The cool thing about humans is that even though we can do long division, think about our place in the universe, program a week’s worth of meals, solve complex problems using logic, and perform other tasks indicative of high intelligence, we also retain the ability to perform hundreds of essential calculations on the subconscious level. For example, we don’t have to tell our pancreas to secrete enough insulin to deal with that food we just ate because the pancreas just does it without telling us. We generally don’t have to remind ourselves to breath. And, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to think about not rolling our ankles or tripping over our own feet. We should be able to glide gracefully across the ground.

Shoes get in the way, though. Think about it: we spend most of the day connected to the ground via our feet. Our feet, by virtue of their direct connection to the ground, tell our nervous systems what’s going on, where we’re going, what we’re standing on, how stable the ground is, how sharp and potentially injurious these rocks are, and so on. When you cover your feet with rubber, you’re covering up one of the most sensitive, nerve-dense areas of our bodies and giving up a lot of spatial awareness in the process. You’re basically blindfolding yourself.

The increased proprioceptive awareness gained while walking, running, hiking, etc. in a barefoot state generally carries over to the shoed state. What this means is that by occasionally acting like a dirty hippie on your time off , you can improve your overall awareness of how your entire body interacts with space-time–even when wearing weight lifting shoes. This will have huge implications for your lifting and overall athletic performance.

Don’t worry. This is not a plea for barefooted Olympic lifting. I don’t expect to see any Vibrams on the medal stand anytime soon. This is just a recommendation that folks spend more time without shoes, preferably moving around on natural ground, in order to improve their overall proprioceptive awareness, an awareness that will carry over to everything else you do.

Now, get out, explore and connect with the earth! In good health, xxxx, Amber

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