Take Off Your Shoes!

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Take Off Your Shoes!

1 Comment 31 August 2010

Did you know that there are more than 58 muscels  in each human foot?
We love the way sneakers can keep our feet cushioned and well protected, but just  how much of all this is really good for us?

The simple act of walking uses more than 200 muscles; cushioning the feet in shoes all the time can throw you off balance, weaken the foot muscels, ligaments and tendons. Keeping shoes on our feet all the time, may inhibit sensory input from thousands of nerve endings in the soles of our feet, which can lead  to many problems in the foot, leg, and back..

I was introduced to barefoot training at a fitness conference in New York City over 10 years ago. I was excited to bring back this concept to  my group fitness class, but was uncomfortable to ask my  student to take off there sneakers. It was and is a common misconception by most, that the more cushioning and stabilization for your feet the better it was to protect your ankles, knees and back.
In actuality, its the exact opposite. An imagery I often tell my students is imagine your hand is fitted in a stiff glove, and all around the glove are lots of cushions, gels, and air pockets. With all the “stuff” around your hands it brings limited movement to your fingers. Your palms won’t be able to open and close. Your fingers won’t be able to spread open. In time, the muscles, ligaments and tendons will loose its strength. The wrist will weaken, and so will the elbow and shoulder. Everything is connected.

The same concept can be used for our feet. When you take off your shoes, the toes are able to spread out more easily, balance of the body improves, you can use your joints, ankles and hips more. A benefit of going barefoot is that it stimulates the circulation in your feet and can have a positive effect on all your organs.
Try doing a lunge with your supportative sneakers and see how that feels. Now, try the same lunge barefoot. Notice how much more control you need to contribute in order effectively do the same exact movement. Did you “thump” on the landing of your lunge knowing the supportative sneakers will protect you from the floor below?
Working out barefoot takes control, poise and mind fullness.

Try a few times a week to walk around the house barefoot. Engaging in muscles that are usually covered up.Its no wonder that babies kick off there booties- they know in order to learn to walk properly-they need there toes to touch the ground.

About 5 years ago, I had an amazing opportunity to conduct my summer classes in a karate studio in long branch new jersey.
Upon taking the space, the terms were that students must take off their sneakers in order to protect the delicate matting of the studios’ floor. I was hesitant to accept, but was way into the summer season and needed to act fast.
I agreed- we exercised 5 days a week with classes ranging from Cardio Fusion, Med ball and sculpting classes. It was a huge success. Women still come over to me with wonderful barefoot memories of that summer.
In the fall of the same year, I was determined to keep my sneakers off. I did and encouraged my students to do the same, until I stubbed and broke my toe on a dumbell while I was instructing. Since then, I will only teach barefoot training in an equipment free class to promote safety.
I was in search of a sneaker that would allow my foot the freedom yet protection from injuries.
After dozens of sneakers and years later I was finally introduced to “nike free” sneakers. These sneakers improved balance, agility, and foot strength. Thinner, lighter and more flexible designs mimic the foot’s natural form.
I encourage all my students to work out in them. If you do buy them, start off slowly-first once a week and little by little add more nike free time to a full week. At first you may feel cramping, that’s normal. In a few weeks time your feet will adjust to the new  demands.
More manufactures are following suit. As I give them a try I will send you my feedback.

Would you like to try an amazing barefoot cardio class?
Find out my schedule for WillPower&Grace. A class that infuse positive thoughts with practises borrowed from yoga, pilates.  Your feet, body and mind  will thank you!

Sari Dana
Group Movement & Lifestyle Enthusiast
917-517-7542

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