Our bodies are incredibly good at moving, often without any conscious involvement. Just think: sitting down, standing up, picking up objects, throwing, catching, jumping, skipping, running...
The reason we can make all of these movements without thinking (or falling over) is because of something called ‘proprioception’ - our body’s sense of its own position, balance and movement. Proprioception provides us with ‘body awareness’ and is commonly referred to as our “sixth sense”.
The proprioceptive system uses stretch receptors and pressure receptors situated in our muscles, joints and skin to inform our brain about our physical environment and how we are interacting with it.
A large percentage of these receptors are in our feet; they’re the parts of our body most in contact with our physical environment. If we reduce the sensory feedback from our feet to our brains by wearing thick, shock-absorbing soles then the brain has less information to work with, reducing the quality of the movement pattern produced.
Find out more about Proprioception at the VIVOBAREFOOT Training Clinic
The foot has evolved over millions of years to a dextrous and sensitive masterpiece – by patronising it with thick soles and supportive padding we’re limiting its potential and risking injury throughout the body.
But here’s the catch: if the bare foot is so wonderful, why did humans invent shoes? Although the human foot is a marvel of evolutionary engineering it has one serious design flaw: a lack of protection from the environment.
All other running specialist animals have evolved hooves or pads to protect themselves, but our feet, originally designed to grasp and climb, are instead covered in proprioceptors, sweat glands and soft skin.
This design flaw could have been a serious set back to our plans for world domination. There’s no way the bare human foot could have coped with everything from rainforests, through deserts to the arctic.
Fortunately, efficient bipedal locomotion isn’t the only thing that sets us apart from other animals; the human brain also helped us survive and thrive as a species. The same brain that learned how to manipulate fire and use tools also gave us the insight to use animal fur and skins to survive in more extreme conditions.
In other words, footwear that insulates and protects the human foot is a part of our evolutionary history.
Learn about Proprioception at the VIVOBAREFOOT Training Clinic