I have been working on my body for about two years now. Not in an effort to lose weight, get toned or look better, but in a huge effort to move better, be naturally stronger and with the end goal of maintaining my health and mobility well into my old age. It is no secret that I am a massive fan of Katy Bowman’s work. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Katy should be a little afraid given that Wilson and I will hopefully be going to the States to certify as Restorative Exercise Specialists next year. We are Katy’s two biggest stalkers. BUT having said that, I don’t swallow everything that comes off the internet or from a podcast (or even from the mouth of the guru, Katy, herself) without giving it a bit of thought.
So I’ve been sat on this one for a while – if wet foot skin is supposed to wrinkle to provide bettter traction on wet ground (much like a tyre), why then does it take a while to happen, make my skin really soft and, presumably, less durable, and, when i get out of the bath, do I go arse over tit (Yorkshireism for falling over spectacularly, often with a backflip involved), sliding all over the bloody place? I haven’t voiced these questions before because, well, frankly, I’m pretty sure anyone I asked would’ve thought I was a little deranged, so I just let it percolate in the back of my brain, as things do, and it wasn’t until last night when I had my epiphany .
I’ve only just moved house and I now have a bath. Up until then I was living in a flat with no bath for two years. I have been working on my feet for about two years, no heels, minimal shoes, barefoot on the beach, in puddles, in the sea, on different terrain, rocks etc. I have been mobilising, massaging, spreading and generally trying to bring my poor dead feet back to life after a lifetime in shit shoes. I had noticed some improvement. My toes now point in the direction they’re supposed to (more or less), I have less pain in my right big toe which has hallux limitus (basically it doesn’t move very well), I no longer get cold frozen feet for no reason, and I no longer get cramp either.
I got in the bath last night and after about ten minutes or so I noticed my feet tingling. I thought a bit of a massage might be in order as they were pretty tired and I had DOMS in them too, which is really cool…. tangent – DOMS stands for delayed onset muscle soreness. When you go to the gym and work a set of muscles really hard about 8-48 hours later your muscles feel stiff and sore (most people like the feeling as they know they’ve worked hard)… so what’s cool is that my feet now get DOMS after being out and about without being covered up. I like it because it means the muscles in my feet are working hard, which means they’re getting stronger, which in turn will hopefully lead to better movement and alignment up my legs.
Right, so I’m bathing, I’m tingling, back to the story – I pick up a foot to massage it and nearly splash most of the water out of the bath in excitement, then try to drop my iPad in the bath desperate to get a picture. My feet were wrinkly – and when I say wrinkly I mean WRINKLY McWRINKLYFACE. I dashed downstairs, piss wet through (Yorkshireism for being very damp), to share this miracle with BBE, who when confronted with a very wet and very naked girlfriend had to try very hard to focus on what I was saying.
Why the excitement – so your feet got wrinkly, so what?” Well, you’ll be able to see from the picture, my feet are WAAAAAY more wrinkly than my fingers after being in the water the same amount of time. My finger skin is a bit wrinkly, but it’s soft. My feet wrinkles were HARD, very hard, in fact they felt and looked like a Pirelli. I of course needed to test the whole ‘better traction in wet weather’ theory – it had just rained, brilliant, off outside I go into the garden (yep, still naked, still wet), and I stick to everything. I come back in and I’m sticking to the wooden floor and tiles too, no more slippy-slidey. I am beside myself with excitement, and BBE is now more than a little amused. And then, even more miraculously I look at my feet and the wrinkles are going after only five or six minutes of being dry (finger skin, still pathetic). FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK. Prior to this it would take a while in the bath for my feet and hands to reach maximum wrinkliness, the skin would be soft and pathetic, and it would take quite a while for the wrinkles to go after getting out of the bath. In fact, the skin was that soft that when I used to do ultra marathon running I had to be very careful that my foot skin didn’t slough off when running with wet feet for extended periods. Basically my skin might have wrinkled appropriately in the wet, but it was about as much good to me as a chocolate fireguard.
So, there’s this big difference between my foot and finger wrinkles. Here’s my theory… I have been working on my feet for two years and without really knowing it I’ve also been working on my foot skin. It’s been getting natural loads of outdoor movement on natural terrain (mainly the beach, but some trail, grass etc.) and it has quite obviously (as the bath experiment shows) changed massively. On the other hand, I haven’t been working on my hands at all really, I stretch them and I use them to grip, hold and carry, but I haven’t really used them in a natural setting, like scrambling over rocks, hanging from trees etc. where the skin would have to adapt to that environment. Where previously my hand and foot skin were the same, the ENORMOUS difference between them now can only be down to the amount of effort I’ve put in over the last couple of years.
This is a really big breakthrough for me. I’ve been working hard on improving my health and increasing my natural movement, but the rewards are often slow to come and quite small (or even unnoticeable) when they arrive*. It’s hard to be ‘out there’ with your thoughts and opinions, the only one without any sitting furniture probably on the whole Fylde Coast, the one who gets the funny looks when I don’t wear shoes, and the one who has to smile and accept the resulting piss taking with good grace. I know that for most people this post will be utterly uninspiring, but for me, the difference this has made is humbling and life-changing. I had already made a lot lifestyle changes (most of which are included in this blog), but I did have doubts and a little voice in my head saying that sitting on that comfy sofa for an hour won’t kill you and not doing that five mile walk today will be fine etc. Now that I’m starting to see results in the form of ADAPTATION, I am IN! Bring it on. I now have proof that bodies can adapt back to what they’re supposed to be like instead of how our culture has moulded them.
*A note on my comment about slow, small and unnoticeable. I actually think that I’ve probably adapted/changed more than I think, it’s just that slow to happen it is the slowness that makes it unnoticeable. I could probably pay a lot more attention as well which might help. I am also not looking for a quick fix. I know that just like a quick fix diet, or exercise programme, that the results although sometimes very impressive and very quick are often fleeting, the body reverting back to the status quo extremely fast. Adaptation is going to take time, A LOT of time, but I for one think it’s worth it.