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Going Shoeless: A discussion about barefoot living  RSS feed

 
garden master
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I'd like to discuss living barefoot. The ergonomics, economics, strategies, adaptations, health effects, etc...

----

For the past few months, I have been learning to live barefoot. I don't like the idea of having intermediaries in my life. So if I stop wearing shoes, that's one less thing that I have to buy from The Corporation. It's a slow and gradual process. This morning, I went to town barefoot, and took care of some shopping and business transactions. Then I worked six hours barefoot planting my fields. Then my feet were done for the day. They just had enough energy left for a barefoot photo.

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Barefeet in the garden
 
gardener
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I purposely chose some work boots made with water buffalo hide, because of the reduced chances of nail puncture through the side. When I was a kid, my feet looked much like Joseph's. Now they are soft as a baby's bottom.

In case you missed it earlier, Joseph is single.

I think it's important that we show the whole person and not devolve into the displaying of individual body parts. Who knows where that would go
 
gardener
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As a teen I went barefoot everywhere and had titanium callouses. Yes I could walk across black asphalt in July and minor amounts of broken glass and not have it go through. These days I have hard heel crusts that like to crack and crack and crack until they rip and can need stitches so I am minimally shod and have to religious callous paring to keep the cracks at bay (with a small flush cut nippers no less). O'keefe's for feet is the best I've found to soften stuff up unless you want to pay about $20 an ounce for some spa like stuff. Most places Joseph refuse you entry unless you are shod, so I have a flat flat slipon type shoe I wear. Goatshead caltrop thorns will still go through the soles, but.

Now then, been plenty a fine hunk on here, so who's printing the calendar?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Deb Rebel wrote:Most places Joseph refuse you entry unless you are shod, so I have a flat flat slipon type shoe I wear.


My tribe pretty much goes barefoot all over town. It's exceedingly rare for anyone to be turned out because we are barefoot. And when it does happen, it's usually an uninformed clerk operating on their own fears, and outside of company policy. A pair of "barefoot sandals" gets past most shoe police...

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Barefoot sandals
 
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I'm so envious. I'm struggling with plantar fasciitis and cannot go barefoot at all.

I have never liked shoes, and would also prefer to be barefoot all the time.

I put off trying to where shoes all the time to deal with the plantar fasciitis as long as I could. But now the pain is unbearable.

Oh well, hopefully things will get better quickly, until then I will live vicariously through you.
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

A pair of "barefoot sandals" gets past most shoe police...



You've *got* to be kidding me!......Those strings gain you access to the Top Stop in Logan?  That really needs to be filmed for Candid Camera!..... 
 
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Stacy Witscher wrote:I'm so envious. I'm struggling with plantar fasciitis and cannot go barefoot at all.

I have never liked shoes, and would also prefer to be barefoot all the time.

I put off trying to where shoes all the time to deal with the plantar fasciitis as long as I could. But now the pain is unbearable.

Oh well, hopefully things will get better quickly, until then I will live vicariously through you.


I struggle with this during my eight+ hours of standing on concrete at work.  Tumeric and those braces that you wrap directly around the feet help a lot.  The braces can be worn around the house with otherwise bare feet.  Doing shin stretches and walking barefoot for short distances after work also helps. I think it stretches supporting parts of the feet and lets them rest.   In the house and around the yard, except for specific tasks (swinging axes, for example) I am usually barefoot. I don't know what changed from the days when I used to get deep heel cracks.
 
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I think barefoot living is great, mostly. Vibram FiveFingers have helped to save my life, because my body was so beaten down after a car accident that I wasn't able to wear regular shoes without horrible daily pain. In society I wear those. People are really gross, public spaces are gross...anything with a public restroom is just a footpath of disease, at least in my mind. So, it's hard for me to go barefooted out in public like that, though I think its fine if others do. The only time I wear shoes is at work (steel toes for one part-time job, vibrams at the other and only because of how much death and disease I'm around) and out in public, but 80% of my time is spent at home...with bare feet.

It's neat that the "sandals" work, made me laugh out loud literally.

