I figure it's time for me to weigh in on this series (The Case for Minimalist Footwear) that Damien has been writing about. Actually, I've been contributing the whole time behind the scenes with editing and taking care of family responsibilities so Damien could put together this series and his presentation. But I also have some things to say about minimalist footwear, that come from a bit of a different perspective that you might find helpful.
Changing the way I walk and switching footwear has not been an easy transition for me. I do feel, after watching the difference it's made in Damien's joint health and in my own, that the effort is worth it but that doesn't mean it's been easy.
Last summer I started hiking in Vibram Five fingers and man, did that ever feel funny and so unnatural. After all I was used to hiking boots with cushioning, arch support and lots of ankle supports. But if you've been following this minimalist footwear trend you know these measures are more detrimental than healthful. And I had the increasingly sore knee to prove it.
I'm happy to report that since hiking in minimalist footwear I have eliminated my knee problem, which I am very grateful for. I am way to young, 33 to be exact, to be experiencing limited mobility. In fact I feel any age, except maybe 90 is too young to be experiencing limited mobility. I want to be hiking, mountain biking, surfing - whatever my kids want to be doing - with my children and grandchildren for many years (my own mom inspires me in this regard).
So, with that as my goal I am willing to go through transitions and change to keep my body healthy. Which is why I've also mostly given up certain foods that, if over eaten, are proven to send you to an early grave or the very least debilitate you for your "golden years".
... I digress, back to making the transition. If you are new to changing your footwear and your walking gait I want to encourage you. I'm new to it also. I love my squishy pink crocs and have troubles finding minimalist shoes that fit well and are fashionable. Now you should know I'm not a high maintenance fashion chick, heck I shower in the woods, don't wear make-up and have minimal hand-me down & sale rack clothing. However I am kind of picky about how my shoes look. If I'm only going to own a couple pairs I want them to be the kind of style that projects who I am - spunky yet down to earth. We're still looking to find the right summer pair to replace my crocs which are aging, paint splattered and wearing out.
The point of that whole story is that if you are making a change and struggling, I hear you. My husband Damien is much more optimistic about change and finds it an exciting challenge. I find it overwhelming.
So I'm saying to myself "hang in there". I'm saying to you "hang in there". Give it an honest try before you decide minimalist footwear just isn't for you. Because really it's not about the footwear but about your health. And I think health and longevity is worth changing for.