Barefoot is pure power, pure performance.
Our body is absolutely perfect in every way.
The highest performance and greatest potential are achieved by the body just as it is. Achieving these is only possible once we realize this essential truth.
From the performance point of view, we will look at power, power transmission, acceleration, deceleration, stability, contact with the environment, impulses from the environment, and our ability to respond to them. Also important are our alertness, respiratory capacity, heart rate, and the function of internal organs… and last but not least – enjoying what we do :)
Whenever we push off, land, change direction… this power impulse (mostly from the foot) must be directed precisely where we need it. Doing this means achieving 100% of force transmission and thus our maximum performance… If any part of the power impulse is lost, our performance and efficiency will also decrease.
The power impulse is transmitted through our joints, and it is imperative that these are centered. What does this mean?
A joint is centered if the axis of one segment follows the axis of the next, the contact of the joint surfaces is full, and there is no increased muscle tension to stabilize the joint. This condition is ideal not only for the joint itself, but also for the surrounding soft tissues, which can then be in harmonic tension.
In terms of performance, in the centered state we enable force to be fully transmitted – if the power vector coming from one segment follows the axis of the next, power transmission can reach its full potential (see the figure below).
If segments are not centered, the power pulse gets partially "lost"/"misdirected" and performance is reduced. That is not good:
- for the joint itself (there is increased wear of joint surfaces, leading to reduced contact between them = one of the main factors of osteoarthritis),
- for the brain, which must set up uneven tension around the decentered segment to "capture" the power and transfer it to the next segment; at the same time, it is also coordination-demanding in terms of the need to stabilize this segment.
The figure below shows both situations in the toes and ankle (ankle joint). The left picture demonstrates a centered condition, the ideal joint load, and full power transmission; on the right we see decentering, a pathological joint load, and loss of power.
Push off from the active centered leg is fully transferred to the torso and "throws"/"moves" it forward. In the decentered state, however, foot push-off moment is lost at the decentered ankle, decentered knee joint, hip joint, etc.
In addition, a centered joint is in so-called "standby" mode, which means that it allows the possibility of immediate reaction, if necessary. Conversely, if the segment is decentered and muscle tension around the joint uneven, then it is simply impossible to react as fast, should the need arise. This delay can lead to injury, discoordination, and damage to the segment, etc.
To be efficient, our internal organs must also work well, and our breathing capacity must be sufficient. This is again conditioned by the centering of the whole body and the "bearing" activity of the feet – see the article on immunity.
Orientation in space and stability are also important. In addition to visual and auditory control, information from the proprio-, extero- and interoceptors of our body informing us about the position in the joints, muscle tension, etc. is also essential.
Many studies state that our brain obtains almost 80% of information required to maintain balance from the foot. If we are barefoot or in Ahinsa shoes®, which have a unique sole made of the German lifoprene® compound, there is "nothing to be afraid of". However, when we are walking in a classic shoe or a so-called "barefoot" shoe, which does not provide full space for centered toes, information from the sole is incomplete and uniform. Based on such "misinformation" we cannot react optimally, and the foot cannot “read” the terrain well or pass on full information to the brain, which is then unable to react, adapt or adhere to the terrain.
The centered state also provides an ideal effective contact area (base), see figure below. In the decentered state, this area is significantly smaller, which not only has a negative effect on the whole body posture, but also reduces our overall stability and increases risk of injury (but about that in the next article).
And if we are not "sticking" properly to the terrain and cannot "read" it well, how can we fully push off with maximum effect?
Barefoot movement or movement in Ahinsa shoes® is effective because the foot and whole body can assume their physiological position. Above all, all the toes (including the little toe) can move without restriction, adapt to the terrain, which means the push-off phase can lead to maximum power transfer into the body. The same applies to the landing phase. As far as we know, no external damping mechanism is as effective as the body itself. Even inappropriate clothing can have an utterly pathological effect on the function of our musculoskeletal system and reduce our performance (but about that also in the next article).
Therefore, natural movement ** unlimited by external factors is ideal.
And that is exactly how Ahinsa shoes® are designed – they allow your body to function at its full potential!
** It is, of course, necessary to note that there are situations, places, and diagnoses that preclude walking barefoot or using barefoot shoes. Please, always consult your physician.