Shed those shoes: Being barefoot benefits brain development and more!
It drove my mother crazy when I went barefoot as a kid. Still does – because I’m in stockinged feet in the fall and winter and barefoot the rest of the time!
I can’t stand the confinement of shoes. And I’ve long been an advocate for children to go without them. As I wrote in the very first edition of my textbook:
“Children have been moving in sneakers for physical activity for so long we seem to have forgotten that feet do have sentient qualities. They can be used to grip the floor for strength and balance, and their different parts (toes, ball, sole, heel) can be more easily felt and used when bare. Furthermore, there is evidence indicating that going barefoot strengthens feet and improves body alignment. Young children feel a natural affinity for the ground that can be enhanced by removing all the barriers between it and the feet.”
Nothing really startling there. But you might be surprised to learn that there’s scientific evidence that barefooted is better. Among other things, it’s important to development of the nervous system and to optimal brain development as well! Turns out the feet are the most nerve-rich parts of the human body, which means they contribute to the building of neurological pathways in the brain. Covering them in shoes, therefore, means we’re eliminating all kinds of opportunities for children’s brains to grow new neural connections.
Of course, it’s worry that keeps parents and teachers from setting children’s feet free. One common concern is that kids will contract germs by going barefoot. (That’s my mother’s issue.) But our skin is designed to keep pathogens out. We’re much more likely to become ill from touching something with our hands, which are in contact with so many things during the course of a day. I’d hate to think we’d keep kids in gloves all day to prevent germs!
There’s also concern about injury. But being barefoot actually toughens up the bottom of the feet, so unless children are walking through a construction site full of nails, the likelihood that they’ll injure themselves is slim.
The truth is, many podiatrists contend that shoes can be much more harmful to little feet than nakedness can. Feet should be allowed to develop naturally, not conform to the shape of a shoe. Also, shoes can often constrict movement of the feet, and can negatively impact walking, balance, sensory development, and proprioception (the understanding of our body’s orientation in the space around us).
If you’re worried about the potential chaos of many children shedding shoes and socks at the same time, you can establish and practice routines for removing and retrieving footwear. Socks should be put inside shoes and shoes lined up against a wall or placed in each child’s cubby. And should you have children who are reluctant to remove shoes and socks, you can encourage them with concepts like “barefoot time” or, for toddlers, “tippy-toe time.” They’ll also become more enthusiastic about bare feet if you remove your shoes and socks as well.
If you still face reluctance (and even if you don’t!), offer sensory experiences like those shown in a couple of fabulous videos I’ve shared on Facebook (here and here). In them, children are walking barefoot through plastic bins filled with many different textures, including water, soapy water, sand, leaves, and more. It would be the rare child who’d pass up temptations like these!
I am 59 yo and am preparing to run my fourth consecutive barefoot Auckland Marathon here in NZ. I have been running barefoot since turning 55. Totally agree with the benefits for children but why stop there. Consider the benefits for seniors who so often struggle with balance and general foot strength/sensitivity. It’s also hard to overrate the additional benefits of increased blood circulation in the lower legs and perpetual warm feet. I wish I had known that at the point where I started wearing shoes because that was the social norm as a teenager. Thanks for raising the awareness. Right on the money!
Tom, thanks so much fo ryour comment. I hadn’t considered the benefits to seniors…even though I actually qualify as one! I’ll definitely bring this up the next time someone frowns on my barefootedness!
Tom is right. I am 64 and hate wearing shoes. That’s the first thing I ditch at the door when I get home from work. Growing up, we weren’t allowed to wear shoes in the house so a big thank you goes out to my mom. As a senior I can honestly say the only time I have balance issues is when I’m in shoes. Barefoot, I can feel the Earth’s rotation through my tootsies!
Love this, Kaye! I’m also 64 and ditch the shoes immediately upon entering the house as well! 🙂
Trouble is some carpet companies say the oils etc from feet cause more residue on them than the wearing of shoes. (Never figured that one!) Also going barefoot keeps us ‘grounded’ – Our bodies are charged and going barefoot on the grass is a great idea to discharge and heal.
I’m 83 and really enjoy barefooting. I’ve done it all my life so have no comparison. I even do my morning workout barefoot. I have wood floors.
I love this article and the comments! I hate wearing shoes and would teach lessons barefoot, walk around my house without shoes, and drive barefoot. I’d wear shoes to and from places and I’d kick them off once I got in the car. About 3 years ago, I liberated my feet entirely. I keep a pair of shoes in the car for places that require shoes….stores, restaurants, etc… but for the most part go shoeless everywhere. 🙂
Your comment made me smile, Esther!
I exactly the same as you Esther. I am an early childhood educator and encourage children to take off their shoes. It frustrates me sometimes that I have to advocate for them at work to both other teachers and parents worried about getting sick from not wearing shoes on a cold day or shoes to walk & climb. Cold doesn’t make you sick, germs do. So often I have a child who can’t balance properly on something wobbly or can’t climb a tree. As soon as I remove it they can do it as their toes can grip and they can balance
Thanks for weighing in, Mel! Always glad to have anecdotal support!
I am 64 also and when May 1st hit i was allowed to go barefooted anywhere but church.. i was thankful for a grandma who disliked shoes as much as i did.. i still wear only crocs and flipflops now.. i find my balance off in shoes..
In the Pacific communities, feet are often bare in church too – taking shoes off is a sign of respect!
That’s very cool, Heather! Thanks for sharing.
We always went barefoot at home (still do, socks in winter, tiles too cold for my poor circulation) and often as kids we’d walk to our friends’ places or the local convenient store barefoot.
My family didn’t go to church but when I was in my mid 20’s I started to and from then to now (39) I usually slip my shoes off when I get to my seat. It’s comfy and I feel like I’m honouring God as well as saying, I’m comfortable coming to Him as me, no façade, and standing firm yet vulnerable.
(As a former occupational therapist and early childhood educator I also agree with your article Rae).
Thanks, Lisa! I love OTs. 🙂
Rebecca, I’m 59..and live barefoot as much as I can. I wear shoes INto the church but remove them once in my seat. Especially during worship! I remebered one day where God told Moses to remove his sandals as he was standing on Holy ground. Sooooo, as my personal “thing” between God and I in that place i remove them as a sign of reverence. (Some others have followed suit..just makes sense to me ❤)
I totally agree with you! Pretty much the only time we wore shoes growing up was when we went out shopping, dinner, etc. I too have way better balance when bare foot. I was outside putting together a couple rock gardens for neighbors, climbing up and down big construction dirt piles for awesome rocks. Everyone kept telling me to put shoes on, so finally I did. I stepped on a round rock, completely turned over my right foot then preceded to involve the left foot, fell down the hill and severely sprained the right ankle, broke the left ankle in 3 places with a compound. I know if I had stayed barefoot, none of this would have happened. Barefoot all the way for me!
All my life I have adored going bare footed.Even now I have to remember to wear slippers in the house. The reason I have to do this is because I am diabetic and have to prevent damage to my feet.
I was think that very thing when reading. Older people tucked away with feets covered and rugged. They may feel more alive at the beach and on a walk bare foot. How nice that might be for them .
What a good comment. I teach “smart feet” lessons and seniors need to walk around without such stiff shoes.
“Smart feet” lessons! Sounds like fun, Mary!
Mary, do you have a website pertaining to your classes? I would like to hear more!
