One of the other ways I get exercise and try to stay in shape is by inline skating.
So far, I haven’t figured out how to do it barefoot.
I like inline skating because it is generally easier on my knees (though not always) and to me (YMMV) the greater speed makes it more interesting. It is also a great aerobic exercise.
It has been a while since I did it, but after I got back from the Grand Canyon I felt I needed something bit more intense, so in the past few days I’ve gone skating twice.
Of course that means that I’ve been wearing footwear—the skates. Just as I think of shoes as tools that might be useful for some particular task (e.g., extreme cold), so too are inline skates. I’m not such a stickler that I refuse to ever wear anything on my feet (and we saw that when I donned moccasins on part of my Grand Canyon hike so that I could actually enjoy the hike—usually I enjoy hiking barefoot more, but under those end-of-day conditions, the way for me to maximally enjoy things was not to needlessly and overly suffer from being footsore).
But, oh, after I took the skates off, I was reminded about why I really don’t like wearing shoes or other footwear.
Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.
The rigid box of the skates just didn’t let my foot flex and move the way going barefoot does. My arch felt squished afterwards, and actually hurt for the rest of the day. This is a prototypical result of hard shoe wearing.
The other problem I usually have with shoes is that it makes my Morton’s Neuroma act up (and also causes knee problems with the shattered cartilage I have in one knee). When barefoot I can subtly adjust exactly how I place the sole of my foot to minimize any problems. When the foot is encased in a shoe, it has to land the way the shoe forces it to land (mostly).
Fortunately, the skates did not exacerbate that problem. The reason is because the natural motion of skating puts almost all the pressure on the inside of the foot, which is away from the Morton’s Neuroma location.
I even have extra built-up callus on that inner portion. Compare my right foot (extra callus) with my left.
You ought to be able to see the difference.
That extra callus only developed after I shattered some of the cartilage in my knee. It quite aptly demonstrates just how I am able to naturally slightly shift contact points when barefoot (and which doesn’t happen when I am forced to wear shoes). It is something I do automatically and am not even aware of; it only shows up in this callus difference. When I wear shoes, the weight is forced to be more even distributed over the toe box, which means I end up putting more weight on the Morton’s Neuroma area, which means things really hurt then.
You might also then ask, well, if you will wear footwear in order to inline skate, doesn’t that ruin your reason why, for instance, the Statehouse ought to grant you an exemption because of your foot pain?
Look at it this way. For any skiers, you accept the risk of maybe breaking your leg. However, if the negligence of a business did something that caused your leg to get broken, they could not defend themselves by saying, because you accepted the risk of breaking your leg while skiing, you’ve also accepted the risk of breaking your leg any other way.
Similarly, when I am skating, I am getting other benefits that outweigh any pain that might occur afterwards. When I am visiting the Statehouse (for instance), that doesn’t mean I have to accept the pain that results if forced to wear shoes.
Anyways, I think the inline skates nicely illustrated (and reminded me) just what footwear can do, and does, to our feet.