Walking barefoot is liberating. I took my first barefoot walk of the season this morning. Arriving at Prospect Park with my dog I left my shoes in the car and got moving. I took the winter off from this amazing ritual and my feet and hips missed it. There was a light mist falling and I alternated between hard pavement and wet grass. While I love every minute of it, it can be intense walking on pebbles and such when my feet haven’t been doing so for a while.
Growing up in Brooklyn we played a lot of sports on the street and I have a vivid memory of my next door neighbor, who was a bit of a tool, coming outside one year as spring was blossoming. We were still in football mode and I remember him wanting to play with us barefoot. His idea was to callous his feet getting ready for the summer.
I often think about that when I am walking and my dog is running. Human feet clearly don’t have the leather like padding that dogs have, but would there be an advantage to having feet calloused enough to withstand whatever ground we walk on? Ancient man certainly didn’t think so since the Egyptians created the first sandal presumably to avoid walking on rocks.
Walking barefoot is beneficial for the simple reason that it forces you to walk better than you walk when wearing shoes. It doesn’t necessarily make you walk correctly but it does force you to take smaller steps and put less emphasis on the heel, both of which are key to walking well.
I highly recommend giving it a try.