Our children don’t spend enough time outdoors these days - FACT!
If I had to define Bogs this might be what I'd say -
Bogs : foot friendly facilitators of exploration and enjoyment of the great outdoors.
Let me share my own checklist of aspirations for my kids -
- Be happy & fulfilled!
In my opinion in order to do this as humans a massive part is the need to move, play, stimulate our senses, get dirty, take risks, be outside, active, seeking adventure and contact with nature - daily experiences that make memories and influence the blue print of the big person that lovely little person will become!
This is best served barefoot.
We love shoeless antics........
Sometimes the dog manages to stay cleaner than the children!
Especially in the safety of our own garden or spaces where we can take some control on the risks to our precious little ones (though in reality they quickly learn this themselves).
When asked, my children prefer to be barefoot outside 'because it feels better'.
What about when we go beyond these boundaries?
What about when the terrain just doesn't allow for shoelessness? (my invented word - patent pending!).
What about the terrible weather? Skin becomes soft more susceptible to damage when it's wet. Trust me I run barefoot - I know!
WE DON'T NEED ANY EXTRA BARRIERS TO GETTING OUTSIDE!
Fellow humans and barefooters.....I think we're going to need to use some common sense!
Interestingly, as I wrote this, I had a look at our friend Nic’s blog - Nip It In The Bud - and saw a perfect quote from Luther Burbank. So thanks goes to her for this quote :
Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb. Brooks to wade, water lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hayfields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets; and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of education.
― Luther Burbank (1849-1926, American botanist, horticulturist and pioneer in agricultural science)
Seems like we share his sentiment.
So what are we to do?
The problem: we live in a country (UK) were the weather is rubbish to say the least. A lack of healthy footwear need not be a barrier to living Luther Burbank's (my own and hopefully your) vision.
A snippet of our life......
We’ve got a dog - Nutmeg - (you may have seen her on my Instagram feed). She’s walked lots. Dog walking. It’s a great excuse for an adventure. We let the kids pick their choice from the Fairy Forest (name so because the Fairies drop sweets there!), the Zebra Forest (because my son was obsessed with zebras as a toddler and we once went on a hunt for them there) and the Gruffalo Forest (we saw a mouse in the grass there once and the trees kind of reminded us of the book).
Sounds great? I’m not going to paint a picture blissful family expeditions. They never agree on location. Generally at least one of them is moaning about something. The truth is, it’s not easy to get them out of the door as all three go in separate directions as I shout and scream to brush your teeth, find your coat etc......yes you know the score.....but when we do finally get out - it's great. It's free. It's fun. I think the kids agree too.
So what about the Footwear.....
One thing that is never a problem is footwear. We all LOVE our Bogs.
Is it the handles that make them easy to carry to the front door?
Or the cool colours and design?
Or that Bogs are designed with comfort and the foot in mind?
You see options for boots for those seeking affordable foot friendly outdoor exploration vehicles for feet are limited. That’s if you don’t want them to fall to bits. Or your child likes cold feet.
In my years of running barefoot, I understand contact and ground feel. And how different attributes of a shoe/boot effect form and biomechanics. I get it. I fixed my running this way!
In general, for barefoot friendly shoes - less is more.
What about when we take to the trail?
What about vigorous muddy puddle jumping?
Serious stream scrabbling and tree climbing?
Feet need some protection. That's why our ancestors first made shoes.....lets call it common sense.
We prefer to be barefoot - so why do we love Bogs so much?
We love Bogs because.....
1. They have a wide toe box - wriggle room for toes is critical for me. So much happens, especially when running and jumping in the front portion of the foot that there needs to be room for the toes to splay, for balance, grip and dissipate impact forces after a mighty puddle jump! I want to maintain my children's healthy toe alignment (and mine too).
2. They are incredibly flexible - both the sole and upper - contain natural hand lasted rubber and not a bit of PVC (the reason for the rigidity and hard thud of cheaper, inferior wellies). The kids range is especially flexible - this is also a key fact. This allows the foot to feel the ground beneath it. What about tree climbing? Got it covered.
