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Nothing Better than Barefoot


NOTE: This post was originally published on my now somewhat-inactive blog Draught of Amrita on August 27, 2008. Seems even more relevant now.

Being barefoot is an extraordinary joy.

Your feet are free and unrestricted. They are not shoved in, strapped in, elevated by spikes, cushioned by air pockets, wrapped in fabric or leather or synthetic fiber blend.

Bare feet BREATHE. The reason your feet stink after an entire day of wearing shoes and socks is due to the lack of air circulating around them – you are suffocating your feet. The sweat and toxins being released through the feet become trapped and stagnate there in your shoes. Yuk.

There are many more ills afoot that can be attributed to shoes, but I won’t get too much into that now – though I do encourage you to check out Take Off Your Shoes and Walk for more info.

Personally, I try to be barefoot as much as possible. This is not a problem when spending time at the yoga center, as barefooting is pretty much the norm, especially while practicing or teaching. But outside of that and the beach or home, the norm for the majority of the population is to don footwear most of the time in most places, even if it is merely a 50 cent pair of flip-flops.

But are shoes really necessary? Aren’t feet naturally shaped the way they are for a reason?

Not only are shoes essentially unnecessary, but they are a detriment to healthy feet.

First of all, let’s bust a few barefoot myths. One: It is NOT illegal in any state to drive barefoot. I’ve begun the habit of taking my shoes off upon getting in the car after work and driving barefoot. Feels better to get the stinky shoes off as soon as possible. Two: There are no health regulations requiring shoes to be worn by patrons of eating establishments, or any other establishments. Really. If you ate with your feet instead of your hands, that’s a different issue.

I do, of course, understand that it is quite uncomfortable to walk on broken glass, hot asphalt or goose poop, but walking barefoot can teach you to have more awareness of your environment, and so avoiding stepping on – or in – unpleasant things.

A Case for Bare Feet is a great resource for more barefoot facts and sound reasoning in support of being barefoot.

Take a walk barefoot, just around your neighborhood, for starters. Feel connected to the ground. Feel the feet spread out. It will be quite different than wearing shoes I can assure you. And to be honest, it might even feel strange. Your feet are not used to their NATURAL state, and it might take more barefoot walks to acclimate them back to that state more fully. Only to be reversed again by tying on a pair of shoes.

Last week I went for a walk barefoot in downtown South Bend. Even walking on concrete sidewalks without shoes felt great. I did receive a couple odd looks at my shoeless feet as I strolled by shoe-wearing walkers, but I didn’t mind. If only they knew. But we’re so accustomed to believing shoes are actually more helpful to our feet than harmful – a misconception.

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