Sunday, 12 September 2010

Probably the last barefoot update before winter (huge sighs from everyone)

[I’ve just seen I have a couple more blog followers (great word that isn’t it?). Welcome!! Thanks for looking in. I still can’t believe I have 13 people looking at this blog but I’m happy you do. It gets a bit boring writing to myself.]
Well I stopped gravel walking a while back It served its purpose at the beginning to toughen the feet enough to enable me to actually walk somewhere but now I have discovered that it’s much more efficient just getting out and doing it. The longer the walk, the more varied the terrain the better my feet seem to cope after the initial foot toughening it’s a lot more about technique than robustness of foot. Of course the  more leathery you foot the  more comfortable it will be to walk on rougher terrain and further I suppose but with the cold weather coming in I’ll have to wait until next year to find that out. Toe mobility after an initial improvement has now stabilized and  though I can move them further and easier manually I still can’t get them to move independently. No more than I expected though. I can however splay my toes far more than I ever could and the whole foot is more mobile but all this came within the first couple of weeks. There has been no further noticeable improvement since then but no cramps either which is nice. The fascitis seems to have more or less gone but has been replaced by a lot of tension in the ankle which goes away after a couple of barefoot steps like with fascitis. I’m not sure what it is, anklitis?. I’ve also been having problems with shoes rubbing and walking barefoot all the time in the house on perfectly flat tiles is not very positive and I think that maybe shoes in the house might be better. But all round I’m very content with my progress barefooting in the mountains as all the problems only seem to come alternating shoes with barefoot as pain comes back as soon as my shoes go on. It’s going to be a long winter. I’m going back to boots on the next walk to see if maybe it’s the trail shoes to cause the problem with the ankle as they are exactly ankle height.. I’ve been concentrating on the practical side of things over the last month forgetting everything else. My walk and scramble up to Manzol (see video below) brought me to a realization that it’s deliciously comfortable going barefoot. Your whole body releases tension. Even my lungs seemed to work better. Apart from the lack of weight on your feet your whole body feels more solid on the ground. Solid but light. Balance improves, less tension in the neck and shoulders and choosing where to put your feet becomes a real meditation  Usually I walk for the views or to go somewhere of course but going  barefoot adds in  the pleasure and joy of just walking for walking’s sake. I’ve found that with shoes two trekking poles are useful, but barefoot it’s better to either have none at all or just one (for the snakes and as a slight aid to balance). If you have two poles you rely a lot on them too much especially on what seems to my brain to be uncomfortable stretches. This causes you to tense up because you think it should hurt and then it does hurt. No poles or just one I found that this enables you to stay relaxed because no weight is being taken on the pole. In fact nothing on my trip up Manzol hurt at all. Because my back is also more flexible, well feels more flexible anyway, I discovered the lost joys of using my hands. When I was younger I used my hands all the time going up hill sometimes to the point of being almost quadrupedal and it was nice to albeit minimally, rediscover that feeling. One odd thing the first few steps barefoot are quite uncomfortable. Then you walk a while and the further you go the more relaxed your foot and the more  comfortable it is. I put this down to tension. It all seems to boil down to having the mental fortitude to relax even you’re your brain is telling you not to. That is seeming to come with practice. Then there are two  other aspects of barefooting I like, the aesthetic part of it and the tactile part.  Something of the hippy obviously still remains and there’s something about grubby dusty barefeet that makes me smile.  I know it might only be imagination  but the whole body seems to shift it’s baricenter lower making even tall people seem more stocky and rooted. It sort of restores the natural harmony that shoes remove. I don’t find shoes attractive but the appearance of tanned, dusty feet is very pleasing t my eye.In addition to this walking barefoot gives you marvellous sensations; cold hot, damp, dry, rough smooth etc. You notice the ground on many other levels you are not used to noticing it on. Even to the extent of noticing the plant and animal life more It’s a bit like walking along with a magnifying glass rather than binoculars. Little mysteries that you would never have noticed pop into your attention, like the path covered with prickly raspberry stalks but no raspberry bushes in sight. Or just how many colours of slug are there? Or my surprise at how the type of rock and the colour of the dust you are walking on changes so often. It’s all a great experience but one that with the arrival of autumn will shortly be coming to an end until next year. Pity

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