I get asked on a regular basis about my shoes because all I wear day in and day out is Vibram Five Fingers. As the name implies, these are those silly looking toe shoes you may have seen by now that barely even look like shoes. In the last year or 2 of the 4 years I have been wearing them, the responses to them have changed significantly now that more people at least know what they are and don’t think that I might be walking around in toe socks or some sort of water shoes.
The reason I wear these shoes is because it is the best way of allowing our feet to work the way they are supposed to. Most shoes try to do the work that is supposed to be done by our feet, and in turn our feet are weakened and improper movement patterns develop. First off, having a shoe that provides “support” means that you are no longer asking your feet to support themselves- so they get weak. Having a shoe that provides cushion means that you are no longer asking your feet (and the rest of your body) to learn how to absorb shock- so they get weak. Having a shoe with a high top to help prevent your ankles from rolling means that you are no longer asking your lower leg stability muscles to keep your feet and legs aligned- so they get weak. See a trend here? When we ask our shoes to do things that our feet are meant to do, our feet no longer have to do them and therefore the foundation of our body is weakened and every instability that we create at the roots leads to compensations all the way up our trunk and limbs.
On my gym’s website I have written a much more in depth analysis of this and provided links to a couple of other sources for more information.So if you want to know more about the specific benefits of wearing “minimalist” footwear, then go here:
This is a question that comes up any time one of my personal training clients gets sick. The answer depends on how bad the person feels and what exactly is wrong, but here is the general idea… If you are feeling like you are just starting to get sick or like you have something that you can still function with, then there can be benefits to still exercising. I would not recommend any heavy weights or anything that will require extensive recovery, but getting your heart rate up can help. Doing cardio or a fast-paced, light workout can slightly raise your body temperature, and in essence kill off harmful bacteria the same way a fever does. These types of workouts are also not going to overload your body with too much to recover from. If you do a heavy workout then your body is trying to recover from muscle tissue breakdown at the same time as recovering from illness, and the result is often to speed up the progression of the illness! If you are sick enough that you can barely function, then I do not recommend attempting to engage in ANY type of exercise, your body needs rest!
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