Walk like a Plantagenet

A lot of Chinese medicine is just good common sense. Its basic premise is to live like you were designed to live. When something is used like it was designed to be used, it works better and lasts longer, and your body is no exception.

What has this got to do with the Plantagenets?

Well, way back when Lancaster and York were slugging it out in the War of the Roses, people ran about in soft leather shoes with soft leather soles. These were basically heavy duty socks that kept the mud and thorns out, but otherwise let their owner’s feet do what feet do naturally. In essence, people were using their feet as they were designed to be used.

Did the Plantagenets get dodgy knees?

Probably, but for different reasons. While medieval shoes kept their feet safe from injury, their owners could still feel the sticks and stones on the path. They were a little more connected to the whole walking experience, so they would notice and step more carefully on slippery rocks, loose shale and so on. All this meant that they would have tended to put their weight onto their toes first and their heels second.

This way of walking completely changes the way force is distributed upwards through the body. It engages different muscles and automatically optimises posture. In fact, it’s really difficult to have poor posture when you walk like a Plantagenet!

A big proportion of the sore knees, hips, backs and necks I see in clinic got into a pickle because of dodgy body mechanics. Their owners unwittingly moved (and stayed still) in ways that just aren’t natural. I sometimes wonder how many of them would have ended up on my treatment couch if they had a penchant for Plantagenet footwear.

Does the Yellow Emperor recommend medieval shoes?

There’s not a lot said about Plantagenet footwear in the ancient Chinese medical classics, but there is a fair bit about body mechanics. In fact, tai chi qigong (and hence the martial arts) focuses heavily on correcting and optimising the way your body moves. In essence, it’s about getting back to using your body in the way it was designed to be used. A pair of medieval Jimmy Choos wouldn’t go amiss is a qigong class.

The Houses of York and Lancaster are closed. Does House of Fraser stock these shoes?

I don’t know if House of Fraser stocks any authentic medieval footwear, but I do know that www.vivobarefoot.com specialises in a modern equivalent. Other options include most dance pumps without a heel, walking around at home with fluffy socks instead of slippers, and going totally naked footed on hot days. Just make sure your feet stay warm. Chinese medicine is quite specific about that.


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