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Petri's Story

Petri's Story

Welcome to "Petri's blog", its first story!

In this blog I introduce myself, entrepreneur Petri Hirvimäki, 57, and my family team. I will also tell you my story how I interested in barefoot shoes and finally started as an entrepreneur at PETRI'S BAREFOOT Oy (Ltd). Our store is situated in Jyväskylä, Finland in Torikeskus shopping centre and our online store on petrisbarefoot.com

This is a story of five years of bad foot problems and their happy ending finally! All this led things to the point where I and my family are now.

FYI for those who haven't had bad foot problems in their life before - I didn't either for the first fifty years! I dare to say that the foot problems are often not due to aging. The same things could have happened to me in my early thirties with the same formula. Anyway the healing process has surely been slower than with younger people?

Could the same happen to you? How could you prevent annoying stress injuries in advance? At the end of my story, I open my own views. Go and comment how you see it, if you wish.

PETRI'S BAREFOOT Oy (Ltd) is founded in February 2024. 

The other entrepreneur of our company is my wife Marika Ala-Korpi. It's already the third time in my life as an entrepreneur, for Marika this is the first time.

In addition to me and Marika, our family includes three school-aged children: Hulda, Rafael and Robert. We live in Jyväskylä, Finland, near the city center. We are a real family business in the true sense of the word!

Then to the story.

In the past, I've been frustrated all my adult life always when buying new shoes and shortly after: "How can it be so incredibly difficult to make good shoes in this world..?"

I doubt that I'm not the only one who has thought about that - we know the feeling when a new shoe has either started to pinch at home, or if you have chosen a bigger one, you wonder what kind of clumsy canoes you got again -

"How can it be so incredibly difficult to make good shoes in this world..?"

The year 2017 came and our Rafael started Puistokoulu preschool. There is a hard sports field in the school yard, where we went to play football. What's better than father and son playing football together in the evenings, both kicking with enthusiasm! I also bought turf football boots - Adidas, my size in terms of foot length, but way too narrow and constricting. That's what they all seemed to be.

It wasn't long before our game started to be full of pain for me. My achilles tendons started to become really sore. I bravely tried to get along with the pain even though my achilles was burning and heating up. I imagined that it was somehow part of the game in football. Fortunately, winter and snow came on to the field. After month or so my legs were almost back to normal again.

The same happened again in 2018. Rafael joined the JJK juniors football team. I myself started to invest more time to veteran football and started to train even more on the hard field of Puistokoulu. Fortunately, winter finally came again...

In the summer of 2019 I was full of enthusiasm to play football already in a group with other adult footballers. However, at midsummer, my achilles were so sore that I could hardly walk! After all, I understood to buy better and wider turf football shoes and also to stop training on a field as hard as Puistokoulu's field was.

The Achilles tendon pain in both of my legs was a painful roller coaster for the next three years. For a few weeks, I was able to play without much pain, and then I had to stop playing again for a couple of weeks, so that my legs somehow started working again.

I thought my burning achilles at least a hundred times a day, I got gel pieces on my heels, I went to physioteraphist, I tried to strengthen my calves, etc. I hoped and prayed that someday I could just enjoy playing without the constant fear of the pain starting again. I was breaking myself when playing football with others.

My achilles never really recovered with that strategy even if I made some physio at same time. I thought if it is like that the rest of my life? I watched all the how-to videos in the world. Fortunately, it was a little easier in the winter when I could only get to the field once a week... although I couldn't have played more than that. I also became the world's best expert on whether an artificial grass pitch is well or poorly maintained - or rather my Achilles tendons became!

We came to the fall of 2022. I played a couple of games on a big field, which means I had to run even more than normal - the second time was a parents versus girls game against my daughter Hulda's team. Shortly after that, at the beginning of November, I was training by myself on the Jyskä football pitch in half-dark and I was feeling how the heel of my left foot started to feel strange... painful. I still continued the exercise to the end, of course.

I had to go to the post office in the center on the way back. The pain got worse. It probably took ten minutes to walk a couple of hundred meters from the parking lot to the post office. There I thought if I could get back to the car at all... DAMN, what is this? In the morning, the first steps were almost like someone was pressing a knife to the bottom of my foot, auts!

Thank God I realized to go to the physioteraphist right away. PLANTAR FASCIITIS! In my foot's fascia (from toes to heel) there was a micro-damage and a stress injury next to the heel bone. It felt really painful if I only put some pressure on that area.

A young female physiotherapist, wearing Five-Fingers barefoot shoes on her feet, showed me how to lift the big toe and four smaller toes in the air alternately. My toes didn't react much when I tried to move them. She told me to stand on one leg for 30 seconds with eyes closed. Also she asked me to try calf rises - I should do about twenty. At six or seven I stopped because the pain was too strong. Finally, therapist asked me to search for information about barefoot shoes... but I need MORE cushion under my feet, not less...?

Fortunately, I did the given foot exercises as supposed. The trouble started to ease a little. I had been wise when, with a new problem, I immediately went to see a specialist. I concluded that plantar fasciitis is related to achilles tendon problems. On the other side of the heel only. Hmmm... if I continue training, would I be able to fix both problems with the same program?

Couple of weeks later when I was on christmas shopping, I saw Altra Lone Peaks on the shelf. I looked at them - there is a lot of room in the toes area!? There doesn't seem to be any heel rise at all! But the sole is quite thick - are these barefoot shoes or not..? Well, here I go with heel and achilles pain - I guess I could try these on my feet instead of my traditional standard sneakers...

