#31 Fatal Conveniences™: Shoes: Free The Feet

#31 Fatal Conveniences™: Shoes: Free The Feet

Did you know that each foot contains 26 bones, 30 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments? So, this insanely complex anatomical structure accounts for almost 25% of the bones and joints in your entire body. Not to mention the 200,000 nerve endings on the sole of each foot alone! So why do we insist on condemning these incredible sensory powerhouses to a life of padding and cushioning? Guys, it’s time we talked about shoes.

Welcome to Fatal Conveniences

This is a bite-sized segment that parallels The Darin Olien Show. In these segments, we get into society’s Fatal Conveniences™. I define these as the things we may be doing because the world we live in makes us believe we have to. These things save us time and trick us into thinking they’re actually good for us. But it’s those same things that are breaking down our health and the health of the environment around us.

I’ve spent most of my adult life obsessively researching these “conveniences.” On every show, I pick one topic, and we dive into it. My goal is to make you more aware of these traps so that you can push back on them. Remember, it starts with you and the choices you make. So, if you’re willing to look at your world from a different perspective and make little tweaks that amount to big changes, then this segment is for you.

Strutting Your Stuff Shoeless Is The Way To Go!

Once again, it turns out that even after thousands of years of evolution, Mother Nature still makes the best footwear. But we seem to have forgotten that. When we wear shoes consistently, what we’re doing is reversing this marvel of engineering. Sadly, our love of fashionable footwear has drastically desensitized our feet and changed the way we walk. Therefore, over time, they have even altered the human gait.

For the last 15 years or so, I’ve spent about 90% of my time totally shoe-less. Now, bear with me; I haven’t gone completely bananas just yet. But, by ditching the kicks, you’ll be rewarded with some pretty amazing health benefits.

In this Fatal Conveniences™, I break down the importance of letting your feet breathe. I also look at our feet and how getting a bit more grounded can work its magic across your whole body. I also explore why shoes change the way we walk and the things you can do to retrain your feet to be free.

Other topics in this segment:
  • Why we’re getting too much cushion for comfort
  • Why we should build up our foot’s sensitivity to the earth
  • The research and studies that bring more light to foot health
  • Weakness, stiffness, and flat feet- Oh my!
  • How you can reconnect with your feet (and nature)
  • The best brands for keeping your feet happy
  • Why bad foot care affects you from head to toe

The Darin Olien Show is produced by the team at Must Amplify. If you’re looking to give a voice to your brand, and make sure that it’s heard by the right people, head to www.mustamplify.com/darin to see what Amplify can do for you.

Episode Transcript

Darin: It’s that time of the week for another fatal convenience. This is a bite-size segment that addresses some of society’s fatal conveniences and the steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of them. I define fatal conveniences as the things we may be doing because the world we live in makes us believe we have to, tap water, shampoo, sunglasses, food. I dive into the hidden truths behind some of our everyday choices that could not only be harming us but even killing us, so let’s dive in.

