Steven Sashen - CEO, Feel The World, Inc.

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What are the benefits of barefoot walking and running?

I got a message on Facebook from Ben:

I have a pair of your sandals and I really enjoy the freedom, strength and all around sensation I get running free!

My only hurdle has been steeping on rocks on the ball or knuckle of my feet and bruising an irritating the nerves. I have had bouts with mortons neuroma and whenever I land on that spot with a rock or hard object – I am back to my cushy runners. Maybe I am destined to be a shod runner or maybe in time my feet will toughin’ up? Any advice would be helpful!

Thank you!
Ben

Now, I’m not a doctor, and I don’t play on on TV (or anywhere else for that matter), so the best I can do is tell you what I’ve noticed since I ditched my shoes and started walking and running barefoot (in 2009).

I replied to Ben:

My experience has been that 4 things happened over time:

  1. My feet became stronger and more flexible (so they bend around the things that used to be painful). In fact, I was at a clinic for chiropractors not too long ago and the teacher said to his students, “If you have to, pay Steven to let you check out his feet… you’ll be amazed at how strong they are, but really relaxed and flexible.” Sadly, nobody paid me… but a lot of people did check out my feet ;-)
  2. My reflexes seem to have improved, so I step off things that might be painful faster, and therefore they don’t hurt.
  3. My gait changed, so that I don’t have my weight on my foot until it’s a bit more flatfooted as I walk — with more surface area, there’s less force/stress on any specific part of my foot.
  4. I pay more attention (effortlessly) to where I’m stepping, so I don’t put my feet on painful things as often. It seems like a combination of using peripheral vision, plus feeling what’s underfoot more quickly.

I hope that’s helpful.

And I hope that’s helpful for you as well.

If you’ve been barefooting, what have you noticed about your walking and running over time?

Leave your comments (and questions) below…


Xero Shoes Barefoot Sandals now available through Rakuten

Xero Shoes Barefoot Sandals on RakutenOur goal with Xero Shoes is to give as many people as possible the fun and benefits of natural, barefoot movement (with some just-right protection and a dash of authentic style).

To do that, we want to make Xero Shoes available wherever people are shopping.

Since people are looking for barefoot running shoes on many online stores, well, that’s where we want to be.

So, we’re happy to announce that you can get Xeros on Rakuten.com now.

Why would you buy there rather than directly from us? Well, no reason, really, since when you place an order for our barefoot-inspired sandals on Rakuten, we actually ship it from our office.

But some people search on Rakuten and would never find us in any other way, so we’re happy to be find-able on one of the largest online retailers.


Warning: Chia Seed Recall

Chia Seed RecallThere’s been a national recall on some brands of Chia Seeds.

This won’t affect you if you think Chia Seeds are something you use to make “pets,” but it might if you eat them.

The affected brands include Organic Traditions, Williams-Sonoma, and Navitas Naturals brand chia and chia-flaxseed blend powders.

Many of our readers heard about Chia from the book, Born To Run, which described it as one of the superfoods that the Tarahumara use to fuel themselves for epic runs. And you’ll often find barefoot runners with a handful of seeds, or a gloopy-looking beverage full of chia.

The Consumerist blog reported that many people are unaware of the recall of chia seeds, caused by the fact that certain chia brands are contaminated with salmonella and have sickened at least 65 people so far.

So, barefoot runners, and everyone else who eats chia, please check your supplies, and not just the seeds that are still stuck in your teeth from last week’s smoothie ;-)


Barefoot Sandals are for more than running

The two most popular comments I hear from people seeing Xero Shoes barefoot sandals for the first time are:

“You can’t really run in those, can you?”

and

“I’m not a runner so I can’t use those.”

Make up your mind people! ;-)

So, some people equate barefoot-inspired sandals with running, and others can’t fathom doing an ultramarathon without giant maximalist shoes with tons of padding and “motion control.”

It’s true that Xero Shoes were inspired by the huaraches sandals worn by the Tarahumara of Mexico, who make their sandals from scraps of tire and leather laces (they’re stiff and heavy, btw). And the Tarahumara are known for running long distances in their sandals. And it’s true that the early adopters of Xero Shoes were barefoot runners. And it’s true that we’ve had hundreds, if not thousands, of emails from customers all around the world who’ve run everything from 5k – 100 mile races in Xeros.

But that doesn’t mean you have to run in them. Lena, my wife, co-founder of Xero Shoes, and our COO… she’s a hiker, not a runner. But she mostly wears her Xero Shoes as her daily footwear.

I’m a competitive sprinter, and wear my sandals for daily wear — I haven’t had a “normal” pair of shoes on my feet for 5 years — and for all my drills and warm-ups on the track (for sprinting, I’m in a pair of spikes, which you need for traction and maximum speed).

I like to ask people, “Do you enjoy being barefoot?” And if they say Yes, I say, “Well these sandals give you the closest thing to that fun, free barefoot feeling, but with a layer of protection.”

And with that combo, our customers have done practically everything you can think of in Xero Shoes — walking, hiking, sky diving, paddle boarding, biking, kayaking, hanging out on the beach, a night on the town, even 100k ultramarathons through the jungles of Costa Rica.