Right on! I am turning 77 in a month and am always barefoot at home. I would be the same in public if I could get away with it. In addition, when my son started walking it was barefoot, and continued throughout his childhood. We both have strong feet and legs.
What type of ‘nourishment’ would you recommend for a senior’s feet.
Great point re the benefits not just for children Tom.
I have been known as the barefoot man for over 40 years. I am now 72 and still go everywhere barefoot in the summer (I live in UK). Even in the winter I only ever wear sports sandals, which are often ditched if conditions are acceptable. In fact yesterday I was out in the garden, working all day, with nothing on my feet. It was so comfortable.
It is very true, long exposure to the elements means I never get cold feet. I still only wear sandals when it snows, unless I’m going to be in deep snow for a length of time. My body has adapted to the need to keep the feet warmer by diverting more blood that way.
That’s awesome, great idea:). I used to love playing bare foot tennis as a teenager, now that makes more sense!
Yes! Well said Tom. I’m 65 and find that working barefoot in the garden is so envigorating. Stimulates that glow I recall from running around barefoot as a child
I’m 77 years old and compete in T&F in the USA. I prefer to run barefoot (100m, 200, 400m). I always run barefoot Indoor. I run barefoot Outdoor when conditions permit. A video link is attached. I also ran barefoot in the anchor leg of a Masters 4×400 in the 125th running of the Penn Telays this April (2019) – my team Philadelphia Masters set an American Record for our age-group (M75). https://www.facebook.com/FloTrack/videos/10156302163339445/?v=10156302163339445
Wow. Congratulations, Tom!
A friend undergoing radium treatment for cancer was told to go home and mow his lawn barefooted to earth the rays.
Good point! Also grounding outside on grass has to be done barefoot. Interesting article
I have spent most of my life barefoot also. For me happiness is barefoot on a teal deck with a good breeze.
Thanks for this Rae. In my primary school days we kids, all went barefooted to school. just the norm. Also there is the phenomenon called earthing. …which is best barefoot on grass and ground.
You’re very welcome, Joan! I’ve heard of earthing. Very cool.
I did ‘earthing’ once on part of a coastal forest walk. A group of us shed our shoes and it felt very nice, especially n deep moss
Yes, EARTHING That is what I read about. Grass and ground makes sense but concrete, plastic?
Vivian, I walk on concrete to the mailbox and back every day, weather permitting. At the beginning of the season, it’s a bit rough on the feet; but by the end of summer they’ve toughened up!
I love going barefoot. As children, we used to take forays out on to the road early in the season to toughen up our feet. By the time it got really hot we were able to cross streets with no problem. My feet get cold too easily now, so I don’t get to be barefoot as often as when I was younger.
Concrete is probably conductive….depends what’s underneath. Plastic, asphalt, and wood surfaces…no.
I love shoes, but love walking barefoot more. Science is now proving the health benefits of walking barefoot, for all ages, and how it can improve mental capacity and mood. I’m lucky to live by the beach, so can walk barefoot in shallow seawater which, is even more beneficial. Feet in contact with the Earth, Earthing, connects us to important energies within the Earth. If we all did that for half hour a day, there would be fewer mental health problems, also better connection to Mother Earth. That would help stop the destruction of the planet, I think!
It’s an all-round, good thing to do ♥️✌???
I lecture at a university and my students often laugh at me when I kick off my shoes during a tutorial session and walk around without them. I also tend to remove them when I’m in my office. However because of I am so comfortable doing this, I’ve noticed that many of my students and colleagues have now started doing the same and have also started walking barefoot in class and the office. There’s nothing wrong with that and it’s definitely more comfortable!!
Christine, you’re singlehandedly (footedly?) starting a revolution! I often kick off my shoes when I’m conducting staff development training. I may need to start doing it during keynotes as well! The only problem: I’m then even shorter than usual. 🙁
I love it! I was always so very happy when my teachers taught classes barefoot, because it totally validated my love of not wearing shoes! Barefooter for life, here!
Thank you, so glad I stopped by to check this out. My son daycares his son at home, whenever I go to visit my grandson (28 mos), he is always barefoot, I forget as a child we (I am 62) never wore shoes in the country. #ILOVEBAREFEET! Thank you, so glad I stopped by.
I’m glad you stopped by too, Ellen!
Love the article! I am an unapologetic barefooter, lifelong, because bare feet simply bring me joy & make me feel young at heart! I always dance barefoot at wedding receptions with my gal pals, who all love that I’ll party in bare feet with them, as fast as they shed their high heels and leave them under the table for the entire reception! I also get regular pedis, because I figure that, if I’m gonna promote the happiness of bare feet, I’d better make sure I keep my goods looking top-notch! 🙂 Thanks again, and #livelifebarefoot
You’re welcome, Al! Dancing barefooted is the only way to go. I’m sure you last a lot longer on the dance floor than your high-heeled friends! (I’ve never really understood how anyone can walk in those, let alone dance!)
Benard Rudofsky, a Brazilian Architect designed homes to be barefoot in, making sure that inside and out there were many interesting sensory experiences for bare feet. He also wrote a book called THE UNFASHIONABLE HUMAN BODY where explains the origin of high heels shoes which were worn by men in the French Court to make the me appear taller! Cowboy boots carry on this abomination. When I met my wife 42 years ago, she was complaining of sore feet, she was a pharmacist (always in her feet), I told her that 4’11” was tall enough and she should not ever wear high heels again. She stopped wearing them and now wears fabulous toe socks and sandals and I gave her foot massages every evening until she retires. We are both 72 years old and our grand girls are out of their shoes as soon (or sooner) as they get home from school. At their preschool they always go barefoot as do the teachers and at 3 and 5 years old they have beautiful feet that haven’t been deformed by shoes! Thanks for the wonderful article, I’m sharing it with my brain training class of seniors looking to maintain and improve our cognitive health and you’ve just given us a new tool to work with!!!
Additionally, I love the idea of teachers going barefoot in class! I used to go barefoot at school a lot, during my high school years, and at Stonybrook U., when the weather was warm enough for it! It turns out, I had a 9th grade social studies teacher, and an 11th grade math teacher, who both would kick off their heels behind their desks, and taught their classes barefoot, almost everyday! In fact, there was one funny incident where I was barefoot in that math class, my sneakers tucked in my backpack, and my teacher, with her shoes already off, patted me on the shoulder and laughed, “Looks like I’m not the only one who loves bare feet!”.. Hah, I knew I wasn’t so completely crazy after all! 🙂
Happiness from my side!
Barefoot is my style (sometimes to my family’s dismay) hahaha!
Staying in Cape Town, which makes me more relaxed, I recently went to visit my sisters in Gauteng. Here I am so used to going into shops barefooted, but there I was frowned upon when I forgot my shoes at home and went into a mall barefeet. Nevertheless, I just walked on. Call me eccentric, I said to my sisters but never boring!
Unfortunately, here in the States we wouldn’t be allowed to walk barefoot through the mall. 🙁
You’d be surprised!
All it takes is confidence.
You will get busted here and there but with the right attitude armed with info obtainable at
http://www.barefooters.org you will probably achieve a 90% success rate as I have all over the US.