Whatever makes you comfortable, go with it, it's nice to evolve with experience.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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John Weiland wrote:Those strings gain you access to the Top Stop in Logan?


For Top Stop in Logan, I prefer the double head-fake version of barefoot sandals.

My lady friends really get fancy with crocheted lace. I go for utilitarian. 

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Barefoot sandals
 
Deb Rebel
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For multiple hours standing or walking (job) I used to buy nurses shoes (Nursemates) and have them dyed to match the uniform. Years later, I bought aerobic sneakers, really high quality ones, for a 12 hour standing compressed shift. Otherwise I was bare feet. (and my feet got better care than my hands, trust me, and rated their own pillow to be elevated.)

Barefoot is a matter of choice and tolerance. I worked at a phone job (you called me to place an order) and a fellow worker was a rendevouser and we got into the discussion how anyone could stand soft moccasins. We were heading for cars, I took my flats off and was walking in the landscape rocks (cracked/crushed about one inch diameter) then told him to look down. He seen I'd walked that barefoot for several minutes. That is how, they learned to stand the rough rocks. Oh.

Barefoot is an acquired taste, methinks.
 
garden master
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I go sort-of-barefoot. I LOVE my Softstar Shoes. I wait for sales to buy their shoes, as they are hand made out of leather and so cost a pretty penny. I have their Merry Janes (great for church/shopping/anywhere wearing funky shoes gives me more attention than I want) as well as their more affordable, plain mocs.  I use the plain ones in the garden for most every task except slogging through soggy ground or doing lots of digging. My balance and posture are much better, and it takes much less effort to walk in my minimilist shoes than it does to walk in boots or  Sloggers. I also love my Darn Tough socks, and if there wasn't duck poop everywhere, and really wet grass most of the time, I'd probably run around in just socks a lot more. I HATE being without socks: I like my feet to be cozy! I also and don't really want to have to wash my feet all the time, so you'll never see me walking truly barefoot. But, I LOVE my minimalist shoes.
 
master steward
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Being British I have to wear socks even in summer . even with sandals.

David 
 
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Last year I was doing a fair bit of barefoot running but I have stopped due to the area I moved out to having much rougher road conditions than the urban area where the place I rented was. I still try to go barefoot when I can around my place and I have kept my feet fairly tough but I don't think I could go for the runs I used to. I have been wanting to get back into running so perhaps I will give barefoot running a try again too.
 
pollinator
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I could not go barefoot for an hour. For what ever reason without shoes my toes "cramp" and it hurts terrible. We do live in a shoeless house so our shoes stay in our mudroom, but my wife wears canvas sneakers (Keds) just for house work as she needs them for her back. In other words she cannot go barefoot either.

Interestingly, our youngest daughter has to go with one sock on, and one sock off. She has done that for years and we are still baffled by it.
 
Nicole Alderman
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David Livingston wrote:Being British I have to wear socks even in summer . even with sandals.

David 


Everyone in the northwestern corner of the US must be British, too, because we all have to wear socks, even with sandals! Or, maybe it's just the constant drizzle for most of the year that lends us to always want socks...
 
Stacy Witscher
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I dislike socks probably even more than shoes. I only where socks with athletic shoes, or when I was working with my chef's shoes, clogs. I would never work in a commercial kitchen barefoot, way too dangerous. But, in my house or others I tend to throw off my shoes the minute I hit the door, until now. And as a child I can remember entire summers shoeless. My chiropractor is constantly going on about the importance of shoes, and while I think he's a good chiropractor, we have very different ideas about other things, so I just smile and nod. Those who don't like being barefoot will never understand those of us who do. My grandmother thought it was dirty to ever let you feet touch the ground, and in NYC maybe she was right, who knows.
 
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As soon as the temperature goes about 50 I am barefoot unless driving or in a store. IN NY you can't go into a store without them.

Being barefoot also allows the body to ground...rubber soles do not make the connection with the negative ions of the earth--it is really healthy to "earth" or "ground" and can help with pain.

