Ditch The Shoes
Remember when you were young and relatively stress-free and you couldn’t wait for summer to come so that you could get rid of the boots and shoes and play in your bare feet in the grass? Or how relaxing it felt to be walking on the beach in the warm sand or the stressful hesitation when crossing the gravel driveway?
Today is part of a shoe-free celebration, as a way of highlighting foot health and also to bring awareness to the plight of many who do not have shoes, new or used, to call their own.
Can’t Wait To Get Home To Take Off Your Shoes
I spend a lot of time in my bare feet. One of the many benefits from having a home-based office. PJ’s and bare feet go hand in hand. And I can’t wait till the end of a long day of being dressed up in my heels or dress shoes to kick them off and to stretch out my toes. I am not blessed with the type of feet that can wear anything comfortably. They ache and are downright painful after only a few hours of being squished into anything but my sandals or running shoes.
Some researchers have found that our feet are changing, and not necessarily for the better Click to tweet
They compared the feet of our ancestors and societies that did not and currently do not wear shoes, with those who wore shoes and currently wear shoes and here is what they have found:
Shoes Weaken Bones in Our Feet
According to anthropologist Erik Trinkaus, humans began habitually wearing shoes 40,000 years ago. He reached this conclusion by examining the toe bones of people who lived in the range of 10,000 to 100,000 years ago and found that at 40,000 years ago, the bones became less robust. When humans began wearing shoes the bones in our toes 2 to 5, became less thick and strong and became more delicate and smaller. Shoes prevented the distribution of weight across the entire foot and eliminated the traction role of our toes. The result is weaker bones, leaving them at increased risk for fractures or other problems.
Because shoes prevent the foot from flexing as it normally would, and the cushioned heels absorb so much shock researchers found that we drive our heel into the ground much more firmly than we would if we were barefoot. A barefoot walking or running gait is much gentler and smoother, in which our foot placement is flatter, rather than heel-first and the arches of our feet deflect more to absorb the load. And it turns out that this might be better for our knees as well as our feet, because our steps while wearing shoes, transmit more shock to our knees than our barefoot steps do.
Shoes Limit and Alter the Normal Motion of Our Feet
Shoes change the need for as many foot muscles during normal walking so that many of them are not used. These muscles weaken and can cause foot pain, problems, and deformities. Sebastian Wolf at the University of Heidelberg compared foot motion of children 8 years old when barefoot and in shoes and found significant differences in biomechanics. Wolf found that shoes impaired the foot’s normal motion and shoes limit the normal widening of the forefoot while walking. Tight-fitting shoes as well as inflexible shoe or thick-soled shoe all limit this normal widening and prevent the muscles from working properly.
Shoes Deform Our Feet
Overwhelming evidence shows that wearing shoes deforms our feet. Foot deformities can potentially cause pain and other problems. Udaya Rao at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery found that shoe wearing in childhood is detrimental to the development of the foot’s normal arch. Kristiann D’Aout compared barefoot and shoe-wearing populations and found differences in both foot shape and the peak pressures under the foot. Barefoot peoples have wider feet and exhibit more equally distributed peak pressures. Shoe-wearing peoples had narrower feet and showed higher focal pressures at the heel, big toe and ball of the foot. These higher peak pressures put the foot at more risk for injuries, such as metarsalgia, capsulitis, fracture or tendonitis.
The Framingham study faults the use of high heel shoes to muscle pain that can occur even after the shoe is not being worn and encourages women who persist in wearing these types of shoes to perform stretching exercises to decrease the likelihood of foot pain occurring later. Narrow toe boxes and the foot slanting downward are frequently the reason for problems caused by wearing high heels. You can experience blisters and corns, hammertoes, bunions, and toenail fungus problems. Keeping the feet in a lifted position for many hours of the day sometimes creates a shortened Achilles tendon. Other problems caused by wearing high heels include stress fractures, twisted/sprained/broken ankles, Pump Bump (enlargement of the back of the heel making it stick out and be red or swollen), joint pain and back problems.
Foot deformities and problems are not always due to wearing shoes, and can occur due congenital, ligamentous laxity, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, structural factors within the foot (metatarsal head shape, first ray hypermobility), over-pronation, trauma, diabetes, polio, vascular problems and the list goes on.
So what can we do for our feet…go barefoot as much as possible and watch the type of footwear you purchase!
Beverly’s Hot Tips For Celebrating Barefoot Day and Building Resilient Feet:
- The best shoe merely protects feet from the environment. Choose shoes that are flexible with a wide toe-box.
- Do foot strengthening and stretching exercises. Encourage children to walk on uneven terrain as much as possible so that they work the many muscles in their feet.
- Participate in some barefoot sports such as yoga, swimming, karate, gymnastics, dancing and barefoot running.
- If you live near a beach or park, go for a walk and enjoy the feeling the sand or grass between your toes.
- Get a pedicure! Hey, it’s just fun!
- This is a great opportunity to donate old shoes to charity
- Change your Twitter Avatar, Facebook Profile, etc. to a picture of your bare feet. This will be helping to bring about awareness that more than 300 million children and 1.5 billion adults worldwide do not have footwear. Soles4Souls is a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 that is working towards lowering those numbers and changing the world one pair at a time.
Top 10 reasons why people go barefoot:
- It’s comfortable
- The sense of freedom
- Makes me feel close to nature
- It’s simply fun!
- It’s natural
- I wasn’t born with shoes on my feet.
- It’s sensual
- It’s healthier
- Saves money on footwear
- It looks cool
Is it legal to drive barefoot?
Yes, apparently in United States, Canada, and England it is and probably in many more places. Ask your local police force and have them tell you which specific statute prevents it if they say no.
My feet, my feet, I love my feet.
I think they’re great, I think they’re neat.
They’re pretty, pink, and picturesque.
They look so perfect on my desk.
Unfortunately, sad to tell,
they also have a funny smell.
So though I’m fast, and though I’m fleet,
and though at sports I can’t be beat,
no team will pick me to compete,
because they always smell defeat.
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!