Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Piedi Nudi 3

In case anyone is still wondering, a piedi nudi is simply Italian for barefoot. The "a" works like the French "a" in a la mode, and the rest is obvious, I suppose.

And in case you are still wondering, I have been walking barefoot because I want to be able to run again, and it seems doing it barefoot is getting me there.

Thanks to a reader and friend who will remain anonymous unless he chooses to identify himself, my eyes have been opened to a whole world of people who run barefoot out there, even in civilized America. And to a whole body of research that explains why you are much less likely to be injured when walking/running barefoot as opposed to wearing athletic shoes.

Shortly after college, I hyperextended my left knee while playing a crazy kids' game with a bunch of grown-ups. Being the tough little tomboy I was, even at that age, I stoically went back into the game and promptly hyperextended it again. I couldn't walk after that, had to use crutches for a while. I remember telling the doctor, "Well, I know this sounds crazy, but it felt like my knee went backwards. But of course knees can't do that, so I don't really know what I did to it."

And he said, "Well, that's exactly what happened."

Anyway, since then, every time I've tried to run, and even when I walk long distances, my knee ends up hurting a lot. A whole lot. I tried doing the thigh-strengthening exercises recommened, and that surely didn't hurt me. But it also didn't do much to keep my knee from hurting.

So I was resigned to a life of no more running.

And this was very sad to me. I used to love running. I mostly loved sprints and running hurdles, and I often did those barefoot when I was in elementary and junior high school. Later I got into longer runs, and enjoyed it up to about 3 miles. After that, not really. But running was part of my life, part of me, and I never thought a day would come when I wouldn't be able to run if I wanted to.

So, learning that my friend was running barefoot after a knee injury was enough to make me want to try it.

And that's why I've been walking barefoot in the park. It's wonderful in and of itself, for the feel of soft moss underfoot and the joy of dew in the morning, the ooze of mud between the toes, which I hadn't felt for years. It's kind of like getting a foot massage each time I go out.

And on top of that, I've had no knee pain whatsoever. I'm meeting interesting (interested) people. I can feel my legs getting stronger.

And the other day, I ran over half a mile for the first time in years.

La vita e' bella.


Lucy said...

Another running blogging friend (she doesn't run and blog at the same time...) has those amazing running shoes that are just like bare feet. She said they were a revelation, so light and supple, but here calves suffered for a while.

I'll think of you fleetfooting it around the park!

Sheila said...

Teehee. While I don't exactly run and blog at the same time, I do find lots of ideas coalescing while I'm out there.

I'm hoping to get some of those shoes soon. A woman I met in the park called them "Sasquatch shoes."

Lucy said...

Those are they, I think.