2016 Summer Shoe Review

Shoes Matter

Free your feetIt’s summertime, and the thing I love about the summer is that I get to spend so much more time barefoot. As many of you know by now, I am an enthusiastic barefoot advocate. I believe that a barefoot lifestyle is important for health, wellness, and a lifetime of pain-free movement. Which is why I’m offering my summer shoe review for 2016.

Going barefoot is not without risk. There are times, based upon terrain or circumstance, when shoes are necessary. These circumstances may include the Hill Country’s unforgivingly rocky hiking trails combined with lurking thorns and thistles … and, of course, the need to walk into “No Shirt No Shoes No Service” businesses.

Funny thing: Prior to transitioning into a barefoot lifestyle, I basically owned two pairs of shoes — basketball shoes and non-basketball shoes. Over the past six-plus years that I have embraced a barefoot lifestyle (I am completely barefoot 90% of the time), my shoe wardrobe has greatly expanded.

Like tools, my shoes have taken on functional purposes. I have a tool for every job. I have trail sandals for most running, climbing, jumping, sprinting, and just overall challenging movement; casual sandals for comfortable wear, such as going to the grocery store; dressier shoes; cold weather wet shoes; cold weather dry shoes; and more. For someone who is barefoot as much as I am, I have quite the shoe collection!

FLIPPIN’ AND FLOPPIN’

images-2This time of year, most people reach for their trusted flip-flops. These are, in my opinion, one of the worst shoe choices you can make. The lack of a simple heel strap to keep the shoe attached to your foot means that with every step you take you must grip your toes just to keep the shoe on your foot. This creates an unnatural gait pattern.

For short durations, if you have no significant movement dysfunctions, this may not be a big deal. However, if you already have a history of poor gait mechanics (which most people do), wearing flip-flops for extended periods can create problems. This is especially true in the spring as you are transitioning away from heavy supportive winter boots or shoes which weaken the muscles of the foot. This not only can manifest in foot pain, but can also show up as knee, back, hip, and neck injuries.

DITCH THE FLIP-FLOPS AND OPT FOR QUALITY SANDALS

Summer Shoe Review

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an affiliate for many of these products. This means that if you purchase one after clicking one of these links, I will get a small commission. That said, the only reason I am an affiliate for these products is because I believe in them 100%.

Luna Sandals

Luna Sandals - Summer Shoe ReviewI do most of my hiking and running on rocky Texas trails. I haven’t built my barefoot ability to be able to go through miles and miles of gnarly rocks and cactus. Nor do I feel it necessary to become that hardcore barefoot. I need something to protect my feet. When I do need to wear shoes, I want it to be the least amount of shoe possible. That is why I love Luna sandals.

The Luna sandals are my go-to for the trails. I own the Leadville model, and I love them because they are incredibly secure on my feet. The nylon strap on them is perfect for regular running, trail running, climbing, tracking, traversing. The last thing I want when I’m bounding through rocky terrain is for the shoe to slip and to lose traction between the shoe and myself. The strap doesn’t stretch or give, so I keep the shoe fairly tight on my foot. I wear these shoes 6-7 months a year for more extreme movement.

The downside of this sandal is that the strap and buckle system aren’t super comfortable. They bite into the top of my foot a bit, not something I want in casual footwear for restaurants and grocery stores where shoes are required. In addition, I am not a fan of their Monkey Grip Technology (MGT) footbed. The MGT took a long time to break in and creates hot spots under my feet. I prefer the leather footbed option.

Earth Runner Sandals

Earthrunner Sandals - Summer Shoe ReviewEarth Runners Sandals are my go-to for everything else. These are plush comfortable sandals, and the soft leather strap and buckle system feels super comfy on my foot. They also look nice, so you can get away with wearing them to casual events. I get tons of compliments on these sandals. When you need a shoe that looks good, feels good, and is comfortable, these are great sandals.

Overall, I don’t have any major complaints when it comes to these shoes. I did find that the super thin sole took a very long time to break in. Since I don’t wear shoes much, it took even longer. With daily wear, I’d expect it to take between 2-4 weeks to fully break these shoes in.

Also these sandals are exclusively casual wear for me. Because the leather has a “stretch” to it, I don’t wear them for outdoor activities. If I’m running, climbing, or jumping, the sole has a tendency to slide out from under my foot. I need the sole to remain solid under my foot.

Earth Runners also make children’s sandals, custom-made based on a tracing of your child’s foot.

SOMETIMES YOU NEED A FULL SHOE

Even in Austin, you occasionally need a full shoe for more formal occasions.

