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Stem Footwear February 7, 2011

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Life, Shoes, Thoughts , 2comments

On January 20 of last month the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market came to Salt Lake City.  Shortly prior to the show, Stem Footwear posted a message on Barefoot Runners Society website in the Utah chapter looking for volunteers to help at the booth.  I checked my schedule, and since I didn’t have anything pressing that day, so I responded that I go attend.  I ended up helping on the 20th.  It was fun . . . actually it was a blast.  I’m going a bit off topic here, but my wife and I used to have a bridal store in Texas.  Twice a year we would pack up 3/4 of our store and head to the Dallas Bridal Show.  Helping out at the trade show really took me back.  Some of the fun memories came flooding back.  I was just glad I didn’t have to set up and take down a 40′ x 40′ booth with all the wedding gowns, racks, mirrors, etc. and transport them back and forth from our store.

Anyway, the first time I met the creator of Stem Footwear, he handed me one of the shoes.

First thought . . . Wow!  This is light!  (6.3 oz to be exact.)  They use an air injected rubber which allows for high durability, high flexibility, and low weight.  Next I started crunching the shoe in my hand.  The sole and upper both collapsed under little pressure from my hand.

Next thought . . . Wow!  This thing is really flexible!

After a while, I developed a method of introducing the shoe to the retailers passing by.  I’d say, “Does your store sell shoes?”  If the answer was yes, I’d toss them the shoe.  If the answer was no, I’d tell them that they might just start carrying shoes once they experienced this shoe . . . then I’d toss them the shoe.  Without fail from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, every person that held one of the Stem Footwear shoes exclaimed, “Wow!  This thing is light!”

From the looks of the shoe, you would think it weighed as much as any other shoe.  Once you hold it in your hands, the differences are easily apparent.

Even though all he had were size 9.5 samples and I wear an 11, I jammed my foot into one of them.  I loved it!  I wasn’t able to do any running in them, but the ground feel was great.  The toe box was ample and I could virtually, “Let my piggies free!”  There isn’t a rigid part to this shoe.  To take a quote from Jessica Lee when she tried it on, “It feels like clothing for your foot.”  My sentiments exactly, but somehow I didn’t come up with that colorful description.

I’m excited for these shoes to be released later this year.  The official release date from Stem is August 1, 2011, but I think he’s going to try and get them out sooner.  One can only hope!  My ultra beautiful and talented wife took the pictures and posted some higher resolution pics at her Salt Lake Photography blog.  Enjoy!

Dailymile.com January 31, 2011

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Gadgets, Health, Life, Running, Thoughts , add a comment

I was recently introduced to www.dailymile.com (you may have noticed the new widget on my sidebar).  It’s a neat website that allows you to keep track of your workouts: running, fitness, cycling, swimming, walking, weights, yoga, cross training, spinning, rowing, commuting, eliptical, core fitness, hiking, crossfit, cross country skiing, or rock climbing.  Whew . . . that was a mouth full.  I’ve only been using it to keep track of my running as that’s pretty much all the exercise I’m doing right now.  I’ve found it very motivating to be a part of a community of like-minded individuals and seeing how many people run is inspiring.  In fact, there is one woman I’ve met on there who is 61 years old.  She’s running around the same pace and mileage I’m running.  Truly inspiring and I certainly have a goal to be doing the same when I reach her age.

Here’s a link to my profile.  Try it out and see how motivating it can be!

Mount Timpanogos in VFF KSOs October 11, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Hiking, Life, Running, Shoes , 1 comment so far

Photo by Eric Ward of Provo, UT.

I live in the shadow of a very majestic mountain.  It’s called Mount Timpanogos.  It sits at the Western edge of the Rocky Mountains in the Wasatch Range.  At 11,749 feet above sea level, it is both imposing and beautiful.  The elevation of the valley to the West, Utah Valley, comes in around 4,500 feet above sea level.  7,000+ feet above your head is something to behold.  I climbed to the summit once before as a boy scout.  My troop hiked part of the way up the mountain, camped and summited the next day.  It was, as I recall, a very beautiful view.  That was over 20 years ago.

