A few weeks ago I changed the name of our sandal ‘Sahara Running Sandals’ to ‘Sahara Sport Sandals’. I did this for two reasons. One, I made a significant structural change to the sandal and two, the sandal is/was intended for a broader use than just running. The multiple straps that cover the top of the foot provide excellent torsional support that makes the sandal excellent for both trail and general walking comfort too.

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The structural change was very simple, yet hugely significant. I added a 5mm heel to toe differential. This is now the 15th version of this particular sandal model and I am convinced that this simple change corrected the single most contributing factor that led to the annoyingly long and painfully persistent Achilles Tendon injury that I acquired back in Dec. of 2012.

I ran for years in the Asic Gel Kayanos – which I am convinced caused the initial weakening of my feet through their unnecessary and heavy-handed use of orthotics; causing plantar fascitis. I then gave up running for 4-5 years thinking my situation was hopeless before switching to a more minimalist running shoe, wearing the NB Minimus Trails which over time cured the plantar fascitis.

With the experience that I gained  running in the minimalist style I got cocky when I started making my own sandals. And I thought that I knew much more about running and their related injuries than I really did. As I worked my way through the first 13 prototypes I ended up with a couple of different injuries although I am not ashamed to say that those injuries were mostly about working through the mid-sole design. Michoacan is after all the devil’s own playground. The valley trails and roads that I run on is a mostly an unchanging terrain of rocks and sharp stones.

But the biggest mistake that I made was in keeping the sandal flat. And I am convinced now, now that I am on the comeback trail from my Achilles Tendon and improperly mended fractured heel problem (from some cocktail hour of indeterminate past), that the flat sandal was causing my Achilles to hyper-extend with each foot lift off.

And all of this was made worse by running all the time. I was running 2-4 hours almost every single day. It was no wonder, now that I look back, why both calf muscles were spasming at the end of each run. And I wasn’t walking so much as hobbling during all my other waking hours. In short, I was in a lot of pain. And all the time.

So after a long convalescence, the obvious occurred to me. If I could walk comfortably – and for a long period of time – in all my other sandals – sandals that all share the same 5mm height differential – then maybe running in flats was where my Achilles problem was coming from.

I made the change 3-4 weeks ago and I am back to running again, without a problem. Granted, I am only running 45-60 minutes every other day, but problem free non-the-less.

Wiki says “The human foot and ankle is a strong and complex mechanical structure containing exactly 26 bones, 33 joints (20 of which are actively articulated), and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments.” So it stands to reason that anything from bad posture to the wrong foot wear can make walking or running an extremely painful proposition.

I know because I learned the hard way.

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