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Going Shoeless: A discussion about barefoot living  RSS feed

 
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Hal Hurst wrote:I've been running a reality check while reading this thread, comparing it to my acres of heaven, and I have to say that I will never be able to lose my sole the way some posters have done.  

My place is overrun with Himalayan blackberries, wild roses, and poison oak. So I don't imagine I could ever go shoeless except in strictly controlled areas like my annual garden, where I weed regularly and the paths are strewn with wood chips and straw.  

Now when I get my runner bean hedge going I might shed whatever gets in the way of the sun, but only while in the curated patch for annuals, and for sure a session of blackberry picking has got to include boots and overalls.



I recently got a splinter in my foot from deep mulching my mother's garden with sandals (and by recently I mean July) and that was noooooooooot fun. My fault for wearing sandals though.
 
Perry Tart
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Rez Zircon wrote:

Linda Secker wrote:How do you guys cope with cold and wet?? My feet always feel cold



Get your thyroid checked (full workup, not just TSH test). Borderline or low thyroid is the usual cause of chronically cold hands and feet (especially cold feet at night, or inability to quickly warm up again after being cold).



Or Reynaud's, which is not inherently related to the thyroid.
 
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Perry Tart wrote:
Or Reynaud's, which is not inherently related to the thyroid.



Secondary, probably not, but primary (idiopathic) -- symptoms are suspiciously similar to low thyroid (which constricts peripheral blood vessels; this is a primary cause of age-related high blood pressure) coupled with sodium/potassium imbalance (which can make it sudden and intense, and may be sensitive to blood calcium levels).
 
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I had a graduation celebration, of sorts, a few weeks ago. I put shoes on for a day to harvest squash. I was scared of doing the frost emergency harvest without shoes. Even though I have been living without shoes for months, and spent all winter, spring, and summer transitioning. I hated it. My toes, feet, knees, and hips ached. So at the end of the day, I permanently retired the shoes. The next day I continued the harvest without shoes. It was fine. I wasn't bothered by the thistles. Was too busy to pay attention to stupid stuff like that. A few thistle spines entered my feet. I dug them out a few days later. That's much preferable to wearing shoes. I never expected when I started living barefoot, that it would bring so much peace and joy into my life.

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Living joyfully barefooted
 
pollinator
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I like to go barefoot in my garden and yard, but everywhere else I wear sandals or mocasins. I'm thinking of making sandals out of car tires in the future. I've seen people wearing them a lot in CA when I visit family.
 
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Casey Pfeifer wrote:
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...



Here's a video with an interesting bit of history about walking to follow Casey's excellent post...I am barefoot much of the day and do walk 'ball to heel' a bit naturally when outside in the garden or walking through the fallen walnuts, etc.  I'm trying it deliberately in the house this morning and it's hard to keep going...much slower walk and using different muscles I can feel already.

 
pollinator
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Pete Egoscue has some good information regarding our current way of walking.  Basically, because we live in an environment that has primarily flat surface that we walk on, we've gotten lazy and initiate our steps by lifting our leg with the lower back and hip muscles and let the leg swing forward at the knee, rather than initiating the step by raising our knees as we step. Hence the heel strike.  This modern way doesn't work in environments that have sticks and stones in our way.   His stretching methods are designed to help get back to a healthy way of walking. Worth a look for anyone with lower back pain, for sure.

Really though, the definitive book for me on this subject is "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall.  I can't say enough about this book.  If you're interested in this subject, there's not another informative document about this subject that comes close.  Everything else is bits and pieces.  This book ties it all together.
 
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Interesting about the flat surfaces and way of walking. I have found that when I'm out on the the mountain trails where nothing is flat or even I can easily walk ten plus miles without getting tired or sore but walking on pavement or concrete makes my back and feet tired after just a few miles.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I've been living almost completely barefoot since about June. I put on shoes to do beekeeping, but that's about it. Oh, and I put shoes on to go to the hospital with a family member for a routine checkup. Seems like such a dangerous place to me.

I'm running barefoot more than a mile a day, and walking 1 to 3 miles, even after the weather turned cold about 3 months ago. Even in the snow. I expect that eventually it may get too cold. But I started learning to run barefoot in about January last winter so we'll see how it goes. I'm currently taking my runs about 2 PM during the warmest part of the day. Just the opposite of what I did in the summer, when I stayed off asphalt mid-day.