Soft Star Shoes - Summer Shoe ReviewSoft Star Shoes

I have the Soft Star Shoes Rogue model, and I love them. They have a Vibram TM rubber sole, and a sheepskin-lined footbed. Basically a moccasin style shoe, these are easy to slip on and off, and they keep my feet warm for chilly Texas winters and relatively dry when it’s wet. They’re not super fancy or stylish; they are just nice comfortable shoes.

These are also incredible for kids. Early walkers need shoes on their feet to keep them warm (and of course, shoes are required for school), but you especially want children to really feel the ground and interact with it as they’re learning. If a shoe interferes with your child’s development as they learn how to walk, the effects will last into adulthood.

Vivobarefoot Shoes

Vivobarefoot shoes - Summer Shoe ReviewI have several different pairs of Vivobarefoot shoes, and my son has their rainboots and daily wear shoes. These are really comfortable shoes, and they carry a number of styles, from more casual to dressier shoes. These are shoes you can really live in. I have their running, casual, and dress shoes. Honestly, the only downside is that they are pretty pricey. But they do hold up well and give you the options you need.

Do you have a barefoot/minimalist style summer shoe review that you love. I’d love to hear about it. Please share and tag me through social media.

A Year of Moving Better

This is a guest post from Kimberly Culbertson, who just celebrated her one year moving better anniversary with The Art of Fitness!! 


Just a little red in the face after our moving better workout this morning!
Just a little red in the face after our workout this morning!

Today marks a full year of movement therapy with Jesse! I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I began the journey, but I’m glad I did 🙂

I wasn’t exactly in the market for a new movement paradigm, but I overheard Jesse talking with a colleague at Orange Coworking, and I was curious enough to brave a conversation with a scary personal trainer. (Okay it turns out he’s not really scary at all. Quirky, maybe.)

The truth is that I’m not “the athletic type,” although, as I type that, I can almost hear Jesse sternly begin a little speech about how every human is meant for movement. After surviving middle school gym class, I had mostly kept my distance from fit people, and to a certain degree, from movement in general. I’ve been gifted in more intellectual pursuits, and movement in the physical world has always been a secondary activity, a necessary evil.

My whole life is marked by seasons of dieting and various spurts of exercise, but it wasn’t until my late 20’s that I started to see fitness and strength as markers of self-care and even self-love. Despite genuine effort though, I consistently began some workout program, injured myself within a couple of months, and then had long seasons of pain and recovery. I had bad knees, a reverse curve in my neck, foot pain, messed up shoulders, and a long line of people ready to tell me that losing weight was the only real solution. But losing weight requires exercise and exercise causes injury, so pursuing weight loss turned me into a depressed, she’s-a-little-bit-crazy person. And that person was in pain.

To make matters worse, about two years ago I injured my shoulder. It was some kind of swollen, tight, pinched nerve mess in my right shoulder blade, and it didn’t go away after a couple of weeks. The pain was severe and made it nearly impossible to lift my arms while seated. I know that’s very specific, but this was a big problem for driving and typing (and since I was working as a freelance writer, typing was pretty important). With pain meds and chiropractic and electro stim therapy andrest and ice, the pain lessened to about a 4 on a ten-point scale, a big improvement from the original 9-intensity, but still noticeable, chronic pain. After a year, I figured this pain was probably mine to keep.

Enter Jesse, The “Movement Therapy” Coach.

Jesse is actually part monkey. He gives occasional speeches about why you too should be able to climb a tree :)
Jesse is actually part monkey. He gives occasional speeches about why you too should be able to climb a tree 🙂

When I sat down with Jesse, my defenses were high. I had a speech ready, and it went something like this: “Look, I know I’m not thin, but I’m not trying to lose weight right now because I like my sanity. I don’t hate who I am, and I’m not trying to earn my right to exist by changing my shape. I do have a 4-year-old, though, and I want to be just as active as he wants to be. And I want to feel healthy. In the past, I’ve genuinely enjoyed working out, but I have an injury that causes me chronic pain, and at this point I’m a little bit afraid to move.”  

I didn’t know it yet, but Jesse’s movement therapy approach was exactly what I needed. His philosophy is that fitness should help a person increase function and enjoy movement, and that any external changes are a side effect. Extra pounds don’t disqualify someone from movement in his book, and really shouldn’t be the focus. This was a relief, since my first experience with a personal trainer was a free session with “Tank” (no, really) during which he told me to ride the seated bike until I lost 25 lbs, at which time he might consider working with me more. Jesse, on the other hand, rails against a fitness industry that is primarily “designed to get you laid as quick as possible” and that often results in injury.

