The barefoot debate comes around and goes around cyclically as much as fashion and music styles do.
Every once in a couple of decades, someone decides to write up, do research on just how natural our feet are. Why are we shoving our feet into gel pads, air pockets, orthotics, rubber or foam when our feet would be perfectly fine on their own? After all, aren’t we creating a dependency on these foot related products? Just like being compared to ‘Big Pharma’ is the shoe and footwear industry creating a dependency that doesn’t need to be there?
Let’s look at things from a common sense standpoint. Footwear, first and foremost was to protect our feet from the dirty ground. Yes dirt is dirty. It can hold fungus, bacteria and viruses very well. It can even house creepy crawly animals like bugs or hold sharp objects like jagged rocks and twigs. The very first human beings started wearing foot protection for those very reasons.
This is why everybody needs to have good footwear at all times. I know that there are times when you want to go barefooted. After all, there is a time and place for everything.
I will discuss about those times as when to have proper footwear.
Newtonian physicis describes in its third law that every action has an opposite and equal reaction. When we extend to physics of the human body we know that for every pound of pressure we place into our feet, we get the same pressure coming into our body. This is depending if the surface of the ground is hard. When it is hard, you get all of that pressure back into your body. This pressure has to be dissipated and distributed throughout a person’s muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage in their joints and even bone. When the surface is softer, some of that pressure is distributed. Now wouldn’t it make sense that if an individual had pain in any of their feet, legs, hips and low back, that you would want pressure taken away and put into something other than your body? Bingo on the shoes!
Now what about the barefoot runners and minimalist shoe movement?
Anybody who has paid attention to this movement already knows it’s being debunked to a certain extent. Anybody who created a minimalist shoe or shoe that was supposed to mimic walking or running in bare feet have gotten into hot water for some of their health claims. I won’t get into that here. What I am trying to convey is that a healthy foot will stay a healthy foot when it doesn’t have to do any more work than it is built to do. If you train slowly and build up to running bare feet, then your feet may adapt well and become less dependent on footwear, it is possible. However for the rest of us, our feet were not meant to be on hard, man made surfaces of asphalt, cement, hardwood floors, ceramics tile and even carpet. Our feet better adapt to softer surfaces like sand or dirt. If you have to go bare foot, I would much rather you go barefoot on a beach or on grass than in your own home on hard floors.
Let’s not forget the microbes out there. Microbes that can cause painful warts, bacterial infections and even fungus. Are these not things we have evolved away from by the very invention of the first time a human wrapped their feet in animal skins to hunt and gather food for their families back in the caves?
Speaking of microbes, let’s not forget the public water parks and swimming pools this summer. Naturally you’d want to be barefooted in the water but do not forget your sandals before you venture around the pool deck, change rooms and showers. They are teeming with microbes of all kinds just waiting to get you. My best suggestion is wear water shoes at all times at a water park and sandals at a swimming pool so you can kick them off before you go in the water. Have fun this sunmer！