Fixing my feet – send in the Five Fingers.

I have a confession to make.

I have flat feet.

For as long as I can remember, people have been telling me that I have flat feet, or that I over-pronate, or that my arches fall when I stand on them.

And they were right in their diagnoses. However, I am beginning to think they were wrong in their prescription.

Their prescription, every one, was that flat feet were something you lived with, and used orthotics to help reduce the pain associated with fallen arches, or at least to reduce the effect of the fallen arches.

Studies show it doesn’t work, at least not well, and that there’s no hard and fast way for prescribing orthotics… Which indicates (to me) that we’re dealing with snake oil, being sold a bill of goods. But charlatans sell snake oil for the same reason people sell orthotics – lots of people have some sort of malaise (or sore feet, in the case of orthotics) and are willing to spend a sum of their hard earned money on the promise of improved health. And while SOMETIMES the orthotic ‘cures’ the pain (treats and/or masks the  symptoms), it doesn’t solve the problem. As an orthotics wearer, you become dependent on it, and without it, you are miserable.

My footprints in the snow.

So I’ve decided that this is not something I want. I’ve never been formally fitted for orthotics (custom orthotics range between 100 and 200 USD, typically), I’ve spent my fair share of dollars on different over the counter orthotics, with varying degrees of success (read: pain relief). Superfeet even shrunk my feet (by seemingly improving my arch, as improbable as that seems).

The problem with orthotics, as I see it, as it gives your body a crutch – something to be lazy on. And every body in the world is content to be lazy if at all possible. It’s a natural way to conserve energy, and from a physiological standpoint it makes perfect sense.

So, after recently hearing all about my arches and how low they are, I’ve decided to do something about it.

I’ve had my Vibram Five Fingers for at least a year, now, and I’ve worn them off and on. I’ve never been much of a runner, so I’ve never really worked myself up to running in them, but I love them. I think they feel good, fit well, and make it so I can

walk around with a fairly barefoot feeling wherever I go. So I decided to start wearing them daily, to see if what Dr. Nirenberg says is true.

What I did not do was take a ‘before’ stamp of my footprint. But I have started doing some mild running in my Vibrams – keeping the distances under an 1/8th of a mile at a time for now (doing intervals of 200m between 5 and 8 times.

But I will be sure to take a 2 month stamp, and a 4 month stamp. Hopefully I will be able to see a marked change in the pattern of my foot, as well as a well-defined arch.

What about everyone else

? Do you have any experiences with (re)training your feet and the (re)introduction of an arch due to barefoot running or any other method? I know there’s some surgical procedure out there right now that involves some sort of a metal tube inserted into the ankle, but that kind of seems like a last resort… Like I might consider it… after exhausting any other ideas that are less invasive.

And besides, it seems like a pretty hardcore way to correct something that may not even be the problem it’s made out to be.
What are your thoughts?


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