Jesse looks at how you’re moving and assesses where your body has “lost” movement. For me, he immediately focused into how little mobility I had in my lower back, and hypothesized that my neck and shoulder pain were related to this lack of mobility. I was skeptical. But I had been focusing on my shoulder for a year with minimal results, so I decided to play along anyway and see where this went.

At first the movements seemed silly to me, and I told him a couple of times, “This does not really seem like a workout.” He explained, and then explained again, that we are starting with movement restoration, and once we get there, we’ll add in skill and conditioning. In spite of my impatience, I did the silly things, and in about a month I realized I HAD NO PAIN IN MY SHOULDER. What was even happening?! Beyond that, my balance had improved, I had less neck pain, and, oh, turns out I actually could do squats! I was sold on this “movement therapy” stuff.

One Year Later

Jesse and I have been working together for a year now. Today is our training-iversary. It sounds a bit melodramatic to say that Jesse has changed my life, but it’s true anyway.

I’m not thinner, exactly, but my body’s shape has changed. Not only have I NOT injured myself in the process, but I have far less pain, and tools to address any pain that I encounter. I do squats like a boss. I climb things on playgrounds with my 5-year-old. I know how to move after I’ve been typing for a while, and since I actually do the movements(!), I don’t get headaches and lose neck mobility during high-stress times. I cannot even believe how strong my legs are. I don’t look at stairs with dread, because stairs are no big deal now. I can do an hour of heated yoga and not die. This is what it is like to feel strong.

But the way that working with Jesse has bled into my life outside the gym is perhaps even more interesting. At this time last year, there were so many things (in working out and in all aspects of life) that I assumed I could not do, and wouldn’t even try. My inner critic was loudest in the gym, but she was seldom quiet anywhere. My fear of failure kept me on the sidelines more than I’d like to admit. Jesse and I have had sessions where the coaching has centered more around my mindset than my muscles, and I am a braver person for it. Over the course of this year, it has become very clear to me that I actually can do a lot of “scary” things, even when I am sure I can’t. Not everything comes easily, but it’s a process, and it turns out that’s actually fine. Normal, even. Just when I am certain that Jesse will give up on me and that I am clearly a giant disappointment, he pulls out his seldom-utilized stern voice and lectures me about self-care, and listening to my body, and being patient with myself.

So I’m a work-in-progress. And I’m actually really enjoying the progress, for once. I’m focusing on becoming strong to be helpful. And to be playful. Because I want my kiddo to remember me in the fray with him and not on the sidelines. He deserves that. And you know what? So do I.


KimberlyHeadshot_9.9.15Kimberly Culbertson is a Team Dynamics and Leadership Coach and Speaker, and she co-hosts the Creation Curve Leadership podcast. She is a recovering approval addict, a paint brush loving workaholic, and a walking billboard for hope in all its many manifestations. She is not afraid to admit that latte art lifts her spirits, and she gets a little melancholy when she doesn’t make it into a coffee shop for a few days.

Natural Movement Lifestyle

Natural Movement is a lifestyle

Jesse James Retherford coaching natural movementHow much do you think about your movement? Every movement you make or don’t make throughout the day is an opportunity to make a choice. What that movement or lack of movement looks like is a valuable opportunity. Why? Because Natural Movement is a lifestyle choice. Which has parallels into our physical as well as intellectual, emotional, and spiritual body. 

I like to think about movement the same as nutrition. How you move is how you feed your body movement. When you sit in front of a computer for eight hours per day, it is the equivalent of feeding your body McDonald’s. That one hour workout after work isn’t going to make up for eight hours of Micky D’s. 

Your body needs more throughout the day. It needs more macronutrients. It needs more micronutrients. You need to feed your body more kale! Your body needs little movement snacks fed to it throughout the day. As a MovNat coach not only do I teach natural human movement, I am also a consultant. I help my clients see where resistance exists and provide them with the tools to move past whatever is holding them back.

As a lifestyle, it’s not just about how you move during your hour long training session, but how you integrate movement practices throughout your day and life. It’s developing new habits of movement. To create new habits, change must happen, and with change comes resistance.

Through making better movement choices, developing new habits around movement, and overcoming resistance from change, my clients grow and evolve their movement lifestyle. They get to feel and experience growth in all aspects of their life, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

This is where movement can facilitate life change.

Ready to begin your movement practice? Try going through these movements twice a day for the next week and share your progress with me on The Art of Fitness Facebook page.