Darin: Hey everybody, welcome to the show. Thanks for tuning in to another episode of fatal conveniences. This one is all about… drum roll… wearing shoes. This one, I actually practiced and I’ve been practicing for probably about 15 years discarding shoes pretty much exclusively all throughout the day. I basically don’t wear anything. If I’m running around on rocks or if I know that there are sticks around that have poked me, I definitely had those issues, but we need to get back to the actual articulation of our shoes. See, the thing is each foot is made up of 26 bones, 30 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments all in our feet. And we’re smashing this into shoes that are largely not allowing our feet to spread, to articulate, and way, way too much cushion and all of that trying to protect us. But then here’s the thing, when you use shoes that are creating all this dependence, your gait patterns change, so you’re not running correctly anymore, your heel is striking, which then can slam the joint, the knee joint, the hip joint, and into the back. When you take shoes off more often, you bounce off the bottom pad of your feet. And that is more of a prancer kind of balance, and you’re in that position of running, and it feels so good if you can run bare feet on grass. Experiment with it, take your shoes off. Well, try with your shoes, run with your shoes on a safe place where you’re not gonna get poked by anything. And then take your shoes off and run with your bare feet. Your pattern absolutely changes. Now think about it, a lifetime of shoe wearing, you’re walking differently, you’re running differently. So this fatal convenience goes so deep and articulates from literally the ground all the way up into your body and your body position. So this is where we’ve become dependent on shoes. And then our sensitivity of our skin, we can’t even barely go in sand without hurting our feet. And you can’t even walk on pebbles, and everyone’s so sensitive, you have to build up that strength again. So we’ve divorced ourselves from the God-given beautiful architecture of our arch, of the protection that we have and how the bones have been articulated and placed, and the ligaments and all of the beautiful geometry what your feet actually are. And that gait pattern will change and help head position, neck position, neck pain, back pain, knee pain, super pronation when your arches fall, it goes directly, that vector of force goes to that medial side of the knee, creating all sorts of pain so we’re addicted. So why is this a convenience? Because we become addicted to putting shoes on, which look nice, and we wear our heels, and they’re a fashion statement, and we wear them in sports and become so dependent on them. We don’t even have an articulation of all of these incredible things. So that’s the old model. The old model is you need shoes all the time. And I’m seeing the minimalist model is we know now we need to let our feet stretch and we need to allow that strength to happen again. So there’s a great study called foot strength and stiffness are related to footwear use and a comparison of minimally used footwear versus conventionally shoed populations. And this was published in the Scientific Reports, and it compared to conventionally shoed individuals and minimally shoed individuals and had higher and stiffer arches and stronger articulated muscles within the feet without using the arches and the support and all of that. So the results absolutely suggested that the use of conventionally modern shoes, just regular shoes, we’re not even talking about heels at this point, is associated with weaker intrinsic foot muscles that may predispose individuals to reduced foot stiffness and potentially flat feet. Absolutely the opposite. In most cases, unless you’re way down the road, you don’t need arch supports. You need to strengthen your feet, you need to throw your shoes away. There’s a great Time Magazine article that came out 2018 and they go into and there’s several and I’ve got all in the show notes, but the research is absolutely linked. Three different research articles linked to knee pain as associated with shoes, cartilage damage in the knees, and in the joints of the ankle, and low back pain, all associated with throwing on the shoes on all the time. So people who are habitually barefoot or minimally shoed have much lower rates of flat feet, and then the population that are wearing shoes that think they need arches. It’s kind of that weird thing where actually everything’s the opposite of what it appears to be. Just like the healthcare system from my point of view, you’re running around fearful of germs when in fact, create yourself as healthy in many ways, food, water, sleep, exercise, and you create an inhospitable place for germs, bacteria, and degeneration to happen. Same thing with this, use your feet, put them on the ground, don’t put shoes on all the time, get them strong again, get them feeling the earth. And then if you need to put shoes on, use shoes that let your feet spread out. Let your toes be articulated individually, etc. There’s another research from PubMed that incorrectly fitting footwear definitely damages the feet articulation and creates foot pathology and foot pain. So again, we’re trying to use shoes for the correction of the pathology into our body when in fact, that is the wrong approach. The approach is to not feel dependent on shoes, that that’s the last resort of protect your skin if you’re walking over something’s sharp or whatever, but not as a result of all the time using shoes to think that that’s better than the God-given beautiful feet and foot geometry that was created for you. So you can then strengthen your feet by using your feet. Crazy concept, I know, absolutely crazy. And there’s another research article showing that wearing shoes increases your likelihood of injury of your feet, of your knees, of your low back, etc. And then it throws your head position off too. And women, I’m also very, very in touch with the position of high heels when you position yourself of high heels, it’s as if the body is leaning forward. So then you have to lean back and then that creates lordosis of the spine, a type of scoliosis. And then that throws the head position off because the head has to counteract that. And then not to mention, smashing your feet into high heels all the time is a really, really bad idea. So here’s what you do. My philosophy, and based on the research is the last resort, you put shoes on. For the rest of your day, use your feet. You go outside, you put them on the ground, you run around, practice. I actually honor where you’re at as well. So if you’re walking, just take your shoes off for a bit, walk with your shoes in your hands and then walk and then build up that strength over time. Let your feet be in other dynamic situations, put them in the dirt, in the sand, on the grass. When you’re working out, take your shoes off, you don’t need the support. You need the articulation. Pick one foot up and let yourself balance and all those little micromovements as you look down, you’re seeing your feet come alive. We need your feet to be alive, not a prisoner in a shoe all the time. So I spend probably 99% of my every day without shoes on. I walk on the ground now and all of the meridians and the reflexology points, it actually is like this mini-massage because the skin has developed so I’m not so sensitive or I’m getting stuck by everything. So you need to allow that build up that could take anywhere from six months to a year. So just be gentle with that, but allow and find the fun in feeling what your feet actually feel like. Now, there’s several brands that if you need footwear, there’s a great company where I vetted out of Boulder where I lived and you just heard in the podcast before where Sasha talked about Xero shoes, X-E-R-O. I have a link in the show notes. And you can check all those out, I got a ton of those. And he actually reached out to me from Down To Earth because I was wearing those. You’re on planes, you’re running around, we’re filming, and I had Xero shoes on where my feet could feel like they didn’t have shoes on, but they’re nice and they’re beautiful. You can get sandals, you can get boots, you can get running shoes, you can get all that, but it’s also a minimal bottom. So you’re actually feeling the articulation of the changing ground, extremely important. And like I said, once you start doing this, you get addicted to the real sense. And the power of that feeling, that articulation, and the balance of the feet. It’s a whole new world, honestly. It’s a whole new world when your feet start waking up. So my challenge to you, take your shoes off, start feeling around, do workouts without it, walk, honor where you’re at. And I want you to comment on Instagram, on Facebook. I want you to send pictures. Please do this, send pictures, send video to my Instagram, Darin Olien and I’ll post them. I want you to take your shoes off, go into the water, take your shoes off, go on the grass, take your shoe off, go for a hike even for a little bit, and let’s create a barefoot and/or a great minimally used shoe, like Xero shoes and there are several others, but practice taking your shoes off. That’s the number one, practice, practice, practice, and I promise you, you will have a smile on your face. Okay, that’s a fatal convenience, stop wearing shoes so much. And also, play with other shoes. Don’t always use the same shoe. Make sure that you’re using shoes that allow you to spread your toes and barely feel like you have shoes on. Free up those shoes, free the toes, and have the best life ever. I love you all and thanks for tuning in.

