Back in June 2011 I discussed why I had bought some Vibram Five finger barefooot running shoes. So far I have enjoyed running in them. I have noticed they have poor grip on very wet muddy grass. Fed up with snow being on the ground for the 7th day I decided enough was enough and ventured out in them wondering how they would cope. To my surprise they were very good.
Balance is already an issue for me and something that I am presently working but I believe have I become quite good at keeping upright when others tend to slip.
Before buying the fivefingers I was on the beach and noticed how a child used her feet to walk on stones. I noticed the toes bent with the surface she was walking on and gripped the stones. The child was probably only 3 or so and so not that used to wearing shoes.
When in Kandersteg, Switzerland during the summer I was hiking with some people and noticed they kept slipping and almost falling over. Being Adult they were now used to wearing shoes. I spent a couple of miles walking and noticing that in shoes I don’t pay any attention to my feet. As soon as I start slipping however I focus on the bones in my feet and using my toes to keep me upright. I watched my fellow hikers walking and conversing and became more and more convinced that because their feet are walking in padded shoes they are not paying attention to their feet and their unconscious mind is not receiving the feedback from their boot and so not using their bone structures for balance. When I am walking, because I am focused on my feet, I was maximising my sensitivity and correcting the incorrect feedback from my hike boots. When they are walking it is like they are walking with just flaps as feet and therefore when on a slippy surface they just slip and due to the protection of their boots they are almost too late to catch the danger.
I can’t recall when I first started thinking about my feet in my footwear in slippy conditions but I feel sure I have been doing it for at least two years. I expect I did so originally because it is interesting that we don’t think about how we walk most of the time and I had become aware of this through my hypnosis training.
Heading out for a run on paths with lots of ice patches, I set of with trepidation. I focused on my feet and getting them to grip. I soon realised I was in much better condition than I expected. Not having much of a sole the shoe was curving to the shape of the ground. I still struggled on totally flat ice but ice shaped by walkers was no problem at all. To give you an idea of the extra sensitivity of thin soled shoes 2 weeks previously I had been surprised how strong frost can make grass slightly uncomfortable to run on.
I think the control I can get with my toes being in individual pockets is limited but given that I am naturally now switching to focus on my feet in slippery conditions I expect I was getting extra benefit.
As I ran I was then thinking I can’t focus on my feet all the time and realised I was now in the process of sending my conscious thought of my feet back to the unconscious so that I am now using my toes as the three year old and with minimal effort.
As I continued to run I saw a runner turn round and go home because he couldn’t get any grip in his conventional running shoes. I would be interested to hear from anyone as to what they notice if they change their focus and start thinking about the bone structures in their feet as they walk or run in slippy conditions.
Don’t be surprised if a future post is how to recover from an accident on ice!