Recently, I’ve been feeling the urge to try out my new feet on something different than my usual run.  As I’ve been barefoot running for the past several months, my feet and legs have become quite different than they once were.  As I’ve described to several people when talking about barefoot running, I feel like a kid again.  As I run barefoot, the fun and enjoyment have returned.  The next time you observe kids running barefoot, take note of how they move and how much fun they seem to be having.  Then, if you have the opportunity to contrast them with an adult running in the same area, notice how much less fluid the adult typically seems when running.  This difference comes from the “spring” that kids and adults running barefoot utilize consisting of the arch, achilles, calf, quads, and glutes.  I wasn’t quite ready to attempt the hike barefoot so I wore my Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs).  My brother-in-law said I was brave for doing so, although I imagine he thinks I was a bit nuts and just being nice.

Last Monday I met up with a classmate of mine from high school to hike Mount Timpanogos.  We started our hike at the Timpooneke trail head in American Fork canyon which is at 7,370 feet above sea level.  The hike was fun and a great workout.  The leaves had passed their fall peak, but there was still plenty of color to appreciate.  The weather for the week preceding our hike was nothing less than perfect.  The day of the hike . . . not so much.  Partly cloudy skies with a forecast of scattered or isolated storms.  We got a bit wet on the way up, but for the most part the hike was dry.

Timpanogos Basin

For me, the most memorable sections of the ascent were coming into Timpanogos basin which is a large plateau at a little over 10,000 feet above sea level, and arriving at the saddle.  The saddle stands at 11,288 feet above sea level.  The view, of course, was fantastic as you can see into Utah Valley as well a great distance in all directions.  When we arrived we debated on continuing to the summit.  There was a large storm coming across Utah lake that would make our time at the summit very miserable and possibly dangerous.  We began to expeditiously trek to the summit when we noticed the speed at which the storm was progressing in our direction.  We turned around and headed down the mountain.

The Storm

This brings me to the highlight of the adventure.  We literally ran down a good portion of the trail.  This was very technical and an exercise in agility as the trail traverses several talus piles.  However, as we continued down the mountain, I noticed how smooth my feet were carrying me.  It was an absolute blast!  It required acute concentration, but it was an extremely satisfying descent.

In the end, I’m glad I went.  I’m glad I wore my KSOs, and I’m glad I have been running barefoot.  I can’t imagine it would have been as enjoyable to wear my KSOs had I not been running barefoot and strengthening my feet and legs over the past several months.

Do You Like Running In Those? October 4, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Life, Running, Shoes , add a comment

When people see me wearing my Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs) I invariably get the question, “Do you like running in those shoes?”

The answer to that question is complicated, and since I’ve developed such a passion of barefoot/minimalist running I risk the very real possibility of letting my mouth run like a river.  I’ve caught myself on more than one occasion dominating the conversation when the subject of running emerges.  I could talk about running barefoot most of the evening . . . and I often do.  The short answer to the above question is, no.  I don’t like running in VFFs . . . I prefer barefoot.  I then get an inquisitive/confused look from the questioner.

Questioner:  “Where do you run?”

Me:  “Pretty much anywhere.  Mainly I run on the sidewalk and asphalt.”

Questioner:  “Doesn’t that hurt?”

Me:  “Funny you should ask . . .”

After giving as brief explaination about the benefits of barefoot running and my personal reasons for which I started, I tell them that if I can’t be barefoot I throw on the VFFs.  If I can’t be as casual as VFFs require, I throw on my Sanuks.

So, in short, no I don’t like running in VFFs if I can avoid it, (mind you I haven’t been through a winter running in this manner) and yes, I love my VFFs for when I can’t be barefoot.

