My name is Natalie Gallant, a UK-born physiotherapist now living in New Zealand. I began my movement journey as a gymnast, a sport where being barefoot is critical in your relationship to the apparatus you are performing on. From an early age I learnt the importance of our ground/body connection, building strength and awareness from my feet up. I believe there is a direct correlation between excelling in school sports through my teens and the barefoot strength and proprioception I developed from gymnastics.
It was through my studies as a physiotherapist that the thought first occurred to me that living life cocooned in shoes marketed for their cushioned support wasn’t quite right. After two years of postgraduate work I had observed a multitude of foot pathologies in my habitually shod patients that were stuck in a cycle of injury and pain. Meeting Lee Saxby was pivotal in my career at this point. His education in foot function and evolution of human movement gave me a profound understanding that I felt my undergraduate degree had not. For me this instinctually bridged the gap between the science of injury and the true root cause of many present day ‘zoo human’ problems. I have since been devoted to footwear that provides the protection your foot requires whilst allowing it to function as naturally as possible.
Fast-forward nearly a decade and my role as a physiotherapist has taken me from England to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. I’m currently studying a post graduate diploma in Sports and Exercise Medicine whilst working at a sports clinic in Auckland, New Zealand specialising in running form and injury prevention. It is through this that I convey my enthusiasm for natural barefoot movement to my clients.
Trail running is my passion, and in this respect, I live, breath and cherish the opportunities that New Zealand offers. Applying knowledge learnt from Lee, my running abilities have steadily grown, seeing me compete in the World Masters Cross-Country, Red Bull Skyline Mountain run and numerous off-road marathons. My current goal is to run the full length of New Zealand on the Te Araroa Trail.
My journey to this point however, like so many others, has not been without it’s hurdles. Suffering iliotibial band pain or ‘runner’s knee’ whilst marathon training at university lead me down a slippery slope of shoe fittings, modifications and finally orthotics being suggested as my ‘only option’… and I was in training to teach others about this! Knowing this was not the answer, I ran (painfully) in the opposite direction. So as a healthcare professional, I get it. I can empathise with those who have trodden the same weary path and are looking for answers. I just perhaps found Lee before you did!
Providing adequate room for my naturally broadening forefoot, Joe Nimble®’s are my definitive shoe of choice, whilst in hot summer temperatures you’ll find me sweating it out in Luna’s. I adore this country I now call home, from snow capped mountains to volcanic black sand beaches, New Zealand makes for the most incredible barefoot adventure.
Find out more about Natalie's passion here:
Inspired by Natalie’s story?*
* Unfortunately the red nimbleToes is no longer available, because it is a limited version. Nevertheless the shoe is available in many other colors.