5 Benefits of Not Wearing Shoes
From the time we are babies all the way up to adult and beyond, we are wearing shoes. The common answer if we are asked why would be something like “You need to protect your feet.”. Well let’s consider that for a second.
Would my feet be damaged or would my feet actually get stronger from not wearing any shoes? In reality, shoes are more of a crutch than a necessity. They keep your feet “protected” also means your feet will remain “protected” in developing any protection of their own. What’s being protected by the shoe is actually the skin. The skin is quite delicate for babies, however by the time you begin to walk, you can begin developing your own “armor”. By “armor” I mean dead skin.
Yes, dead skin is some of the best protection you can have on your feet (and hands). Also called a callus, dead skin builds up on areas of the foot that undergo high impact and/or repetitive action. For example a child may first develop blisters when playing on the monkey bars and then have those turn into callus (suddenly the blisters stop forming and the callus is the reason for that protection).
This information isn’t anything new, people know and typically avoid anything that makes their foot uglier than it needs to be. Yes, a callus is not labelled as classically beautiful in the eyes of many but in it’s function it truly is something to be thankful for. It develops in a way that it custom to your natural gait (a fancy term for the way you walk – maybe I’ll post something more in depth later). It forms in the areas wear you impact your foot the most and walking barefoot can actually improve the effects of that development.
You might ask why here and that’s a good question because a callus does not only form when you are walking barefoot. People develop a callus all the time even when wearing shoes. Some examples are a runner, nurses, construction worker, cashier, etc. The reason being these professions include one or a combination of the following:
- high impact
- heavy lifting
- long duration while standing
It’s not rocket science is it, but the fact that your body senses where the damage is and produces these desensitized layers of skin is much more complex than I can explain here.
Coming back to my point now about why bare foot is beneficial versus wearing a shoe and developing a callus. I said it before, wearing a shoe is a crutch we have from the time we are born.
No one on wears the same pair of shoes while they grow from toddler to adult and beyond. This is where the problems start.
A person will continually develop their gait from one set of shoes to another and that means your body has to constantly adjust the callus each time. A callus is not developed instantly. It takes longer and longer each year you grow. It’s not so critical in children but by the time you are a teen/young adult it can be difficult to find the best shoes for your walk/run/whatever. You may have seen the in sole market around this time and brag to your friends how comfortable they are… well that’s because you didn’t develop your callus for your walk properly and have to spend $$$ to fix that. It’s not that it’s a bad thing to buy those in soles but you will buy them earlier than expected (I’m talking about the medically grade stuff).
Barefoot walkers have nothing between themselves and the ground.
So when they walk around, they experience a callus that will encircle many different terrains and impacts depending on how they lead their life. Think of it as a shoe designed custom to your foot and can not be used by any other person (like the fingerprint scanner that locks your phone). Not only does this shoe feet it numbs you from feeling pain when walking on rocks, sticks, sand, etc.
Shoes are not the enemy however. They do protect the top of the foot from falling objects like knives, rocks, anything that falls really. But being barefoot has it’s benefits:
- Protection from the ground designed just for you
- Longevity from pain developed from striking your foot without this cushion
- Growing a pad of skin while your foot’s natural fat pad (internal) decreases over time
- Money savings from sole inserts
- A stronger foot with less sensitivity
Is this controversial? Yes, but the important take away is that your body has what it needs to fix itself to the style of walk you develop and the life you lead – without you thinking about it! It’s comforting to know that you don’t need to worry about every little thing in your life. There’s even an alternative to shoes – naturally!