and a semi-sole. The sole is shaped like a foxes paw print, so isn’t solid all the way across and makes it super-flexible. My feet are so happy in these, like outdoor slippers. They are light, warm (not so waterproof) and enable my foot to move easily in all directions. These are made by a company called Wildlings (or baby Badger).
The blue-grey ones are more like trainers. Made by Merrill, called barefoot trail gloves. I am also a fan of Vivobarefoot shoes which were designed by Tim Brennan, who’s dad is an Alexander Technique teacher in Ireland, and serial author of AT books.
If you were to stand on a piece of cardboard and draw around your feet and made a cardboard cut-out. Could you put this inside your shoes without damaging the cardboard? Or would the cardboard need to bend and mould into the shoes or boots you most-often wear?
If the cardboard has to bend and mould, I can only imagine your 3D actual foot will too.
When we stand and walk, and jump, skip and run – our feet need to take on different shapes to accommodate the various loads we put on them and through them.
If the shoe is already restricting your foot shape, it can’t then adapt to the changing job it is being given.
If you need to use toe-scrunching to keep your slides or flip-flops on, then this will drastically diminish the available elasticity and movement possibilities in your feet.
Ballet style shoes demand that toes scrunch and soles of feet hunch to dry and keep the shoes from falling off.
Men wearing stiff shoes which may taper-in towards the toes and be stiff to walk in, end up changing their gait to accommodate the immovable and over-long fashion / office shoes.
Our feet have one third of the joints in them of the whole body. So if these foundational joints can’t move easily and freely – it can only have negative consequences for the rest of your body and the available movements.
I recommend minimal shoes to re-establish a fuller range of movement, flexibility and balance.
If you haven’t worn these before, go slowly. You may need to order a full or half a size bigger than you are used to, to allow for your feet to spread into their fuller shape. You may need to adjust slowly so that you don’t hurt your feet by going from being stiff or rigidly supported (something that many shoe manufacturers, baby shoe ‘experts’ and podiatrists will tell you is essential – to taking the scaffolding off and allowing your feet, ankles and full body to begin to regain their own support and range of movement.
It is a valuable journey, taken one step at a time (pun intended).
Going barefoot is ideal when the temperature is right, the surface safe and the spirit takes you there. Perhaps you have a patch of garden, or a doorstep you could take your feet to today?
I hope the ideas and suggestions in here are useful to you and encourage you to explore for yourself. Open minds, help feet and bodies be more open too.
If you have any suggestions for making these emails more useful to you, please let me know. I value your feedback (or is that feetback?)