A Gift from The Art of Fitness

Update

Due to the overwhelming response to this gift offer (December massage sessions booked up within 24 hours), I am extending this offer for sessions scheduled up to January 31, 2016.

Since I have your attention, please take a moment to check out what The Art of Fitness philosophy on Movement Therapy is all about.

Thank you for sharing this with your family and friends.


 

About six years ago, I practiced gift economy. I did not charge money for my work. I had no hourly rate. I had no suggested donation amounts. I offered my work for free as a gift with no expectation of a return of value.

I loved practicing gift economy

I loved how it allowed me to work with everyone, regardless of whether they could afford my services or not. I loved it because everybody gave back in heartfelt ways. Most people would give money. Others would offer vegetables from their garden, home-baked goodies, or help with electrical or plumbing work. Best of all, many would forward their gifts to others.

I moved away from gift economy as my life and family needs have changed, but I continue to be inspired by the concept. There is something simple and sweet in the idea of living my life as a gift to others, and I aspire to this each and every day.

In the Spirit of Giving

Since it is officially the season of giving, I am returning to the gift economy. For appointments scheduled during the month of December  through the end of January 2016, I am offering deep tissue massage therapy sessions as my gift* to all current, former, and new clients.

Click here to schedule a deep tissue massage therapy session for yourself or a loved one.

*In a gift economy, goods and services are provided with no expectation of payment, or with payment being “forwarded” for another’s benefit. It is my preferred way to give back and to express my gratitude for the trust and faith you place in me.

These sessions are offered as a gift. You will not be expected or requested to provide payment. (FYI my normal fee for deep tissue massage therapy is based on a sliding scale up to $150/session.)

Massage therapy appointment availability is limited. Sessions are first-come first-served, so up and book your appointments now.

 

Using Movement as Therapy

Movement as therapyHow do you want to move when you’re 90? This is a question I ask myself every day.

Do you want to be capable of getting up and down from the floor with ease and without Pain? Can you do this now? If not, using movement as therapy may be what you need.

I want to run, jump, climb, crawl, balance, catch, throw, and most importantly play up till my last breath. I want to be able to move with ease. I want to be a fully functioning human mover well into advanced age.

Using Movement therapy

Movement as Therapy

The reality is that I cannot do some of these things on any given day today.

If you cannot perform these movement skills today, they won’t magically appear in 20, 30, or 40 years. Which means, if you want to move well into older age, you must learn and practice them now. You must use movement each and every day as therapy to restore the skills you have lost from not moving enough.

This is what I call Movement Therapy.

Hanging and Climbing


A MovNat fitness class Hanging and ClimbingEver wonder why we have playgrounds designed to promote healthy human movement for kids, but not for adults?

Kids don’t walk up to a playground and plan how many sets and reps of each exercise their going to do. They simply play and move. It is through this play that they develop great movement skills.

Children who explore and play using their natural skills become great movers. But then adulthood begins and we sit and we sit and we sit. We stop exploring. We stop playing. Instead of play we go inside a box, stair at the TV’s on the wall, and get on equipment that takes all the fun and joy out of being a human mover. That’s why we call it a “workout”, because it IS Work. And our movement abilities suffer. This is not a recipe for healthy lifelong movement ability.

Exercise should be fun. We need to build more playgrounds for adults.

Hanging and Climbing

Hanging and Climbing

This is a nice little movement video from a fellow MovNat coach. These are all movements that I practice and teach in personal training and coaching sessions.

MovNat Snapshots 12 – HangingMovNat Snapshots 12 – Hanging

Posted by MovnatMunich on Sunday, October 25, 2015

I love hanging and climbing work. Adding it into my daily practice has had a huge impact on my overall strength and movement abilities. Plus it’s fun!

Movement is Function

Be strong to be helpful. Movement is FunctionI believe that the skill of healthy natural movement enables us to be strong and helpful in the world. To be of service to others. This is a mindset that flips the current fitness culture on it’s head. Too many “fitness” programs revolve around vanity rather than function. If our fitness is primarily designed around selfies and looking fit and strong, chances are, it will lack depth and function. It is possible to have the outside look of being strong and fit, but beneath the surface lack competent function.

Looking good is great, but being strong to be helpful has more impact (and is more sustainable). Fitness in our culture has become too contained, too artificial–we want to be fit so that we can feel good in the gym environment. But the true fitness necessary in the real world doesn’t exist in a gym. If my neighbors or family need me to be there for safety or support, I want to be able and capable to really serve them. Pushing a car, getting someone to safety who has fallen on the trail, saving someone from a fire, running to catch a child who is in danger–these are the real moments that our fitness is truly tested.

