Origins of the Heel

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M_Volken

Re: Origins of the Heel

#26 Post by M_Volken » Sun Jul 20, 2003 2:54 pm

DW,
I believe I did say that it was a slow change from toe to heel walkers, at least a generation if not two, and the change is also seen in the osteological studies, before 1500 the hip joints take the worst punishment and after ( give or take a generation) it is the knees, arthritis in the hip joints is very rare nowadays, found only in Europe and England in farmers ( i.e. people who still spend most of their walking day on natural terrain) while all of us pavement pounders have bum knees. If you did not grow up as a toe walker it is very hard to develope it, the whole biomechanics is different, the lower calves and the butt muscles work the hardest, while the thighs don't do much, for heel walkers, it is the thighs that work the most and the shock of the heel hitting the ground transfers to the knees.
Al is right about the fashion and politics, which is what I was trying to say about understanding the development of the heel in the context of the baroque period, but was too lazy to go into all the history details. The 'proto heels' are a bit different, there we are talking about the origins and not the development, two different phases, and several different grandfathers, if you count the first proto heels as being from the 1520's to the honest full heel around 1580-90, we are talking about nearly a century of things happening, the end of the renaissance, the first baroque, the reformation, a lot of history and ideas happening, and fashion being pulled along with it. While the practical or technical reasons for the origin of the heel may be found in the archaeological evidence, the development and widespread desire for such a silly thing can only be understood through the history of mentalities, people creat fashion, people follow fashion, and there is good money to be made catering to the whims of men.
Marc you are right in what you say, there isn't only one reason for the development of something, it would be nice, especially for DW, to find the sole culprit in the story, but things are always more complicated than that.

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#27 Post by das » Mon Jul 21, 2003 6:03 am

Marc,

Thanks for chiming-in on this too, and straightening me out. I'd totally data-dumped Liz's Wardrobe Unlock'd. What's the entry date there for "Paloney" heels? Again, why Polish, if they were Turkish in origin [rhetorically]?

What's the Novgorod "hook heel" citation? An image you might post? Anyway to confirm the dating proclaimed in the source? As we know museums and archaeologists, especially the further back into the 20th c. you get, don't always date things just right, but let's have a look if possible.

I hope I haven't sounded like I believe heels magically appeared [Europe] at 6:00 AM Jan 1, 1590. And hopefully with time we might push the date back a bit further. I'm going to be surprised though if we find full-fledged heels in, say, 1066 or some such Image

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#28 Post by dw » Mon Jul 21, 2003 6:43 am

Al,

Given the tripod depicted in the Heft catalog, would you be surprised if hook heels went as far back as the 13th century (the date given for the tripod)?

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#29 Post by dw » Mon Jul 21, 2003 6:54 am

M,

Yes, you did say it was a slow change. And given that it is so different from heel walking, I'm curious as to what it looks like. I am trying to think of television of movie footage of...perhaps...Australian Aborigines walking or running. I can't ever remember seeing any such footage that was remarkable for the diffence in gait from the way most of us walk to day.

Do African or Australian peoples still toe walk? Can you just roughly describe what toe walking might look like...obviously people are not tip-toeing around like Inspector Clouseau. Thanks...

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#30 Post by crispinian » Mon Jul 21, 2003 10:35 am

The image below of a fashionable "hornshoe" with wedge heel above a continuous sole is from page 81 of the Deutsches Schuhmuseum's publication, Hans Sachs the Shoemaker 1494-1576. They give a date of circa 1520. The other illustrations of this style that I recall seeing show them without heels. Comments?
2470.jpg
2470.jpg (13.06 KiB) Viewed 1064 times


NB. This same or a similar shoe is also pictured in section 6.11 of the Deutsches Schuhmuseum's Katalog Heft 6 (which, incidentally, translates to something like Catalog Notebooks 6).

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#31 Post by marc » Mon Jul 21, 2003 11:13 am

I think this is where the problem with defining what do we mean by "heel" comes in...