I figure that the transition to barefoot walking/running took about 8 months. The soles of the feet adjusted quickly. It was the calves, and tendons in my lower leg that took a long time to lengthen to compensate for not having thick heels. I spent a few months where I was constantly flirting with injury to calf muscles. The reason being, that once I started running barefoot, then i also changed my walking gait, and I just couldn't go back to the old gait. I'm currently taking 3 steps in the same time/distance that 2 steps used to take. My feet start touching down just behind the little toe. Never on heels. I don't like the jarring sensation of heel-striking.

Pains in my knees, hips, and back disappeared. Knocking noises from my knees stopped.

The past couple months with people raking leaves, they have thrown a lot of goat-head caltrop seeds onto the sidewalks and roads. I mostly have their locations memorized, to avoid them, but step on some with every run. No big deal, I just stop and pick them out. Brushing sucks, cause then they stab fingers, or re-stab foot.

I haven't had any problems at all with the mythological glass and syringes that supposedly cover public streets. Shopkeepers have been very welcoming to me.

I dig a thistle thorn out of my foot about once a month. Here's a photo of the worst thing I stepped on... A horse chestnut shell. Ouch! It didn't leave tips inside, so it had healed by the next day.

I'm loving living a barefoot life. I don't have to worry about washing socks, or buying footwear, or keeping track of my shoes, or fussing with putting shoes on. If I had any advice to those wanting to adopt a barefoot lifestyle, it would be to take it slow. Even slower than that...



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Horse chestnut shell.
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Wound from stepping on horse chestnut shell
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Running in the snow.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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It's December, and I'm still living barefoot. I run about a mile per day, and walk about a mile a day. Still wondering when I'll finally cave in and put on a pair of shoes. It was about 37 F for today's run.
joseph-2017-12.jpg
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Joseph Lofthouse
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Well, I finally injured myself by barefoot living... You know how I keep saying to transition slowly? I've been transitioning for almost a year, and I still went too fast.

When transitioning from wearing shoes to going barefoot, the Achilles tendon, and calf muscles have to lengthen to make up for not having a heel under them. That went OK for me. I've been running barefoot, and gradually increasing distance. My runs were becoming too long to run on flat areas, so I started running up hills. We have some great hills around here! Problem is, that running up hills requires additional lengthening of the Achilles tendon, and calf muscles. That would have been fine, if I had approached it like I had previously with slow and steady change. But I didn't think about it, and kept running on a sore calf muscle, then went for a run, up a hill, in cold weather, without warming up! Yup, tore my calf muscle. Ooops! Didn't pay attention to my body. It gave me fair warning. Looking back on it, last summer I was having a lot of pain in my calves. I was running in a park with hills! The pain only went away when I got tird of the slippery slime growing on the running path and switched to a dry level surface.

So I'm taking a break from running for about 6 weeks. I expect my recuperation to involve a lot of hill walking. And no barefoot running up hills for some time.

I'm wearing high-heeled boots now, to take the pressure off the calf muscle while it knits back together. I'm not minding. It was 17 F tonight when I went out to run an errand.

Here's a photo from 3 minutes before the injury.


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Barefoot running in the snow
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I'm really enjoying living barefoot. Even in the snow.

I am finding what my limits are. I don't like to be out barefoot if it's under 20 F. I also found that if there is slush on the ground and it freezes hard, that it gets a lot of knife-like edges in it. I really don't like that. So on those occassions, I am wearing a pair of ballet slippers.

I'm loving that my toes keep spreading wider apart.
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Barefootprints in the snow.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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It is deep winter here now. I am wearing shoes outside most of the time. I got a hint of frost-bite on the ball of my right foot a couple months ago. Therefore, I have been paying extra close attention to ground temperatures. I'm still going outside barefoot, but not for long durations, or when super-cold. When I do wear shoes, they are simple: Ballet slippers, slippers, flat thin-soled sneakers. I wore a pair of boots a couple weeks ago when I toured Wheaton Laboratories. Oh my heck! My legs and feet were super-tired after the tour.

