Some blistering insights into soles like hobbits’ (and holes like ants’)

It’s Monday again.  Yippee ki yawn.  Aren’t you all just so excited?

I don’t have much interesting to report or discuss today, because I haven’t really done anything interesting to report or discuss, nor thought anything interesting to report or discuss since my last blog post.

I have continued trying to sort out different shoes and related footwear.  I walked home from the train station on Friday, but it turned out that the new blister on my right foot had not resolved itself very well during the two weeks since it had happened, which is quite annoying.  The blister on the left foot was fine; I had very carefully, and under effectively sterile conditions, poked a pin-hole in it the day after my very long trek, to drain the fluid, and it basically has now become just a thickened area of foot sole, and it gave me no trouble over the course of my five mile walk on Friday evening.

On the right foot, for reasons I don’t recall clearly, I had elected not to drain the blister—I think it just didn’t seem to have as much fluid in it—and a little more than halfway through my trek on Friday, it started to give me more trouble, as if I had something sharp stuck in my shoe.  I didn’t have any such thing; I checked.

Anyway, I rested on Saturday, during which my right foot was sore still, and I decided to drain that blister as I had the other.  I then walked about six miles (total) yesterday, and though the blister is still irritating, it’s better than it was.

Here’s my off-the-cuff hypothesis for why the course of the left and right blisters was different:

By draining the fluid from the left blister, I allowed the two layers of affected skin to re-adhere to each other, and through that process to become firmer and tougher—at least tougher than they were when the fluid of the blister was present.  On the right foot, however, even as it was recovering, there was still fluid in the blister—it never got completely reabsorbed, and the skin layers thus never re-adhered.  So, once I walked a long enough distance, those two layers of skin were effectively separate and lubricated, and began to rub back and forth against one another.  Just as pertinently, at the edges of the former blister, shearing forces pulled the aforementioned layers of skin further apart, causing new damage.  So, it was actually therapeutic to drain the fluid—as long as I protected rigorously against the risk of infection—than to allow the other to retain its fluid in this case.

As I thought about this, I wondered why such a thing might be the case.  Why would our evolutionary heritage saddle us with a process, on the base of our feet of all things, that would be counterproductive to healing?  Then it hit me*.  Our ancestors throughout almost all of evolutionary time did not wear shoes or boots or any such thing, and they certainly didn’t walk for long distances on paved roads.  They would have formed calluses on the soles of their feet, starting at an early age—presumably as soon as they were able to walk—and repetitive shearing forces, such as are produced by the rubbing of the sole of a shoe, would not apply.  They would have had the soles of hobbits, if you will, and those are pure, tough soles indeed.

So, in some senses, our footwear is detrimental.  Of course, in other ways, it’s extremely useful, and does protect us from sharp and hard objects on the ground against which even thicker skin wouldn’t have defended adequately.  Broken glass is certainly something one wouldn’t want to encounter with bare feet.

Then again, I recall that once, quite a while back, a Kenyan athlete won the Olympic marathon in bare feet, so there aren’t severe disadvantages.  It’s got to be pretty hard to do on pavement, though, and the next time that athlete ran, and won—if memory serves—he did wear shoes.

And you wouldn’t want to go walking through a snowy landscape without something on your feet, at least for warmth.

Still, it makes one wonder how many of the things we wear on our feet are relatively unnecessary and even counter-productive.  If I had gone barefoot a lot over the years, would I not even require footwear much anymore, living as I do in south Florida, where there is almost never anything close to snowy weather?  It’s certainly likely that the risk of fungus would be lower!  It’s interesting to wonder whether even the problems I have with my right ankle, due to an old severe sprain, would be fewer if I had not worn various types of footwear.

It’s also interesting to think about how much of the footwear industry is just a self-sustaining fiction, like so many other industries.  Just to be clear, though, I would not claim that this is any kind of conspiracy or evil plot by malevolent capitalists at Nike and Adidas and Reebok and New Balance.  That’s just a stupid thought, and if you seriously entertain it, you should probably slap yourself.

I’m sure there are worse and better people (by whatever criteria one might specify) at nearly all levels in such companies, as there are in the ranks of social services, as there are working in governments, as there are in charitable organizations, as there are in hospitals.  No, the footwear industry, at all its various levels, is just a big, spontaneously self-organizing system, like everything else about civilization.  There is no master plan, and there is no master**, any more than there is a planner, architect, CEO or Personnel office in an ant hill or a termite mound or a bee hive or a school of fish or a flock of birds.  Things happen, and the things that tend to be self-sustaining tend to sustain themselves***, while the things that don’t tend to do so simply fade away with relatively little fuss.

This is part of, or at least related to, why I hate people calling elected officials our “leaders”.  They’re not leaders, nor should they be, and they certainly don’t “run” the country or state or city or whatever.  They’re employees, managers, servants.  And believe me, they are just as fundamentally clueless as everybody else about what’s happening in the world and what to do about it.  They just sometimes pretend otherwise, even to themselves.  But just because they fool themselves, doesn’t mean you have to let them fool you.

That’s about it for today.  It’s been a weird progression of thoughts, but that seems appropriate, given the eventual topic of discussion.

caveman walk

*It’s just like what happened when I was standing in a park and wondering why a frisbee appears to get larger and larger as it gets closer and closer.

**Except the Time Lord called The Master.


One thought on “Some blistering insights into soles like hobbits’ (and holes like ants’)

  1. Pingback: “What the hell am I doin’ here? I don’t belong here.” – Robert Elessar

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