For cramps and plantar fasciatis, using magnesium oil massaged right into the soles of the feet and then let it dry (it isn't really an oil, but does feel oily) helps tremendously==it helps the area relax.

My only issue with bare feet is forgetting to wash my feet before going to bed after gardening-LOL yeah I can't tell you how many times I got my sheets all gross because of this. LMAO!!!
 
Stacy Witscher
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Thanks for the magnesium oil advice, I haven't heard that before. I will give it a try. Epsom salts are also magnesium, magnesium sulfate, right.

I totally relate to dirty feet in the bed.












 
Alexandra Clark
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Yep, the classic treatment for sore feet is indeed epsom salt soaks.  Magnesium oil has better absorption rates though. You can get it at most any health-food store or order it at Amazon. You can also make it yourself, just google it!

Someone just mentioned to me that the recently got Sketchers Go Walk 2 shoes and they are the most comfortable things they have ever worn--my friend has chemo remnant neuropathy that leads to feet on fire when walking on concrete and she told me she was amazed how these shoes allowed her to remain standing on concrete without this issue.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Today at the farmer's market, including myself, I saw 6 adults barefoot. They had tanned feet and were not walking tenderfooted -- indicating that they are very used to walking barefoot on asphalt.  It was a busy market, and hard to pay attention to what people aren't wearing, so I bet there were more. After market I went barefoot to a restaurant, two gas stations, and the grocery store. (Without mock-sandals.) In the evening, a barefoot driver saw me in my field and stopped to chat. I put shoes on to bike home, because the pedals on my bike are way too aggressive for my liking. Replacing them is on my list of things to do. I knew that members of my tribe routinely go barefoot, but I didn't realize that it is so common in the wider community. But for this thread, I wouldn't  have paid attention today. John Weiland: Would you ever have expected Cache Valley to be a hot-spot for barefoot living?

 
Casie Becker
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The asphalt here gets hot enough in the summer to cause blistering burns, so I don't see myself ever going far from home without shoes. Carefully balancing along the concrete curbs (vicious sand burrs infest many lawns) as I visit neighbors is as far as I go.

On the other hand, the idea that grounding helps with pain (especially plantar faciatis) might go a long way to explaining why just taking off my shoes and walking around barefoot after a long shift seems to help. If I do it before I sit down to rest I feel better, even on days when I can hardly walk by the time I get home.
 
John Weiland
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote: I knew that members of my tribe routinely go barefoot, but I didn't realize that it is so common in the wider community. But for this thread, I wouldn't  have paid attention today. John Weiland: Would you ever have expected Cache Valley to be a hot-spot for barefoot living?



Salt Lake City around the University, possibly.....Cache Valley, no (with the possible exception of the University core in Logan) .  On our little farmstead outside of Fargo-Moorhead, we walk around the immediate house barefoot, but tend to don Croc-like garden clogs for most other things (until deep winter arrives).  The farmstead proper has ~100 years of metal bits in the form of nails, barbed wire, shards of this and that metal or glass....so I prefer not to risk those cuts.

Joseph, one question that would pertain not only to your feet, but your bike tires as well:  Goat's head thorns.  Do those plants range up in the Cache Valley?.....I think they were pretty common from Boise down through most of the high desert of Utah..(?): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribulus_terrestris  ; Otherwise, sounds like a great idea for feet and posture.
GoatsHeadThorns.jpg
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Deb Rebel
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Goatshead thorns do NOT rot either. I have retrieved some from my pond that were three years in there and still lethally sharp. Those things go right through the soles of my shoes. My spouse sometimes brings them in the house because he likes wearing his shoes in the house and woe to him if I step on one he drug in.
 
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There is a lot of research about "earthing", and a book by a doctor named Stephen Sinatra.  Walking barefoot is said to be a way to ground yourself electrically with the earth.  It is said to decrease pain and be like an antioxidant. Concrete floors and leather work the same.  Most people wear synthetic or rubber shoes, which don't ground.

