Based on the teaching of the following experts (alphabetically ordered by last name): PhDr. Jitka Čemusová, Ph.D, Bc. Clara Lewitová, prof. MUDr. Karel Lewita, MUDr. Ziny Saidová, DrSc., Doc. MUDr. František Véle, CSc. in cooperation with Mgr. Jolana Vosáhlová, Ph.D. and compiled by Bc. Lukáš Klimpera
How we stand and walk is crucial for the proper functioning of immunity. Ahinsa shoes® have been designed by doctors and physiotherapists so that our immune system may function properly.
If we give our feet their natural space and allow them to function naturally, the entire body can automatically arrange itself into a physiological position without the slightest effort.
Achieving this position can perfectly jump-start the metabolism and immune system, not to mention the pleasant feeling we get when we suddenly begin to breathe more freely, our muscular tension automatically decreases (“a weight falls from our shoulders”), joint load decreases, lymphatic system starts functioning properly, as well as blood circulation… And all at once, we start feeling healthy and great in our skin.
The immune system plays a vital role in keeping us healthy and feeling our best. It activates one of the most energy-demanding processes in our body.
If, when standing, the individual parts of the body are optimally aligned (centered – see below), then muscle tension is evenly adjusted. And if we use individual segments in the correct timing while walking, then:
- internal organs can assume their natural position, which is one of the fundamental factors for them to function well,
- muscle tension can be harmoniously balanced, and in the tissues our metabolism, blood circulation and flushing out of all toxins and waste products can work perfectly,
- the whole lymphatic system can function naturally (no lymphatic congestion – insufficient metabolism is a frequent consequence of lymphatic congestion),
- acupressure points on the soles can be stimulated,
- without obstruction, breath can flow easily and smoothly, and, hence, we can obtain:
- the amount of oxygen necessary for the proper function of metabolism,
- optimal stimulation of the lymphatic system and blood circulation,
- a decrease in the respiratory rate thanks to using the full lung capacity – this positively influences and balances the function of the autonomic nervous system (sympathetic and parasympathetic), positively affects the heart rate, etc.,
- stimulation of internal organ functions (thanks to respiratory mechanics), including the digestive tract, which may lead to improved digestion, excretion, and support the microbiome – a much-debated topic today (scientists claim that our intestines influence up to 90% of our immunity),
- a significantly beneficial effect on our psyche, in particular by reducing stress, anxiety, and tension, i.e. reducing factors that fundamentally affect our immunity.
Here is a simple example: the first picture shows a body that is centered (aligned); the second picture shows a body completely decentered, passively “hanging”.
Centering (alignment) can be “forcibly” set and maintained by superficial muscle activity. However, qualitatively speaking, this is not a good solution, and, above all, it will not last for long.
If the body is “forcibly” straightened, you cannot even breathe properly. It is, therefore, only a short-term “outward” effect that does not benefit immunity or our body in general. On the contrary, it often increases feelings of discomfort.
If we give our feet natural space, the whole body can automatically adjust to a centered position and start naturally loosening up the chest without conscious effort. From a biomechanical point of view, it is an interesting fact that, in this ideal state, the horizontally adjusted planes of the foot, pelvic floor, diaphragm, and mouth floor become positioned towards one another and start to “cooperate”.
Example 1 – How can the lungs function when the rib cage is “tightened” by increased muscle tension, and the function of the diaphragm is thus impaired? How do we achieve the physiological function of the thyroid gland when the head/cervical spine is continuously held in a protracted position with increased muscle tension?
There is nothing wrong with sometimes putting your head forward. Still, if we keep our head in protracted position all our lives, it will often lead to a variety of chronic functional and structural issues in the cervical spine, with breathing and other issues, which may ultimately have a significantly negative effect on the immune system.
Example 2 – Have a look sometimes at women in high heels, how they almost “don’t breathe”. They cannot because their musculoskeletal system is so decentered that it is hard for them to breathe smoothly and fully.
