Wouldn’t you like to know how your whole body works together? Wouldn’t it help if you knew, from your head down to your feet, how various habits can induce excessive wear and tear on our bodies, and discourage them from repairing themselves as much as they are capable of?
Then maybe you can help fellow barefooter Stephanie Welch produce The Human Body User Manual.
Stephanie has an indiegogo project going right now (through the end of February) to help raise money to help her finish the book. Of course, she could just write the book and then try to sell it, but there are advantages (to her, and to us) in doing it this way.
For one thing, she does need to pay an editor and an illustrator. But if she has some money now then she will be able to devote the time to finishing it now and not have to try to slip it in between other commitments.
(Photo from The Human Body User Manual website.)
She has a nice website that does a good job of explaining what she is trying to do with the book. That’s here: The Human Body User Manual. As she points out there
Like any machine, the human body works well within certain parameters, and when something begins to go astray, dysfunction ensues. Regardless of how active or sedentary you are, if you are seeking to treat or prevent chronic pain, degeneration, poor posture, spinal issues, sports injuries, arthritis, bursitis, tendinitis, plantar fasciitis – almost any biomechanical pain or dysfunction – you need to know why it’s all related and what you can do about it (and the cost of not taking these steps even if you pursue other medical interventions!).
But wait . . . there’s more!
There is also a page about her own personal story, My Campaign Story. Stephanie is a Licensed Massage Therapist, but she also found that going barefoot provided the key to really learning how the whole body tied together for health. (I hope I’m not overstating that.)
She, at this stage, has a detailed outline, chapter summary, of what she intends to have in the book. You can see that here, but I thought I’d mention the chapters that are more foot-related.
(Note: when I focus on the chapters that are more foot-related, I’m really violating the whole premise of the book, which is how the body parts are inter-related. However, I’m justifying it to myself for the following two reasons: 1) This is mainly a barefoot blog—I need to pander to my audience :-) ; and 2) Most “whole-body” books still leave people wearing shoes, which screws up all the rest of the advice in those books.)
The book has five main sections, “Evolutionary Context”, “How the Body Works (Anatomy & Physiology)”, “How the Body Works (Kinesiology)”, Understanding Your Condition”, and “Treatment Approaches”.
Chapter 9 (under Kinesiology) addresses the lower body (including the feet).
The Lower Body: The Myth of Foot and Arch Dysfunction
We’re all born with flat feet, and, like everything else, arches develop based on use. Feet are like marionettes, controlled by the strings from above. Most of the things we blame them for must be solved by retraining the core and hips. They cannot do their jobs when they are 1) chronically elevated at the heel, 2) forced to operate as a single unit, or 3) deprived of sensory input from the ground.
I’m not really sure that we’re all born with flat feet—I’d probably
say it more as that we are born with undeveloped and unstrengthened feet.
The arches are there; it’s just that they haven’t been used and then had
the chance to develop their strength. And of course shoes work pretty
hard to prevent (or inhibit) that. [Based on Stephanie's comment below, let me correct this. I just did a Google image search for baby's feet, and they all look amazingly flat. I say "amazingly" flat since it surprised me. There's a slight hint of a curve; maybe I could claim that just shows them "undeveloped", but in reviewing it, I think Stephanie's comment about flat feet on babies really is spot on.]
Under “Understanding Your Condition” is Chapter 18.
Foot & Ankle Problems
Flat feet, high arches, bunions, neuromas, over pronation, excessive supination, heel spurs, calluses, hammertoes, and (usually) even ingrown toenails are neither genetic nor permanent. They are also based on how the feet, like marionettes, are controlled and supported by the core, hip, and leg muscles above. Plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis also result from specific overuse and imbalances.
And under “Treatment Approaches” there is Chapter 22.
Getting to Know Your Feet
Feet are the most underappreciated part of the body when it comes to alignment, balance, and core strength. We try to impose outside restraints or supports on them, when the only road to long-term correction is through internal changes. If you can’t see what your feet show or listen to the input they provide, you miss a critical part of the puzzle in restoring your body’s function.
Interestingly, there is also an appendix, “Bare Feet in the Modern World”, which I would find quite interesting. There’s no description of what it’ll have, but of course one of the problems we are all aware of is that modern society (particularly in the U. S.) makes it particularly difficult to go barefoot. (No, not because of hard sidewalks or supposed glass-strewn surfaces, but because of cultural norms.)
Anyways, you might go take a look at Stephanie’s video appeal:
She also has another video out discussing the shoe company’s plans for more and more cushioning this year.
(In addition to her points, I’d add that, as the minimalist trend tends to wind down, the shoe company’s are chasing after where they think the money is.)
Of course, I have to finish up with a picture of Stephanie herself (taken from her web page).
Practicing what you preach is always good.
So anyways, seriously consider giving (or more accurately, advance-paying) to her campaign. Again, to give, go
There are the usual indiegogo levels with various perks.
Check it out.