My wife the physics teacher mentioned that you can just touch a grounded sink faucet for the same effect.  I live in the PNW and I like Nicole's posts but I prefer no socks when possible due to athlete's foot. I prefer sandals and clogs when I need footwear, which is often because I also live in the wet side of PNW. They don't work for skateboarding or baseball, two of my favorite activities.
John S
PDX OR
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Goat heads are common here. For that reason, my bike tires have high-tech (high-price) anti-puncture tires on them, and they are filled with self-sealing fluid. I've never had a goat-head flat on my bicycles. However, one time, before a major bike race, the county wanted to spiff up the appearance of a roadway, so they mowed the morning of the race, and threw the clippings into the roadway, and the goats-heads flattened the tires of a huge number of the participants in the race! Strangers -- sheesh!!!

However, goat heads don't grow on my farm, nor in the places I frequent. That's because they are on my list of species that I don't allow to grow here. I'll stop whatever I'm doing to remove any goat head plants that I see, and insure that the propagules get into places that they will not reproduce: A fire. A landfill.  If I find a goat head growing on the street in my community, or at a friend's house, I'll either deal with it right then, or go back later with proper equipment to remove it. There used to be a patch growing at one of the bus stops I frequent. I felt funny, the first time I did random weeding, on the main highway through town, but I've gotten over it.

So goat heads are common in this area, but I rarely encounter any. They don't seem tenacious here,  so are easily controlled.

From the perspective of being barefoot. I pay attention to where I walk. The goat heads grow in a certain microclimate (rocky, not irrigated), and have a certain look about them that is easy to see on approach. I used to pick up a lot of seeds in my shoes, but I don't in my bare feet.

In looking at the social-standing of the people I saw who were barefoot at market, I would say that it's a post-Mormon phenomena. Once someone breaks other taboos that were imposed from childhood, then it's easier to evaluate the other taboos in one's life. I have made a systematic study in my life of breaking the Mormon taboos of my youth. Going to the grocery store barefoot was by far the fiercest taboo I ever faced.

My gait sure changed when I started going barefoot. Instead of heal-striking, I started fox-walking. That caused all sorts of shifts in posture, and in  my hips, calves and Achilles tendon. That was a harder shift for me than toughening up the soles of my feet. I'm still in the midst of transitioning. So I take it easy, and slow down in the training as necessary so that I don't walk myself into an injury.
 
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I too LOVE going barefoot. I have proper hobbit feet, with thick tough soles. I've walked over shards of broken glass before and picked splinters out of the callouses which haven't made it deep enough to cause pain. Unfortunately I can't go barefoot at work (classroom teacher) so for most of the year I am obliged to wear shoes.

When summer comes and I'm getting back into it again I start off gently - just a few hours a day at first - but after a week or so can go barefoot full time again. I do a fair bit of mountain walking in the holidays. I once had a dreadful pair of new boots that gave me horrible blisters within a mile of heading out for a long day. I took my shoes off and went barefoot over rocky ground and soggy marsh all day. It was lovely!

One thing I have realised is that I pay FAR more attention to where I put my feet than most people. It is so natural to me to do so, that picking my way over broken ground is now easy.
 
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I was born with a natural aversion to shoes. I grew up in Vermont, on a horse farm.  And yes, I handled the horses barefoot, rode barefoot, and was even known to go barefoot in the snow.

Now I live in Kenya, and shoes are a status symbol.  Only the poor walk barefoot.  And me.  I spend 99 percent of my time shoeless.  Everybody already knows I am the crazy white lady, and they don't even comment any more.  If I have to wear shoes for social reasons or particularly harsh landscapes. I slip on flip-flops. This is also a status marker.  People who wear flip-flops are one economic step above the barefoot destitute.  During the dry season, bare earth gets hot enough to literally burn and blister the bottoms of my feet - even though they are pretty tough.  I have picked out a few thorns over the years, but seem more likely to get thorns. Nails, staples and other sharp trash stuck through my flip flops.  Maybe I am unconsciously more careful barefoot?  I have a degenerative muscle disorder, and going barefoot is much easier on my body.  If I wear "real" shoes the extra weigh makes it very difficult to walk, and balance, and I get tired very quickly.
 