WHAT, walking doesn't hurt at all with these Altras as it does with my much thicker-soled traditional sneakers. What exactly is this all about? I'll buy these right away even with my last money...


The Altras became one of the best Christmas gifts of my life!

Actually I couldn't wait for Christmas, so I started wearing shoes all the time. In a short time, in a few months, I read everything possible and watched hundreds of videos related to foot health and barefoot footwear. I continued to train my legs. Sometimes there were better days and sometimes a little worse. I walked a lot, the rest pain went away. But I still couldn't run and I wondered if I could ever run properly again.

Throughout the beginning of 2023, my legs slowly began to heal. Slowly but surely, the direction was right, although uncertainty remained in my mind whole time. I already took careful running steps, small jogs. At the beginning of April, I got my first real barefoot shoes, the Merrell Vapor Gloves. The model was reportedly greatly improved from the previous ones. The shoes felt really good in my feet! I went to test them to Harju leisure park, even though the trails were still icy.

OUCH! It wouldn't have been worth taking the entire tour of Harju right away! A walk of a couple of kilometers with a bit of running was too much for my feet in genuine thin-soled barefoot shoes. IS THE SAME RUMBA AND PAIN STARTING AGAIN, WHAT DID I DO..?

Fortunately, it didn't start. Even though my achilles and heel became painful the first time I wore barefoot shoes, they quickly recovered to pain-free. Having learned from the occasion, I decided to do things more calmly. Also, do I have to RUN with the Merrels when the thicker-soled Altras work better for me at this stage...?

By the summer of 2023, my feet kept getting better thanks to the right training and ALSO THE RIGHT SHOES. It was a fantastic feeling to notice that on the football field I wasn't thinking the whole time whether I had to end the game in the middle of the game. I didn't think about my feet like that during the days anymore. The pain started to disappear completely. Sometime in July, I was already running at full speed after a football for an hour and a half without pain. (Of course, these days I only choose a well-maintained field and I recommend the same to everyone) - I WAS CURED!

I read the stories of fellow sufferers. For some the pain has lasted for decades and severely disabled them. I also spent five long years with my foot pain and stress injuries - it would be best if those could be avoided in advance!


What is the lesson of my story?

You absolutely should not go through the same five years of pain and despair in your feet that I had before you should pay more attention to your foot health and barefoot shoes! Of course you may be my full fate mate and in that case ALSO, you are welcome to get to know PETRI'S BAREFOOT products and talk about the world's best shoes and foot health with us!

If I could have avoided such problems in advance, I would have been really satisfied! Of course the right sport-specific performance technique, the condition and suitability of the sports facilities, rest and proper nutrition are important in this matter, but I won't go into them in more detail now.

As an afterthought I could say that you have three better or worse ways to try to avoid foot problems during your life what it comes to exercise and sports (points 1-3). It also greatly affects what you wear on your feet during exercise, but also at other times (point 4):

1) You never really challenge your legs properly. You don't play sports, you don't run, you don't take long walks.

How many of us want to choose this strategy? Not very functional, because a person needs exercise and also suitably impactful exercise, in order to keep the body, bones, entire supporting structure, muscles, joints and tendons in good condition.

Also, immobility is hardly a good thing in terms of mental health, is it? You might need flexibility and strenght in your legs somewhere else in your life, even if you're not that sporty? Do not do this if at all possible!

2) You only practice sports that do not load your feet hard. You never choose a sport like football where your legs work really hard. I have an athletic background, but still the hard field at the beginning and football were just too hard a combination for my legs.

How does this strategy work if you're really into a leg-demanding sport? If running starts to taste you good..?

3) If, however, you made the "wrong choice", you can greatly help your own foot health by investing in balancing foot training and muscle maintenance. Maybe you can do reasonably well with this "medicine"? As you get older, you reduce the amount of training, etc.

Good luck, may your feet be made of steel and the tendency to get foot problems genetically small!

4) Last, but not least, to help you keep your feet healthy: GO AND GET BAREFOOT SHOES MADE FOR YOUR FEET and practically give up your traditional shoes!

Of course, you have to make the transition correctly and also think a little about how you walk on hard asphalt especially if you use thinner barefoot shoes. Note that Altras, or any "thicker-soled barefoot shoes", are also fine.

The fact that our feet can function naturally always and everywhere, even when wearing shoes, is of course very important to our feet, their structure, muscles, tendons, joints and fascia! Why give any room to the devilish foot problems waiting around the corner?

PREVENTION OF THE FOOT PROBLEMS makes the most sense, and natural barefoot footwear can play a really important role in that! (Read the article "Traditional shoe vs. barefoot shoe" on the homepage.)


Finally

After everything I've experienced, many traditional shoes look very strange now in my eyes! People in supermarkets wear their shoes with their toes restricted, ankles crooked, feet in a V position, etc. - that obvious pain and difficulty does not make a traditional shoe beautiful what it comes to the style of the shoes!

The question of the elegance of the shoes has completely turned upside down in my mind when I have changed to barefoot shoes... or when I was forced to change! Modern, natural-looking barefoot shoes are really stylish and oh, so comfortable!

Come and try them too, You are wellcome!


Petri Hirvimäki

PETRI'S BAREFOOT - IT'S ALL ABOUT THE SHOES!

petrisbarefoot.com

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