Thursday, March 24, 2011

Feet and Vascularity

After I started wearing minimalist shoes, I started reading everything I could find about barefooting.  One of the more interesting accounts came from Samuel B. Shulman (yes, he would be known today as a podiatrist):

"...All of them, however, gave a history of much pain and swelling of the foot and ankle during the first few days of work as a rickshaw puller. But after either a rest of two days or a week's more work on their feet, the pain and swelling passed away and never returned again."
After I climbed The Owl and then Mt. Katahdin, I sat in my family room and my wife said, "Oh my goodness, look at your feet!"  Actually, it was mostly my ankles.  They'd swollen up to quite a bit larger than their normal size.  Her next question: "Don't they hurt?"  Well, actually, no, they didn't hurt.  Although they were alarmingly large.  Having already read Dr. Shulman's account above, I was fairly blase about the swelling, especially since there was no pain at all.  I wouldn't even have noticed, if my wife hadn't pointed it out to me.  And yes, it never occurred again.

Some time after, she noticed that my feet had gotten much more vascular.  This makes sense.  The swelling was likely the result of lymph filling the tissues in my feet, and my body responded by growing new blood vessels, and enlarging existing vessels, in my feet.

Today, I pulled my ski boots off after a day of hard skiing, and saw this:

Yikes.
As you can see, my feet are very vascular.  I didn't capture it in this picture, but my lower legs were also similarly vascular.

I'll do a post at some point about my experimenting with barefoot-style skiing, but it's been largely successful, and I've found some boots that allow my feet to function pretty well.  A side effect of this is that I no longer have cold feet while skiing, regardless of the temperature.

Now, if you have a condition like diabetes that adversely impacts the circulation in your feet, a program like Dr. Bernstein's and some minimalist shoes could allow you to radically improve the circulation in your feet.

Plus, you'll never have cold feet again.  After getting back from skiing, I went out to dinner, in sub-freezing temps, in my flip-flops.  As did my daughter.  We both had toasty feet.