It’s Summertime: I’ve kicked off my shoes, wiggling my painted toenails and hanging out with my bare feet. And I started to wonder if you have ever thought about how happy your feet are?
An odd thing to wonder about you, I know, but then that’s me! So, here’s what was happening:
I’ve been doing a vigorous yoga routine in the morning (okay, not every morning, we know I’m not a saint!) Lots of Warrior and Triangle poses, interspersed with Mountain! This has let me notice the following:
1) I’m having some struggle with balance
2) The struggle to balance has me gripping and tensing up my feet
3) At the end of my yoga routine…my feet hurt!
BTW: Yoga is always done in bare feet. (If your instructor wears running shoes…run away and get a new one. LOL!)
Hmmm…my life is a little out of balance right now. Too much to do! And…I’m now consciously relaxing my bare feet as much as possible. So, how does this effect you?
Have you ever stopped to consider that wearing shoes is an exclusively human trait?
(Although I sometimes force my pittie to wear booties for long runs on pavement, as it saves his pads…he doesn’t like them!)
Did you know that NOT wearing shoes or sandals is considered to be our natural human state? Yes, we go barefoot naturally. However for functional, fashion and social reasons we usually wear some form of footwear.
For many the concept of wearing of footwear is a sign of civilization and wealthy living, while being barefoot is considered a sign of poverty. Even when poverty is not relevant some people choose to be bare-footing some situations.
Here’s a few interesting facts about going barefoot:
In 2006 a study found that shoes may increase stresses on the knee and ankle, and suggested that adults with osteoarthritis may benefit from walking barefoot (1)
In 2007 a study entitled, ‘Shod Versus Unshod: The Emergence of Forefoot Pathology in Modern Humans’, was published in the podiatry journal ‘The Foot’. 180 modern humans were examined the their feet compared with skeletons that were 2,000-years old. They conclusion was that prior to the invention of shoes humans overall had healthier feet.(2)
Yes, I saw that…their results show that healthier feet = bare feet!
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.(3)
People who habitually go barefoot generally have stronger feet. They are more likely to have better flexibility and mobility, fewer deformities like flat feet or toes that curve inwards, and less complaints about their foot health and wellness.(4)(5)
I know, that’s some serious geeking out about foot health, but I do love me some clinical back-up to my health claims!
Don’t get me wrong: I love high heels. But I also love my Birkenstocks. I think alternating over the years has led to me healthier feet than many of my friends: no bunions, corns, surgeries, etc.
So back to balance: You don’t have to always go barefoot. In fact, I find wearing a Birkenstock type sandal is actually kinder on my feet than bare feet on hard flooring around the house.
Although, when I had a trip to New Zealand I was actually quite shocked to see people in downtown Auckland in bare feet. Yes, right there on concrete. I certainly couldn’t do that. But I do go barefoot sometimes in the garden, and I really enjoy barefoot on the beach.
Walking barefoot encourages a more natural gait, eliminating the hard heel strike and instead, allowing for a rocking motion of the foot from heel to toe.(2)
Although not always practical, taking some bare feet time is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Why not give it a try. Start with ten minutes each day when you get home from work. Balancing life is important to our overall health and well-being, so a little bare feet time each day will lead to improved health and well being. Paying attention to your foot health will lead to improved overall health.
I know that when my feet are happy, I’m happy! And I bet when your feet are happy, you’ll be happier too!
I recommend Reflexology, Pedicures, Foot Soaks and going barefoot often. What do you do to make sure your feet are happy?
I’m concluding that we can Choose Happy & Healthy with Bare Feet. Kicking off my shoes and going barefoot for a while today is now part of my wellness plan. Will you join me?
(1) Shakoor N, Block JA (2006). “Walking barefoot decreases loading on the lower extremity joints in knee osteoarthritis”. Arthritis Rheum. 54 (9): 2923–7. doi:10.1002/art.22123. PMID 16947448
(2) ternbergh, Adam (April 21, 2008). “You Walk Wrong.”. New York Magazine. Retrieved June 26, 2010
(3) Rao UB, Joseph B (1992). “The influence of footwear on the prevalence of flat foot. A survey of 2300 children”. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. British volume 74 (4): 525–7. PMID 1624509
(4) Angier, Natalie (August 14, 1991). “Which Shoes Are Best For Children? Maybe None.”. The New York Times. Retrieved June , 2011
(5)Wikler, Simon J.. “How Shoes Cripple Our Feet”. www.unshod.org. Retrieved July 2011