Alan, thanks for letting us know about your organization! I just got a call this morning from a mom whose toddler is being forced to wear hard-soled shoes in child care, supposedly due to “state health regulations.” She’s put in a call to her health department and is awaiting an answer, but I was fascinated to see on your site that that statement is almost always untrue.
I had wide feet to begin with and hated constrictive shoes so I was usually barefoot and that trend stuck (I also attended school for the ‘gifted’ and was tested to have a very high IQ. Not something I usually share but seemed relevant, given the topic of discussion). Now 40, with two middle school age kids, I was recently told by a podiatrist that I had the healthiest feet he had ever seen! My children attend a school where it’s written in to the dress code and code of conduct that children may remove shoes when on natural surfaces like grass and dirt at will, and in the classroom when permitted by a teacher. They are expected to wear shoes on man made surfaces. I found that interesting and was glad to read it as there was no leniency on this topic when I was in school. Their elementary had children out of shoes often (same school), and I (of course) have encouraged it all their lives. I’m often appalled at the rigid shoes parents put on their infants, let alone young walking children. We need more articles like this to raise awareness. Thank you!
You’re very welcome! I’m amazed at the response this topic has generated!
My kids all went barefoot. My youngest didn’t even keep her shoes on in preschool. She had half her class going barefoot every day at preschool. We all still go barefoot as much as we can.
I love that your daughter was a trend setter, Jennifer! 🙂
I’m sure there’s also considerable benefit to forgoing the obsessive concern with having the “right” brand of shoes…
I’ve always been mostly barefoot and at 47 only wear shoes when I go out. My childhood was spent barefoot and climbing trees, clambering over rocks and roaming the bushland. My kids are all barefooters, in fact my youngest who is aspergian only owns one pair of “shoes”…thongs! I despaired of getting shoes on his feet when he went to school, but they were accommodating and allowed him to wear soft, comfortable shoes. Still, he had them off more often than not. Now that he’s home schooled, he only wears “shoes” (thongs) outside the house.
Lisa, I’m so glad that when your son did go to school, they were accommodating! I can only begin to imagine how distracting it would have been for him to suddenly have his feet “entombed!” Thanks for sharing your story!
I am a senior 72 years old and I go barefooted all the time. I have nueropthy and can’t stand to have shoes on. when I go out for dinner I have to wear flip flops can’t even put shoes on.
Sharon, at the opposite end of the spectrum was my grandmother. She wore shoes with heels and wedges (even her slippers were wedged!) for so many years that she completely lost the ability to lower her heel to the floor. Her achilles tendon couldn’t stretch! It’s ironic that people will worry about “germs” when people walk barefoot, but few seem to consider the hazards to knees, hips, spines, and more that occur when women wear those ungodly high heels!
What a wonderful article. I grew up in South America on the edge of the rain forest. The only shoes we had were the ones required for school which were taken off and preserved the second we arrived home. As the time went by and we were able to afford shoes to wear other than at school I remember my dad would get annoyed by our shoe wearing habits and as a result we did not wear them as often. His only explanation was that they were not good for us because we couldn’t feel the bottom of our feet in shoes. His generation understood something science is now shedding light on. Interestingly, none of us 12 children have any foot issues and I am the youngest now at 53.
Sorry for the delay in posting your comment! It got stuck in the spam filter.
I love your story — and the fact that your father intuitively understood what was best for you!
I leave my toddler barefoot 99% of the time, mostly because I just don’t feel like putting shoes on their their feet.
I am a preschool teacher in Montgomery County, Maryland where regulations require children in a childcare setting to wear shoes at all times including rest/nap time.
That is absolutely preposterous, Becky. I also wonder if it’s true. According to the Soceity for Barefoot Living, it virtually never is. You can see what they have to say at http://www.barefooters.org/health-codes-and-osha/.
Another great website is http://www.barefootislegal.org they have a lot of information, and are an advocate for barefooters.
Thanks for the resource, Rob!
At 66 years of age , having been a tomboy when I was young and free, then confined to the norm as an office worker for 30 years I have found freedom. Diagnosed as diabetic of late I noted that when I was wearing slip on shoes it felt like I was walking on cardboard. Of late have been walking barefoot and there definitely is a difference . My toes are getting stronger and feet feel “more”. Mentioned it to my podiatrist, she had a chuckle and said “Stay barefoot , it is very good for you.” As she is a native of Tonga I considered her statement in the light that these people have a connection with the earth and are always smiling. Thank you for the post , it validated my barefoot joy.
Nelly, thanks so much for sharing your story! It brought a huge smile to my face!
Good article! I started going barefoot full time (work excluded) about 20 years ago. I go everywhere barefoot (shopping, homes of friends and family, church, etc.), all year round. I no longer suffer from tendonitis in my knees, lower back discomfort, or achy feet. Also, I am hardly ever ill. Plus, the comfort and freedom are added bonuses. Truly, one of the best decisions I have ever made. My teenage daughter has followed in my “bare” footprints as well. She only wears shoes for school, and only for class. Once class is over, she is permitted to go barefoot. She is looking forward to college next year, where I’m sure she’ll be attending classes barefoot.
Kent, thanks for joining the conversation! I’m curious to know where you live, that you’re able to go shopping and to church without shoes!
Hi Rae! I live in the deep south of the U.S. People here either don’t notice or don’t care. I have had maybe three confrontations over the past 20 years. Two were at stores and one was at a restaurant. One store and the restaurant ended in my favor. In regard to church, me and my daughter have had nothing but positive inquiries and comments about our bare feet.
Wow! That surprises me. Kudos to you, Kent!
I am an early childhood educator of 27 years now and I have always promoted bare feet. Mainly because I am myself. I see the benefits of it first hand and extend that to the children I teach. I now have my own child care facility and I promote barefootin’ in our center. http://www.facebook.com/nessasyoungunsnaturalplaycenter
Thank you for all you do for children and early childhood professionals.
Thank YOU for all you do for the children, Vanessa! Keep on barefootin’!
Thankful for your article. My 8 year old son Was, runs, plays, climbs etc. Barefooted…we realized that he is a completely different child with shoes that we could hardly deal with. We were planning a hiking trip when he was 2. As a baby he was without shoes. So anyways we thought a good pair of Hiking shoes would make him walk miles…he was not, he was crying, in a bad mood etc. Once we were up the mountain he suddenly took of his shoes and socks and you could see that child breathe…and smile all over the face. He since then takes of his shoes in the middle of March and takes them on to walk to school in the Middle of November. He does everything without shoes, we even spent a week in Rome this year and he walked Via Apia without shoes. He has never ever got injured on his feet, he is a very fast runner, he can hike 6h without moaning, he to me is the downearthed human being I got to know in my life- very sensitive, very powerful. To us, as older he gets, it s becoming difficult to let him do so in public and it costs a lot of back up. People think we force him, we are poor that we have no money to spend in shoes, that he is dirty (we live in Switzerland where water and money for shoes is no problem?) We stand against strong winds but we know that we have a well balanced boy who knows exactly what is good for him and his little body and soul. No back pains, headaches and body structure problems on his side and he stands perfect on his own feet. Sometimes he says: you guys have to take the shoes off and feel the ground and then we do and this is one of the most connecting things we do as a family. Hands up for No shoes required areas…! Thanks again for the article.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Carolin! Congratulations for standing firm in the midst of what I’m sure is a lot of resistance!
