Yesterday’s Huffington Post had a promising article in it, It’s Simple, Easy And Free — And It Will Improve Your Health. Well, that sounds nice. What is it? Walking.
And the lead illustration is one we can all appreciate.
Here’s that illustration:
Nice. Walking. Barefoot. What more could we ask?
It then had 7 items that could, as they put it “supercharge your typical stroll”.
The first one of those items was “Walk through a green space.”
Absolutely. There have been concerns about “Nature Deficit Disorder”, and we all know how strolling through the woods barefoot can be both soothing, and yet stimulating to the soles. We just soak up the earth (metaphorically) through our feet.
Others include “Walk with friends” and “Squeeze a walk in wherever and whenever you’re able.
“Walk when you need to solve a problem” is good advice. You can let your mind wander a bit, and possible solutions abound.
But they also suggest the opposite of that, “Make it mindful”. The article suggests particularly paying attention to what’s around you while walking.
“Being focused and paying attention wherever possible — and untethering ourselves from technology so that we’re focused on what is around us — is really important,” she says. “You’ll notice all these things that you hadn’t noticed before.”
And that is illustrated with another great barefoot walking picture.
These are all just suggestions, and don’t all have to be done in a single walk. Some walks are good with friends, some for mindfulness, some for problem-solving.
But then there is the “suggestion” in there that undoes their good.
“Get the right shoes”. (I don’t even want to show the picture that comes with this suggestion.)
The right shoes are important, even for short walks. In addition to preventing injury, good walking shoes will keep you comfortable — which could increase the likelihood that you’ll get out and walk more in the future.
“Making sure you have comfortable shoes is huge, because if your feet hurt, the rest of you hurts,” says Parks.
Well, if you want comfort, and want to increase the likelihood that you’ll get out and walk more in the future, you’ll do what those other photographs depicted: you’ll do it barefoot.
And then they do the usual slam against flip-flops, pointing to another Huff-Po article, How Your Flip Flops Are Killing Your Feet. One particularly silly indictment in that flip-flop article is
One Auburn University study found that people wearing flip flops take shorter steps and hit their heels to the ground with less vertical force, which can through off your natural gait . . .
You’ve got to be kidding me. Hitting the ground with less vertical force is bad? And they neglect to mention that the study found that this flip-flop gait was closer to going barefoot! So flip-flops are closer to the natural gait, and it is shoes that cause unnatural changes to the body.
Look, I’m not particularly fond of flip-flops. Their big sin is that they cut off one’s direct sensory connection to the ground and remove most of the benefits of proprioception (as do all shoes). But it’s not, as the article says, that they “throw off the body’s natural alignment”. To really do that right, you need a classic running or walking shoe, with artificial arch support, big heels, and a foot-squishing shape.
All these articles do is keep passing along myth (and cite other articles that also buy the myth without looking at the basis of the myth). We fight that when they go after being barefoot. And it’s just as bad when they go after things that, while not barefoot, are not as bad as shoes.
So, ignore that part of the article. Walking is good. There are a lot of reasons to do it. Barefoot walking, however, is really good. Incorporate their other tips, and go out walking.