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Another vote for Soft Star shoes here.  If you're in an urban environment, they're great.  I have the Chukkas because I work in an office (boo) and they look enough like "dress shoes" that no one notices - but they feel like wearing moccasins.  One drawback though is that the tread on them tends to be slick, which is an issue when it's icy out.  Being leather they also get pretty hot in the summer, so I'll probably switch to DIY huaraches for the warm months (if they ever arrive around here this year).  Being barefoot in the garden is great but I have to build up to going barefoot in an urban environment.
 
Casie Becker
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I'd never seen goat head thorns before I moved here. The first few we stepped on I thought were just old sand burrs that had been deformed in an odd way. Unlike the sand burrs, which are invisible in a mixed native grass lawn like ours until they're already producing viable seed, they were easy to locate and weed out before the reproduced. Apparently they were originally introduced in at least some areas as an ornamental plant! I pulled the plant made good use of the wash cloth technique and completely eradicated them in one season.

For those of you have never done it, there's nothing like knowing all your neighbors are watching you as you scrub the soil in your front yard with a wash cloth. It works pretty well for sand burrs also. Terry cloth is great at capturing all sorts of burrs. It's an honorable death for old towel scraps, too.

edit: Now I feel dumb. I've been wondering for years where all my bathroom clothes keep vanishing to. Can't believe it's taken me this long to make such an obvious connection.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I went barefoot running (1.25 miles) in a new part of town this morning. Picked up 3 goat-heads within a couple steps.
Tribulus-terrestris-goathead-burr.jpg
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Tribulus terrestris
 
John Saltveit
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Those are so rough looking that I think the Rolling Stones should name an album after them.
JohN S
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For Deb Rebel, I find that any skin problem is mostly a matter of ph balance, if it's dry, use vinegar water, if it's oily, use baking soda water.  Apple cider vinegar water works great on my cracked feet.   I just soak them for about ten minutes a day until it starts going away (usually just a few days).  This also works on athlete's foot.  I probably use about a half cup of apple cider vinegar to enough water to cover my feet in a small rectangular plastic dish that my feet just fit in.  If I would have paid attention, they probably wouldn't have gotten to the cracking stage, but life is busy. . .

I used to love to go barefoot, however I developed quite a reaction to bee stings and bees among the clover don't like being stepped on, I find.
 
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Well into my late twenties I spent much of my time barefoot.  I was raised in South Florida and it was easy.  In a subtle and sometimes urgent way it made me more "aware" of where I was. I really didn't mind the rocks, thorns, toe stubs, burned feet... etc..   I remember that during a yearly medical physical that the doctor expressed amazement and shock and how my feet "looked". (i guess they were scarred and calloused and probably a bit "splayed"..  I did everything in bare feet at the time including clearing land.  He said that my feet reminded him of the feet of Haitians during his times of volunteering down there.  Anyway I am now in my sixties and still long for that contact with the earth.  I must say that wearing Crocs is the next best thing to being barefoot.  They are extremely light and "breathable".  Easy to clean,..  Slip on and off in an instant.  The Chinese croc knockoffs cost me just $2.50 each pair at the local flea market.  (they easily last me a year)...  I even wore them daily when I worked in a local library..    Between my then barefoot and now Croc periods I wore Birkenstocks.  They were pretty good but the Crocs are really the ultimate in "barefoot" living...  I absolutely hate "lace up", constraining footware.
 
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Deb Rebel wrote:These days I have hard heel crusts that like to crack and crack and crack until they rip and can need stitches so I am minimally shod and have to religious callous paring to keep the cracks at bay (with a small flush cut nippers no less).


I have thick skin and fairly tough feet and my heels callus up like that too, and it will crack if neglected. Best thing I've found is use sandpaper on the DRY callus -- much better than paring it off. Drywall grade 120 grit works best (and lasts forever, just brush it out when it gets clogged), but if you can't find that, any P120-grit wet-or-dry sandpaper works fine. (Wet-or-dry lasts longer than plain.) It won't take off normal skin, but smooths down callus very nicely. Just rub it down -- not too hard -- til it feels flexible and smooth (you want any existing cracks to be sanded away, at least til the edges feel smooth -- at that point it will stop hurting), then apply a coat of vaseline -- works wonders. Once the callus is down to a flexible layer, it's pretty easy to maintain by a light sandpapering whenever it starts to have bits that catch.