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#32 Post by das » Mon Jul 21, 2003 11:37 am

DW,

June suspects that trivet is maybe 19th c. judging by the boot shapes. I think we talked about it a year or two back under this heading--there was no hard dating for it.

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#33 Post by das » Mon Jul 21, 2003 11:41 am

Rusty & Marc,

I'd certainly call that horn shoe a "spring-heel", but as to dating that shoe, I'll leave that to folks more familiar with that period.

M. Volken

Re: Origins of the Heel

#34 Post by M. Volken » Wed Jul 23, 2003 12:09 pm

DW,
'toe walking' is not visually much different than heel walking, but for people who live in apartment buildings with wood floors there is a big difference in the amount of noise that the upstairs neighbor makes when they heel walk across the floor. Among modern people, dancers and distance runners are toe walkers. The main difference is that heel walkers strike the ground with the heel first and toe walkers strike the ground with the range of metatarsal heads and the outer side of the foot first. The toes and metatarsal range reaches out and literally grabs the ground, the big toe does the energy for the push off into the next step. It isn't that the heel never touches the ground, it is more that it does not take the full shock of the step. If you want to try to walk this way, tape a penny or a nickel under the heel bone and walk barefoot on a hard floor, the coin should make enough pain that you can't give the full heel impact and are forced to walk more on the front part of the foot. If you do it right, the coin should make very little noise when it hits the ground. If you can do a fast walk without pain from the coin, then you have sucessfully toe walked. One thing you might notice is that the toes and forefoot have to work a lot more, our modern feet don't get much muscle work. Another thing is how the fore foot starts to reach out and grab the ground just like a a hand, kind of like when you 'palm' a basketball.

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#35 Post by marc » Wed Jul 23, 2003 12:32 pm

Just a thought, to add to what M's said. I find that most people I've watched who spend a lot of time walking either barefooted or in thinner soled shoes (for example: medieval shoes) tend to walk with their weight more towards the ball of the foot (haven't we discussed this on this list before?) - placing the main body of the foot first, with the weight focused a bit more forward, as opposed to slamming the heel down. If you try M's experiment you may find that you are scuffing the coin a bit, which just means that you are are landing the heel a fraction of a second before shifting the weight more to the front in preparation for launching the next step.

OTOH, if you try walking barefoot and your heel bone starts to hurt after a while, that's because you are hitting the heel into the ground (the impact normally being taken up by the raised heels.

People who walk with their weight more forward also seem to walk more with their feet parallel to one another, as opposed to being at an angle from each other.

Marc

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#36 Post by das » Wed Jul 23, 2003 5:38 pm

"Light Went On"--18th c. military drill manuals addressed this, called the "Prussian Step" I think, stepping off consciously holding the sole of the foot parallel to the ground, which resulted in the toes being pointed down a bit more than normal. The whole sole was to hit the ground at once, rather than, as one manual put it, crashing down on the heels first "as if crushing rats". Having marched this way, it's sort of a gliding action with minimal heel-strike, but looks contrived and a bit "odd" Image

I'm going to go tape a penny under my heels tonight.

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#37 Post by marc » Wed Jul 23, 2003 5:47 pm

I should say that like most marching steps, the 'prussian step' (which can be kind of cool if you've ever seen anyone actually *doing* it in D&C), is an exaggeration of a normal step - but if it helps you visualize the process. BTW, don't slap your foot down, set your foot down like a normal step.

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#38 Post by dw » Wed Jul 23, 2003 5:56 pm

Marquita, et al,

I was really interested in your description. Fascinating. I wouldn't have thought anyone else on the Forum would be interested in this but lo and behold...I tried a bit of of it this noon--of course I was wearing boots, so maybe that doesn't count--but I was surprised at how easy it was to walk that way. Felt kind of silly though...like I said, a bit inefficient. But it's supposed to be good for sneaking up on tigers and such. Now I've got to try it barefoot if I can just dig up a coin.

