Thursday, June 14, 2012

That was a first.

I don't think I've ever dreamed about shoes before. I'm not really shoe people; I think at its height, when I was still working in an office and going clubbing nights, my closet may have swollen to a whole five or six pairs, selected on the basis of "comfortable" and "matches as many things as possible".

Anyhow, the only really salient feature of last night's dream is a pair of pale green shoes that were sort of a cross between ballet flats and driving moccasins. You know, with little rubber nubby things on the bottom and no rigid sole. After many years of wearing pretty much nothing but side-zip combat boots, the difference in proprioception was amazing (at least in my dream it was). It also felt like going into public with my feet and ankles nekkid.

Maybe my unconscious self is telling me to try out some of those minimalist shoes and see if I stop getting so many foot cramps? I dunno. I've been using the ankle support of boots as a sort of crutch for my mangled right leg for a long time now; maybe I should throw down my crutches and walk...


Fred said...

I love my Fivefingers. Just take the time to break in your feet.

Eric Wilner said...

I've been wearing Fivefingerses for a couple of years now, and an ankle problem that was aggravated by boots has largely cleared up.
A caution: the "FiveFingers Classic" style has no padding, so long walks on hard or lumpy surfaces get uncomfortable. The "KSO Trek" style has just enough padding to be good for moderate hiking.
If you want to try the minimalist-footwear thing at minimal cost and without looking silly, get a cheap pair of water shoes: light, flexible, no support, decent traction, and can pass for normal shoes. The downside is that they're not all that durable, and will be falling apart after a couple of hundred miles.

Yrro said...

Do they make any that you can wear to an office and not get laughed out of the room? One of the older guys at my work was wearing five fingers for a while... and it was not pretty.

Braided Hemp said...

The KSO Trek is a little more understated with the brown kangaroo leather upper. I like it. I've been doing the minimalist thing for a couple of years, too, and have noticed the difference in feet and lower legs. Do ease into it as the minimalist gurus say "you've been wearing casts on your feet for years" so there's a little rehab to be done. Also recommend the sandals at

Armed Texan said...

Before you throw down your crutches, don't you need to be thwacked on the head by a televangelist? I think Robert Tilton is still a live and not in prison.

mikee said...

The Manolo needs to hear about this dream! If anyone can understand, interpret, and blog about it, it is he!

AM said...

I switched from normal running shoes to Nike Freestyle and I have felt a difference in my calves. The Freestyle has much more padding than the 5 fingers, so there is a little more forgiveness if you don't get your foot strike just perfect each time.

So you don't have to go straight up minimalist, I am pretty sure that Adidas also makes a "transition" running shoe.

Will said...

Should it be assumed that you have checked on the possibility of mismatched leg length? Common problem. Especially if you have suffered some extreme leg bone damage, as you have indicated previously.
A D.O., doing an exam, commented that one leg was about a 1/4" shorter. A few years later, while walking along a marked floor, I realized I couldn't walk a straight line. Kept having to correct my orientation. Started putting as thick a sole liner as I could fit in my one boot, to help correct the imbalance. Even less than a 1/4" helps a lot for me, and back problems have lessened a bit.

Goober said...

Must have missed something - what happened to your leg?

Anonymous said...

Love my merrell barefoot style shoes, they make a dressy version no one has noticed at work. Five fingers can be great but don't fit every variety of foot either. I have 'em and like 'em but have trouble getting in and out of them. Worth giving it all a try, start off easy!
-Erik from Seattle

Ed Foster said...

Proprioception. That is a cool word, and one I've never encountered before.

I know this is terribly plebian, but I discovered much the same benefit of the five finger thingy in a cheap pair of Plimsolls from Wally World. You know, the canvas thingies with nothing under your foot but a quarter inch of soft rubber?

Just about no support, and a pair of cotton ankle socks to keep things from getting sweaty. The heel spurs and tight achilles tendons haven't bothered me once since I started wearing them, and the big tendon on the inside of the left knee hasn't gone out in weeks.

Plimsolls $7.99, socks a tad over a buck. At that cost, I can afford to throw them away every 5 or 6 weeks.

Strange said...

Well, before you head for the shoe store: try one of the "fast spoiling fruit" a day to up your potassium levels, and a magnesium supplement as well. Most people troubled with cramps suffer from a lack of both elements.

Both bananas and magnesium supplements are cheap enough - and my secretary also says this regimen helps her migraines.


og said...

I have gone from pretty much full time boot wear to 60/40 shoe/boot. Most of the shoes I've worn have been pretty nasty, though, until I bought a pair of Capp uniform shoes, which are lower and lighter without being unsupportive.

I have always been in the habit of having two identical pair of boots, and then rotating them out daily, which has helped with a lot of ills, and I plan to do the same with the Capp shoes as soon as I can scrape up $100 for another pair.

Capp makes women's sized shoes, but they're sort of military uniform shoes, so not exactly stylish. But very,very comfortable (past the break in period, which was about a week of constant wear) and made in America.

Drang said...

"Break in your feet first."
Already been done, that's the problem...

Tam said...


"Must have missed something - what happened to your leg?"

