I’m sure all of us have many, many pairs of shoes at home. We have shoes for work, shoes for exercise, weekend shoes, fancy shoes, and the list goes on. I’m here today to encourage you to aim to spend more time in No Shoes. I’m talking about embracing the barefoot life.  Spending more time in daily life without shoes on can have some wonderful benefits to overall health. Pain relief and increased strength throughout the entire body are just some of the perks! 

Beginning your barefoot journey first starts with learning how to control your feet without  ‘training wheels’ (i.e. overly restrictive & cushioned shoes). Most shoes have a toe bed more narrow than most feet causing restriction and uneven loading patterns, meaning we can’t evenly disperse weight in our feet. 

All you need to do to begin is start spending a little bit of time each day walking around the house barefoot, and then you can work up to more as you become more comfortable. 

While the simple act of being barefoot might not seem like ‘Training’, as far as your feet are concerned they are benefiting greatly from it! Barefoot Science Studies have shown increases in the muscular strength of the feet and improved medial arch height (better arches) from just barefoot walking alone. 

(Thanks to Dr. Emily Splichal, DPM, MS, CPT for conducting these studies)  

Barefoot Training is appropriate for everyone, however, what that training will specifically look like depends of the individual and their specific needs, meaning everyone can benefit from some form of barefoot training, but there is no one size fits all prescription.  So start small and get those shoes off and take a stroll around the house to begin reaping the rewards of the barefoot life.   

Back to those wonderful benefits the barefoot life can bring. If we stop to think about our feet and the role they play in regards to the rest of our body we begin to realize their importance. The feet are the base that everything else in our entire body is stacked onto.  So if our feet have not learned to be as strong and stable as they could be, doesn’t that also mean by improving our feet everything above our feet could also benefit as well? Answer, yes, our entire body will benefit from proper foot health and stability.  

Another topic worth mentioning is overuse injuries (plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, stress fractures) that can result from lack of mobility and/or stability in the feet. Most shoes have a toe bed more narrow than most feet causing restriction and uneven loading patterns, meaning we can’t evenly disperse weight in our feet which over time can cause areas of the feet to become overworked while others become stiff and immobile. By taking off those shoes and working to improve the mobility of the foot we allow better weight distribution, which can help to prevent these type of overuse injuries in the feet entirely over time. Be aware this is not a recommendation to do anything that causes pain, so if you are currently in pain due to an overuse injury it is strongly recommended the pain is treated before beginning any training program, this goes for feet and the rest of the body.  

So what are you waiting for? Get those shoes off and start improving the health of your feet today!  Take a barefoot stroll around your house today and begin your Barefoot Journey.

– Alicia McMinn

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