Carolin The research we have done on Earthing will give you an understanding of why your son is doing so well. Please check out the information at http://www.earthinginstitute.net
I have never liked to keep shoes on any longer than necessary! But now, at age 58, I have been having problems with my feet for several years, and if I go without shoes for too long, I have a lot of pain in my feet. (I also have pain if I am on my feet a long time – like 5 hours – WITH the shoes). I have been told that I should keep shoes on (with orthotics in place) for as much of the day as possible. Since I hate having shoes on my feet, I have not exactly complied. 🙂 Do you have any suggestions as to how I can keep the barefoot/stockingfoot lifestyle going?
I feel you, June! Have you seen a chiropractor? It sounds as though there may be alignment issues there.
June, I have the same problem. I would love to be grounding all day long. I can’t be in hard surfaces for more than a few minutes without having issues with my feet hurting or cramping. As a kid, I spent the entire Summer barefoot. My feet were stained green from the grass. God I miss that. Maybe I’ll try a little more this year and see if I can work my way up to sone sone more grounding time.
I accidentally fell into the habit of being barefoot at the beginning of this year. It was summer down here in New Zealand, the sun was out, shoes seemed unnecessary. And I just didn’t put them back on (except for two or three occasions where I was legally required to). I live in the inner-city, so needless to say I get a lot of stares. Four months in, I love it! So comfy and totally used to it now. Shoes feel odd, like podiatric prison. I’ll definitely be encouraging my 9 month old daughter to be barefoot as much as possible as she grows.
Benjamin, your story made me smile! “Podiatric prison” is a great phrase. And I’m happy for your daughter!
I have read much that New Zealand is a barefoot-friendly country and that you can barefoot most places without being hassled. Is that still true?
I live in Sweden and nobody here wears shoes in the homes. It is considered unpolite to walk into somebodys home with shoes on.
That’s fascinating, Jen! I’m going to use that bit of information the next time I’m visiting my mom and she comments on my bare feet! 🙂
I love waling barefoot on grass early in the morning. It really soothes my feet
Totally agree with this, however, so many surfaces today are made of synthetic, fire retardant and toxic chemical ingredients, like the very popular wood look laminate floors and poly carpet and I wonder about toxic exposure to those for babies who crawl and walk on them all day? Any research on that? It’s best to be outside anyway.
Martha, I also think it’s best to be outside! But you raise an interesting question. I haven’t heard anything about the possibility of problems with synthetic surfaces. Perhaps someone here has?
I live in Quuensland, Australia. I have been barefoot since infancy. Only wear shoes when I’m out and they come off as soon as I’m past my fence. Can’t imagine wearing shoes all the time! Our ground can get very. Hot in summer so I’ll wear sandals. But otherwise….barefoot….even when it’s cold
India has known this since ages!!!
It’s only after the British rule that barefoot was looked down as uncivilized…leading to adapting their culture. Without realizing that it’s too cold in that part of the world to walk barefoot.
Walking barefoot not only gets u a better grip of the ground but strengthens your muscles too. Today why are there so many legs and knee related issues…cause u have tiled floors….smooth yes but they don’t assist your feet well and u end up with swollen ankles and knee pain.
It’s time to go back to the roots and our ancient wisdom!
Indeed, Harsha — in so many ways our ancient wisdom would serve us better!
Being barefoot outside has huge, huge benefits for all of us, children and adults alike, and emerging research is showing just how huge these benefits are. Have you and your readers heard about Earthing? Here’s the story in a few words: It’s the Mind-Body-Earth Connection. Throughout time, humans have sat, stood, strolled, and slept on the ground – the skin of our bodies touching the skin of the Earth. Such ordinary contact has always served to transfer the Earth’s natural, negative charge into the body. Human lifestyle has disconnected us (insulating shoes, elevated beds, sedentary life). Earthing, also known as grounding, is the discovery that the disconnect makes us more vulnerable to inflammation, pain, stress, poor sleep, and sickness, and that reconnecting to the Earth restores a timeless link to Nature that improves health, sleep, energy, mood, and appearance. Be barefoot as often as you can and experience the benefits. You can find more information, including the research, at http://www.earthinginstitute.net
Martin Zucker, co-author of the Earthing book
We are barefoot as much as practical. Momma and 3 ages 2,3,4.
What are your scientific sources for these claims?
I have no doubt of the benefits of being barefoot, and only experience foot pain after wearing shoes.
That said, it does nothing to spread articles like this absent sources from credible medical experts. Otherwise, it’s opinion.
I see these great, and usually accurate, opinions all the time on fb. I never share unless they’re supported by evidence.
Mel, delighted to learn that you and your little ones go barefoot as often as possible.
Re: sources from credible medical experts, had this been a scholarly article and not a blog post, I certainly would have included them. I did include a couple of links to sources. And, happily, thanks to the many comments here, I’ve learned about two organizations dedicated to being barefoot. If you’d like more in the way of research, you might want to check out http://www.barefooters.org and http://www.earthinginstitute.net!
wow I love this read I came across by accident on a friends page, I hate shoes people always say I got lovely feet for my age, at home I am always barefoot only when it is really cold i wear socks, I love the cold floor on my feet, my toes r straight, gosh this is a feel good feeling. I cream my feet daily they look better than my hands.
Sooo what do you do with plantar fasciitis? I used to go barefoot all the time until I developed this. Now I have to wear shoes with a good arch support until it heals or my foot is in significant pain and can hardly step when I get out of bed.
Definitely not my area of expertise, Jo! Maybe somebody here can answer that for you.
I have had mild plantar fasciitis for several years (after working in the schools where I was on my feet most of the day). I am in my 60’s and a type-1 diabetic. Stretching exercises help. I walk regularly with supportive but not stiff shoes. Now I can do a little barefoot here and there and hope to increase that. You can find these exercises online.
barefoot actually helps in transfer of universal energy from the shasra Chakra to the ground. Cleansing our body and activating cells.
I heard a podcast – and I unfortunately can’t find the reference – emphasizing the benefits of going barefoot on pelvic health for postpartum moms, men, and seniors.
If using our toes for balance is helpful, I presume walking on uneven terrain is preferable? (As opposed to always being on artificially flat floors and sidewalks.)
From what I understand, Colleen, the more natural surfaces we walk barefoot on, the better!
Please help guide me. In my younger years I went barefoot all the time. Still remember the sensation of walking on hot asphalt & running through the pasture. Through the years my feet have changed as they do for most of us. I’m now 60 and my arches have fallen & do not have good support. I tried going barefoot approx 5 years ago & acquired plantar fasciitis….. was awful! I want to do this but I do not want to be in pain. Please advise. Thank you!
Wanda, this is WELL beyond my area of expertise. But you might find answers at barefooters.org or earthinginstitute.net!
I’m 47 and I live in Florida. I wear shoes as little as possible, and I have done so for my entire life. I have always felt more comfortable without shoes. I find them confining, restricting. But then, I am also 6 foot 5 inches (just shy of 2 meters) tall and right now carrying a few extra pounds at 320 (near 146 kilos), so finding comfortable shoes has always been difficult for me.
I had never read any kind of research on barefoot being better, but it makes sense. We do so much to protect our kids these days, things that we never were evolved to do, and it always seems that nature is way ahead of nurture and we need to just stop and let kids be kids. At least that’s what I’ve tried to do with my kids.
