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If you run, walk, hike, or use your feet, then this episode is for you! I interview CEO of Xero Shoes, Steven Sashen, about the importance of freeing our feet from the “foot coffins” we often wear. In the interview, Steven shares how he got into the minimalist approach, how he started Xero Shoes, and the benefits it offers. Plus we went down into a rabbit hole about philosophy, which is always a blast. So get ready to laugh, have your mind blown, and learn! Oh yeah, I have an affiliate link so you can get your own Xero Shoes, check it out here: https://xeroshoes.com/go/Jonesinfor
Steven Sashen was a sprinter in high school but didn’t run much for over 30 years. When he did run, he had noticed that he was getting injured while he was running. One of his friends suggested to try a barefoot run, and so he did. At the end of the run, he realized he did a little over a 5K, when normally the farthest he would go is 1 mile. He did get a blister on one of his left foot but the other one was completely fine. Instead of throwing in the towel because he got a blister he thought, what was I doing correctly on his right leg to prevent an injury. The beginning of his left (injured) foot was in agony. However it instantly changed from excruciating to fun when he made a subtle but significant change. When he made this change, he felt lighter, happier, and running became fun. He found out that as a sprinter he was overstriding, which is essentially putting on the brakes with every stride he took. He adjusted his stride and started to use his body the way it was meant to function. And that change made all of the difference! Since then his speed has increased and is now a Masters All American Sprinter!
This experience was so profound to Steven he wanted to take on the barefoot lifestyle. However, many places don’t look kindly on folks if they don’t wear shoes. Steven heard about people who run in sandals pain free for hundred of miles for many years. So what did he do? Well, he made his own pair of sandals and people loved them. He launched a website to advertise his shoes and has been able to help about a half a million people rediscover the joys of running and walking pain free.
A study by one doctor in Africa shows that most runners run barefoot. In an experiment he ran, a runner ran with perfect form when he was running without shoes on, but when they put a “running shoe” on him his form went out the window. He began over-striding and heal striking, which can cause many different injuries. If you are struggling with your running form, Steven believes it would be helpful to get a coach. Why? Because it can be hard for people to see where their problems are coming from and a coach can help point out what is going on. However, if you rather be your own coach, remember that doing things right feels good, doing things wrong doesn’t feel good. Try finding a smooth hard surface and go for a short run, even just twenty seconds. The next day see how you feel, if something hurts try something else once you feel better. Once you are able to run twenty seconds and it feels good, start increasing your time. It will probably feel awkward at first, but that is a good sign. That means that your brain is learning a new way to move. There is a study that shows if you walk in a pair of shoes like Xero Shoes, your foot builds strength as if you’ve done a foot strengthening program. Whether you have flat feet or a high arch, strength and flexibility are what’s important. Using your body naturally is usually better than any other intervention. Not using your feet properly can lead to major balance problems, which in elderly people can lead to injury and possibly death. If you allow your feet to move naturally, you are more likely to have proper balance and not injure yourself.
You might have heard that you need some transitional shoes before going to a completely minimalist shoe like Xero Shoes. Steven says that is not the case. The best way to transition is to wear minimalist shoes only, but make your first runs shorter, and gradually increase the length when you find the proper way to run without pain. Like any other muscle, your feet need to be trained and build up the strength.
If you are addicted to the standard sports shoe, think about what it was like to run when you were a kid and you could run around carefree without pain. You can have that again. Realize that what you’ve been led to believe about you sports shoes might not necessarily be true. The more natural your movement the better and happier your body will be.
To come up with the different designs for his shoes, Steven takes recommendations from people and works with his design team while waiting for ideas to come to him as well. He also thinks about and looks at the way people move, and try to figure out ways to allow them to continue to do that naturally.
What about finding the right fit for you? Steven shares that foot shapes exist on a bell curve, and there are many combinations for how a foot can look. Unfortunately there is no way to make a shoe that works for everybody, but with a lot of Steven’s shoes you can customize them to get them to fit your foot thanks to his unique lacing system.
As I mentioned earlier, Steven and I went into a fun philosophical rabbit hole. We chatted about how we don’t really know how we are going to end a sentence, how thoughts come into our head, and how we struggle to do simple movements at times! Hard to write about but worth a listen for sure!
If you want to learn more about Steven and Xero Shoes you can go to his website through my affiliate link here: https://xeroshoes.com/go/Jonesinfor (Note that it is an affiliate link so I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase. Thank you for your support of both Xero shoes and me! You ROCK!)
You can also follow Xero Shoes on social media @xeroshoes. I would love to hear what you think about Free Your Feet! Please send me a message on social media at @Jonesinfor or email me at [email protected] Thanks!