Foot and posture
The adjustment and function of the foot affect the alignment and function of the entire musculoskeletal system. Taking a “bottom up” approach, the position of the toes and heel affects the alignment of the whole foot, which affects the position of the ankle joints; this affects the adjustment of the knee joint, which affects the position of the hip joint; this affects the alignment of the pelvis, lumbar spine, rib cage, cervical spine, head, upper limbs, etc. This chain is completely interconnected, and can be analyzed at any stage. We could look at this continuum from the top, i.e. from head to foot, and the result would be the same.
If our base is set up physiologically (i.e. barefoot or in Ahinsa shoes®), it allows for the creation of sufficient room for the physiological functioning of the entire body, including the immune system, metabolism, lymphatic system, and of course, the psyche.
Conversely, if we disrupt this base with inappropriate footwear, in most cases we will never achieve the proper functioning of the upper body segments. We may try to “compensate” this imbalance to some extent through strenuous exercise. Still, the result will never be long-term or of good quality; indeed, compensation may shift the issue elsewhere, leaving it to reappear in another part of our musculoskeletal system.
By inappropriate footwear, we mean classic footwear (narrow shoes, stiff soles, heels, or any other factor distorting or changing the positioning or function of the foot) or so-called “barefoot footwear”, which has a thin sole but does not provide enough space for centered toes.
Space for the toes is critical, since the entire functional chain described above starts from the toes. Thus, if the base is not right, the rest of the functional chain cannot be good either. The ideal CENTERED state of the toes is when the toe axis follows the axis of the metacarpus – see the left picture below. The right figure shows decentration. The centered state is not, of course, a rigid state in which the foot should always remain. Yet, it should be a kind of initial state from which the foot moves and returns (for example, when walking downhill, we extend our toes even more, as we “brake”; whereas when walking uphill, we put our toes closer together, as we try to “grip”).
For a concrete idea of what it looks like in a “shoe” – full space for aligned toes in Ahinsa shoes® (on picture with amazing American CorrectToes):
More in this video (English susbtitles):
We must not forget that ideal function comes not only through passive adjustment of the musculoskeletal system, but also through activity. Muscle tone (tension) should not be too low or too high. We should not be passively “falling” on the toes or shifting our entire body weight, but the feet themselves should be active, should “carry” us. Carrying is one of the most basic functions of the foot, because this activity spreads from the foot throughout the body, perfectly centering it, stabilizing, straightening – “aligning” it. (This, of course, improves the position of the joints and, consequently, their load. At the same time, it reduces unnecessary tension in the muscles, which otherwise must hold together the decentered segments.)
If walking is physiological, i.e. natural, the “push-off” phase (starting from centered toes), in particular, causes a straightening of the whole torso and centering of the chest. The phase before and during the placement of the sole activates the stabilization of the musculoskeletal system (this applies to walking on a level surface; walking uphill or downhill, these activation and stabilization phases shift). Simply put, when pushing off, we “straighten up” and “lift our chests” and stabilize the position before and during the foot-flat or midstance phase.
However, this type of walking is not possible when walking in casual shoes (or barefoot shoes that do not provide enough space for toes). A classic shoe creates a kind of “splint” for the foot, and the brain is usually forced to find a completely different movement program. Often, this changes natural movement habits into pathological ones, disrupting the function of muscle chains, reducing the ascendant impulses from the sole, unevenly increasing or decreasing muscle tension, decentering body segments, and thus changing the position and function of internal organs. This may also negatively affect the function of the immune system, metabolism, lymphatic system, etc.
Most of the population (according to the author’s estimation, it is more than 90%!) demonstrate this pathological way of walking (predominantly due to inappropriate footwear), which looks as if we are literally “kicking” the feet from the pelvis and hip joints, landing on the soles very hard. This is absolutely “crazy” not only for our feet, but for the whole body, including all its internal functions and also the psyche.
For more information, please watch this video (English subtitles):
Acupressure stimulation of the sole
When walking barefoot (or using the special flexible Ahinsa shoes® shoe sole made from the unique German lifoprene® compound), our brain additionally receives a considerable amount of information from the sole that significantly stimulates brain activity, improves alertness, orientation and attention.
Reflective zones and acupressure sites, which according to traditional Eastern teaching are the gateways to health, are continuously activated. Every single step can thus amazingly stimulate acupressure points, as well as the function of internal organs and the activation of energy pathways (so-called nadis or meridians).