 
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So, I was reading about Sugru (the moldeble silicone "putty" that hardens into flexible rubber), and ran acoss an Instructable on how to make one's own barefoot shoes out of the stuff and a toe sock. I was instantly reminded of this thread! Here's the Instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-your-own-barefoot-shoes/




The Sugru stuff is kind of spendy, but it looks like a similar substance can be made with silicone caulk and corn starch, nick-named Oogoo (https://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-Your-Own-Sugru-Substitute/) or Proto-Putty https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fwytA5r2Mw()
 
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Oustanding posts, especially the pictures of joseph with the strings. I walk bare foot most of Summer and Spring around the yard, in the neighbor hood but not futher. The walking paths are mostly man made so it makes more sense to me to do it on natural terrain.
Lots of neighbours point to me feet and I just smile, wish them a good day.
 
                  
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This is such an encouraging thread. It's good to see the barefoot movement gaining popularity. I have been barefoot for 13 years now and going strong. I have never felt better. Back pain - gone. Hip pain - gone. Knee pain - gone. I am now completely pain free and that's something I never thought I would say.
Ditch the shoes! But do it with a sense of ease. Build your feet (from the ground up!). I understand that a lot of young folk might be reading this thread (at least I hope so) so I'm going to let you'll in on a little advice from an old timer like myself.
Find some literature about how to strengthen your feet. If you've been wearing supportive, overly cushioned footwear all your life, your feet are like babies. They'll need to build up motor patterns and musculature you previously didn't really need. This is a good place to start: https://www.thesewisefeet.com/how-to-fix-flat-feet/. The person who wrote this intended it for people with fallen arches. But the information can easily be used for those trying to transition into barefoot movement. Work on your feet for the next 5 weeks and you'll see your arch rise and your posture change. From there, start venturing out barefoot a couple of hundred meters at a time. Don't overdo anything. Just go at it from the angle of a light hobby. Do this for a month and then you'll know when you're ready to walk free again!
Hope this helps!
 
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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.



I've read the same things from several sources. Can't scientifically speak for the results but I DO sense a closer connection to nature after a short time barefoot. Unfortunately the terrain in the mountains & my daily routine requires boots for protection (& potentially avoiding bears) most of the time. Have 30ish years worth of windsurf calluses though. Can walk on Texas asphalt in August for a little while.

As far as extracting poisons from the body like those Japanese foot pads available via late night shopping channels ... well, maybe. But if Frank Zappa was right the mind is the dirtiest part of the body. Who really needs all that yuk traveling through all their major organs, down their abdomen & legs, & then out their feet? More direct method is to bury my face in the mud. Yea, that's the ticket.


 
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We go barefoot most of the summer, does anyone have an idea for a foot wash station that doesn't, require a hose and running water. We seem to track in A LOT of dirt and debri , like grass. Our grass will stay wet till noon most days so our feet are wet,and tend to pick up a lot of stuff
 
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Maybe try a very small doormat in a shallow pan of water.  Put an absorbant bath mat on the inside to dry yhe damp feet as you step inside. Just my first thought.
 
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Interesting discussion and great to hear about the experiences of those going barefoot.

Any concern about getting hookworm or other parasites from going barefoot?

I currently wear the shoes from vivobarefoot.com and love them. Most comfortable shoes and boots I ever had- and that is even with the bunion I have on my right foot. Vivo recommends some foot exercises that are challenging but kinda fun:

https://www.vivobarefoot.com/us/blog/december-2014/engage-your-feet-with-a-spot-of-toega

I saw some homemade hemp shoes on the internet, even included a pattern but darned if I can find it now.

For those of you who struggle with those dried cracked heels- I read that the cause of that is a type of fungus. But the one thing I found that finally worked for me was Vaseline. And only vaseline brand worked for me. I tried store brands but they weren't as effective. Vaseline doesn't cure it but sure helps to manage it- softest my feet have ever been. I really hate having to use it as it is a petroleum product.
 
Casie Becker
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Running around barefoot is a long standing family tradition.  None of us have ever picked up any parasites from it.  I think in most cases people instinctively follow some common sense guidelines without thinking about.  Few people are inclined to walk through animal waste, even in shoes. Barefoot, you tend to be more aware of where you put your feet so even accidentally this is less likely.  I also think most people take some care to keep from getting dirt into any open wounds on thier feet.  With just these two precautions alone, people eliminate most chance of being exposed to dangerous parasites.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I continue to live, walk, and run barefoot. My body continues to transition to be more flexible. Feet continue to strengthen. I seem to remember my feet being like blobs at the end of my leg. These days, they have character, and lines, and move in lots of directions. It seems like every few months, a previously stiff ankle/foot joint becomes more flexible, and aches for a while as the previously little used muscles/tendons become more active. Range of motion of my toes is increasing.

