Sunday, April 26, 2009

Viva Barfuss, Vivo Barefoot

At Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire (UK) there is a 1km ‘barfuss’ trail or walking trail for barefooters. The terrain offers a diverse range of surfaces from bark to gravel, pebbles to grass and has been designed to stimulate the soles of the feet. The concept of the barfuss trail was developed in the mid-1800s by a Bavarian priest, Sebastian Kneipp, who urged his parishioners to wade through water and walk barefoot on wet grass as a health-promoting, life-enhancing activity. He believed this boosted the cardiovascular system, regulated blood pressure and strengthened immunity. A recent study found the impact forces on the knees were 12 per cent lower in barefoot walking than when wearing thick-soled walking shoes. The researchers attributed this to greater sensory feedback in barefoot walking which allows the body to activate its protective mechanisms to attenuate shock. The “Vivo Barefoot” is a shoe produced by Galahad Clarke (part of the Clarkes Shoes family) and from above appear conventional footwear but when flipped over reveal a thin, puncture-resistant sole with no heel, no midsole, no arch support. The prototype shoes was developed by a friend, Tim Brennan and produced through, Terra Plana. The first Vivo Barefoot was unveiled in 2003 and had a zip-off sole. The product has proved so popular the company intend to expand into the children and sport’s maket.

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