Here’s a pic of Michelle, an awesome YogaSlacker (that’s people who can do yoga poses on a slack line), showing what she can do in Xeros!

Barefoot Sandals for slackliningPut on your Xero Shoes and go everywhere, do everything… naturally!



Is running in our DNA?


One reason scientists study mice is, much as we may not want to admit it, we have a lot in common with our rodent relatives.

We share enough DNA and physiology that studying mice often reveals quite a bit about us humans.

So, does this recent study from Leiden University explain why many of us like to run?

In short, neurophysiologist Johanna Meijer set up a running wheel — yes, the kind you would put in a mouse, or rat, or hamster cage — in her backyard and, after enticing animals to come near with the help of some food, watched that they ran on the wheel. Not to get the food. Just to run.

Wild mice would often come back and run as much as caged mice — mice who usually have nothing else to do — would.

As Emily Underwood says of the study,

Rats, shrews, and even frogs found their way to the wheel—more than 200,000 animals over 3 years. The creatures seemed to relish the feeling of running without going anywhere.

Maybe this tells us why we like to run.

Or maybe it just explains treadmill sales ;-)

Man running on hamster wheel


Running Shoes Insider Magazine – Secret edition!

After some sneaky social engineering, I got my hands on a copy of Running Shoe Insider, the magazine for running shoe makers and sellers.

Up until now I had only suspected what they were really talking about behind closed doors. But now we know!

Here’s a photo of the cover.

Running Shoe Insider Magazine

I’m sure you’re as outraged and amazed as I am.

Who knew that they actually KNOW they’re making and selling foot coffins!?

Pass this on to your friends, your family, the media!

(And, I really hope you get that this is a joke ;-) )

 


You won’t believe what the best barefoot running shoes are

Ron Hill wearing the best barefoot running shoesRon Hill ran the 10k in the Mexico City Olympics barefoot.

When asked why, he responded, “They were the lightest shoes I could find.”

At Xero Shoes, we believe the best running shoes are, well, your feet.  Bare feet.

You don’t need pronation control. You don’t need a bunch of padding.

You need to be able to move your feet naturally. To flex, to bend, to stretch, to feel the world.

Now, that said, barefoot isn’t always practical or ideal.

Ron Hill was on a track — even, basically smooth, no obstacles or rocks or uneven patches. That’s the best place for his barefoot running shoes — his feet.

But what about you, on a road or a trail.

There are a lot of times where you’ll want some protection, but with as close to a barefoot experience as possible.

That’s why we developed Xero Shoes.

When you’re looking at footwear that simulates being barefoot, please be careful.

Almost all of the shoes sold by big companies that call themselves “barefoot” or “minimalist” are about as close to barefoot as a pair of stilts. I’ve seen shoes with an INCH of padding that still advertise themselves as “just like being barefoot.”

Are these minimalist shoes?

The next wave of “barefoot shoes”?

Uh…

The Running Clinic Rates the Best Barefoot Shoes

Canada’s The Running Clinic devised a rating system to evaluate the best barefoot running shoes.

I’m happy to say that Xero Shoes came out on top. The next closest competitors are not shoes that you want to run in, frankly… unless you like replacing your footwear every few miles. And most of those cost way more than a pair of Xero Shoes.

RunningClinic.ca rates the best barefoot running shoes

Our 4mm Connect DIY sandal kit is the closest thing you’ll find to barefoot. The Amuri Cloud is next, though with the addition of a tiny bit (3mm) of BareFoam, it feels like even more protection. The 6mm Contact DIY kit and Amuri Venture give a great barefoot feel with a bit more protection.

Check them all out at our online store.

All of our Xero Shoes barefoot running shoes have the best warranty you’ll find: a 5,000 mile one!

Start enjoying your Xero Shoes today… and Feel The World!

 


Daniel Lieberman studies the Tarahumara running

Daniel Lieberman studies the TarahumaraDr. Daniel Lieberman is one of the fathers of the barefoot running movement. His study showing how barefoot runners strike the ground with less force than shod runners, combined with Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run, catalyzed the growth of barefoot and minimalist running.

Well, it’s as if Dr. Lieberman had a child with BTR, since his new study looks at how the Tarahumara run. And, more, it compares Tarahumara runners in huaraches to younger Tarahumara who run in padded running shoes.

You can read the study for free here.

Before I talk about what the study reveals (and what it doesn’t), let me address a myth about barefoot running… Continue Reading


Will Vibram Fivefingers make your feet stronger?

VFF Vibram Fivefingers class action suitBig news today in the barefoot world: Vibram settled a class action lawsuit that claimed the company deceived customers when it claimed that VFFs would decrease foot injuries and strengthen foot muscles.

As reported in the Washington Post:

The company agreed to put aside $3.75 million to pay refunds of as much as $94 to anyone who had bought a pair since March 21, 2009, according to Runner’s World.

(Okay that was according to Runner’s World as reported by the Washington Post. The Post article was the one that showed up in my newsfeed.)

Further: Continue Reading


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