Of course in Florida, we have only two seasons; Hot and Not-Quite-So-Hot. So flip-flops or sandals are always advised for walking across asphalt. I made that mistake this past Sunday and actually blistered a couple toes walking 30 feet (10 meters) across a parking lot.
I did wonder too, is there any continued benefit of going barefooted the rest of one’s life, once the physical development has more or less slacked off?
Hi Sean. If you scroll through the comments here, you’ll see many older adults have testified to the benefits of going barefoot — something I hadn’t even considered when I wrote the post! If I recall, much of it related to balance, which certainly makes sense. You’ll likely also find more at http://www.barefooters.org and http://www.earthinginstitute.net. Thanks for joining the conversation — and be careful of that hot asphalt! 🙂
Also some benefit to the connection of the magnetic fields of the earth to the feet.
Alas, with planters fasciitis I’ve been told to stop going barefoot ever. Micro tears in the tendon on the bottom of my feet won’t heal if going barefoot. I must have arch support I’m told.
Such a bummer, Valery!
I hate shoes! It made me happy to read your article and realize there are many other barefooted people out there… I have to wear shoes out in public (most of the time the street is dangerous and unsanitary, plus it’s frown upon to enter certain places with no shoes lol) but my house is a free-toed sanctuary 🙂
I hate shoes, always have. All my friends know this and are totally surprise when they see me wearing shoes. Go barefoot 99 percent of the time.
The shoes are the first thing to come off when I enter the house, Daizee!
I must be weird because i dont like going barefoot. and im only in my late 20s lol. Always have socks on at home since my feet get cold. I prob liked going barefoot as a kid but as i got older I prefer wearing shoes when im out and wearing socks and slippers at home. I always have wear flipflops around waterparks because the concrete kills my feet. my mom and bro go barefoot at home but going outside always shoes.
I am a “wearing shoes hater” mainly due to the fact that I have peripheral neuropathy in both feet. The sense of numbness seems worse when I am wearing shoes. I wear a pair of well-suitable shoes advised and bought from my Podiatrist. With the neuropathy I need to be very careful as I move around my home. I keep the floors clean and dispose of anything that may be a safety issue. For the cooler weather inside my home, I wear a pair of All Day Socks – great for being a diabetic 🙂
What does help me with my ice cube feet I used to go barefoot when I was younger but now that I’m older I don’t do it often because I have lost most of the feeling in my feet I had surgery when I was 12 to cut my heel cords I’ve always had problems with my feet and hands and other joints to the mostly my feet I have very bad balance with this also improve my music I’m not a professional heart player but I was just curious what does improve the way I play the pedals on my Harp
When I was in school they never let me go barefoot plus I had to room where I really really think foot braces socks and heavy shoes where in currently living at the only place I’m allowed to go barefoot is in my bedroom/small apartment I do go barefoot sometimes when I’m at my parents house my first music teacher did have me take my shoes off she said I could keep my socks on Knowing my feet are always cold although one time I did go barefoot she didn’t mind
Gymnasts and swimmers must Be Geniuses!!
This is exactly what we should be doing in schools, everywhere..earthing/ grounding has lots of proven benefits. This, breathing properly, and learning how to reduce the impact of chemicals in the home feel like a v basic and great start. I love this.
I have an MS in chemistry and am a MovNat Certified Trainer (Level 2). I’ve known of the greater amount of nerves in our feet compared to our genitals since reading Born to Run in 2015. Since then when not barefoot I’ve been wearing Softstars, Xeroshoes (of which I am an affiliate,) and the Correct Toes of the Barefoot Podiatrist. While I appreciate you bringing this to the attention of the non-science masses I am only leaving this reply to express my disappointment that while you provide not even a single citation of peer-reviewed literature (despite claiming you interview neuroscientists on Studentcentricity) you link to the post of a “D.C.” (Doctorate of Charlatanism at best) who also (unsurprisingly) provides not a single citation either. As a result, I read but not the title, scrolled through looking for citations, found none, leave this reply and depart to the literature for real, actionable information.
I appreciate you weighing in, Tashi. And while I understand the desire for citations, this is a blog, not a place for research papers or a textbook (my textbook has a great many citations, I assure you).
Also, I must tell you that I have a great deal more respect for chiropractors than I do for medical doctors, the latter of whom have been the cause of much grief and pain for friends and family. My chiropractors through the years, however, have served me well — in ways that no medical doctor could.
When our three sons were learning to walk (42-35 years ago), our doctor told me to let them walk barefoot as much as possible and when they had to wear shoes to wear soft sneakers not stiff leather shoes. At 72 I still like to walk around the house and yard barefooted, and the first thing I usually do when I come home is kick off my shoes. My mother and mother-in-law were the same. I also have a friend who is 90% blind, but she walks alone around our area which has no sidewalks and pretty rough terrain. She always walks barefooted, even in cold weather. She says it helps her sense the terrain and keep her balance. So up with being barefoot!
I love going barefoot. I am 71 years old and still go barefoot all the time. It goes back to my hippie days.
Happy Barefoot Birthday, dear Steve, and all the best, with health and happiness, in peace !
I’m younger (60) but when I go barefoot, I’m feel like a child ^__^
Dinu, from Romania.
I enjoyed this article, but once you said ‘ there is scientific evidence ‘ , I was looking forward to reading references to that and seeing references listed. Didn’t see either, could you please share? Thank you!
I’m glad you enjoyed the article, Karina.
When I’m writing one of my books, or an article for publication in a professional publication, I provide lots and lots of references. My blog, however, is a place I can write more informally. When there is a citation I can easily reference, and to which I can send readers, it’s included as a link. There are two in this piece.
You’ll find a great deal more research from two organizations that were brought to my attention by readers: http://www.barefooters.org and http://www.earthinginstitute.net!
Unless you are like me with Autism and cannot tolertae the feel of anything under bare feet, severe sensory issues. However i also hate shoes but like oure cotton socked feet as it means I dont have the unpleasant feeling i get from being extremely sensitive.
Another benefit I have discovered is that my reflexes are still very fast. I was made aware this by somebody who has been given permission to work barefoot, except when operating machinery (she’s a ranger with National Trust). She made the statement that she had regained her reflexes since working barefoot and in that moment I realised that I HAD NEVER LOST MINE! My physical reflexes are still so fast I can fumble something and catch it before it hits the floor. The body is obviously aware that if I drop something my feet are unprotected, so responds by moving the feet out of the way super-fast. Like the neural pathways improvement, the body adapts to the environment
I have been known as the barefoot man for over 40 years & I’m now 72. Barefoot all summer (UK) and sandals in winter.
I wish I could, plantar fasciitis plagues my left foot, along with heels spurs. I’ve been advised to NEVER go barefoot, even at home. Need the hard arch supports. I try doing exercises, but I feel crippled by the end of day, and the pain is always excruciating after any periods of rest. I’ve been doing all of the recommended stretches, icing down, etc. but I’ve had very little relief.
I miss walking on a plush lawn…
I spent 2 1/2 decades stuck in steel-toed work boots for upwards of 10-12 hours a day, and by the time I got ready to take them off, it was heaven! Otherwise, I was barefoot any time I could be! I preferred it even when working outside – especially then, really! I could get covered in mud, and still feel happier than if I were in shoes! I may have had to hose off my feet after gardening before I could go inside, but it was worth it!