The big thing with going barefoot is to walk differently -- put your toe down first, then your heel (instead of heel-then-toe like normal walking). I learned this from walking in soft-soled moccasins (oh, now I know why my old Ojibwa mentor walks like that! decades of habit and he still did it even wearing boots.) That way if you do come down on something sharp, it's not full-pressure against your heel and you can spring away from it, instead of forcibly landing on it.

But don't get sucked into the notion that primitives don't wear shoes. Yeah, they go barefoot around the home village where the ground is smooth and free of thorns. But if you ever see video of primitives out on the hunt, running across wild ground -- they wear slabs of bark or hide tied to their feet like sandals. Meaning foot protection has been around a long time -- probably since man first walked upright.

When I was younger I went barefoot any time I could, then I lived in the desert for 28 years and trust me, you do NOT go barefoot there if you don't want feet full of thorns you have to make a big hole to dig back out; and they will cripple you if you don't get 'em out. But flip-flops are almost as good, and the toe-gripping to keep them on is good for strong feet. I am 62 but my feet are 15, albeit with a permanent tan mark from wearing zorries six months a year.
 
pollinator
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I love walking barefoot. During summer outdoors (on sand or grass) it's OK. But during the colder seasons, and indoors, I need warm socks or at least slippers with soles isolating my feet from the cold floor. When the undersides of my feet get cold, they start cramping. The floor of my ground-floor apartment is always cold, even a little damp (the crawl-space under the concrete often is wet). Even a carpet over wood over an isolating underfloor doesn't make the floor warm enough for my feet. But in the garden I can walk barefoot!
 
Rez Zircon
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I went barefoot running (1.25 miles) in a new part of town this morning. Picked up 3 goat-heads within a couple steps.


Those bloody goat-heads are just about my least-favorite weed; they will even puncture tires (at least thinner ones). I jerk them up wherever I see them. The seeds can continue to mature and form spikes even after the plant is pulled up, so make sure they go straight into the trash, not the compost heap!
 
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Barefoot's the bomb. I went a few summers up here without wearing shoes; got kicked out of one place that tried to BS me with "it's the law." But The Society for Barefoot Living at http://www.barefooters.org has the straight legal dope on every state, and it turns out that the only laws here about it apply to employees, not customers. Mostly I wear shoes nowadays, but they all have flat soles (since heels were invented to keep feet in stirrups, and are therefore superfluous). I have some Fivefingers and Vivo Barefoots. I got flat-soled Steger mukluks for winter, and finally found a pair of Wellingtons from Tretorn (which they don't make anymore, unfortunately). There are a lot more options now than there used to be, because it's catching on. It took several years for my achilles tendon and calf muscles to stretch back to normal, but I've discovered that ditching the heels did wonders for my posture and balance. Naked feet are best, though; I got to where I could run miles on gravel. I think I got away from that because every spring it was a hassle to build up the callouses. It was worth it though; I should start up again.
 
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I've been doing the 'barefoot' thing for about a decade now. Love being barefoot whenever possible. Most days I can pull off never having to put on shoes, save for heavy loading/unloading, working in/around other people (esp. with tools like shovels, picks, forks etc.) and making deliveries to town.

If I absolutely must purchase shoes to wear for certain occasions, I always look for 1) zero differential between heel and toe, 2) a broad open toe box (as opposed to confined, artificially narrow toe boxes that predominate due to current fashion sensibilities), 3) a neutral toe box (no 'upswept' toe contour so common in many of today's athletic shoes) and 4) no arch support (arches are made stronger with load from the top, just like a stacked stone arch or the Roman Aqueducts - the surest way to collapse an arch is to push up from underneath it - same principle applies to feet albeit with different subtleties). Basically, I look for a shoe that allows for my foot to naturally express it's shape, exerts the absolute minimum amount of interference with my proprioception (any change here messes with gait and posture all the way up to head position) and provides a second skin to protect my foot from unwelcome foreign objects or substances.