There is one slight negative we need to address here since we're talking soles - and this is the reason some people within barefoot circles cannot approve Bogs - it's Heel Raise. As with almost everything in life - even with Bogs - there is a compromise. We can't have all this greatness without one draw back. Except for the Baby Bogs (which are zero drop). They all have some degree of heel raise. Around 4mm for the children's range and a little more for the adults. I can accept this though as these are not all-day everyday shoes. And beside this they are so much better than anything else out there.
3. They keep feet warm and dry - with their NeoTech four-way stretch inner bootie provides insulation and comfort. And the Bogs Max-Wick technology keeps sweat away from the foot and keeps them dry.
4. They are so well made and ooze quality - Bogs are a pure rubber boot. There's no rigid PVC here! This provides quality, flexibility and longevity. In all cases my children have outgrown their Bogs and never destroyed them....and trust me - they push them hard.
My own Bogs (Ultra High) are now 4 years old and have been used daily to walk the dog almost twice daily (I go for sandals or barefoot in the summer and some days she comes on a run with me instead). I've also worn them exclusively in building an extension on the house, a dormer in the roof and all of our gardening work. They been submerged in concrete many times now and simply rinse off with the hose pipe (assuming you don't let it dry!).
5. They look cool - yes Bogs primary objective is comfort, but they also know great design and style. Seriously - just check them out!
So hopefully I've shown you that Bogs are so much more than a wellie!
And that's why we love them!
Until the next time.....cheerio.
I was going to try come up with some witty title (this one almost sounds like a dodgy dance. I've just read the Kitchen Disco to children #1 & #2 and I think that might have something to do with it).
I failed (at the title not the reading!).
The bottom line is - there is no place for tapering toe boxes in barefoot shoes for kids nor adults!
Have you ever noticed the shape of your child's foot?
Children naturally possess a forefoot that is wider than the rest of the foot - i.e. the widest part of the foot is at the tips of the toes. There is space between the toes of the child's barefoot.
#crazythirdchild's beautiful little feet with compulsory 2 year old chipped nail varnish (safe to say Dad does not approve!)
Your child's feet have potential.
Your feet have potential!
Spread or splayed toes offer natural grasping and balancing functions that are significantly inhibited when we choose to push our feet into unnaturally shaped shoes.
Almost all modern shoes have a tapered toe box meaning the shoe is not widest at the toes. In fact far from it.
The fact that all shoes look like this means we don't question it.....well some of us do!
Using my Barefoot Bandit #3 #crazythirdchild, I've demonstrated the potential ill-effects of a tapered toe box on the wonder of nature's engineering - the human foot.
Quick, easy and obvious. I've even chopped up some shoes to show you!
Check it out - a fairly 'normal looking shoe' -
Even rolls up. It's still no good - let me show you.
I measured #crazythirdchild prior to this as a UK7 E. So a narrow foot - giving the shoe it's best chance (I'm generous like that).
I first opened up the top but left the 'up stand' of the sole in place. That way we can see just how the toes are being effected....or should I say squished!
The big toe has changed direction. It's now pointing toward the other toes Gone is the space between the toes. The toes are now in an unnatural alignment.
Why is this important?
Children's feet are not miniature versions of adult feet! Babies are born with fewer bones. At birth there are 22 bones in fact (rather 26 as an adult). By school age, this number will increase to 45.
There is significantly more cartilage in children's feet, this cartilage acts as a precursor to the process bone forming process (ossification).
...but I don't hear them complaining
Cartilage is more malleable than bone! So jamming a child's foot into an non-foot-shaped shoe will not cause the same discomfort as it would in your or my foot.
Right, back to the butchery
Next I removed the 'up stand' this then left the shape of the sole below but freed #crazythirdchild's toes! And guess what?.....
With toes free, they naturally splay outside of the sole beneath! (Remember with an E width measurement this foot is narrower...or at least has less girth..... than the majority of children's feet).
Therefore to preserve the natural form of the foot we must avoid tapered toes boxes!
We need foot-shaped shoes
These open sandals shoe the benefit of a wider forefoot in the shoe, giving the feet space to align naturally
The toes are critical for our sense of balance - especially the big toe which I have discussed here. When our toes are not properly aligned our legs and upper bodies compensate for this.