Our current fitness culture focuses on conditioning–high intensity workouts to burn calories and promote weight loss, with very little focus on quality movement or skill. That approach may lead to a quick fix, but it will also most likely lead to injury that will sabotage the hard work you’ve done.

Movement is Function

Movement Therapy, on the other hand, focuses on a concept of movement restoration and exploration. We start with a movement assessment to see where your movement is limited; and then using MovNat principles, develop solid skill and form with a strong emphasis on quality. We move on to conditioning only once we’ve established solid skill and good form.

Are you ready to be more than an appearance of  just fit? And instead become strong to be helpful? It is time to train so that your movement is function. I can show you how.

A Lifetime of Movement

A older man performing a planche maintaining a lifetime of movementHow do you want to move when you’re 90? Do you want to be able to get up off the floor with ease? Pick up your grandkids? Have balance without the fear of falling? Can you do these things now?

All of these are skills of movement. If you don’t have these skillsets now, and you don’t develop them, you won’t magically have them later. One big secret of movement is that when you don’t use it, you’ll literally lose it.

A Lifetime of Movement

It’s important to explore the full potential of natural human movement throughout your entire lifetime so that you can move well and age well. This is especially true now in the age of sitting for long hours in front of our technological achievements.

Unfortunately, most people stop moving and lose their skills of movement as they get older. They become more cautious and conservative, and over time, their range of motion shrinks. This is not the way it is meant to be. Receiving support and feedback from a skilled Movement Therapist, personal trainer, or coach can make a world of difference.

You are a natural human mover. The time is now to reengage with what that means. Move like a human.

Restore Your Movement Function

3d rendered illustration - painful neck
3d rendered illustration – painful neck

 

Over the weekend, a client contacted me complaining of neck pain when moving her head in flexion and extension. I find the common tendency with these kinds of symptoms is to massage and stretch the neck specifically in the direction of the discomfort.
She wasn’t able to come in for a session for a few days. So I gave her some movement tips based upon what we’ve been working on already. Instead of focusing on the neck.

I had her work on bigger movements through the spine and hips, with an emphasis on rotation and lateral flexion.

Last night I received a text:
“You are a wise dude. The lateral movements are totally helping.”

Bring Back Movement Function

We move in three deminsions. Sometimes the deminsion of movement that feels tight, restricted, or painful is just a symptom for what isn’t working in another dimension. And the specific location of pain or discomfort is actually the area of the body that is working well. The problem is that it is compensating for a deminsion of movement elsewhere that isn’t moving well. The painful area is working so hard that it becomes cranky.

Using a deep squat to bring back movement function
Bring back the movement function elsewhere and the localized symptoms of pain improve. This is why a skilled Movement Therapist, personal trainer, or coach is so valuable.

Pain Free Movement

images-3 Freedom from Pain

Pain is often a manifestation of choice. Once we identify the “why you hurt”, we can begin to change the choices you are making around movement. It’s incredibly important to move well with good form. Receiving support and feedback from a skilled Movement Therapist, personal trainer, or coach can make a world of difference. The bottom line is, if you learn to move well, you’re going to experience less pain. If you move poorly (poor form), eventually, over 10, 20, 30 or more years, it is going to hurt to move.

erwanjumpClients often tell me that they’d like to be more fit or active, but previous injuries, painful workout experiences, or fear of pain and injury holds them back. If pain, is affecting how you move, it’s important to identify the root cause, and just as important… that you can keep moving. I assess my client’s movement to find the “why” they experience pain, and teach them how to restore the missing movement pieces to improve movement quality and bring back full pain-free function.

images-1

Pain Free Movement

Contrary to popular belief, It’s rarely the movements we do too much of that causes pain. In my experience, it is the movements we don’t do enough. During our sessions, I look at how you move and observe where your body isn’t moving well, and then together we use specific exercises to bring those movements back into your body. For example, if you can’t drop into a deep resting squat, an incredibly important human skill , we can break that movement down into its smallest fundamental progressions in order to rebuild and restore the skill of squatting. Once you’ve got the skill, we can continue to build on top of that and eventually add in elements strength and conditioning .

Are you feeling unsteady and fearful around movement? I begin with small safe movements and teach you how to open your body into fuller ranges of the human experience. I focus on movement quality, efficiency, competency, skill, and safety. I’m less concerned with whether you can do it, but more concerned that you can do it well.