I am trail running, on rough/rocky ground. That means running in smoother areas, and walking over areas of sharp gravel.

My runs have become more than running. I am doing things like walking/running sideways, skipping, galloping, twirling, etc. I'm doing dynamic stretching before runs, and static stretching after.  I'm doing yoga during my runs, and chinups, pushups, dips, planks, etc. Things designed to increase the range of motion of my whole body: Right on the main highway through town! The labor of working on the farm is easier than ever, because I am stronger and more flexible.

I'm loving moving, and I attribute a good deal of that love to the good feeling that comes to me from running barefoot. I'm enjoying what it's done to my figure.

joseph-2018-05-31.jpg
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Barefoot figure
 
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It's a great sounding idea, I wish I could do it.

My podiatrist told me to wear quality shoes to keep my feet in good health, preferably Asics, Brookes or New Balance (here in Australia). He said people assume 'natural' is better, but that it's not.

I wore flip-flops for years (worst kind of footwear for men) and did barefoot long-distance jogging on grass and jumping rope without shoes.

As a result I developed a permanent foot problem, not long after I went unshodden. Somehow my nerves now pinch in a normal position, causing intense pain, so I have to walk with a limp to take pressure off.

Most people will go fine without shoes but it doesn't mean it's a healthy choice, a bit like sunbathers who live naturally with long sun exposure and never develop skin cancer.
 
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Tim-
Wearing manufactured shoes is a recent phenomenon.  What do you think people did before they bought them?

Why do the world's greatest distance runners go without shoes?
JohN S
PDX OR
 
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My podiatrist is a marathon runner who has trained in Kenya. He's seen and experienced it all and recommends quality footwear for optimal foot health. Everyone's free to decide for themselves, I was just saying what health professionals recommend and also my personal experience of injury through not wearing shoes.
 
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Maybe part of the problem is that the surfaces made for us to walk on are extremely hard and perfectly flat for the mostpart? Concrete sidewalks, tiled floor etc. absorb no shock whatsoever and give no opportunity for the foot to experience different gradients. In nature few places are totally flat, so feet would have to be able to function well on uneven ground. Maybe part of the atrophy of feet is from the flatness. I found that when I walked long distances on a sidewalk that was slanted so that one foot was higher than the other the whole time it caused me a lot of pain, regardless of whether I kept my shoes on or off.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I have found that since I stopped wearing shoes habitually, that I prefer to walk on uneven surfaces. I'll walk on the dirt/lawn beside a sidewalk. I'll walk along ridges left by tire-tracks on the edge of roadways. I'll walk on round gravel rather than on flat asphalt. I'll step on lines in the sidewalk. Mixing it up. I walk over as few flat, boring surfaces as possible.


 
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Funnily enough the exercises my podiatrist gives to heal my feet and ankles include emulating being on uneven surfaces. It's to strengthen all the tiny muscles that aren't used in modern life.
 
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it's true that i am trotting the web with a fox browser now , buuut...

Joseph, yeah "pay attention to where we walk" while barefoot, and as Casie Becker points out,

Barefoot, you tend to be more aware of where you put your feet


and then there's a reduction in injury-risk, right...
but ?fox-walking?! sounds bad, and unnecessary in most-most circumstances (not buying Casey Pfeifer's scientific-sounding reasons for fox-trotting from a year ago - 1st page of thread).

I'm getting stabbed in both hands and feet while weeding. Seems like a worthwhile trade-off to me. - Joseph Lofthouse


"worthwhile", and moreover, unlocking the potentially-desirable disconnection from Nature (as well as "honorable", perhaps)

 I'm loving that my toes keep spreading wider apart. - Joseph Lofthouse


seems to indicate a non-hoof-like (or non-"blob at the end of my leg" ), human-duh, subtler functioning of our feet's 5, different appendages (a.k.a. "toes")

!good post, hidden-named poster between Rahul and Mike (from a month ago).  these words of wisdom can generally apply to how somebody can approach Nnaturepath transitions by going slow, from deeply habituated, familiar behaviors (the more habituated and familiar, the more difficult), and ultimately self-knowing or revelations as you listen more to your natural body and, environment... to get to that correct balance...
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Since I started living habitually barefoot, I have adapted "fox-walking" as my default gate. When I was wearing shoes my gait was shock, shock, shock, shock as the impact from hitting the ground was transferred from heel, to knee, to hip, to back, to neck, to head. Now my gait is finesse, finesse, finesse, finesse as weight shifts gently from one joint to the next. If I ever feel a jolt in my joints, I know that I am not fox-walking, and that is a signal to me to shift my gait to smoothness. Even when fox-running, there is no jolting of my joints. Motion is smooth, landings gentle and soft. It's a whole different world from the way I was taught to walk and run while shod. Whenever I catch myself walking in the traditional American gait, it is startling too me how dramatic the difference is between the two gaits.

