What To Consider When Going Barefoot
More and more people are going barefoot whenever and wherever they can. It’s not just a trend; it’s the natural way that your feet were meant to be used. If you’re thinking about going barefoot on the campground, the beach, or even just around your yard, there’s a few things you should keep in mind before doing so.
You’ll Be Training Natural Impact Resistance
Impact resistance is when your body responds to pressure and the impact of force on different areas, in this case, we’re talking about your feet. Impact resistance helps to reduce irritation, inflammation and swelling. While your body uses those as defense mechanisms to preserve itself and form a shield between your feet and the cause of the irritation, having a high level of impact resistance works out better for you: all the resistance builds your foot muscles.
We’re used to walking in shoes, but we weren’t built that way. When you walk barefoot (or use barefoot shoes at the very least), you’re strengthening muscles and tendons in your feet to naturally resist high levels of potentially damaging impact. Since that’s how your feet were designed, it makes sense that consistent dependency on shoes would affect your natural resistance abilities.
You’re Strengthening Leg Muscles, But You Have To Watch Out
It’s all well and good to train these muscles, but in due time. You can’t just go barefoot all of a sudden and have better foot muscles after a few days—if you aren’t careful, you could actually damage your feet. Take it slow at first and build up a tolerance for the natural resistance you feel on your feet, and listen to your body. When you’re feeling genuinely fatigued, even if it’s just a weariness you feel directly from your feet, it’s time to lean back and call it quits for the day. That’s your body sensing inflammation, and if you keep walking you could be causing damage.
So what’s the perfect balance? Start out with thirty minutes of barefoot walking each day, and slowly progress from there. Even if you’re just doing laps in your living room, or you have an in-home treadmill you can walk on, this is a good place to start before you take to the outside world with barefoot shoes. When you walk barefoot, you’re also training your leg muscles at the same time. With modern day shoes, there’s a lot of work that your body doesn’t have to do. Since your feet aren’t feeling as much of the impact, your leg muscles aren’t contracting nearly as much. Going barefoot from time to time helps to wake up those leg muscles, and burn a few extra calories in the process of sculpting those muscles.
A Few More Benefits Of Going Barefoot
Comfort: Whether they’re worn-in or brand new, shoes can make your feet feel awkward and caged. Going barefoot from time to time just has this freeing, comforting feeling that you can’t get with most shoes.
Improved Awareness: You know how you can feel when the air pressure in the room changes? Maybe a window was opened across the house, a door down the hallway was shut, or someone has entered the room. That’s your spatial awareness, and when you go barefoot, you get the same thing. This gives you a sense of your surroundings, objects and people that may be near you, and allows you to feel the way the ground/floor reacts to certain things.
Improved Balance: Having trouble standing straight? You’re spending eight to twelve hours a day in little rubber prisons on your feet. We love shoes (obviously), but in this instance, it’s like relying on a crutch. Your feet are more used to the impact resistance from the insoles and shoes than natural resistance, and when you step out of those, they don’t know what to do. Go barefoot more often, and you’ll notice improved balance.
Ligament and Ankle Strength: One major feature we often look for in quality shoes is support, but not just in your insoles. The cuff of your shoes help to support your ankles, and it’s true that these can help prevent injuries from occurring. However, if you have natural ankle and ligament strength, this wouldn’t be an issue in the first place. Walking barefoot gently improves these muscles and allows you to maintain your balance if you trip.
While there are a ton of benefits, not everything is peachy. There’s one major issue we need to discuss before we conclude here. Understand that it can be avoided with precaution and care, but that it’s still important to know the facts before going barefoot.
Foot Fungus Is Actually More Common From Going Barefoot
We’re constantly warned about the dangers of damp socks, dark places and fungal growth. But it’s actually more common to get foot fungus from walking barefoot. Don’t let this be discouraging—there’s simple ways to prevent it from happening. If it’s a clean, familiar environment (such as your home), you should have no problem. If it’s the great outdoors on a camping trip, then you’re still going to need some level of protection.
The biggest concern is athlete’s foot, which is a very strong fungal bacteria. It thrives in and around pools, showers, and other similar areas. Most fungal infections in the feet occur from cracks or splits in your nails, or bacteria getting underneath them. Taking care of your feet with pumice stones, proper nail care and managing skin overgrowth are all ways to minimize your chances of getting a fungal infection, as well as our last bit of advice.
You Still Need Protection
Even with all the benefits, you still need a protective layer between your feet and the ground. You can enjoy nearly every single benefit to going barefoot with a pair of barefoot shoes, which protect you from harm while allowing your feet to get that natural impact resistance that’s so important.