During the summer here on the farm our clay soil becomes rock hard, and all the plants like to leave spiky presents that can penetrate even thick skinned feet like mine. On days like these I'll sometimes wear my bike tire sandals that I learned to make at the Acorn Gathering a couple years ago. They meet all the requirements from above and are light as a feather to boot, but do a great job of keeping the pokies out of my feet.


Before I shifted my lifepath into regenerative farming I ran a fitness business and ultimately a CrossFit gym for the 8 years following college. We converted lots of people to the barefoot lifestyle there. The most important thing that always made or broke someone's transition into barefooting was whether or not they stuck to "slow and steady". All too often people would get super fired up and contrary to our recommendations, they'd go do the same activities they used to do but either barefoot or in a more 'minimalist' shoe. Like David Fraleigh said in a previous post in this thread, changing the way we walk from the lazy, proprioception starved yet commonly accepted 'heel to toe' to something more like forefoot and midfoot first, fox-walking takes A LOT of work and attention. Entire muscle groups and gait patterns need to be relearned, individual muscles need to condition from their formerly lethargic life, and your body needs to learn to interpret all of the new sensory information coming in. 

The entire energetic patterning of each step needs to change from, in 'heel - toe' mode: first contact with ground is made through heel -> energy is transferred directly through ankle mortise joint (weakening it) -> energy is transferred directly up the tibia into the knee joint (degrading it) -> energy is transferred to femur and directly to hip joint (degrading it) -> further up the kinetic chain in a stressful way...

to 'fox-walking' mode: first contact with ground is made with forefoot/midfoot -> energy is attenuated by active and strong arch of foot -> passed through active peroneal, gastroc and soleus muscles in the lower leg -> passed to active quadriceps as it crosses the knee -> passed to active glute max, medius, minimus and TFL with minimal energetic transfer through the 'hard tissues' of the skeletal system.

Essentially, when the decision is made to go barefoot, the vast majority of people will need to retrain their gait from a passive, impact heavy, energy absorption system into an active, impact minimal, energy attenuation system. The muscles, muscle groups, and order in which they are used is different in each of these patterns. The former 'heel - toe' pattern takes a toll on joint surfaces that are meant to roll, slide and glide by turning them into shock absorbers and directly compressing them. The latter 'fox-walking' pattern attenuates the forces involved in each step with active musculature, thus increasing longevity and health of joint, fascial and other connective tissue. I won't go into the 'step off' part of gait here - maybe another time if anyone is interested, but suffice to say, 'heel - toe' is a "pulling" style of walking, while 'fox-walk' is a "pushing" style of walking - and we want to push not pull when it comes to our gait! Pulling leads to a whole host of additional problems (work flow is hip flexors -> hamstrings -> anterior tibialis/peroneals -> eccentric impact loading of the arch and intrinsic muscles of the foot WHICH EQUALS a round gut, flat butt, blocky midsection, large muscular cankles (ankles as thick as calves), dysfunctional arches, over-pronated feet (duck feet!) To each their own, but I don't think most folks desire that outcome...

Whew, I didn't plan on that, but I got fired up reading a barefoot thread! I hope this added something to the conversation.

Oh, and before I wrap,  here's a great podcast with the 'Barefoot Podiatrist'  Ray McClanahan on Daniel Vitalis's Rewild Yourself podcast. He covers all sorts of great stuff, but lends that Western-trained medical perspective to it. Interview with Dr. McClanahan starts at about 31:00. http://www.danielvitalis.com/rewild-yourself-podcast/the-barefoot-podiatrist-dr-ray-mcclanahan-140

Also recently had a buddy let me try a pair of his XeroShoes - pretty darn cool overall! https://xeroshoes.com/


Ok I'm DONE!
 
pollinator
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There's a huge amount of valuable information on this subject in the book: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.  Can't say enough good things about this book.  It changed my entire perspective on walking, running, and foot-wear.
 
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