Barefoot running is so quiet for me, that I can often run past an animal or person, before they are even aware of my approach.
 
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Very interesting thread. I've always been a heavy (and loud) heel walker. I don't have any back or knee problem (yet), but I've been slowly more aware, in past few years, that I need to change the way I walk.

Also, I don't like wearing socks both in summer and winter. In summer, my feet and toe perspire in socks and shoes ; in winter, I easily perspire when my boots or shoes are too hot while driving or at work (they put way too much heat...), and then I quickly feel cold when I get outside because my feet are not dry.

So I'm finally starting to make some change, slowly. I am always barefoot at home inside and I am slowly increasing the distance I walk outside in my yard and in the garden. I cannot walk anymore by dropping my heel in front of me when I'm barefoot, so I fox-walk slowly. It feels like I am completely re-learning to walk ! I was worried mainly by Canada thistle weeds, I cannot completely avoid them while walking in the garden and in the field, but it is not that bad. Walking barefoot will likely improve my awareness of my environment and of my soil.

I want to find some way to transition from thick running shoes to barefoot in my everyday life. Has anybody tried Xeroshoes soles (https://xeroshoes.com/shop/outsoles/diy-feeltrue/) ? They also make toe-socks that might be mandatory during winter (we sometimes have -30 F in winter). I'll also try to find some simple thin soled shoes for work (barefoot might not be socially acceptable in my college).

David
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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A great transition shoe for me were canvas gym shoes. They have a flat even-height sole from front to back, and don't have a sole that is flared upwards under the toes. The sole is light enough to feel the texture of the ground.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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This hill is really steep, and really rocky. I walked up and down it often while camping the past few weeks. Fox-walking at it's finest.
rocky-footpath.jpg
[Thumbnail for rocky-footpath.jpg]
Rocky footpath
barefoot-camping.jpg
[Thumbnail for barefoot-camping.jpg]
Camping barefooted is wonderful
barefoot-toe-spacing.jpg
[Thumbnail for barefoot-toe-spacing.jpg]
Showing off current toe spread
Filename: barefoot-rocky-path.mp4
Description: Foxwalking on rocky trail
File size: 331 Kbytes
 
pollinator
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I'm loving the foot shots Joseph. I love being barefoot, connected to the earth. I'm still transitioning back to barefoot after plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis issues. I'm working on transitioning to fox-walking as well. It takes some calf strengthening, and some realignment. My oldest has always walked on the balls of her feet, almost tippy-toed, and it works great for her.

I also have a wide toe spread, years of being barefoot and pregnant (my choice). Good times.
 
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Location: Zone 7a, Paulden, AZ
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chicken food preservation forest garden
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This has been a marvelous thread and I've saved many of the links that were shared.  I love going barefoot when I feel I can, but for years I've focused more on the negative ion benefits rather than the posture/foot strike effects.  

Two things I haven't seen much discussion on are critter encounters and 'earthing.'  There were a few mentions of earthing, but not much.  As for the critters, that is my main concern with going barefoot.  We live on rural property and do encounter the occasional snake.  Now, some of those snakes are good, but they still scare me upon initial encounter.  However, some are not so good and I do know several people who have been bitten, one in particular, who gardens barefoot.  

The other ground crawler I have to keep in mind is the Gila monster.  I was in Mexico quite a few years ago and decided to take a morning walk - in toe-less sandals.  I was walking along a sidewalk beside an empty, slightly overgrown lot, when a Gila monster dashed out across my path less than a foot from me.  This is how most Gila monster encounters happen and I should have known better.  Toes look like pinky mice to them.  While Gila monsters are not as prevalent as snakes, I do have to consider them in my area.  I considered myself fortunate that day.