Now, though, I’m disabled, and have serious mobility issues. I desperately miss being barefoot outside all the time, gardening or tending my flocks of chickens and other fowl. I can seldom do it by myself now. I’m always barefoot inside at home now, but it doesn’t replace all the contact with actual bare ground I used to have. When it’s cold, or wet, I daren’t go out barefoot, as it increases my pain levels. I must look forward to when it’s finally warm and dry enough that I can get out and start, a little at a time, to work my little garden areas into plantable areas.
Not really looking for sympathy here, just supporting your theory that people are happier when they can be barefoot! It couldn’t be more true in my case!
All this time, I thought my feet were merely claustrophobic.
I started going barefoot at around age 60, which was eight years ago. I was walking around the lake with a friend and she said she was going to take her shoes off, and I thought I might too. I loved it and decided to be a barefooter right then and there. I love all those feelings of concrete and gravel and grass and water and warmth and coolness and smoothness. Now, except for work, I’m barefoot and I’m retiring in a few months and plan on never wearing shoes again.
I love being barefoot. I even walk barefoot in the snow for short periods of time. The older l get the longer it takes for them to warm up but l love the feeling of the snow on my feet.
My father and 3 of his brothers were raised in an orphanage in VA. They were members of the Shoeless Wonders, a football team that played without shoes. My cousin has continued the tradition and runs shoeless. Movie is in the works about the team.
Will look forward to seeing that, Diane!
I walk the earth in joy –
She caresses my naked feet.
From bush to city street, soft sand to carpet;
My soul touches the earth and rejoices:
I’m standing on holy ground
Summer Song. Copyright Chris Pitcher 1993.
Thanks for sharing this, Chris!
We are a very barefoot family and I love seeing that science supports being barefoot!
My question: Any ideas for calming the chaos created by dirty feet coming inside? My kids leave a trail of dirty prints to the bathroom, where they cover my white tub and tile floors with muddy streaks. (Repeat ad infinitum in the course of an afternoon as they come in and out from play.) For colder weather we have a no-shoes in the house policy, but that doesn’t really work for dirty feet. 😉
Except for a good sturdy doormat I don’t have a clue! Maybe someone else here does?
Congratulations, though, on being a barefoot family!
I wonder if a small “foot cleaning station” would work? A bench, a couple of bath mats, a container of baby wipes, and a trash can would do it! The kids come in, sit down, wipe off their feet with the baby wipes, and dispose of them. Or if you prefer a greener approach, keep a bucket/container of soapy washcloths by the bench instead of the wipes. Their little toes wouldn’t be 100% sparkling clean but it would definitely cut down on the dirt being brought into your home.
Thanks for the suggestions, Cordelia!
“But you might be surprised to learn that there’s scientific evidence that barefooted is better.” Could you please quote the survey/study? Would be really interesting for me, because I’m going to write my bachelor thesis about this topic! 🙂
It’s a very cool topic for a thesis, Franziska. I wish I had the time to go back and find any studies I may have drawn from, but that was two years ago and I’m up to my eyeballs in work! There are a couple of links in the article that you can follow. Also, do check out http://www.barefooters.org and http://www.earthinginstitute.net for more information. Best of luck with your thesis!
This is fascinating! The feet are major conduits for treatment of anxiety, depression, and sleep issues (with grounding therapy and essential oils), so it makes total sense that they would be the gateway to a host of other connections for healing and growth in the body. I agree with those who have mentioned the need for barefootedness in adults. As a woman in my 40s, I love going barefoot as much as, if not more than, when I was a child. I also love the idea of sensory experiences–I plan to try some with my kids! (Thanks to Wellness Mama for sharing this article on Facebook!)
Thanks for Wellness Mama from me too!
Shoes are optional at our k-12 school (and college education and field-biology students) where the forest has been our classroom for nearly 20 years. We may hike in one to 6 miles to where we will spend our day studying and exploring. Throw-out your image of what you think a school should look like when you try to imagine our school. It looks more like a large family where everyone is doing different activities with surrogate cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents and graduate students working with their advisors exploring field biology. The day is organically broken up with deeply focused skills building and research, and with rough and tumble play with a mixed age group. Throughout the day the students are free to take breaks when needed and those breaks may be high or low energy, that time is unstructured and loosely supervised. Some will wear shoes only on the hike in and out. Without shoes they will run and play on rough and rocky terrain through the creeks and forest duff, you will see toes wiggling or digging in the soft soil when reading or writing in any kind of weather. The kids that started when they were 5 and 6 by the time they are preteens have both a mental and physical agility that can be picked out of a group from a distance away, they just carry themselves differently. Is it because they have daily rough and tumble play and free exploration or because they are barefoot much of the day? What I know it is a winning combination that makes them agile, articulate, and quick thinking.
That is remarkable, Brian! Thanks so much for sharing!
Okay yesterday I read it was hugs and today it’s being barefoot.. I got this figured out because next they’ll be saying being pregnant boost brain development. @wolfeagle
There are MANY things that boost brain development, including hugs and being barefoot. It’s nature’s plan!
I’m 81NB and hate shoes! I go barefooted most of the time and attribute my excellent balance to the practice!
We can’t underestimate the value of good balance, Trevor!
Good morning dear RAE !
I don’t like to wear shoes. I grew up in a village in my country, Romania. This was in the early 1960s, when I lived in my grandparents’ house. They were not rich people, but not very poor. They were good and hardworking people. There was their home, in a large garden where they cultivated flowers, trees, fruit trees, vegetables, a vineyard … they had backyard animals. And a lot of grass. And very close to the house, there was a forest. And a lake.
And there, it was “fashionable” for people to be simple. All children were walking barefoot, and even many big men. So I started to live barefoot at 3 years old (in 1962). I have discovered this pleasure of feeling good, free and happy, being in direct contact with Mother Nature. So I lived a barefoot nonstop 6 years, even in winter through the fluffy snow. I taught myself with the earth, with cold water, with all the environmental and climate conditions. I was a healthy boy.
Then, at 7 years old, I moved to the city, along with my parents and my little sister (she also with bare soles). And there was harder. Nature was gone. Instead of grass, it was asphalt. And instead of animals, there were cars, trucks, tractors, buses, trolleybuses, and trams. Much dust and dirt. Pollution. Even with all these bad conditions, my “hobby” continued. I was barefoot in town. People looked strange to me – as if I were a Martian. Many have had wicked words for me. Some have scolded me or even beat me. But a few people have good words of praise and encouragement.
The first pair of shoes I wore at 7 years old when I started school. It was something new, hard and painful. A tortured life.
But then I have never given up on barefoot. Even now, in my 60s.
I wish you all the best, with strong health and happiness, in peace !
Thanks for sharing your story, Dinu. I can’t imagine spending all those years barefooted and then having to stuff my feet into shoes! I wish you strong health and happiness as well!
With all my greatest pleasure, dear RAE. I found something interesting on the Net:
It is interesting, Dinu! Thanks for sharing it with us.
I started living barefoot a few years ago and noticed a significant change in my level of inner peace. While in college, professors and students would often send concerned or judge mental gazes my way about my lack of footwear, but I found it to be quite liberating experiencing life without them. Even just allowing yourself a brief moment to stand in the grass and soak up the energy of Mother Earth can transform your entire day. Kudos to you Tom, for sharing this wisdom with a larger audience and kudos to you all for practicing this concept!