Thanks!

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#39 Post by cmw » Thu Jul 24, 2003 2:57 am

I have some input for you although it is at the risk of hearing more martial arts jokes like last time.

A good way to avoid the hard/crashing contact of the heel is to bring your hips up under you. For most people today it feels like they are sticking something forwards. They are not, the hip angle has everything to do with how one lands on the foot. You will also notice that there is more weight on the medial side of the foot and the spring arch is quicker to react/work

One last thing you are going to have to use you belly muscles

OK let me have have it
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Re: Origins of the Heel

#40 Post by cmw » Thu Jul 24, 2003 7:46 am

I have some more time now.

If you look at cultures in which they don’t use our type of furniture then you will see they have longer muscles in the hind region. We in the west have used our chairs and so on for so long that I would guess that it is part of our genes that those muscles are shorter. Not that I would promote that everybody sits on the floor but the Japanese, Eskimos and so on have another way of standing if you look at them. we see a lot of people from Greenland here and you can see they have another way of moving. It must be genetic by now. People from Greenland have developed warmer feet, face, and hands than the rest of us pale faces.

The shower calls, after that a good chair.
CW

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#41 Post by marc » Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:22 am

CW,
The hip position thing sounds fairly reasonable.

I'm not sure, are you saying that the furniture environment (which I'll grant will eventually change your bone and mucle structure) makes genetic changes in you? I believe the differences between the Inuit in Greenland and western Europeans have more to do with simple selection over time rather than the environment forcing a change (ie. x trait is a little more efficient then y in such an environment, which means that people with x trait are more likely to reproduce. This is as opposed to Lamarkianism, in which the environment makes people with y characteristic develope x characteristic to survive, and that characteristic is passed along to offspring).

Marc

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#42 Post by cmw » Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:02 am

Marc

What I wrote is based on different things I’ve seen, learned, and read all rolled together. The genetic part I would base on simple evolution. Kind’a like the fact that people are (said to be) developing larger thumbs because of the cell phone and computer age. If this is true, well time will tell.

If you look at the usual person in our modern time, they sit in chairs and move less. This gives you alot of people with softer mid sections that can’t hold the hip up in front. Then when you look at the shorter hind end muscles, you get what we are.

Have you ever wondered why we have alot of back injuries and problems? I know that my varus foot is positioned better when I have my hip under me. The weight is divided better so I don’t “fall out and sideways” of my shoes. If I did not traine the way I did once and what I do now, I would not notice this. I can feel my chair sitting 38 yr. old belly getting tired and my weight change on my feet after a long day.

Westerners that travel to the east to study under monks and learn to meditate have a hard time sitting in the proper positions for the the proper length of time. Our culture breeds the short hind end muscles. look at someone you know that has done yoga for a long time. You will see the effects reversed to certain degree. If they have done it long enough you will see that the structure and muscle tone changes in different muscles. In short their butt is under them and seems more flat contra sticking out like ours do. If you look closer, you’ll see they do not use the butt muscles as much and it seems to hang more from lack of use. It is just as M. Volken wrote earlier this week. This goes along with the almost skatting way of walking.

The theories that you mentioned are over my head so I’ll let you tell me about that part of it.

I have to go, I have used way too much time on this.
CW

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#43 Post by pegeen » Tue Jul 29, 2003 8:39 am

As to motion in walking. Some runway models walk toe to heal. If you have ever worn 3" spike heals, you would notice that to put your heal down first is very insecure because of the tiny surface of the heal. The resulting swing of the hips from toe walking is supposedly quite fashionable.