Darin: Thanks for tuning in everyone. I hope that left you feeling inspired to take a closer look at the everyday choices you’re making and how they could be impacting your health and even planet. If you want to learn more about life’s fatal conveniences, head over to fatalconveniences.com. You can sign up for the exclusive access to Fatal Conveniences episodes, news, insights, and more. And all this great stuff gets sent each week straight to your inbox, making it really easy. Now, that’s a convenience without the negative side effects. It only takes a few seconds to join. Just fill in the form and take that amazing step towards making better choices. Remember, small changes can have big impact. So, keep diving my friends, keep diving. And if you haven’t had a chance to check out the interview, I released earlier on the week, here’s what you missed:

EP#30 Steven Sashen on Running Barefoot

Steven: Again, I’m a sprinter. So I run the hundred meters outdoors. Indoors, I run the 50 or the 60. I don’t even take– what are those things to the end of the track called? Turns, is that what they’re called? I don’t know how they work. I think I use those for slowing down, that’s really about it. But I’ve never run more than a mile in my life and did not enjoy one step of that. So I take off my shoes, I get out of the big thick motion control padded shoes that everybody told me I had to wear that most people were. And I was so fascinated, so enthralled with the experience of feeling the ground under my feet on all these different surfaces. And I just decided to experiment as much as I could. I’d ran by moving my legs faster running at the same speed, moving my legs at the same speed but running faster, landing in different parts of my feet. I mean, just anything that I could think of just to explore this amazing new sensation of having my feet connect to the ground, which then changed the way the rest of my body responded as well.

Darin: Many of you who follow me know I’ve spent most of my life searching for the healthiest foods on the planet from the Amazon jungle to the Andes of Peru, to the Himalayas and Bhutan, to the deserts of Africa, and everything in between discovering hundreds of plants and herbs and superfoods like this is my passion. Things like sacha inch, an Incan treasure, wild [unintelligible 00:31:41] mushrooms, things like Maya nuts, another Aztec superfood, wild cocoa moringa, many adaptogenic herbs and on and on and on. If you look hard enough, there are a few unknown extraordinary foods around the world that people still don’t know about. And a few years ago, I came across my favorite superfood discovery of all time, barukas nuts. Why is that my favorite? Well, when I first tasted them, my eyes lit up. I was blown away. They’re so delicious with notes of popcorn and cocoa and chocolate with peanut butter, and with this amazing crunch, so the taste alone just absolutely blew me away. But after sending them to the lab, which I do, and getting all the tests, I realized they’re the healthiest nuts on the planet. No other nut even compares. They have an unusually high amount of fiber, which is critical for healthy digestion. We’re all getting way too low of fiber in our diet and it’s good for the healthy bacteria and microbiome. And they’re off the charts in super high antioxidants, and have few calories than any other nut. It’s jam-packed with micronutrients. And what they don’t have is just as important as what they do have because they’re found in the forest in the savanna what’s called the Cerrado biome of Brazil, not grown on a plantation or a farm. They’re untouched by industrial pesticides, larvicides, fertilizers. They’re truly a wild food. But they’re not just good for you, they’re really good for the planet. Most other nuts require millions of gallons of irrigated water, not to mention, using bees and shipping them across the United States and just horrible sustainable practices just to grow certain nuts annually, but Baruka trees require no artificial irrigation. At one time, the Cerrado’s forest were made up of millions of these trees. These trees are incredible. They’re nitrogen fixers. They give back to the other plants in the forest. Their grandfather of sacred trees, but most of them were chopped down to make way for cattle, soy, and corn production. When you’re down in Brazil, it can be absolutely shocking. And actually, I’ve cried several times with miles and miles of deforested land filled with soy farms. This beautiful Savanna filled with soy farms and cattle grazing. Our mission is to reverse that. And the long term goal is to plant 20 million new baruzeiro trees throughout the Cerrado. And if that wasn’t enough, we are also providing highly beneficial and fair jobs for thousands of indigenous people so they can stay on their land and they can thrive with this consistent income every year forging and working with Barukas. Barukas are truly good for you, good for the planet, and good for the world community. It’s a win all the way around. I really think you’ll love them, so I’m giving all of my listeners 15% off by going to barukas.com/darin. That’s B-A-R-U-K-A-S dot com backslash Darin, D-A-R-I-N and using the code “Darin” at the checkout. I know you will enjoy.

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