If you can’t remember when you went barefoot for at least 20 minutes please read on, because a growing number of doctors and podiatrist are speaking out about the negative impact of shoes on our overall health and how going barefoot can work wonders!
I’ve gone barefoot since I was a kid and still do as you can see below. (I didn’t even wear shoes to my daughter’s wedding.) I had no idea about the importance of this until I read Born to Run. (You don’t need to be a runner to benefit from this book. I wasn’t.) A few months back Roy had told me one of the things that attracted him to me was that I had great posture. He finds good posture in women sexy. I contribute that to going barefoot and I’m certain I’ve avoided many other problems because of it.
Key Point #1: We are structurally made to go barefoot.
I’ll let the docs speak out on this:
“Walking barefoot develops the muscles and ligaments of the foot, increases the strength of the foot’s arch …and contributes to good posture”. Dr. Tracy Byrne, Podiatrist
“Natural gait is biomechanically impossible for any shoe-wearing person,” ~Dr. William A. Rossi
“. . . most adults’ foot trouble would either not exist or would be much less bothersome if properly-shaped shoes had been worn during childhood or, better yet, if those people had gone barefoot . . .” Dr. Thomas Hale, Hospital Director, NY
“. . . It is not enough that children’s feet be free from deforming shoes – foot health also depends upon going barefoot in order to develop agility and strength in the feet . . . . For toddlers, shoes should be worn outdoors only during inclement weather and indoors only for infrequent dress-up occasions . . . ” Dr. Simon Wikler, Foot Surgeon
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises not to put kids in shoes until the environment absolutely requires it because they know shoes weaken and misshape the feet.
Key Point #2: Arches and the cushioning myth.
Yes you need arch support. Shoes, no matter how expensive, give the incorrect type. An arch is a structure that can support weight over an open space. It does this by giving support on either end of that space. Shoes do the opposite. Your feet need your own arch to support your body and the way that happens is your heel must be level with the toes. The back support of typical shoes is always higher than the front and the foot is forced to adapt with harmful results. The more cushioned the shoe, the less protection it offers. Your body is made to take care of itself, not have misguided help with padded shoes and arch supports which only service to weaken and distort the feet. Even more damage is caused, because when you have padding of any type under your feet, the feet and legs naturally come down hard as they search for stability. This constant shock and jarring is what causes many injuries.
“Individuals who grow up barefoot, naturally have the support they need for both ends of their foot arch, and this is likely part of the reason why their foot arches function perfectly throughout their lifetimes, and their feet do not break down, unlike 80% of Americans who by nature of their habitual shoe wearing and compromised arches, will suffer some form of foot problem at some point in their lives.” Dr. Ray McClanahan, D.P.M. (Podiatrist)
“…shoes create bad posture… back pain, hip pain, knee pain, and foot pain can all be traced back to your shoe(s)… Dr. Daniel Howel, Ph.D
Key Point #3: Stepping On Stuff
Many times the things we fear are not based on much reality. Yes, stepping on gravel or a stone will hurt a little. But you’ll rub your foot and move on. You seldom if ever see broken glass lying around. If you do… don’t step on it. There are certainly times when you have to wear shoes. Just try to be barefoot as much as possible! Stepping on a stick or stone will smart for a few seconds… but then you forget about it. The facts are, years of wearing and running in shoes does long lasting damage and causes a myriad of injuries. The bottoms of your feet get thicker and stronger the more you go barefoot. Things you could not bear to walk on before due to your tender tootsies will become a non-issue!
Key Point #4: Running shoes cause injuries.
This is probably one of those huge lies for profit and it’s easily seen in the running community. Runners have an incredibly high injury rate… 65% to 85%! For the greater part, these injuries are caused when running in shoes. When you do so your feet strike the ground heel first as they try to adapt to the uneven and unnatural padding. This puts incredible strain on the feet, legs body and joints with a constant jarring effect. When you run barefoot your gait is changed and the ball of your foot hits first in a very fluid motion which is how it’s meant to be. Injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints disappear. The more expensive the shoes the worse the injuries in most cases. (Bernard, Marti, M.D. Study) Companies create running shoes for one reason only. Profit.
“Modern running injuries skyrocketed with the invention of the modern running shoe, which altered the natural gait of the runner and enabled a stride which focused massive forces into the knees, hips and lower back.” -Dr. Matthew Rushford
NOTE: Never start running barefoot without reading up on it first and learning how to break your feet in to this way of running after they have been weakened by years of shoes.
What Going Barefoot Will Do For You
Correcting Foot Problems: Your feet will adapt and become more stable and strong. Flat feet, fallen arches and high arches will even out. Feet are healthier and less stinky when not kept constantly in a dark damp container where bacteria and fungus thrive. Dr. Mark Cucuzzella had arthritis in his toes so bad his doctor told him to give up running. He learned about barefoot running and studied it intensely. By running barefoot he was able to run pain-free and injury-free for the first time in many years. He continues to do so today.
Posture: Because of wearing shoes, most people adopt a pelvic tilt to maintain balance. This is because even tennis shoes have a heel that is higher than the front of the shoe and therefore you’re are not walking flat as intended. So you must adjust to keep balance. Walking without shoes means you no longer have to do that and your posture becomes much better.
Reflexology: Reflexology is where the nerve endings on the bottom of the feet are pressed to stimulate many of the healing processes in the body including the immune system. It can also reduce inflammation and pain, lower blood pressure and relieve stress and tension. When you go barefoot this is done automatically! The benefits to the body due to all the points on your feet hitting the hard ground regularly is innumerable. Going barefoot means a stronger body, better posture, less joint pain, more mobility and greater health.
Earthing: You may or may not have heard this term in relationship to the body and health. The earth carries a natural negative charge. This is why we ground many electrical devices in our homes. If you’ve ever gotten a natural shock by touching someone or something you’ve experiences your body’s way of trying to discharge the unwanted electricity it’s taken in. Just like our appliances, if we have direct contact with the ground it allows us to discharge the same way, removing free radicals. Bare feet allow you to do this constantly.
The Bottom Line
Give it a try. Take off your shoes and go barefoot for a few hours every week, especially on the grass. If you’re a runner read up on it and try it barefoot. You just might be amazed at how much better you’ll feel if you allow your feet to work the way they were designed to. So put your best “bare” foot forward!
I’ll leave you with this…
ON RESEARCHING: When you research any topic and find the pros and cons for each side, be aware of who is speaking and what their motivation is. Also be aware of who funds any studies. Using logic and reason will go far as you search for the truth on any topic.