All posts for the month October, 2012

When I hear, “Further research is needed” before barefoot running can be endorsed by the scientific, medical, health and fitness communities, my faith in the objective interpretation of available evidence flags again. Where has this protective caution been for the last fifty years with regard to the sales and use of modern running shoes? These willy-nilly, over the counter orthotic devices that materially alter natural gait are somehow accepted as normal, and even defended by these same “conservatives” while the self-evident, bare-footed facility human beings have developed and enjoyed over millions of years is offhandedly dismissed, or ignored. Even as current scientific evidence points to inherent problems with running shoes, and even with touted advances in shoe design, treatment and training protocols it’s a fact that recreational and competitive runners are still going to be injured, in epidemic proportions, in any given year, just by running. Still, few are willing to entertain the glaringly obvious reality that running shoes themselves could very well be the sole injurious agent.


Perhaps it’s human nature.

For starters, the renowned family therapist Salvador Minuchin once commented, “In response to new knowledge, there is always the question of how to maintain oneself doing the things one was trained in.”

Of course, some people are fascinated by bling. Flashy, shiny things. Visible technology and slick marketing. It’s similar to computer manufacturers learning that just placing a couple of LEDs on the front side of their boxes boosts sales. Or fishermen realizing that tuna would snap up anything— like a bare hook— thrown into their feeding frenzy.

Others think bare feet are indicative of primitive, unsophisticated societies, rather than being a characteristic of healthy, able bodies, and peoples. By uncovering the weak, disfigured feet of the habitually shod and comparing them with the strong, supple feet of those who have never worn shoes the ideas of basic cultural health and intelligence beg for reconsideration.

And then there’s the influence of industry. It sure seems that if there’s a dollar to be made, solutions will be created even for problems that don’t exist. As per Mark Twain, “Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.”

Barefoot— no further research is needed.

So after tolerating a slow draining shower for far too long, I got motivated. This Saturday morning’s enthusiasm was probably spurred by last week’s visit to Virginia where remarkably analogous family matters have proved profoundly vexing. The water’s rising and no one seems to mind.

I could call a professional plumber, and keep my hands clean. But really they’ll only snake the drain, recommend adding a shower floor filter screen, and wait for the same call next year. (To be fair, they’ll also show up late, and send a bill right away.) Ultimately, this is a DIY project.

It’s Not Rocket Science

I pulled off the drain cover, poured some baking powder down the pipe, and followed that with apple cider vinegar. The ensuing bubbling reactions began dissolving the hair, soap, and body oils that together have tirelessly conspired to narrow and close the passage of water, shower by shower, day by day. Fifteen minutes later, using a thin stick, I poked at the visible debris adhering to the inside of the drain pipe. This remaining caked-on gunk fell away from the walls of the pipe, offering a deeper, wider egress. I used the flexibility of a cheap drain snake to quickly separate and push the still disintegrating mass of muck past the pipe’s elbow. Quick and easy, the drain is flowing freely.

The Bigger Picture

Life experience can provide the confidence to successfully tackle household problems. This, in part, because such issues can be grasped from “out there.” Objectively. Without prejudice, nor preference. When the water backs up, clean the pipe. Done.

But, when sorting out the convoluted dynamics of a family system, especially when the trouble-shooter is working from within the system, eliminating the self-reinforcing congestion of habit can be tricky. It’s like the clumps of hair and calcified sediments within the drain pipe— tenaciously clinging to each other and the pipe through the ever strengthening bonds of day to day routine— are charged with excising themselves. Because the clog may not want to remove itself, just lifting the drain cover can meet resistance.

Still, the solution is simple. Clear the pipe so the water can drain.

I’ve spent my professional life pulling the plug on the flood tide of errant behavior threatening to drown my clients. As a fitness coach, running coach, and hypnotherapist I’ve been highly successful working from the outside.

Now, the water’s up to my own ankles.