Barefoot & Balanced

Full-contact living

It’s getting warm enough, now, that I can start going barefoot regularly. What a relief. There’s something about shoes that really gets to me. Being separated from my world by a layer of rubber or leather leaves me feeling disoriented. Where shoes are supposedly “protective” gear, in some ways, they do me more harm than good. Researchers have been looking into the adverse effects of wearing shoes when you run – apparently, barefoot is better.

I would agree – tho’ in my case, I’m not referring to running. Just living my life.

Sometimes, I need as much sensory contact with the world around me as I can get. I need to feel the world around me, sense it, be in direct contact with it. Going barefoot wakes me up, actually. It gets me in direct contact with the floor beneath me, and it actually helps me move better as I go about my business.

I’m not the only person who feels that way, either. Over at Naturally Engineered, I found a discussion about proprioception, “the ability to sense the position, location, orientation and movement of the body and its parts.” It’s good stuff.

[F]rom a simplistic perspective, the fact that our feet are the primary interface we have with terra firma is highly relevant. About 99% of every thing we do involves some sort of arrangement of our feet with the ground. If you were asked which of your senses you don’t think you could live without, most people would probably say “sight” or “hearing”, but the ability to touch and receive tactile sensation is given far too little worth (in my opinion). Certainly not by the human body though, considering there are approximately 200,000 sensory receptors in the sole of each foot. That’s right, each foot. This makes your feet some of the most nerve-rich areas of your body

So, it makes sense that it would mean whole lot to me, when I’m able to go barefoot. And it also makes sense that I’ve been seriously thinking about getting some of those five-toe shoes that fit like gloves over your feet. I saw shoes like that a few years ago, and they seemed interesting. Now they seem more than interesting. They are starting to seem essential.

But they’re also expensive. I’ll need to save up for them. And make sure I get the right size. For the time being, I’m just going to go barefoot in the house and wear sandals outside. Sandals with straps to keep them on my feet. I have a way of losing flip-flops, and I don’t want to have to think about my shoes, when I’m moving around.

Speaking of moving around, I’ve been thinking of taking the day off my physical regimen, to let my body relax and catch up. I’ve been pushing it pretty hard, for the past couple of weeks, doing different workouts and pushing the envelope on my strength and endurance.  But then I look around me at the people who are at the top of their game and the top of their field, and I see them working harder, longer, training more intently, than just about anyone else, and I have to rethink this.

I think the real point is to keep balanced — to train and work and apply myself in different, more varied ways. Not to overdo it in one area only — that’s a great way to sustain a stress injury — but to change things up, so that different parts of me have the chance to rest on off days, AND I have a more varied, balanced fitness to my life — mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually.

With me, it’s not a matter of just stopping everything altogether, but stopping different things at different times, and developing an overall conditioning that lets me live my life fully, no matter what.

Strength one day, stretching the next, simple movement the next… in no particular order, just where I feel I need some help for that day. Or I need to improve.

Or I need a break. Breaks are important. I just need to make sure I don’t get caught in the “break vortex” where I go without doing much of anything for an indefinite period of time. This is an incredibly hard thing – I do tend to get stuck, and it’s hard for me to get out of that rut.

Like now. I slept in till about 8 this morning, and I’ve been taking it easy, writing and watching people train like crazy to become stronger, faster, more capable, than they were before. It’s pretty inspiring. And it’s also daunting. But it shows regular people in training to do amazing things.

This, to me, has become the theme of my life — practice and training. Focusing on the thing I want to achieve, and not letting my inexperience or shortcomings get in the way. Training to overcome those shortcomings. Practicing to overcome my inexperience. And living my life in a way that provides strength and balance and skill over time.

It does take time, though. I just need to be aware of that and keep that in mind. This stuff doesn’t come overnight, and you’ve got to stay steady with it. So, staying steady, while keeping it fresh and relevant and meaningful, is the order of the day.

Speaking of the day, I have a handful of things I need to get done. For real. Off I go.


Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

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