Exactly twelve years and one week ago, I barked my right shin on the front bumper of a Toyota Camry at about 45mph and then turned a few cartwheels down the road before deciding to grind some exposed bone ends on asphalt.

They put the bits of my tibia onto a steel rod like add-a-beads. Got two screws through the medial malleolus of my left tibia, too.

Anonymous said...

Any pictures?

We love these things you know.

Anonymous said...

My dad calls my mom "Imelda" because at both of their houses she has her closet up to about waist level with shoes (in boxes).

Re: Only 6 shoes: I have 3 one pair of brown pull on boots, one pair of adidas, and one pair of 'barbarian sandals'.

I end up wearing the boots to weddings and such.

LabRat said...

The really cheapest transition option is what I did, which was just going barefoot unless I had to leave the house for a few months. Not a good option for someone with an office job, perfectly cromulent for a telecommuter/freelance/blogger type.

I'll also say that my wonky right ankle never improved until I started dicking around with free weights, of the sort where my ankle had to support me through a full range of motion with something heavy on my back. Bone and connective tissue respond to light/moderate stress, just like muscle.

I am not a physical therapist though, and your leg got racked up a hell of a lot worse than my ankle did.

Rob Reed said...

Man, your wreck was 12 years ago?

I remember joining GlockTalk about that same time. I didn't know who you were, but everyone was talking about your accident, recovery, etc.

IIRC, you were carrying a Glock back then. Funny how things go in circles, isn't it?

Rob (Trebor)

Matt G said...

Sizing for giants FAIL. :(

DirtCrashr said...

I was so used to going barefoot I picked up a case of ring-worm while overseas. But the "Fivefingers" are just embarrassing and make me feel like a goofy hipster, each wittle pinkie-toesey stuck in its own wubbber enclosure - they'er like cutesy Christmas socks-with-toes. IMO what you need is arch support as much as ankle support.
Playing a lot of soccer I developed some major calluses inside my instep from the foot-bed of the cleats, that thickened and hardened and I had to cut away with a knife or they would tear the surrounding skin.
So now when it's not slip-on shoes it's flip-flops, esp. when boots are too damn hot.

kishnevi said...

Magnesium is good for cramps but also a laxative. If you go that route, start off small and then find the highest dose that doesn't send you running to the bathroom. They don't call Phillip's Milk of Magnesia that name for nothing. But it does work for leg cramps.

In talking about shoes, you're sort of entering in my business. Best thing to do is to plan to spend several hours at a mall with a number of shoes stores, and try on all the comfort and athletic shoes and sandals (Clark's, Rockport, Easy Spirit are the big name brands, but there's plenty of other fish in the sea) you can; remember that the more comfort and support you get, the heavier and usually the uglier the shoe will be; don't mind if they look like an old lady's shoes; make sure you can return them if they don't turn out the way you need them to; wear the pair you buy around the house for several hours at a time to make sure before you decide to keep them. And if you decide on a sneaker, look for a cross trainer, they usually have more ankle support than other sorts.

Dan said...

zip up side trail runner toe shoes:

LabRat said...

We've also gotten increasingly evangelistic about these things. Tried 'em out now on two folks with metal pinning them back together and on those two individuals good results were obtained. (We sent Spear home with one of our bands.)

Anonymous said...

The Merrell barefoot shoes (Trail Glove for men, Pace Glove for women) give all the proprioception of the 5 fingers without the funky looks.

Lightweight and breathable...I like mine a lot.

TerriLiGunn said...

Be careful, switching from near of a decade of wearing only boots to shoes overnight made my ankles and feet feel again, sadly it was only the pain feeling that came back.

Once Free Man said...

Ed Foster:

Destroy a knee or leg to the point of needing major reconstruction, then months of tortuous physical therapy just to be able to walk again.
Believe me, you'll hear and see the word "proprioception" more than you care to.

It's a word best suited for casual or second-hand acquaintance.

Ed Foster said...

I'll pass. Enough problems with the bi-annual arthroscopic repair of my various torn menicuses (menicusii?).

I'm thirty-four years older and 50 pounds heavier than when I last stepdanced, and you would think that, after four repairs, I would learn.

But Saint Patrick's Day keeps happening, and the family wants to show off the old medal winner. After 4 or 5 (O.K., maybe 6)Jamesons and the odd Guinness or three I get up and blow everybody away for 8 or 10 minutes.

Plenty of height, great extensions, and that killer side-snap. "Gee Ed, why do you keep your arms down at your side like that?". Obviously somebody who never wore kilts.

Followed by two or three weeks of shamble and limp, to see if it's too far gone to heal, then another 3 or 4 days of hobble after the surgery.

I did survive this last St. Patrick's Month in pretty good shape for once, and I think the total abandonment of any padding helped me tremendously. The knees and ankles are much stronger without all that built in wobble.

GreyLocke said...

