A shoe is a shoe is not a shoe … part 1

This rather cryptic and for some of you even absurd sounding heading belongs to an article series about the man and his/her devices. We, the athletes and biestmilch have chosen this as our quarterly topic. We all together would like to share our views and opinions with you. Here is the platform where experience and science join each other or may collide.

Sports are full of devices more or less sophisticated. The shoe is most probably the oldest one, which many of you may not even consider as a device. But imagine what can happen, if shoes are not fitting well. It can spoil the hard training work of years. That power meters and navigation systems are devices is obvious, nobody will doubt that, and therefore we are more consciously dealing with them. But a shirt? A device? How ridiculous! But then, we think about all the industries behind the shirt that allow us to produce functional wear, the production line starts with oil and ends with a jerzey. Yeah, we live in a complex world of interdependencies with all our devices.

The following article in specific wants to demonstrate how closely we interact with devices such as a shoe or a bike, that closeness makes us feel that borders between us and the device are dissolving, or just the other way around that these things develop into handicaps, fractious and painful.

Body perception can be seen as a computational result

If you are ready to follow me insofar that the body (organism) can be considered as a stimulus/signal/impulse processing and self-regulating machine, then you may also accept for this moment of time that body perception can be described as the result of all the stimuli/signals/impulses involved in the computation. The body nothing more than a huge computer, scary? No, only a thought experiment! By applying such a straightforward metaphor it is possible to deal with body perception without going into details of brain and consciousness.
Does this approach sound too factual to you? Venture out with us for this experiment that is looking at the body as very complex computational machine.

Body perception is changing depending on the devices we use

Let’s summarize: the body consists of vivid currents of signals that make up patterns of which the cells are senders and receivers and interpretors. If the signal patterns change, the body’s condition and perception changes as well, and vice versa. If processes of emerging patterns are misinterpreted, or not reaching the receiver, if the signals are not strong enough, or not as many as needed for understanding the message, then the circuits, feedback loops and control cycles regulating the body loose connection, may be disturbed and even disrupted, thus, body perception, body feel changes.
An example: If you have been wearing a shoe for years, a shoe you did not feel anymore, not a shoe anymore, but a body part. But then one day you take the chance/risk to change your shoe brand. Suddenly everything is different, the shoe is sending signals, and either you get used to it and the shoe develops into a body part again or it remains a foreign body with sore consequences for your body as a whole. The signals initiated by the shoe may destroy the delicate balance between you and the shoe. The health issues can then range from an uneasy feeling to suddenly struggling with your running technique or feeling ill and prone to injury. The influences of electronic devices on your body’s balance are much more difficult to analyze, but worthwhile to consider.

Training improves the body’s computational capacities

The aim of training is to constantly improve performance by optimizing the computational capacities of the various organ systems, be it the metabolism, the immune system, the cardiovascular system or the nervous system. If the body computer succeeds in integrating the various signal currents from all the sources, if there emerges a balance of the ever changing and repeating signal patterns, then you have the perfect body feel, body perception is that of wellbeing and health.

In cases of massive changing signal currents, and limited or overburdened processing capacities – both can occur at the same time –  the condition of wellbeing can change immediately. Just remember a race you had to quit or to walk to the finish line, when suddenly you started struggling, and nothing seemed to work smoothly anymore, and all compensatory actions failed, then you may feel what I mean 😉

Part 2 follows tomorrow …

More to read:

Training Gadgets GPS,SRM und co -Train by feel
by Nicole Leder, Text in German
Lauftraining mit GPS
by Daniel Schmoll, Text in German
Get the feeling: SRM und andere Gadgets
by Ronnie Schildknecht, Text in Swiss German

The Science of Triathlon – Gizmos and Gadgets
by Terenzo Bozzone
Swim equipment on Edith’s Blog
by Edith Niederfriniger



Susann is the biest prototype and head of the team. She is Austrian, has studied medicine, meaning she is a medical doctor and the Biesters' alpha wolf. Susann continuously produces new ideas, is strong in making concepts and is practically always ON FIRE. Without her BIESTMILCH wouldn't be where and what it is today, and anyway - not possible.

Riding and filming on the Highway to Hawi, Hawaii

A bike is a bike is not a bike… part 2