Totally agree with this report. Why stop at childhood though? As a sports masseur and posture corrector, I see so many shoulder, back and hip problems caused by terrible gait and and running/walking technique.
Too many people walk with ankle and foot eversion, normally caused through foot/ankle problems, being overweight, and poor exercise.
I encourage people to moisturise their feet nightly to build the flexibility and dexterity of their skin, increase foot surface area, and improve foot arch. Those working from home I encourage to walk around in socks or preferably bare foot.
Thanks for weighing in, Rob! I do work at home, wearing socks in the winter and bare feet the rest of the year! It’s part of the joy of being self-employed!
I’m a Babyboomer and I teach in Cambodia where you take your shoes off as soon as you come home. I always loved going barefoot and do as soon as I get home. I have to be careful though as I have intense pain on the heel of both feet. I too use to run barefoot and found it wonderful.
So I try to get my shoes off as soon as I can each day and it always feels wonderful.
I love very much this quote:
“Going barefoot is the gentlest way of walking and can symbolise a way of living – being authentic, vulnerable, sensitive to our surroundings. It’s the feeling of enjoying warm sand beneath our toes, or carefully making our way over sharp rocks in the darkness. It’s a way of living that has the lightest impact, removing the barrier between us and nature”
— Adele Coombs, “Barefoot Dreaming” ^___^
Growing up my Mom was always barefoot. She only wore shoes while in town, going to work or church. We were lucky enough to grow up in a beach town, and where there were no signs about no shoes no service. We went barefoot almost all of the time. We ran across the hot gravel parking lot to the beach, across hot sand and climbed the rock jetty. Stores and places to eat allowed bare feet. In the winter we went to our Aunts house across the street barefooted. I am now 70 and the first thing off are my flip flops when i am home. I too was advised to wear orthopedic insoles in my work shoe. Hated them, I couldn’t wait to get my shoes off after work. My kids were barefooted most of the time growing up and they still go barefooted as much as they can. My grandson is following his maternal side of the family, sans shoes. I wear my flip flops year round and anywhere I go they come off so I can cool my feet down on the tile floors. I love the feeling of walking through puddles, mud squishing between my toes, grass feeling like pillows as you walk across it. I have even instructed my family not to put shoes on me when I die, just a pair of slippers with me for just in case!
I’m sixty years old and I still hate shoes. When I was little I’d hide my shoes so my parents wouldn’t put them on me. I’ve been known to walk out the door and go places barefoot because I forget my shoes. I could walk on hot asphalt, stones, corn fields and through the mountains with no problems. I loved to bell bottom jeans when I was a teenager because I could hide my feet and no one would know.
My Mum was raised in Barbados and spent alot of time barefoot. She, nor my Bajan grandparents never balked at me about being outside barefoot. Gravel driveway was no match for my feet!! 🙂 All through public school and high school teachers argued with me about wearing my shoes for safety. Track & field, cross country and road running all done barefoot. Never once have I cut my foot on glass or stepped on a nail. The damned prickers out in the yard hiding in the long grass however or the occasional bee have caught me off guard a time or two though. I’m 49 now, still don’t wear shoes much of the time….groceries, Walmart, the corner store and errands are all usually done barefoot. I even own a few pairs of Vibram Five Fingers shoes, one for the gym since they really don’t like me shoeless and a pair for when hubby goes with me and insists on shoes in public. I still road run once in awhile barefoot too. Sadly, I only managed to get one of my children to enjoy being barefoot about half as much as me. He has 3 pairs of Vibrams but he’s getting there
Thanks for this!! I don’t feel so odd and alone now!!
Explains why I’m an overthinker. And with another 4 weeks spent constantly barefoot as I recover from knee surgery, I guess my brain will develop even more. The part of the article i disagree with is where it says “Socks should be put inside shoes”. I think both socks and shoes need a chance to breathe after having been worn, and sweat and other things can be trapped by having the socks in the shoes. Shoes should air out as much as possible when not worn, and socks should either be given a place to air out, or promptly thrown in with dirty laundry for washing.
I was just made aware of this article, and it’s an excellent one. I went barefoot as a child and loved it. In fact, I’ve been a barefooter all my life as much as possible, and a full-time 24/7 barefooter for the past 17 years.
It’s been estimated that approximately 90% of all foot ailments are directly caused by or exacerbated by shoes. I had lots of foot problems when I had to wear closed shoes for my employment, even requiring some surgeries to correct. Since I stopped wearing shoes 17 years ago, my feet are now the strongest and healthiest part of my body.
I was also happy to see in the comments several references to the Society for Barefoot Living http://www.barefooters.org/ . That organization has been in existence for 25 years, and is the original and primary source of information for anyone interested in living barefoot or just curious about what barefooting is all about and why we do it.
I was however a little disappointed to read several references in the comments supporting the pseudoscience known as “Earthing.” I wrote a blog article about “Earthing” a few months ago entitled, “Earthing (Grounding) is the modern-day snake oil.” You can read that at https://borntolivebarefoot.org/earthing-grounding-is-the-modern-day-snake-oil/ .
Thanks for the feedback, Kriss!
I believe it is a cultural decision. I was born and raised in the States and being barefoot was a sign of poverty. Also I was raised on a farm with cows, chickens and crops. No one would ever want to walk barefoot in a chicken house/pen. Cellulitis can occur from the slightest cut on the foot or a toenail that has been pulled slightly away from the skin. And then there was the expensive wall-to-wall carpet in the home. The foot has more sweat glands than any part of the body. Oil and sweat from the foot can cause the carpet to retain dirt destroying the expected lifetime of the carpet.
Then I moved to Thailand were shoes are typically not worn in the home. But they have tile or wooden floors. No fear of damaging carpet strands with foot sweat or oil.
Now I live in S. Africa where is it not uncommon to see children and even adults shopping at expensive malls, barefoot. But that is usually the Afrikaners (descendants of the Dutch settlers). I have yet to see an English decedent nor native African barefoot in public. The laws here do not place responsibility of injury on the shop owner as it does in the USA for accidents (slips, stepping on broken glass etc.)
We have tile flooring in our home. At my age, I prefer the softness of “House Shoes” or thick socks to being barefoot on hard tile. Finally someone prone to retaining high levels of Uric Acid or has Diabetes can not afford foot injuries of any kind.
Phillip, you made some interesting points. I’d like to comment on some of them.
“No one would ever want to walk barefoot in a chicken house/pen.”
Perhaps someone wouldn’t want to if they could avoid it, but if you have chickens, like I do, it’s often necessary to clean up or do maintenance. And I’d much rather do it barefoot than with some kind of shoes on. I’ve kept chickens for close to 10 years now, and have never been in their house or pen other than barefoot. I try to avoid stepping in chicken poop if I can, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. But it does no harm whatsoever being on your bare foot, and is easily washed off – unlike how it would be if it got on the bottoms of shoes.
As to your concerns about getting cellulitis from the “slightest cut,” that is highly unlikely, especially for someone with a normal immune system. I’ve gone barefoot all my life (and full-time 24/7 for the last 17 years), have gotten a few cuts and scrapes on my feet, but never had any kind of infection. As Rae pointed out in the article, “[O]ur skin is designed to keep pathogens out.” And it does a good job of doing that, even with cuts and scrapes. Cellulitis (or any kind of infection) is simply not an issue that most people need to worry about when going barefoot.