Barefoot Walk June 10, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health, Life, Thoughts , add a comment

It was about 5:30 pm and the wind was blowing.  We just put our son down for the night.  I asked, “Do you guys want to go for a barefoot walk?”  Surprisingly, Emily (the supposed other contributor to this blog) said, “Yes.”  We all grabbed a jacket to shield us from the whipping winds and set off on our little walk.

It’s good to have everything you need to walk, run, play, whatever your pleasure.  Your feet are an amazing part of your body.  I felt a bit like a kid tonight . . . traipsing down the sidewalk with nothing on my feet but the dust I picked up along the way.

Hannah, one of our barefooters-in-training, insisted she hold the dog’s leash.  She ended up jogging most of the way.  It was interesting to watch her perfect barefoot running form . . . self taught.  Kids are pros at listening to their bodies.  What kid do you know that pushes through the pain?  I guess getting back into the barefoot experience of life helps us learn to be like kids again.

Enjoy the summer barefoot!

Advantages of Barefoot Running, Part III June 2, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Advantages of Barefoot Running, Life, Shoes , add a comment

Advantage #3

Your barefoot shoes are very easy to clean . . . it’s as easy as washing your hands.

You’ve had the experience before when you’ve purchased that new pair of shoes.  They look so good and clean . . . for just a little while.  Why can’t they last that way forever . . . or at least longer than a week?  Well, when you have a living shoe, all you have to do is wash it and it’s pretty much clean again.  Sure, it changes over time and starts showing the wear and tear of life as the years go by, but hey that’s better than one week!

Another thing I’ve noticed with the Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs) is that after a while they develop a stank.  Yes, I said stank . . . it’s like a stink, but more foul.  They are machine washable, but so far with all the washing I’ve done of my VFFs they always retain a hint of that stank.  It’s tolerable, but I don’t think I’d want it sitting under my nose while I was trying to go to bed.  Your barefoot shoes are quite a bit easier to clean . . . in my opinion.

Take care of your soles!

I’m Done! May 28, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Life, Thoughts , 1 comment so far

I hate to make this post all about me, but today is a very special day for me.  I completed medical school today and NEVER have to go back.  The road has been long.  The road has been tough.  The experiences were varied, but I’m glad I’m done.  To keep this somewhat relevant to the blog, I can also say I walked a significant portion of this road barefoot.  Besides stumbling into barefoot running during the last leg of my medical school journey, on the island I was quite often barefoot around the house.

Life is good!  Now it’s on to residency.

“Barefoot” in The O.R. May 27, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Life, Thoughts , 2comments

Today was the last time I will ever scrub in for surgery as a medical student (two days left and I leave that title behind) . . . and since I’m going into Psychiatry, I’ll probably never scrub in again.  I took the opportunity to have another almost barefoot experience.  I wore my Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs) in the O.R. today.  Of course, they were covered up by shoe covers, but the experience was reaffirming.

I’ve written extensively on the feedback your body receives when you are barefoot or nearly barefoot.  This feedback is essential to being more in touch with the environment around you.  Increased balance and increased awareness of your body are a couple benefits.

Here is my experience.  If I can’t be barefoot and I can get away with it, I wear my VFFs.  I love wearing them around.  They are most certainly a conversation starter, and I love sharing my passion about barefooting.  I noticed something throughout the day.  Normally I begin feeling my feet hurt in the later part of the day which would last all night, I noticed periodically that one foot would ache a bit which signaled me to shift my weight . . . I would stand in a different way.  This happened repeatedly throughout the day.  What I notice looking back over the day is that my feet don’t feel like I’ve been standing on hard, shiny, operating room floors all day.

By allowing my arches and feet to do their job and tell me how I should be standing, I didn’t end up having painful feet at the end of the day.  It’s not going to win me a Nobel Prize, but this experience is certainly one that is very supportive of the barefoot life . . . allowing your body to function as it should.

Enjoy your soles!