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Is Going Barefoot a Bad Idea?

Is Going Barefoot a Bad Idea?

Let’s face it: Shoes aren’t always the most comfortable parts of your wardrobe — and most of the time they end up stinking. We understand just how liberating it can be to kick off your Sunday (or everyday) shoes and go barefoot for a while, but we also know the dangers that inevitably come with it. 

Here, Dr. Kelly Geoghan takes a closer look at what really happens when you take off your shoes. 

The good

In theory, walking barefoot most closely resembles (and restores) your natural walking pattern, known as your gait. Some even argue that the excess amount of cushioning you find in modern sneakers actually hinders the development of certain muscle groups. 

Some other barefoot benefits include:

You may also find that walking barefoot gives you relief from ill-fitting shoes that cause bunions, hammertoes, and other deformities.

The bad

Walking barefoot may sound like the best way to care for your feet, but there are many factors to consider. For instance, walking in your home may be relatively safe, but once you step outdoors and can’t control the environment, you expose yourself to potential risks. 

The lie of the terrain alone can cause injury if you don’t have the extra padding only shoes can provide. 

Walking barefoot also increases your exposure to harmful bacteria and infections, especially when you go shoeless outside. This is especially dangerous if you live with peripheral neuropathy and are less likely to notice a cut or injury on your foot. 

Furthermore, though some argue that walking barefoot strengthens your feet, if you don’t already have strong feet, you’re more likely to walk barefoot without proper mechanics and sustain an injury as a result. 

The bottom line 

There’s no hard and fast rule about going barefoot. If you’re considering ditching your shoes from time to time, we strongly encourage you to check with Dr. Geoghan first, particularly if you already have a history of foot problems. 

We can help you get started walking barefoot with some practical strategies, such as the following.

Ease into it

If this is your first time going barefoot, it’s best that you start with short 15- to 20-minute sessions. This helps your foot and ankle adapt to a new way of walking. 

Listen to your body

The moment your feet start to hurt, it’s time to back off. If you don’t already have a solid foundation of foot mechanics, you increase your chance of injury. 

Begin indoors

Your own home is the best place to start walking barefoot because you have much greater control over the environment and can almost guarantee you won’t step on or trip over anything.

Consider a different shoe

If you’re sick of lugging a clunky shoe around, try finding a minimalist shoe before jumping in with two bare feet. Minimalist shoes are lightweight and made of breathable fabrics that give you freedom and support. 

Find your balance

One of the main dangers of walking barefoot is not having adequate foot mechanics and strength beforehand. Therefore, we recommend that you work through balance and strengthening exercises regularly so your feet are ready when the shoes come off. 

Start with barefoot activities

Yoga, pilates, and martial arts are just some of many activities that are best done barefoot. Starting with these activities can help your feet adjust much more quickly to a barefoot lifestyle. 

Check your feet often

The best defense for your bare feet is often the simple act of looking at them. Every day you go barefoot, we recommend that you do a thorough scan, checking for scrapes, cuts, bruises, and anything else out of the norm. 

If you’d like more information, don’t hesitate to request an appointment at our Lutherville, Maryland, office by calling 410-753-4422 or by using our online booking tool.

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