After having my right leg caught between a Honda CB360T and the front quarter panel of a Nissan Pulsar way back in 1989, I too have a bunch of metal holding my right leg together. For years after I learned to walk again I would only wear Altama Speed lace combat boots or Corcoran Jump Boots. It took herniating 2 discs in my back and having my Coccyx and 2 vertebrae plated and fused together to get to the point where I couldn't wear boots all the time. My back, hip and knee would take it. So I switched to Teva Combat Sandals I got from Campmor for a few years and now I just wear the cheap Walmart copies and some knock off Converse Chuck Taylors. Way fewer problems with the cramps and joint pain, and much less expensive. You will want to use a pumice stone on your feet once a week for the first month or two though.

RevolverRob said...

Boots really are not fantastic for you feet. Hard to argue with the last 7-10 million years or bi-pedal evolution.

I however, have high arches, which means that Five Fingers make my feet hurt more than anything. My solution? Chacos. My Chaco Hip-Things fulfill my Hippie Quotient, and my Chaco PedSheds are highly water resistant, closed toed, black leather shoes, that match with everything from jeans to dress pants. The wonderful arch support of Chaco shoes, and the Made in USA tag for most of their shoes, is an added makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.


Will said...

Ed Foster:

Ditch the cotton socks. Not good for the feet. At least go acrylic, at minimum:

og said...

Will: Cotton or wool. Anything else, and my feet feel like I've been wearing golf spikes with the cleats on the inside. I cannot imagine how people wear anything but cotton socks. Of course I'm not kicking footballs around, either. If I were... No, wait, I'll NEVER do that.

toadold said...

Recommended exercise for those taking up barefoot running....I'd pay good money to see a video of you doing it.

montieth said...

Every time I think about minimalist shoes, I think about my step brother stepping on a screw embedded in a board in our "new" house back when I was a kid. His dad had to unscrew it from his foot with a pair of pliers.

I'll stick to shoes with a hard rubber or thick leather and rubber sole when I'm not doing something hinky or when I am, shoes that have steel toes and steel in the sole.

Jason said...

Merrells. I've got 3 pairs, 1 in leather which works fine in a casual business environment. When I first switched, I had pain for about a month as I had to learn to walk without the extreme support of my airsole Docs. But since then my busted up old ankles have gotten much stronger, and I no longer have the nagging pain & occasional swelling.

Simms65 said...

I have Vibrams, but my everyday shoes are the VIVOBAREFOOT Ra model. It's a men's style oxford that wears like a moccasin. Most comfortable shoes I've ever owned.

Mike Uggen said...

For starters, I am a Licensed Massage Practitioner (12 years experience). For at least the last ten years, I have focused almost exclusively on serious treatment work.

For those who asked, Proprioception refers to the body’s ability to orient itself in space. One example would be the sense of balance from the inner ear. Another is various nerve receptors in the ankle.

There were a handful of references to what is commonly called the Short Leg Syndrome, one leg shorter than the other, as in a quarter inch in Tam’s case. With no exaggeration whatsoever, I have worked with literally hundreds of cases in the last few years, and it would not surprise me if I am now well past the thousand mark.

And with all those hundreds of cases, I can count on the fingers of one hand (and have fingers left over) the number of times I have worked on someone who had a legitimate, true, bone length differential. Every one of those three cases involved a traumatic injury (such as Tam’s). Having said that, I have also worked on many other traumatic injury cases where the surgeons got it right. By getting it right, I simply mean they were able to precisely balance the leg lengths by their pin and screw placement.

All the other hundreds of cases of one leg being shorter than the other had nothing to do with bone length. (And some of them were cases where the surgeon did get it right). They were caused by a contracted PSOAS muscle.

The PSOAS attaches along the sides of the lumbar vertebrae and runs diagonally through the pelvis where it attaches on the other end on the inside of the upper femur. If the PSOAS on one side of the body is contracted more than the PSOAS on the opposite side, the more contracted side will result in an elevated hip/pelvis and the appearance that that leg is shorter than the other. It is extremely easy to treat. Simply get the contracted PSOAS to relax and the legs even out.

The other point worth mentioning is foot pain. A very common problem when people change footwear is Plantar Fascitis. This is also extremely easy to treat and you do NOT need special inserts or orthotics. In fact, all this crap does is tend to make permanent what should be just a temporary situation.

Tam said...

Mike Uggen,

Fortunately, they seem to have had a tape measure handy when they put me back together, as both legs are long enough to reach the ground just fine. ;)

Brad K. said...

@ Tam,

if you are indeed using using the side-zip boots as a crutch, I would think you face two challenges.

First is the support your back, hips, knees, and shoulders have come to depend upon.

Second is the notion that you think you are used to using the crutches for support, leading to a dependency that will take some addressing.

My own thought is yoga, intro or Hatha Yoga. The physical preparation part, to increase strength, agility, and to manage pain. I would avoid the boutique "beautiful people" and Jane Fonda approaches. But do start with a class; a competent instructor can help get the postures and positions correct from the start.

I cannot promise that learning Yoga will improve your handgun accuracy, but it might help you to manage stress, aches, and sleep better. Maybe.

Yoga, like taking up running or cardio workouts explore changes in your body, and awareness of what works and what needs work -- helping to disconnect any lingering dependency on the crutches. If you try yoga, I hope it does as much for you as it did for me -- it has been 18 years since my intro class, and I *don't* keep up with it.