Two clients in the last week have reported to me that their doctors have told them never go barefoot again. And this is far from the first time I have been told this by clients and students
My response: Are you kidding me?
This logic escapes me because my standard recommendation to everyone is that going barefoot is the way to heal foot pain, as well as other body problems.
My father wore what I called Frankenstein boots in the last few years of his life— big monstrous contraptions that limited the movements of his feet and ankles. He was falling apart physically for other reasons but these rigid apparatuses did not help his aging process. I would argue that they hindered it.
But it seems like the law of aging prescribes these shoes for older folks.
I love shoes. I own many pairs, of all types—boots; sneakers, shoes, sandals. I like the way they look and feel. But I also go barefoot the second I get into my house and most times when I am walking my dog—weather permitting.
I wear minimal sneakers (the Merrill Vapor Glove is my minimal shoe of choice) more than anything and I try to get all of my clients to do the same.
Here’s the things about doctors telling people never go barefoot again— while our genus, homo sapien is somewhere around 300,000 years old the earliest known shoes are sandals from 7000 BC.
Luckily there were no doctors around before then to admonish people not to go barefoot.
The human foot has 26 bones with 33 different articulations. It is meant to move and adapt to surfaces as it moves. This adaptive movement affects the musculature of the entire body. We are dynamic structures that move muscularly in chain like progressions.
Muscles don’t work in isolation. They all work together and when they do so correctly, our bodies have the chance to achieve a healthy balance.
Shoes, depending on how supportive they are, limit the dynamic range of movement available to us and ultimately mess with our ability to function optimally.
So if you hear anyone tell you never go barefoot again I hope you will disregard the advice and take off your shoes and go for a long barefoot walk.