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#44 Post by dmcharg » Tue Jul 29, 2003 8:44 pm

All,
My favorite footware is a pair of 9thC style Dutch mid-shin boots I made a couple of years ago. Needless to say, no heel. And you definitly have to walk differently; but it feels so nice, quiet, gentle and leaves almost no footprint. My wife commented some time ago that when she watches me walking (down the street say) that it's different to the way others around me are walking. You can't do the Rebok stride, driving the heel into the ground Image
And yes, traction in adverse conditions (rocks, etc) is excelent.

10 years ago when I made my first pair, I went outside in my new "medieval" cuffed boots, stepped onto the concrete footpath, and nearly drove my heel up through my knee!

Through persistence and a love of the style I discovered how to toe walk (though a pair of heels went onto the above mentioned boots) and is my preference.

Cheers
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Re: Origins of the Heel

#45 Post by cmw » Wed Jul 30, 2003 3:00 am

I've been watching my 1.5 yr old son. He does both. For the most part, he walks flat footed and does not land on the heel. Needless to say, he can put his toe in his ear. When he walks his knees are always bent just as the models with the high heels.

Another little detail, if you look at it. People that do not land on the heel, tend to have thier feet more in front and under them at all times. This gets back to the hip angle.

Duncan

Have you noticed that you don't have back pains when you use your Dutch boots? No matter how far you walk.

CW

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#46 Post by dmcharg » Tue Aug 19, 2003 8:36 pm

Chris,
Sorry for the late reply; been on holidays (Grandpa's 90th).
In regards the back pain; I've never thought about it, which, I presume, means I don't get any Image
An aside (but I think related).8 yrs ago in my first ever pair (still learning the walk), I had spent an entire day walking around a festival as a costumed trader selling (trying) my leatherwork (just starting, and when I look back at that work...) and even though it was a grassed oval, it was flat, and at the end of the day my feet were sore. On our way back to the car I discovered that if I walked off the path (over hard packed, but uneven, lumpy dirt) my feet were resonably comfy. Constantly changing pressure. No doubt my ankles were getting exercised too.

Flat shoes, keeping off the footpaths, "choose the path less traveled", be comfortable and have ankles of iron Image

Cheers
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Re: Origins of the Heel

#47 Post by cmw » Wed Aug 20, 2003 3:44 am

Duncan

I know how you feel, I love my boots but I love going flat healed to.

I had a teacher in school who said that one should not have the same shoes on for more than 8 hrs. Esp. kids. The reason he gave was that our feet need to be used in different ways.(among others) I try to do the same when I think about it. It helps, which is a plus when think about our work day is spent standing.

A plus that I'm really happy about is I come down to a better working level in front of the machines. My flat shoes save my back when I have to resole several prs. of military boots in one day. (I have a dbl. back injury)

Work calls.
CW

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#48 Post by dmcharg » Tue Aug 26, 2003 9:01 pm

Chris,
Good advice from the teacher. I know that if I've been on my feet for a lot in a day, and change my shoes in the mid arvo. (afternoon) my feet really thank me. Makes sense now.

Being a 'Maker (on sabatical) using all old hand techniques, when I'm working I'm sitting down all the time, so the right stool or chair is what I'm always trying to achive. Image
Ah, the learning never stops

Cheers Duncan

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#49 Post by m.volken » Fri Feb 04, 2005 1:18 am

Among the discussion of the origins of the heel, the idea came up that heels on boots were developed because of stirrups on saddles. The link between stirrups and heeled boots would depend upon when stirrups were introduced to Europe. After all these years I came accross the first european saddle with stirrups, (see page 110, Roman Calvery Equipment, I.P. Stephenson and K.R. Dixon, Tempus books, 2003. The 'Avar' saddle had iron stirrups and became the normal saddle type in the Byzantine and europe by the fifth century AD, so predating the development of the heel in europe by nearly a thousand years.
M.

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Re: Origins of the Heel

#50 Post by das » Fri Feb 04, 2005 5:02 am

M.,

Thanks for posting that item. It's not something we'd be likely to see otherwise.

Is your private e-mail working right? I've tried to send you something, and it's getting bounced back.

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