Transitioning to Barefoot Health PLUS RunAmoc Giveaway!
Did you know April is National Foot Health Awareness Month? What better way for us to celebrate than by helping you make your feet happy?
With the weather warming and springtime blooming, more people are going outside and getting active. It’s a great time to be mindful of your feet, which are literally the foundation of your whole body. Biomechanist and bestselling author Katy Bowman is an expert on foot health and its connection to overall body wellness, which happens to be the subject of latest book, Whole Body Barefoot: Transitioning Well to Minimal Footwear.
About the Book...
"I've taught thousands of people about their bodies and I always start with the feet."
I asked Katy for a preview of her book and she graciously sent a copy to our workshop. To put it mildly, this is exactly the book we’ve wanted for many years. There are several publications that tout the benefits of going barefoot or wearing minimal shoes, and some that give outlines for starting a barefoot running regimen, but Bowman’s book takes it to a different level. We receive many foot health questions at the Soft Star workshop, but because we’re not medical professionals we can’t give medical advice. This book, however, will answer many of the inquires from people looking to relieve foot and body pain by switching to minimal shoes and restoring natural function.
For starters, Bowman acknowledges up front that going barefoot will not magically heal all your pain and make you immune to injury. On the contrary, she proclaims the exact opposite: “an incautious change to minimal footwear could very easily result in injury and further disease.” The key word there is incautious. Bowman is, of course, a fan of bare feet and minimal shoes and she has plenty of evidence to show people may benefit immensely by making the change, but she also understands firsthand that this transition must be done delicately for feet that have spent decades adapting to conventional footwear. After helping thousands of patients reduce pain, increase bone density and solve their pelvic floor mysteries, her approach is not only science-based, but also tried and tested many times over.
The first half of Whole Body Barefoot is all about the science. She compares a life in conventional shoes to a diet of movie theater food (popcorn, soda, candy, etc). Sure, you’ll get your calories and stay alive, but keep it up long enough and you’ll start to see the detrimental effects. What follows is a rough breakdown of the basic geometry of footwear and how it affects whole body dynamics over time.
For example, Bowman shows how any elevated heel will change your body “loads,” alter your pelvis and spine and cause a variety of muscles to shorten or lengthen unnaturally (to be fair, Bowman points out this isn’t only women’s heels, but also heels on men’s and children’s shoes). The point isn’t to make the reader an expert on biomechanics, but to illustrate how seemingly small footwear features can have a big long-term impact. Tapered toe boxes, loosely-secured footwear (think flip-flops) and a lifetime of walking on unnaturally flat surfaces are also shown to take an unexpected toll. But fear not, there’s a solution…
The second half of the book is devoted to stretches and exercises designed to gradually restore natural function. These include habits that will improve your stance, simple home workouts to strengthen the various tissues and muscles of your feet and tips for healthy walking. An appendix at the end of the book sums up the program with detailed illustrations, along with a directory of companies that sell tools and shoes that promote barefoot-like movement. It’s a very comprehensive list that offers something for everyone (seriously, at eight pages it includes products we didn’t even know about ourselves).
Sound like a lot to take on? You’d be surprised how simply it all comes together. At only 150 pages, Whole Body Barefoot is an easy read that packs a lot of gems into a short and concise blueprint for happy feet.
Katy Bowman. M.S. has earned an international reputation for educating the geneneral population on alignment and load science. Her other books include Move Your DNA, Alignment Matters and Every Woman's Guide to Foot Pain Relief. You can learn more about her biomechanics programs and books by visiting the Restorative Exercise website or by following her popular blog, Katy Says.
Now, Onto the Free Stuff…
To celebrate National Foot Health Awareness Month, we’re proud to team up with Bowman to give away a copy of Whole Body Barefoot and a pair of Soft Star RunAmocs! Designed with athletes in mind (and thoroughly tested by ultramarathon runners), our minimal RunAmocs allow your feet to move naturally and also work very well as casual or dress shoes. The winner can choose any single pair from our current collection colors and styles.
To enter, simply choose any of the methods below. Using multiple methods will increase your chances of winning! Contest ends at midnight on Thursday, May 7, 2015.