Tag Archives: boots

Zero Drop Boots

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My zero drop boots

I’ve talked about shoes before.  In a nutshell, some time ago I decided to transition to the most minimal shoes possible (here’s why).

The problem is that I couldn’t wear my favorite boots.  The heels, although not very high, still allowed my Achilles tendon to shorten.  If I wore them all day, I had Achilles tension the following day when I tried to exercise in a minimal sneaker.

This was a problem because I firmly believe that if a man has a good pair of boots and an attitude, there is nothing he can’t get done.  Also, as a martial artist, I consider my boots important tools for self defense.  You don’t understand.  I need my boots.

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Another shot of my zero drop boots

Buying zero drop boots wasn’t an option.  They just don’t make them (don’t ask me why, I have no idea).  So I took them to Jerry’s Shoe Shop and had them pull off the old sole and put on a perfectly flat one with no heel.  This cost me $50.00.  They aren’t minimal (the new soles are about 1/2″ thick), but at least they won’t shorten my Achilles tendon, and if I want to go for a hike, work in the yard, or go on a globe-hopping expedition to find the Ark of the Covenant, I’ll get more support and protection that I would from Chuck Taylors.

Look out world.  I got my boots back.

[UPDATE: I’m no longer in minimal and/or zero drop footwear.  See the comments section below.  If you have already transitioned without any trouble, enjoy!  But if you’re just starting out, I strongly suggest that you turn back now and stick with regular shoes!]

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The Calisthenics Codex (5 stars on Goodreads and in the Top 10 calisthenics ebooks at Barnes & Noble).  50 calisthenics exercises explained, fully illustrated, with instructions for building workouts from total beginner to expert!

Cabal Fang: Complete Martial Arts Study Course from Querent to Elder.  Over 300 pages, hundreds of photos.  Everything you need to start learning the world’s most innovative and transformative martial art! Buy a paper copy on Amazon or from Createspace or download the ebook here.

 

Minimal Shoes – The Science and the Mysticism

Update 7/28/19: I just noticed that scads of people are still reading my pre-Achilles-injury posts from years ago.  I’m no longer in minimal shoes.  In my opinion the whole minimal shoe thing is hocus-pocus.  Shoes were developed and universally adopted because they work better than bare feet.  Do what you want but don’t say I didn’t warn you!  

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Original post from 6/7/2013

Around town I used to wear boots.  For working out I wore conventional New Balance cross-trainers.  My kids used to cringe whenever at my oft-spoken admonition: “You should be wearing more functional footwear!”  But not more.  I have gone to thinner soles with zero heel-to-toe drop.  I’ll tell you why in a minute.  First the low-down on what I’m wearing.

These days I’m sporting Chuck Taylors pretty much everywhere.  I keep a clean pair for office casual, as well as a pair of brown leather Vivobarefoot shoes.  I also have a pair of Sofstars on order (I’ll put up a review when they get here).  Sofstar looks like a fantastic small shop run by really cool folks.  Who can resist buying a pair of shoes handmade in the USA by elves?

Now for the why.

First, the Science

Raised heels (lifts of 8mm are not uncommon in most shoes and sneakers) shorten the Achilles tendon.  Arch supports weaken the muscles of the feet.  Thick soles destroy ground feel.  Less arch support and increased ground feel allow feet to spread and do the job they were designed to do.  For years I wore a size 8 or 8.5.  I now wear size 9.  Trust me, you want your foot performing maximally.  Feet are marvels of engineering.  Let them do what they do and they’ll make you happy.  There’s a plethora of info available on the science of the barefoot shoe revolution out there, and there are some naysayers.  Here’s a nice overview on the subject if you want to read more.

Runners Beware: There are plenty of studies claiming that running barefoot is a bad idea.  I think some of those studies are pretty well flawed.  Others seem sound.  But since I’m not a runner (short sprints only for me!) none of those bug me much.   If you’re a hard-core runner, think long and hard before making the switch.

And now the Mysticism

When you liberate your feet from rigid coffins of thick rubber and plastic and put them into  slippers of canvas or leather you feel a kind of release.  You walk and run differently, with a bounce in your step that changes your outlook from the ground up.  When you’re outside strolling along the street or trail you’re more in touch with the world around you.  You feel and react to the ground instead of cruising along in a devil-may-care sort of way.

Some folks even believe in “Earthing” — that you shouldn’t have rubber between you and the Earth when walking — natural materials like leather or hemp only.  There may be something to it, but I can’t attest because all my shoes have rubber soles.

