Heels, Toes



I’m just enjoying the shit out of the variety of different motifs in this afghan. But I started in the middle of the pattern and after doing one of the next ones, I realize that the pattern writer had helpfully designed the motifs to teach you some skills and then become more complex, so I am going back to the beginning with the mostly black hexagons.

I have noticed an interesting thing I don’t know how to explain. A while ago I saw this video where a dude demonstrated how medieval white people walked before the wide-spread adoption of hard-soled shoes.  So, rather than putting your heel down first and then rolling forward onto your toes, they put the ball of their foot down first and then the heel. It’s kind of how you walk when you’re stumbling through the house in the dark, trying not to step on a Lego. Feel with your toe, find no Lego, put your whole foot down.

It’s a weird gate, but sometimes I try it out. And here’s a thing that blows my mind and I can’t explain it and I wish I understood it: If I’m walking the dog through mud and I walk normally, I sink into the mud. If I walk ball first, I don’t.

But it makes no sense! I weigh the same. It’s the same feet on the same body. All week, except for the day it was just too muddy to walk and we did the driveway, I’ve been testing it, because it makes no goddamn sense. And every time, same thing. Heel first, sink down. Toe first, no sinking. How is this possible?!

Witchcraft, I assume. Or physics, but really, aren’t they the same thing?


5 thoughts on “Heels, Toes

  1. I’ve always heard this referred to as an “Indian walk”, and it’s how I’ve spent a good chunk of my life walking. How well it works depends on a combination of what you’re walking over, what your footwear is like, and what your feet and ankles are trained to do.

    When I go hiking, if I wear what “shoe experts” have always told me to wear — hiking boots with stiff ankle protection — I get blisters and aching legs and can’t move very fast for very long or cover much ground in a day, and so on. So I try to wear the most flexible, barely-there slippers I can find. And then my feet and legs don’t hurt the next day and I can cover a lot more ground.

    But I’m not sure that’s right for everyone, because how I walk in the woods is pretty weird to most Americans — I don’t move fast because I’m feeling the ground under my feet with every step. Sometimes I’m barely creeping along. I dramatically change how my entire body moves for a steep incline or steep decline. But over the course of hours, I generally outpace bigger, stronger, faster people and feel rested at the end of it, when they flop down by the trail for a break.

    I’ve noticed thru-hikers talking about the importance of swinging along keeping your stride length and speed constant in order to cover enough ground. Too me that sounds like a terrible idea, at least for me. I cover more ground by steps that constantly change in adaptation to what is under my feet.

  2. My son walks mostly on the balls of his feet and barely uses his heel. It was pretty upsetting to his pediatrician. He had to wear two casts and a special night time boot to stretch his short achilles tendon because of it. Of course three months after he quit he was back to the same gait. For some reason it was alarming when he was six but fine now that he’s ten.

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