Trust me, I was a busted runner for years.
I spent thousands on shoes, orthotics and physio.
You know what fixed me?
And I mean like instantly?
I ditched the shoes!
So what does the future hold when you do the toe box taper?
Well, (I know this is a bit mean but it's for the good of our children damn it!) on a sunny day take a look an old person's feet....you know when we all think, 'Let's wear our sandals'.
Wearers of ill-fitting shoes, such as shoes with tapered toe boxes can bag themselves a good chance of -
Bunions, Hammer toes, Calluses, Corns, Athlete's Foot and all sorts of foot and lower-limb pain.
I only select shoes that have a natural foot shape. I also offer support and advice to help achieve a good fit depending on the shape and width of your child's feet.
I'm here, willing and able to help should you not wish to do the Toe Box Taper.
The more parents I talk to, the more I see how much 'myth' surrounds children shoes. Parents fear getting it wrong, yet unknowingly by selecting mainstream shoes the damage is inevitable.
Camping. It's June. Summer? I wouldn't call it that. Well I didn't on Saturday when the rain came down. Rain? No that wasn't normal rain. Perhaps it was special Derbyshire rain (we were near Buxton after all) but our old trailer tent leaked. Not just a bit but lots. Not just in the awning either - we could have managed with that - nope right down the middle of the sleeping compartment, the poor dog would have been soaked. Nobody would have slept. Luckily it was still the afternoon.
When it comes to feet I believe we can get it right from the start.
I’m an advocate of common sense so I sometimes end up doing things differently. This is why my children have never set foot in a high street shoe shop nor had their feet ‘formally’ measured.
I instead opted to buy my children foot-shaped shoes. It just seemed like common sense. Though what seemed like throwing caution to the wind and trusting my common sense for my first child took some courage.
Ladies and Gentlemen………
Some of you may have notice a cute little fur ball in the background of some of my latest posts on FaceBook (in fact someone did comment!). We have a new addition to our team – (Princess) Nutmeg, our crazy labradoodle.
......(and what this has to do with your child's feet?)
Give it a try.......no one's looking.
If everything is working properly, this should be easy because your brain can sense your body, as well as its position and movement through space. This is called Proprioception, sometimes also referred to as our Sixth Sense(!).
The Sixth Sense (no not the movie!)
With Team Bear-Foot!
This article come from a series of informal discussions with various friends and customers on natural foot development. As children's feet grow little consideration appears to be given by the mainstream shoe manufacturers to natural foot development. I wonder, have these shoes designers actually looked at children feet? As such, I felt compelled and inspired to write this article.
In the last article we looked at how my children's feet interacted with shoes having different sole shapes (by drawing around the shoes). In this article we'll follow up to look at my children's feet (Team Bear-Foot) and show what it is about their feet that give rise to anatomically specific requirements for children's shoe design.
Let's meet the feet......
If we look at Chewey's first (left). We see a normal 2 year old's foot. The arch not yet fully formed, the feet look flat, there is plenty of fat around the foot to give the shock absorbency that the developed arch will eventually provide. Look at the overall shape of the foot. It's triangular. It does not curve or taper at the big toe. At this point in it's development we expect there to be 22 bones in each foot interconnected with cartilage. It is susceptible to external influences (i.e. shoes).
Now look at Popsy's foot (right). We see a 4 year old foot. A more developed arch and a distinct reduction of fat in the foot (in part due to the arch development). We can also see a triangular foot shape and observe a gap between the big toe and the second toe - the result of the natural tendency of the feet to splay when unhindered by poor shoe design. At this stage in the foot's development we expect there to be up to 45 bones per foot. In the space of 2 years that's a big change.
I've highlighted these points on the same images below indicating the natural (triangular) shape of the foot and the widest point of my children's feet with a pink arrow.
Image above shows the triangle shape of children's feet, and the pink arrow indicates the widest part of the foot.
The foot is widest at the Big Toe - so what's the big deal?
