Things to Keep in Mind Next Time You Go Barefoot
You may or may not have heard, but going barefoot is currently trendy and recommended by a number of different people for a variety of different reasons.
There is, in fact, an entire website dedicated to the promotion of going barefoot (you can find it here). There are many health claims being made about going barefoot — some are pretty far out and some may be making more valid points.
Running barefoot is all the rage with runners these days, whether that means minimalist running shoes or actually no shoes at all the point remain the same: things are better with your feet unencumbered by shoes.
In terms of style, barefoot is also seeming to be in at the moment with the Telegraph writing an article entitled Why Going Barefoot has Become the New Status Symbol. But aren’t people forgetting something?
Shoes came into existence for a practical purpose, which was to protect your feet. Going barefoot in the summer on your lawn is obviously pretty safe, but in a wider sense going without shoes carries with it a number of risks and health hazards.
As natural as it may feel you need to remain aware of some of the risks involved and be smart when deciding to kick off your shoes and when to leave them on. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Without shoes on your feet, they are quite a bit more susceptible to burns, whether that is a sunburn or a burn from coming into contact with a hot surface such as metal or asphalt or sand. People who suffer from diabetes are at greater risk, since they may not adequately feel temperature or pain when their feet are in trouble. If in doubt keep your shoes on.
One of the most common foot ailments there is, Plantar Fasciitis can develop for many different reasons but one basic one is because the feet are put under more stress than they are used to (like walking without soles underneath them). Most people wear shoes all the time and therefore have not developed certain muscle groups in the feet that are put under a lot of strain when you are walking barefoot. Walking on irregular surfaces without shoes can make this condition worse or hasten its arrival.
Think about it….the last time you put on sunscreen did you make sure to apply it all the way down to your feet? Chances are decent that you didn’t as many people hit the primary parts of their body but leave the feet exposed.
This is because feet tend to burn less easily than say your neck, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t at risk. By going barefoot for long stretches of time you are simply increasing your exposure to some of the damage the sun can cause. Being diligent about sunscreen, staying in the shade, and wearing water shoes can all help to reduce your risk.
Our feet are generally designed to walk on soft, natural, undulating surfaces. Walking on average between 5,000 to 10,000 steps a day on flat, hard or rigid surfaces puts our feet under abnormal stress. In the case of going barefoot, this dynamic can cause up heel pain (or achy feet in general) — this is because of the way pressure distributes as each step hits the ground. In you plan to go shoeless often keep this in mind as well.
Pools, hot tubs, beaches, locker room floors, public showers, and saunas can all be breeding grounds for germs and fungi. Coming into contact with the wrong bug at the wrong time can easily lead to a foot infection. These can range from minor to extremely serious (ask anyone who has had a staph infection). Especially since it’s quite easy to nick or cut your feet on wet surfaces without noticing it right away. Wear a good pair of plastic or rubber sandals/flip flops can go a long way towards reducing your risk of infection.
Cuts, scrapes or other skin trauma
The most common and obvious types of problems that can arise from going without shoes is some form of physical injury to your feet. Cutting them on sharp cement, scraping them on a chain link fence, stepping on a piece of glass and puncturing the skin — the list goes on and on. This is particularly true for kids who have a tendency to not walk very carefully. Additionally, if your tetanus is not up to date cutting your foot can mean a trip unwanted trip to the doctor’s office. The best way to protect yourself in this sense is to wear shoes most of the time and take them off only when common sense dictates.
Before you come to the conclusion that this article is all doom and gloom or being overly cautious remember we are simply trying to warn of all common risks. These don’t happen all the time, they’re just good to be aware of.
Also, know that this article is meant for informational purposes and is not a substitute for any form of diagnosis or treatment of foot related health problems.
Feeling grass on your feet in spring or sand between your toes in the summer can be an amazing feeling. Just exercise a bit of common sense when it comes to going barefoot and keep your feet happy and healthy.