Another thing this thread brought to mind was the idea of barefooting around town.  I would be concerned about this as a health hazard.  I like to remove my shoes in our home for the reason of keeping the home clean.  There was a study done a few years ago on what was on the bottom of shoes.  If you go to the grocery store and someone has dropped meat on the floor and it wasn't cleaned up well, you may very well bring e-coli into your home on you shoes.  If you're not wearing shoes, you have nothing to remove the 'city' from your feet when entering your home.  

Everywhere you step, someone else has stepped before you.  Whatever was on their shoes, is now on your feet.  Someone did mention hospitals.  This would be at the top of my list also.  Even with shoes, I feel 'infected' when I visit a hospital and want to scrub the bottom of my shoes and wash myself and all my clothes when I leave.  Cities are dirty places and concrete certainly isn't natural for walking.  Even where there are parks in the city, I'd be afraid of glass, needles, parasites, ticks, dog poop, etc.

Our home is set up so that the area immediately surrounding our home is grass.  This gives us a buffer zone between the farm area and the house.  It helps to keep down on the dirt that comes inside.  So, we've found a 'good' use for grass and I LOVE to go barefoot in it.  It's also the 'safe' area for the grandkids.  

The rest of the property outside the grass yard would seem difficult to go barefoot.  There's the chicken coop and run, but then we also free range our chickens, so there could be chicken poop anywhere outside the grass.  

Then there's the goatheads.  We haven't gotten complete control yet, although we thought we had last year.  There's always something showing up as we continue to try to clean up - nails, rusted pieces of fencing and wire, glass, broken pieces of pvc, and whatever else the previous owners left.

I'm really interested in some of the almost barefoot type shoes that have been mentioned here.  Does anyone else have a concern about snakes (or Gila monsters)?  Where do you NOT go barefoot? What's the worst thing you've ever stepped on/encountered barefoot?  

And thanks to all the previous posters for contributing to this thread.

Bonnie

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Someone trying to be helpful introduced me to "grounding". It didn't do anything for me. I'm nearly always barefoot, and often have my hands in the soil. So I don't remember a time when I wasn't grounding....

I encounter about one snake per decade, so they are not high on my list of things to watch out for. I'm hyper cautious when moving rocks in the desert, but I don't pay much attention while walking.The demographic most likely to be bitten by snakes are teenage boys engaged in horseplay with a snake. Bites tend to be on hands and arms, or legs and ankles. I suppose that a pair of high topped cowboy boots would help minimize snakebite in locations where snakes are common.

Watching me walk nowadays, you might believe that I'd turned into a Hindu monk. When I was shod, I indiscriminately trampled insects. Now that I live barefoot, I avoid stepping on insects, mostly due to being aware that they are crawling along.

My general feeling regarding germs, is that there are more germs incubating in the warm/humid environment inside a shoe, than there are crawling around on city streets, or on my dry leathery bare feet. My skin is constantly shedding and releasing accumulated germs. When the skin sheds inside shoes, it is merely providing food for microbes. I certainly don't get teased about foot odor since I started living habitually barefoot.

I worry about the pesticides that get sprayed all over town. I put shoes on whenever I take someone to a doctor's office. But not when I'm walking through a manured pasture.  Germs are part and parcel of my animal heritage. My body knows how to deal with them. For what it's worth, it's much easier to clean dog poop off bare feet than it is from shoes.

I have never seen a needle in the city. For the most part, I don't pay much attention to broken glass. It hasn't been a problem. However, if I see a freshly broken bottle, I'll clean up the large curved fragments. They seem dangerous to me.

I tend to avoid walking on grass. It's too hard to see hazards hidden within. I prefer to walk on sharp gravel rather than soft grass with hidden dangers.

Goatheads really suck!!! They are one of the few species on my eradicate list. (The others are a grass-burr, and purslane in three fields that don't already have it.) Thistles are annoying, but not quite annoying enough to get added to the eradicate list. Any place I travel frequently is more or less free of goatheads, cause I put a lot of effort into minimizing their presence in my life.

I figure that I'm constantly being exposed to tetanus, so have an ongoing immunity.

I wear shoes:
while  beekeeping
when I work in a field that is filled with dead Canadian thistles
during super-cold weather
at doctor's offices
When pruning hawthorns, even though the spines penetrate the soles of my shoes, so what's the point?

The worst thing I ever encountered was the husk from a buckeye tree. It produced dozens of punctures. Fortunately, they didn't break off inside. Dry Canadian thistle spines break off inside, and are the most annoying thing I routinely step on.
 
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