Foot Note

Photography by Fiona Banner


“Have you ever spent a day wearing mittens?

I do not suppose you have tried it too long with shoes.”

These were the thoughts I had as I sat on my kitchen table looking down at my feet wiggling my toes. Our autobiographical lives give ample coverage to back ache and neck pain, but our feet habitually go un-noted.

It occurred to me that we restrict our feet quite often and I wondered to what advantage or disadvantage this was? To this end I decided that I would free my feet as often as possible, avoiding socks and opting for sandals over shoes. My first hurdle was work, concluding that the NHS would most likely frown on me turning up in sandals, to many a readers delight, I wore shoes.  It did not take long until I noticed the return of my knee pain and the relief that came with sneaking my shoes off on the odd tea brake.  My knee pain was often followed by back ache and neck pain. This contrasted with the Nursery shifts where I was often barefoot for the majority of the day; there I was generally pain free.

Observing the complexities of the situation I sought a compromise in my footwear.  Such a compromise I found in a pair of super sleek Vibram fivefingers ®. I debut my innovative footwear in the nursery, the curious and open minded children jumped on any opportunity to touch and wiggle my toes.

As children often our first lesson of anatomy is the nursery rhyme where we are taught the names of each part of the body and how each part is connected to the other.  As adults we need to remember that once we saw the body as a whole and this is no less true just because we know more about all its subtle parts and habits.

So let us reflect; back ache or neck pain, in some cases, may be a consequence of a disregarded ankle and/or knee injury.  As adults, we need to stop looking for quick fixes in abstract solutions and observe our bodies, take note of our weakness and strengthen ourselves where we are weakest.

Since my move to more lucid footwear, my toes are straighter, sleeker and arranged more closely together, my foot is less flat with my arch higher and stronger, my knees are stronger, and my bum looks great.  Also,   I have virtually no back pain.

Quite the bargain for the price of a new pair of shoes.