At this point, it is worth mentioning the measurements from EMED foot scan carried out at Masaryk University in Brno. These measurements show the pressure imprint (footprint) left by a bare foot, Ahinsa shoes®, and a classic shoe. The results are absolutely amazing. The imprint while walking barefoot and in Ahinsa shoes® is almost identical. In contrast, when walking in regular shoes, the foot does not come into “contact” with the ground, receiving only monotonous stimuli from the straight insole, and only the shoe sole is in contact with the ground.
Experts often refer to the interconnection between the psyche and the function of our immune system. Here it would be good to give a very simple and effective example: Try closing your eyes* and standing up passively, i.e. “hunched up”. Try to focus on how you feel in your body, how you breathe, what feelings you feel inside your torso. And now, do the reverse: try to straighten up, actively stand up on your bare feet, and activate them slightly to “carry” you. Let this “carrying” activity be diffused from the feet through the whole body, allowing it to “straighten” and fill its inner space (as if our torso was a “cylinder” that we wanted to straighten and extend as much as possible). Now try to focus on the same feelings again – how you feel in your body, how you are able to breathe… Most people feel the result immediately – a feeling of joy, happiness, space, stability, strength, and health… And now, please imagine that you feel this feeling all the time! But why just imagine it? You can feel it “forever”, literally with every step! Just allow the body to adjust naturally, without any effort.
* This exercise is not suitable for people with dizziness, mental health problems, or any other severe movement or neurological disorder.
Other positive effects of wearing Ahinsa shoes®
In addition to the effects mentioned above, walking in Ahinsa shoes®, in contrast to walking in regular shoes, may:
- have an effect on improving the activation of brain centers (many more impulses come from the sole to the brain than when wearing classic shoes),
- prevent many potential arthritic or vascular issues, reduce the risk of injury, improve balance, coordination, and performance, alleviate fatigue, promote vitality, etc.
- have a positive impact on pelvic floor function and pregnancy - please see the video on feet function in pregnancy with English subtitles:
About Ahinsa shoes®
Ahinsa shoes® are the only shoes in the world* designed by doctors and physiotherapists that at the same time:
- provide ample and uncompromising space for centered toes, which is essential for the proper functioning of both the foot and the whole body (standard Ahinsa shoes® models are sufficient for most of the population; the “Professional” collection meets the needs of extra-large feet. If necessary, we can create a tailor-made individual model that fully matches the needs of the customer’s foot.),
- regularly obtain the best score in independent tests carried out by the American company Correct toes (Ahinsa shoes® were evaluated by German shoe-sellers as the “Best barefoot shoes ever”)
- are ethically handmade in in-house production in Europe - more information >>,
- all models are purely vegan – they do not contain any parts of slaughtered animals,
- are made of materials from the European Union with the strictest health certifications,
- have a thin and flexible sole made of the German lifoprene® compound, which provides perfect grip, abrasion resistance and adhesion on all kinds of surfaces,
- are recommended by doctors and physiotherapists around the world – please see personal references – what other doctors and physiotherapists say about Ahinsa shoes®
- available in BAREFOOT for natural movement lovers, but also in the COMFORT collection designed for the general population. In this collection, comfort models are equipped with a unique insole, created in collaboration with a biomechanical institute, which allows the foot to work freely, gain strength, sensitivity, and perception, while padding provides it with safety and protection from external influences and hard impacts (before one learns to put the sole sensitively on the ground). In addition, this special insole is designed so that its front part is harder – preventing loss of power transmission when pushing off.
* If you know of another company in the world that meets all the criteria stated above, please let us know, and we will be more than happy to include this brand in our text.
Truth about barefoot shoes
In this context, we would like to point out today’s often misleading designation of various footwear as “barefoot”. If the shoe has only a thin sole but does not provide sufficient space for centered toes, walking in such a shoe can harm us more than a traditional shoe. If the space for the toes is restricted (not only for the big toe, but for any of them, including the little toe), the foot cannot function naturally, and, as a result, we either step hard on the heels (which, with a thin shoe sole, is very dangerous for the musculoskeletal system) or our musculoskeletal system is forced to use a different, utterly pathological movement pattern, which, in the long run, also represents a significant problem.