Mind, Body and Soul – Tai Chi with Sam Moor

THERE’S nothing quite like the feeling when after a long journey to some tropical destination, you joyously remove your shoes and take a stroll barefooted along the beach with the cool sea lapping languidly at your toes.

Perhaps you notice the occasional discrepancies of small pebbles or shells that inform your gait.

It all adds up to paint the pleasant picture of that prime holiday experience: walking barefooted along the beach.

My indignation at having to wear shoes began at an early age. Mum insisted I wore a pair of ill-fitting, shiny and big-buckled Clarks sandals to school every day.

When I ran in the playground they made a loud, embarrassing slip-slap kind of sound.

Anyway, my first rebellion against shoes then was during school PE lessons.

Not being particularly good at sports I was, however, a very fast runner.

When I was 11 years old, my PB for the 100m sprint was 11.2 seconds.

I discovered running barefooted made it astonishingly easier to run well and much faster than anyone else.

My teachers, of course, frowned upon it and insisted wearing cumbersome trainers would support and protect the feet, allowing one to run better.

Other adults viewed it as being simply too dangerous.

The evidence of my success however could not be disputed and sometimes I would race the adults and beat them to prove my point.

Nonetheless we argued about it each and every week until I left primary school.

These days my feelings are the same and I’m happy to say there is a huge body of excellent research that suggests the restricted natural foot movement that almost all modern footwear tends to inflict upon us inhibits healthy movement throughout the whole body structure, compromising all bodily functions and movement generally.

Those of you who know me are aware of my favoured funny-looking footwear.

I am happy to admit I can’t be barefooted all the time, but there is a close second: Vibram Five Fingers.

These wonderful things are like gloves for your feet. I warn you now they offer no arch support, are quite expensive and look mighty queer.

However, over the few years I have been wearing mine, my feet have become like sprung steel.

I would never go back to wearing normal shoes all the time.