You mentioned “oil and sweat from the foot” ruining carpets. The soles of feet do not produce oil because they have no sebaceous glands. And nothing else likely on the soles of feet is going to do any more damage to carpets than the filthy soles of shoes will do.
“The laws [in South Africa] do not place responsibility of injury on the shop owner as it does in the USA for accidents…”
That is very misleading. The laws in the USA do NOT place responsibility for a customer’s injury on the business UNLESS it can be proven the business engaged in gross negligence, thus causing the accident.
Loving this! My kids stay barefoot…u til my husband gets home. Lol. Can’t sell him on this.
Maybe the article can help, Sue!
I will show it to him! I sure hope so!
Hi RAE, how are you ?
As you know, I’m not friend with the shoes. I was never. They are torture instruments … coffins.
I found yesterday this nice article: “Where’s Your Shoes?” – An Urban Spiritual Practice.
Great Article!! Your article repeats what the many internet articles and books promoting ‘barefooting” have stated! I was born with completely FLAT feet and told by doctors through the years, that arch supports were the answer-THEY WERE NOT; just made my arches weaker. After reading several books and internet studies about walking & running barefoot, I learned that walking barefoot would make my arches develop. At age 64 I did not think this was possible. But after just 6 months of walking barefoot on dirt paths in a park I started noticing a change in my arches. After 3 years of walking barefoot I have normal height arches!! Praise the Lord!!! Lots of other benefits to barefooting. I had to start out slowly allowing my soles to get tougher by walking short distances every other day. Eventually lengthening my distances over time. When my soles started to hurt, I stopped and started again another day. I can now walk 3 miles barefoot! Don’t worry ladies, barefooting does not hurt your pedicure and nail polish as per one barefooter lady I know. Your soles get dirty but are easily washed with soap and a foot brush or long handled back brush.
I would urge your readers to go to http://www.google.com and type in “Benefits of Barefooting” and hit the ENTER button. Lots of info will pop up! I have met other barefooters in the park and one told me that an elderly man in his 80’s got where he could no longer walk. but started taking small steps barefoot and over time is now walking again!! I have found that banks, Walmart, Ikea, Foodrama and some grocery stores do not mind barefeet. If you get stopped, just say you did not know of their shoe policy and go to your car and put on some flip flops or other sandals and go back in the store.
I encourage people that I meet in the park, curious why I am barefoot, to go to http://www.amazon.com and buy the following books :
The Barefoot Book by Daniel Howell, PhD (a very good one to get)
Barefoot Walking by Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee (husband and wife barefooters)
Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? by Clinton Ober; Stephen T. Sinatra, MD & Martin Zucker
Born to Run by Christopher McDougal ( a marthon barefoot runner )
Barefoot Running by Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee
You are correct, God put thousands of nerve endings on the bottom of our feet for a reason which cannot function as God intended if we are in shoes plus all the ligaments and muscles in the foot are frozen and cannot move when in shoes or running shoes!
May God thru His Son Jesus Christ richly bless you all ! Jerry
I have no issue with people going barefoot. It is their choice. But based upon the article, I would expect them to be smarter than their peers. But that has not been the case in my experience which is Global. In fact, only in rural America did I see people walking barefoot in public locations that were not associated somehow with a nearby beach. I did not witness the behaviour in Europe nor Asia. Here in S. Africa however, it is not uncommon to see descendants of the Dutch immigration (Boer or Afrikaner especially the farming communities) going barefoot in public. But the behaviour seems isolated only to them, not other cultures, I’ve seen, save for the Bushmen of the Kalahari, who when on a hunt strap on leather soles to the bottom of their feet.
Again thanks for your reply. And here is a link I found this AM which lists the possible problems caused by being barefoot in the soil in various parts of the world. And let me repeat, it is a matter of individual choice. I personally would not do so in public – but that’s how I was raised. Nothing more.
Phillip, similar information that your link provides can be found all over the internet. What this does is list worst case situations. Sure, all those infections are *possible*, but highly unlikely in the real world. All this needs to be put into perspective. Barefooters are much more likely to be injured in a car accident than be afflicted with any of those problems. They are much more likely to get cancer, or have a heart attack, than be afflicted with the problems listed in that article.
Bare feet haters frequently post such articles in order to try to scare those of us who make the choice to live without shoes. We’ve heard all this before. It’s kind of like telling people they should never fly on airplanes, because airplanes indeed can crash. Would a reasonable person follow such advice?
We can’t let the paranoia of others run our lives and the way we choose to live.
BTW, speaking of parasites, like hookworm, you may want to read a blog article I wrote a while back.
Inside the shoes there are more parasites than on the asphalt of the street or on the forest land. In the shoes there is a microclimate of the cave: darkness, lack of air, moisture, fungi, and in time even mold. Every man chooses what he wants: modern shoes or bare feet. Beauty or health.
In my 60 years, I wore “sports” shoes (like Adidas) for only 8 minutes (in 23 august 1973) !
You are quite right, Dinu. The inside of shoes is a virtual Petri dish of fungi, bacteria, and other harmful substances that live and grow in that dark, moist, airless environment. People who don’t wear shoes almost never get fungal or other foot infections like shoe wearers do. In fact, it’s been estimated that approximately 90% of all medical ailments affecting feet are directly caused by or exacerbated by shoes.
In other words – in my personal case, I am allergic to the animal skin from which the shoes are made, as well as to cadmium (a substance that enters the composition of the white paint of the Adidas shoes).
Then I have my philosophy on life in nature. The people (and more children) who go barefoot (for their pleasure, not for “poverty”) are healthier and smarter than those who love shoes. Scientific proven fact.
Thank you very much dear KRISS and all the best, with health and happiness, in peace !
I thought that it was interesting when you said that one thing to consider if your children are losing their socks and shoes is to establish rules regarding placing their socks inside their shoes and leaving them in a designated location. I have been trying to find ways to help my children keep better track and care for their footwear but I haven’t been sure how I could best complete this goal. I will be sure to establish better rules for my children so that there is more order and they will start taking care of their belongings better.
Glad the suggestion helped, Ashley!
One major benefit of allowing a child to go barefoot is that it strengthens the feet and lower legs, making the body more agile and less prone to injury. It also enhances proprioception, the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement. In other words, going barefoot helps a child develop body awareness. Geary explains that the nerves in our feet are sensitive (the sole of your foot has over 200,000 nerve endings– one of the highest concentrations in the entire body) for this very reason; they make us safer, more careful, and better able to adapt to the ground beneath us. When barefoot, we are better able to climb, cut, pivot, balance, and adjust rapidly when the ground shifts beneath us, as it does when we walk on uneven terrain, or anything besides concrete and pavement. Dr. Kacie Flegal, who specializes in pediatrics, wrote about optimal brain and nervous system development of babies and toddlers, stating that being barefoot benefits a young child tremendously. “One of the simplest ways to motivate proprioceptive and vestibular development is to let our babies be barefoot as much as possible.” She goes on to say, “Another benefit to keeping babies barefoot is the encouragement of presence of mind and conscious awareness. As the little pads of babies’ feet feel, move, and balance on the surface that they are exploring, the information sent to the brain from tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular pathways quiet, or inhibit, other extraneous sensory input. This creates focus and awareness of walking and moving through space; babies get more tuned in to their surroundings.”