From the Society for Chiropodists and Podiatrists -
'The function of the toes, especially the big toe, is to help us balance, and to propel us forward during walking or running. The 14 bones of the toes are among the smallest in the body, and, not surprisingly, things can and often do go wrong. Some problems begin in childhood and may go unnoticed. Others begin later on in life, perhaps as the result of injury or the added pressure of incorrect footwear.'
'The big toe is the final sequence in a box of tricks that nature provides for us through our feet.'
(Mr Kartik Hariharan is one of the country’s leading foot and ankle surgeons).
The big toe is essential for balance and for our forward movement. And remember, by forward motion, we are talking interaction in the proper [kinetic] function of ankles, knees, hips and lower back (and beyond)......So for our children the big toe and it's natural development is a BIG DEAL.
So why is provision for this vital part of the foot so little considered in most mainstream shoe designs?
The answer: We don't know! That's why we started Bear-Foot.
Let's look at some mainstream shoe soles and some of our soles and see which fit the feet above best. I've marked the widest point of the shoe with an arrow.
It is seen in the photos above that the toe box is already tapering against the big toe much before the end of the shoe.
In our previous blog post, we demonstrated that our shoes have a wide toe box giving toes the wriggle room that they need.
If you liked this article then please share. And keep your eyes out for future blog posts tracking the adventures of Team Bear-Foot!
For now, take care.
When it's on their foot!!!!!!
You can't see inside them, all you have is a thumb/finger to prod about with, and perhaps some feedback (depending on age and speech). So how to chose the right shoe and know what's truly happening to their foot?
In this post along with the help of Team Bear-Foot we'd like to show you what goes on when the foot is inside various shoes, to highlight why fact #1 in our Foot Health info is so important (that's why it's #1!).
So what is fact #1?
- CHILDREN'S FEET ARE NOT MINIATURE VERSIONS OF ADULT FEET -
Test #1 - Popsy
Popsy then put her foot over the outlined shoes (in the same place). So left to right;
1. Flamencos - we can see rather extreme interference with the big toe, the little toe and the arch of the foot.
2. Converse All-Stars - less interference, mainly around the tip of the big toe.
3. Livie & Luca 'Millie' - no interference, a wide toe box = wriggle room!
Test #1 - Chewey
We did the same with Chewey, though his thug-like approach meant the paper got a bit twisted and we had about 20 takes to complete the job!
Looking at Chewey's feet - his are wide (and sweaty!).
1. Standard Gap shoes - there is barely enough room for his foot yet he can get these on and no doubt a lot of people (unknowingly) would do the same. His big toe, little toe and the width of the foot would be compressed if pushed into this shoe.
2. Converse All-Stars - they are tight and there is interference with the big toe.
3. Livie & Luca 'turf' sole - there is plenty of room for his wide feet, lateral and longitudinal wriggle room. The space also allows the feet to breath.
For the geeks - a bit of science!
Babies are born with fewer bones. At birth there are 22 bones in fact (rather 26 as an adult). By school age, this number will increase to 45. It is a concerning fact that many children suffer foot problems by their early teens, often associated with ill-fitting shoes.
Since so much of the foot is cartilage, they are malleable and impressionable. The foot is subject to external influences – one of those influences is the shoe itself. Naturally developed feet should be widest at the tip of the big toe (just like our logo....or my children's feet).......toes need wriggle room!
So, there you go. I hope that demonstrates the importance of what it we're trying to achieve with Bear-Foot. Look at the shoes - they look cool, but see above, they'll also allow your children's feet to develop naturally, without interference and restriction.
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Thanks for reading.
-Phil (Store owner, barefoot runner, Dad)
This is the first blog article since we launched the website.
In our blog entries you can expect info, news and real-life reviews of our products using our own children as testers.
Team Bear-Foot: On our testing panel we have a 4 year old princess (Popsy) into all things pink and princessy (it's a new word!), and a two year old thug, he will be called Chewey. Popsy, has narrow feet and helps me gauge whether the shoes are sufficiently pink! Chewey, has wide sweaty feet! Amongst other things, he helps me gauge whether the robustness of the shoes via the scooter braking test (a complex test that will be reviewed in a future post).
-Phil (Store owner, barefoot runner, Dad)