Many of us went barefoot when we were children. Some of us never grew up. I’m one of them. I consider is a good day when no shoes see my feet. As I was walking Franco this evening after supper; barefoot for over a mile on a gravel road, I got to wondering whether there were any health benefits that subconsciously attract me this practice, or if it is just a habit I never grew out of. My neighbor kidded me the other day when I walked by his house, and asked me why I don’t just hit my head against a wall while I was at it.

My neighbor, and many others, seem to think that it hurts to walk barefoot. On hot days, the asphalt can get uncomfortably hot. There are sharp stones in the road that make me pull my foot up quickly. And usually a time or two each summer I get a pretty good cut or sliver to remind me the world can be a seriously sharp place sometimes. But it really doesn’t hurt. I would rather say it feels good most of the time.

Good old Wiki had something to say about barefooting. Under the health section, they had this to say, “A 2006 study found that shoes may increase stresses on the knee and ankle, and suggested that adults with osteoarthritis may benefit from walking barefoot,[42] though more study is required to elucidate the factors that distribute loads in shod and barefoot walking. A 2007 study entitled, “Shod Versus Unshod: The Emergence of Forefoot Pathology in Modern Humans?”, published in the podiatry journal The Foot, examined 180 modern humans and compared their feet with 2,000-year-old skeletons. They concluded that, prior to the invention of shoes, humans overall had healthier feet.[43] A 1991 study found that children who wore shoes were three times more likely to have flat feet than those who did not, and suggested that wearing shoes in early childhood can be detrimental to the longitudinal arch of the foot.[44] People who habitually go barefoot generally have stronger feet, with better flexibility and mobility, fewer deformities like flat feet or toes that curve inwards, and less complaints.[45][46] Walking barefoot enables a more natural gait, eliminating the hard heel strike and instead, allowing for a rocking motion of the foot from heel to toe.[43] Similarly, barefoot running usually involves an initial forefoot strike, instead of on the rear of the foot, generating smaller collision forces.[47]”

I had kind of hoped for something more like, “going barefoot allows humans to double their lifespan, eat whatever they want whenever they want, and maintain their virility well into their second century.” Maybe the definitive study is underway right now, and the article in the New England Journal of Medicine will be coming out next year.

One further comment… I usually get athlete’s foot once per year, about the time I have to start wearing my winter sorels.

One Response to “Barefoot”

  1. […] involving examination of my feet requires some pretty persistent prior scrubbing, since I seldom wear shoes. As I sat in the tub, I noticed my feet were already clean, and it dawned on me… this is the […]

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