People walked slightly different in Medieval times


Originally published at:


Because sharp things.


I had to stop listing at “Ball walkers need more muscles…” before I spat coffee at my screen.
But truly interesting, might try to break out my soft soled shoes.


Yes, exactly. When we need to put our feet down gently, that’s exactly how we walk. There’s nothing medieval about it. It uses calf muscles to a greater extent (which do become stronger) but is actually quite inefficient. Modern shoes allow us to heel strike more forcefully without fear of injury. It is more efficient and less tiring.



I generally just walk, but sometimes I trot with the most eloquent elegance one can muster.


Can anyone identify the device at the top of his sporran?

Sorry if it’s not actually a sporran.


Huh - I walk a lot of the times “toes first”, especially when younger, and was told I was doing it wrong…


Are you talking about his brass boner? Yeah I don’t know what’s going on there either.


Fox walking: as promoted by Tom Brown Jr. and used by stealthy trackers. Not only good for avoiding sharp things, but twigs that snap.


From the Youtube comments, it’s a bollock dagger.


It’s the handle of a bollock dagger. The blade is in a sheath behind his purse.

Keep in mind that for most of us, the very shape of our feet has been affected by the fact that we grew up wearing shoes.


Fascinating video, thanks for posting it, Rob. Truly in the BB spirit of Directory of Wonderful Things!


If you want to semi-acceptably try walking with a barefoot-like gait, you need some toeshoes or other sorts of minimalist athletic shoe with flexible soles. The health benefits are known to be dubious (by legal process), but they do let/force you to walk with a barefoot type non-heel-striking gait, and the soles are protective enough for modern environments.

I’ve found that the variety of mixing in wearing minimalist shoes every couple days keeps my feet and legs more comfortable during closed toed shoe season. Your calves, soles, and/or heels will hurt the first couple times wearing them for extended periods though, it is different and takes some some adjustment.

Also, never pay full price for them, the thin flexible soles don’t hold up well enough to justify that, but if you keep an eye out they can usually be found for about half of MSRP. Get some toe socks to go with, or be prepared to regularly soak them in a serious cleaner, for most people they are prone to getting stinky if worn without.


Eh, there are much better running/walking videos on youtube


I’ve had 4 pairs of toe shoes and only one has worn out, and it wasn’t the sole, it was the leather body of the shoe that started cracking. Of my remaining three there’s a couple that I’m sure have a couple thousand kilometres on them. At least in my experience when minimalist running you don’t scuff your foot the same way when you hit the ground, so the soles are almost impossible to wear through.

Conversely, the cushion on a traditional running shoe wears out after about 500-800km.


Huh, mine always eventually die from abrading out the sole in about a season, usually on one of the middle three toes. It might be something about my gait.


I go all day for weeks at a time not thinking about walking. Thanks Rob! :smiley:


New Balance Minimus are way better than the Five-Fingers stuff and use the same soles. I’ve had two pairs, and use both regularly putting many many miles on them. The soles are worn, but singe there are no toes gripping the road I don’t have issues with toe-only wear and tear.

As for the health benefits, I went from having flat feet to arches by changing my gait with minimal shoes. If you naturally have high arches you will probably have less benefit than someone like me.


My 2yo still walks mostly on her toes, and she has calf muscles that look like handballs. Every time we see a new dr. at our pediatricians office they always furrow their brow with concern and my wife stresses that she’ll be mocked (her friend in middle school, and a friend of mine in high school were) for toe-walking. Still we try to keep her in as flexible of shoes as we can so that she can walk the way that feels natural to her.

I wear zero-drop shoes when I run, I love it, and I haven’t had any of my shin, hip or knee stress issues that I encountered even in high school, and I’m now getting to be a creaky old man. As @PAPPP pointed out Vibram made some scientific claims that were slapped with a lawsuit, but a lot of this is about how difficult it is to re-adapt one’s running style, not necessarily issues with forefoot running. I did have some calf muscle issues last fall when I didn’t warm up properly, as I still walk around in my day-to-day in heel-strike prepped shoes