Should You Consider Extended Barefoot Walking?

Most of us are likely to wear shoes or sandals whenever we are going outside. Not only do shoes provide protection for our feet against harmful elements, but they also give a little bit of cushion to make it much more comfortable for us to walk or run.

walking barefoot on a trail full of rocks

However, there are certain instances wherein shoes can give us problems, one of which is when we begin to develop over-pronation or over-supination. In over-pronation, our feet will tilt more inwards whenever we are taking a step, and this could lead to knee and ankle pain. Over-supination can also cause pain, but instead of tilting inwards, our feet will slightly bend outwards, putting too much pressure on our smaller toes and heels.

By wearing poorly fitted shoes, our over-pronation or over-supination will get worse since footwear that is too tight or too loose doesn’t allow our feet to correct its natural movement.

Several people who are suffering from these foot conditions would often buy stability shoes to alleviate the symptoms, but sometimes this would not work as some shoes would only be able to hide the condition but not heal it fully.

One of the best ways that experts recommend to heal foot stability problems is by walking barefoot. However, there are specific advantages and disadvantages of not wearing shoes outside. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of barefoot walking that you should know before you consider doing it.

Advantages

As previously mentioned, walking barefoot allows our feet to move naturally as opposed to wearing shoes where it would most likely hinder our movements.

Most shoes often have weights that may be too much for our feet to handle, and the heaviness of these shoes would cause complications to our knees. In addition, the weights of some shoes are not even distributed properly, as they tend to be heavier on the heel part rather than the forefoot section. This creates an unnatural movement in our feet called heel strike, where our heels get too much impact and shock from the ground. The correct way to walk or run is by landing with our forefoot, and we wouldn’t be able to do this motion if we are wearing heavy shoes.

barefoot on the beach

If our feet got used to heel striking, then we will probably do that dangerous movement even if we are not wearing shoes. The best way to prevent heel striking is by practicing forefoot striking while walking or running barefoot. Without shoes, we will be able to perform the correct striking motion much easier.

As our feet’s shock absorption is properly working when we’re barefoot, we will be able to prevent pressure points and hot spots to build up in specific parts of our feet. These pressure points usually cause hammertoes, claw toes, and bunions, which are deformities that would sometimes need surgery to get rid of.

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Vibram Men's KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe
WHITIN Men's Minimalist Trail Runner | Wide Toe Box | Barefoot Inspired
Inov-8 Men's Bare-XF 210 V2 Sneaker

 

Disadvantages

If we got used to wearing shoes and heel striking, walking barefoot outside still produce risks for our feet. As we became too dependent on shoes, walking barefoot would feel unnatural not only for our mind but also for our feet as well.

It is recommended that you try walking barefoot indoors first before going outside without any shoes. You should slowly build your feet’s balance and strength so that it wouldn’t rely on shoes to guide its movements.

Consider consulting a doctor or a physical therapist to see if there are any improvements to your feet after you went barefoot for a couple of days or weeks. They may even recommend exercises or stretches so that your feet will be able to build strength much more efficiently.

Another disadvantage of barefoot walking is that our feet will get exposed to hazardous elements outside like bacteria and viruses. Besides pathogens, our feet will also get easily wounded if we step on sharp objects like shards of glass or splinters that could cause inflammation and infection if left untreated. Also, if the ground is too warm or too cold, our feet may suffer as they cannot naturally adapt to extreme temperatures, which could typically lead to frostbites or burns.

To solve this problem of exposure to the elements outside, several shoe companies have developed minimalist shoes that will provide protection for your feet without adding a lot of weight and without hindering the body parts’ natural movements.

One of the most well-known minimalist shoes used by barefoot walkers or runners is the VibramFiveFingers, which are the shoes that popularized the barefoot walking trend. The FiveFingers look like toe socks where your toes can easily wriggle while wearing them, but the minimalist shoes are much more rigid as they typically have plastic sections that would make them durable. Other popular minimalist shoes include the WHITIN Trail Runner and the Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V2 Sneaker.

Barefoot walking has its pros and cons, but its drawbacks can slowly be mended by proper training and by wearing the appropriate style of shoes. Review its advantages and disadvantages once again and see if barefoot walking is right for you.