Michael Sandler, who lives in Boulder, attempted to run despite what he was told but was in so much pain that he took off his shoes. He says it was the best thing he ever did. By feeling the ground with his feet and going only 100 yards, he began to run, heal and grow stronger. Despite 10 previous knee operations, a titanium femur and hip and missing knee parts, Sandler now regularly runs 10 -20 miles a day barefoot, pain free.
Sandler has co-written a guide to barefoot running with his wife Jessica Lee. Both went against conventional wisdom to become ardent barefoot runners and proponents of the practice. In their book Barefoot Running: How to Run Light and Free by Getting in Touch with the Earth they provide step-by-step tips and instruction.
Sandler says the more time he spent barefoot, the more he developed a connection with his body. He says it was an intellectual awakening that led him to start questioning many of the old paradigms he'd believed, including how the body deteriorates with age.
Sandler says it is his belief that joints don't need to ache if they're only used for what they are designed for, eyes can be strengthened and retrained, and brains, like muscles, don't have to shrink if only we work to keep them sharp.
He also has shifted away from marketing that well-cushioned motion control shoes are best for running about. He says the human body is capable of adapting to injuries and healing itself.
He also touts the spiritual benefits of barefoot running, which he equates to the sensation one gets from practicing yoga.
"I feel more grounded, more centered, quieter of mind, calmer in general, and that I'm more connected, or coming more from the heart. It's as if I've plugged back in to source, or love," Sandler said.
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(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)