For centuries being barefoot was a sign of slavery.  Slave codes mandated that slaves go barefoot.  But that’s the “shoe-centric” view.  In actuality, barefoot = freedom.  Going completely barefoot can literally be a religious experience.  If you wear minimal shoes in public, you can go barefoot in private — completely — without fear of developing Plantar fasciitis .  Been there, done that.  PF sucks.  Trust me, you don’t want it.   That’s why you should…

MAKE THE TRANSITION VERY SLOWLY OR YOU WILL HURT YOURSELF.

I’m not kidding.  I took over a year to make the move and still had a few rough spots (probably due to my stiff old 50+ body).  Start by replacing the arches in your existing shoes with lower ones every few months until you have no arch support in your shoes.  Every now and then rip some of the crap out of the inside of your shoes until you’re down to the actual sole.  Then move to lower and lower heels.

I found that doing this with all my shoes at the same time was the key.  Where I experienced problems was when I was trying to go zero-drop in my workout shoes while wearing traditional dress shoes with heels to the office.  All day long my Achilles was shortening.  Then, when I went to exercise I was over-stressing my Achilles tendon.  It’s the same problem folks have who wear high heels every day.  I strained my Achilles and it took me 6 months to rehab it.  I’ll say it again: go slowly and make the switch with all your shoes at the same time.

And a final note.  Don’t be stupid.  If you’re working in the yard, carrying heavy objects, operating power equipment or tools,  banging around a warehouse or machine shop, etc. protect your feet with a substantial shoe.  I still have my boots, I just had them re-soled to about a 2mm drop.  That worked because they were only 4mm to start with.  That won’t work with a pair of boots with a huge heel on them, it’ll just wreck the shoe.  OTZShoes makes a zero drop boot, but it’s kind of pricey.

 

 

Two-and-a-half Busy Weeks

Update 7/18/19:  My club still uses the flag but we’re now called Cabal Fang Temple, and we’re a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational charity.  Visit our website or purchase our 12-week personal growth program at Smashwords, Amazon, B&N, or wherever fine e-books are sold.

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Original post:

Studies show that you can kick 150% more ass in boots than you can in sock feet.  Actually, that’s not true.  I watched dozens of people (including my son) defeat Tough Mudder in glorified sock feet (a.k.a. Vibram five finger shoes).  Go figure.  Me? I’m sticking with the boots.

I haven’t posted the blog in 2 1/2 weeks.  Been a little busy.

10/19/11: After a slow start, began  working in earnest on the new Cabal Fang website over at Tumblr.  Re-write of the Cabal Fang Manual is about 75% done.

10/21/11:  Wrote and submitted a 500 word essay to a ‘zine called Get Fit for the Pit — a “a compilation zine that focuses on health and fitness from a punk/activist perspective.”  Hopefully they’ll use it.

10/23/11: Went to Wintergreen and watched my son kick butt at Tough Mudder — 10 miles, 27 obstacles, and brutal hills.  A truly amazing experience.  Way to go Robert!

10/25/11:  Got hit in the face with more than the usual force at the martial arts club.  Didn’t seem like a big deal until I started seeing black spots and flashes of light.  After several days I decided to call the doctor…

10/30/11:  …spent two hours at Virginia Eye Institute (yes, they open on Sundays for urgent eye stuff) getting a nightmarish exam that revealed a vitreous detachmentGood news: I’m not blind and it’ll heal.  Bad news: no more getting in the face (at least not that hard).

10/31/11: After collecting and delivering water, food, blankets, sleeping bags, and other supplies to Kanawha plaza twice a week for two weeks, I watched the news in horror as I discovered Occupy Richmond was bulldozed.  That night I went trick-or-treating with my kids and grand-kids, feeling lucky that I have a house and job and a beautiful family!

11/1/11: Started collecting money for the 2011 Kidney Walk on the All for Audrey Team.  Walking in honor of my granddaughter Audrey and in memory of my father.  Kidney disease is a debilitating disease that affects 1 in 9 Americans — over 85,000 people are waiting for kidney transplants as you read this.  The walk is this Sunday.  Make a donation here.

I can’t remember the date of the most remarkable thing that happened in the last 2 1/2 weeks.  Somewhere in this period of time I had a couple of really wonderful conversations with my beautiful wife.  She pointed out how I’ve lately started to see the glass as half empty instead of half full, which is strange and alarming, because everybody knows I’m Mr. Positive.  She opened my eyes about a lot of stuff and basically got me back to my old self.  She’s cool like that.

I’ve laced up my boots and I’m back in the game.