One foot at a time | One sole at a time | One hell of a good time


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Barefooting, Indigenous Running Shoes, Treatments

Writer asks:

Plantar fascitis treatment, anyone?


PS. Do not involve any cortisone shots, please...

Barefoot Ted responds:

Go barefoot...a little.

And before you poo-poo this suggestion, do a little research.

I am so sick and tired of hearing all this nonsense about inserts and
orthotics, etc. It is as if we couldn't walk or run before the
invention of shoes. It is really backwards thinking.

Give your foot a break and let it do what is does naturally. It will
get stronger if you exercise it. Constantly propping it up is a poor
way of strengthening it.

Best, Barefoot Ted

Another writes:

I'm still not buying your reasoning, Ted. If everything 'natural' was
better we should be sitting naked in the forest eating roots and raw
meat, infested with parasites and most definitely NOT communicating via
the internet with people we've never met.

OTOH, if creativity and tool-making, etc are "natural" (or God-given)
to our human "nature" then I suspect that shoes were one of mankind's
very first inventions (long before there was pavement and other
"unnatural" surfaces). Why were they invented if no one felt a need
for them? (rhetorical question). Still, I think it is really cool
that there are barefoot runners like you out there!

Barefoot Ted responds:

I don't think I used the word natural. I am only interested in better.

I do wear shoes when necessary. You can learn a lot about what kind
of shoes are good or not by studying the shoes indigenous people have
made throughout the centuries.

My favorite running shoe, if I have to wear one, is the waraji, a
straw sandal used in Japan. It is the same shoe that the Marathon
Monks of Mt. Hiei wear. Those monks are true Ultramarathoners,
running a marathon a day, in mountains, for 100 days in a row. No
padding. No high-heels. No plastic.

Best, Barefoot Ted

Furthermore, Barefoot Ted adds:

No, I don't think I want to claim that barefooting is a cure-all. Probably not.

However, since it is a FREE therapy, it may not be overly prescribed
by professionals in the USA. These days, many patients probably don't
feel well served unless a doctor sells them something. There has got
to be a thing, a drug, a surgery, a brand, something quick, something

That's cool. How else do you build an economy like ours?

Cooler still is freedom of choice and access to information. With
these two things, you can lift the wizard's veil and see what's up, or
not, if you so choose. I just want people to realize (and they do)
that they have choices, and not to be afraid to discover something on
there own. 9 times out of 10 it'll probably do them more good then

Don't panic.

Best, Barefoot Ted

Someone writes:


Whether or not you are correct about barefoot running, this statement
is simply primitivism for primitivism's sake. Modern Western shoes
may not be the best alternative, but there is no reason to suspect
that 'indigenous shoes' are better. In fact, given the severe
limitations on indigenous people's fabrication, there are plenty of
reasons to assume that shoes produced in industrialized societies are
better. I appreciate your point of view but it isn't helped by this
kind of generalization.

>You can learn a lot about what kind
>of shoes are good or not by studying the shoes indigenous people have
>made throughout the centuries.

Barefoot Ted responds:

I must agree with everything you wrote.

However, without boring everyone to tears with reams of data which I
do not have, I will only ask you to be a bit intuitive.

I think that shoes in indigenous cultures, especially running
cultures, are designed to work. If they don't work, they are no good
and pass into oblivion. I am especially interested in places where
the same shoe has been used for 100s and, in some cases, 1000s of
years (like the waraji in Japan). Intuitively, it seems that if a
design lasts, it gains some credibility.

Best, Barefoot Ted

PS. In the end, I'd say barefoot is best when possible. It just feels better.

Responding to a writer asking about Waraji:

I do not make waraji (yet), but I have run in them. They are
fantastic on trails. Light as a feather (3 ounces) and good
protection and feel. Did get blisters after 20 miles, but I did not
wear tabi (two toed socks). They wear out quickly. 100 pair a year

From :
At one time waraji were used as common footwear in Japan. Waraji only
lasted three to four days. Therefore a family of five would need about
500 pairs of waraji per year and kept Japanese farmers busy making
waraji from their childhood. This is said to have been the origin of
the manual dexterity of the Japanese people.

Patterns to make your own:

Also, something I may do in the future is make Yucca running sandals:

One way or another, I have got to find something that I can rely on
for the AC 100. Yucca would be awesome since it is an local plant.
But, I am no weaver. There is a guy in Eagle Rock, CA who may know
how to make him, but he doesn't answer his emails. The AEI prototypes
I've worn aren't up to snuff yet. I killed a pair in a 50k last month
and had to run the last 4 miles barefoot.

Good luck. And if anyone finds a good source here in the USA for
quality waraji, let me know, I need some.

Best, Barefoot Ted

Here's a photo of my waraji after about 30 miles of hard trail running!

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