Letter to the Society for Barefoot Living

August 25th 2010

Hi all I just wanted to say how wonderful everyone has been whilst I’ve been a member of the SBL this last 5 months.

As a practising Musculo-skeletal Podiatrist I HAD believed what most podiatrists are taught about “feet being born broken” and how most of the world need our wonderful orthotics. Of course they didn’t put it in those terms, but when it came down to it almost everything we were taught about the biomechanics of gait meant we saw about 75% of the world’s population as having built-in mechanical problems in their feet and legs requiring podiatrists to fix them with foot orthotics. I don’t believe that now!

I am in fact a designer of a range of foot orthotics which are sold throughout the world and are used by 80% of UK NHS Podiatry Departments. So, for me to be converted to the whole “Barefoot phenomenon” is a real miracle!

I now believe most problems with poor biomechanics are only significant when the foot is encased in a shoe! It’s the footwear that triggers the problems we see as podiatrists.

I initially gained interest in the subject of barefoot gait after following the research on the evolution of the Human Foot and reading the articles in the press about Christopher McDougal’s book ‘Born to Run’.

I started walking barefoot very tentatively with short walks on the local sea cliff paths. I have to admit it was an experiment, but I actually wanted to be proved wrong. I wanted to believe that feet were actually well designed and could cope with the stresses and strains of normal life, but I was a little anxious.

I had “broken, weak, hypermobile feet” which ‘needed’ and had been supported by stiff shoes and orthotics for over 20 years. I had ruptured the Lisfranc’s mid-foot ligaments in one foot, and though having prolotherapy to stimulate the regrowth of my ligaments, believed I had a life sentence wearing orthotics.

In fact I believed most of my patients had life sentences in orthotics. Not any more!

I have gradually transitioned to 24/7 barefoot walking, even at work. I have my own podiatry clinic so I make the rules. I have a sign out front saying “Barefeet Welcome Here”! Being barefoot in the clinic really helps as I talk about the benefits of barefoot walking and running and teach rehabilitation exercises. My patients are barefoot anyway so I can examine their feet. My barefeet make them feel more comfortable!

I am also running upto 3 miles in 30 minutes -BAREFOOTED! Not done run that far in 20 years even with shoes! In fact I’m running far better barefooted than I ever did in shoes. I mean in running style and fitness.

I also hike for hours barefooted as I lead a weekly Health Walk Group for Natural England.

Thank you, SBL members, for being such a wonderful inspiration to a humble podiatrist as he discovers the truth about feet.

It really is exciting, after 25 years in podiatry, to be seeing everything with a new pair of eyes! And a new pair of feet!!

Long Live the SBL!

Steve Bloor Clinic: 01326 565 565 Mobile: 07966 09 02 08

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