Saturday, March 07, 2009

Eastern Foot Medicine at Changwon's Parks

A couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon a park on a cold February afternoon with a friend. My new city, Changwon, boasts several fairly large, and fairly nice parks lining the city and occupying several large, prominent hills throughout, making Changwon a nice place to live and keeping everyone active, happy and healthy. Changwon is known throughout the region for its greenery and most definitely has more park acreage than any city I've visited in Asia.

Going through one of these parks one afternoon with friend and colleague Soon Jeong, we stumbled across a walking course for foot therapy. Paved into a walkway, numerous distinct rocky textures and other textures constructed of concrete forms sprawled out near an outdoor fitness center of sorts. I asked her what the rocks were all about. Soon Jeong had trouble explaining, but said that walking the course is good for your feet and good for your health, pointing to a chart near a box for shoes.

The course consisted of a a patchwork of various textures composed of everything from large rocks, small rocks, and several formed concrete shapes into sections that were about 3-6 meters long and 3 meters across. The walking course then weaved around some trees, flowerbeds, benches and some stainless steel outdoor fitness equipment. A the time, suitable adjectives failed me.

Then, that little lightbulb in my forehead silently blipped on: This might be a great way to train your ankle for the CT! Who knows really? While I often critically scrutinize many of the Korean or Japanese ideas about health, fitness and nutrition I hear in Asia, what could it hurt to visit this place a few times a week?

So I came back today unsure what to think about the whole thing. I have a big chart in Korean with a diagram pointing to all parts of my body. It ostensibly tells me walking on rock and concrete textures and shapes is going to benefit everything from my big toes to my kidneys. Theres a pudgy old guy who's washing his feet, so I guess he just finished up.So I take my shoes and socks off and put them in the big shoe rack under the gazebo, get on the rocks and start walking. The first bit has small rocks and despite some expected discomfort wasn't too bad. I casually go across some larger, smoother rocks that don't hurt much at all. This is silly, I began thinking. Then I get to the shaped concrete bumps. Wow, this is more painful than I thought! I manage to walk the 60-70 meter course three or four times before my feet can't take it any more and I put my shoes back on. Later on while exploring my city with my new bike, I found another course that's even bigger at a different park.

I imagine a lot of the muscles in my feet will be sore tomorrow. If so, I'll come back and walk on the rocks some more.

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