I’m not one for fads.  Not in fashion, nor in fitness.

When it comes to fashion, I have neither the time nor the disposable income to be buying what’s “hot” right now.  I prefer well-constructed, classic pieces that will last me a few seasons.

When it comes to fitness, I look for much the same thing.

I am so anti-fad that from time-to-time I’ve almost missed out on something truly life-changing because of my aversion to it being “hot” right now.

And so it was with minimalist shoes.

If you’ve run any races recently, you’ve probably seen a few “crazy” people who are shoeless and lined up at the race’s start.  I live in Atlanta, Georgia where many road races take place on city streets littered with broken glass.  I still find it pretty unbelievable that people can tolerate those roadways without at least some protection.

So, like I am sure many others have done, I wrote off the barefoot running phenomenon as something for nutty people.  Or people compelled to try the current “big” thing.  Or people with really, really, really calloused feet.

Then I found Katy Bowman.  And suddenly, the idea of being barefoot wasn’t a fad.  It was biomechanical science.

I am an unabashed fan of Katy’s.  (Prepare yourselves for lots of Katy cites on this blog.)  You can read her bio here where she calls herself “unfailingly scientific.” I love that.  I have learned a great deal from her unique blend of physics, holistic health, and really fantastic sense of humor.

After reading a few of Katy’s blog pieces on feet, I decided to read her book, Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief.  (Men can benefit, too.  It’s just that they don’t tend to wear heels.)  After I read it, I gave it to my grandmother.  Then I gave it to my mother.  You get the idea.

I won’t summarize what Katy explains so well on her blog and in her book, but suffice it to say I was sold on the concept of wearing minimalist shoes.  After suffering through two years of hip/pelvis/psoas pain and thirteen months of physical therapy for the same, I was eager to see if ditching the heels would help me.

Because I have funkified toes … and yes, that’s a technical term … the toe-glove style of shoe (i.e., Vibrams) aren’t an option for me.  Instead, I purchased a pair of Sockwas, a pair of Kalso Earth shoes, some TOMS, and a few flats for dressy occasions.

(That’s the Kalso Earth on the left and the Sockwa on the right.  And no, I don’t usually wear them together.  That’s just for you guys.  And now my neighbor across the street thinks I’m loony for standing on the front porch with the baby in the carrier, taking photos of my feet.)

The verdict?

Hip/pelvis/psoas pain … much, much better.

Feet … stronger and more limber.

Body … working a lot harder every time I walk, run or lift weights.

It’s that last one that really compels me.  My squats are deeper, I work twice or three times as hard when I lunge, and when I walk I really feel like I am recruiting my entire leg.

As for running, I haven’t done much of it yet because I was pregnant when I made the switch.  But I have run a few times and O. M. G.  Let’s just say, when you run in conventional shoes, those shoes are doing a lot of the work.  Look at the top of the toe box next time you slide into your running shoes.  See how it’s all rounded?  Turns out, that little boat-shaped feature does a lot of the work for you.  As in, your legs aren’t doing it, your shoe is.  Hmmmmm.

So that was enough for me. I’ve made the switch and I don’t see myself going back.  Fads be darned.

*******

Katy Bowman recently queried her readers for their favorite healthy shoes.  She’s compiled the list of shoes that meet the criteria she lays out in her book here.  It’s a fantastic shopping resource!

6 Responses to “Minimally Speaking, Or Why I Caved to a Fitness “Fad” and Haven’t Looked Back”

  1. on 25 Sep 2012 at 2:32 pmKaren

    I love my Earth shoes. I don’t have the tennis shoes yet (I wear my Merrells with special support for Q angle) but I have several of their dress shoes. They “fixed” my plantar fasciitis from walking all over campus in bad shoes. It was more $$ than I like to spend on shoes but well worth and they last. Now, if I don’t wear them for a while I can feel my foot pain coming back.

  2. on 26 Sep 2012 at 12:14 pmkristinerudolph

    Did you take a peek at Katy’s shoe list? She has some other good work options. Her book is an easy good read, too.

  3. on 25 Sep 2012 at 5:45 pmKatie Fisher

    I’m glad you posted this – I have been SO curious about the minimalist or “barefoot” shoes, but too anti-bandwagon to try them – you may have convinced me!

  4. on 26 Sep 2012 at 12:15 pmkristinerudolph

    Great minds think alike! Give them a shot and then report back to us.

  5. […] symptoms waxed and waned a bit during pregnancy.  With Katy’s stretching protocol, minimalist shoes, and those amazing massages, I kept the pain from […]

  6. […] of the things that I do to maintain my gait and thus my health is avoid heels.  I’ve written before about my move to minimalist shoes, and I’ve shared my mom’s shoe audit where I discussed what I look for in shoes now.  […]

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