14 Reasons I Don’t Wear Shoes

14 reasons to go barefootEvery spring (since 2010), as soon as the ground stops freezing, I stop wearing shoes. I continue to go unshod until it freezes again in October or November.

Every year I become more convinced that shoes are completely unnecessary in most circumstances (except, I think, in sub-freezing temperatures and while performing certain kinds of labour. Like, say, using a shovel. I haven’t managed to do either without shoes [UPDATE: Apparently, you can use a shovel barefoot]).

I believe that the human foot is perfectly designed for walking and running on almost any terrain without being enclosed in a shoe. The arch is perfect for absorbing shock, and the soles (with proper use) naturally form a protective callous while remaining sensitive enough to detect (and avoid) injurious surfaces. Both my research and my personal experience confirm it.

As a result, here are fourteen reasons I prefer to go barefoot.

  • It feels good. Plain and simple. It feels good to walk barefoot through dew-drenched grass in the morning, or to feel sun-warmed concrete under my feet on a cool summer evening. I love to feel all the different textures and temperatures, from gravel to ceramic to pine-needle carpets on the forest floor. It’s delightful.
  • I love discovering what I can get away with not using/buying/owning. There’s freedom in knowing you don’t have to depend on material possessions in general, and market commodities in particular, to get by. (Hence the reason I also don’t use shampoo).
  • I like being connected to my environment. Going barefoot requires me to be more alert to my surroundings, and being able to feel the surfaces under my feet naturally encourages an enhanced awareness of my surroundings.
  • As a result, I’m actually less clumsy without shoes. I trip and stub my toes much less often.
  • Going barefoot is consistent with my desire to live a minimalist lifestyle. That’s one less thing in my possession I have to worry about.
  • The money I don’t spend on shoes is money I can spend on other things I value more. (Like, say, high-quality food).
  • I believe that the entire footwear industry is a sham, based on the false belief that we need shoes to protect us from our surroundings and (worse) to offer our arches “support.”
  • I believe that shoes are unhealthy. They generally cause more problems than they solve, by encouraging an unnatural gait (causing joint problems), promoting bacterial and fungal growth (causing a whole host of gross problems from athlete’s foot to toenail fungus), and creating harmful friction on various parts of the feet (causing blisters and corns).
  • Since ditching shoes, I no longer suffer from foot odor.
  • I never have to worry about getting blisters when I walk long distances. (And no, I don’t have to deal with cuts or splinters, either. I haven’t had a single foot injury in the last three years, and I’ve walked all over major cities, through forests, and all over my sketchy neighbourhood without shoes. I use my eyeballs and my heightened awareness of my surroundings to avoid sharp objects.)
  • I never have to worry about the weather or getting my shoes soaked. I can walk through puddles without concern. (It’s quite fun, actually.)
  • I can go in and out the door without having to stop to fiddle with laces or buckles.
  • I don’t have to launder, hang-dry, sort, or fold socks (except my husband’s).
  • I don’t have to grapple with the very troubled question, “How can I ensure my footwear purchase isn’t feeding into a system of injustice and oppression?” or “Which type of shoes are most ethical?” (My husband, by contrast, has to deal with this question every year or so when he has to replace his worn-out shoes. How can we be sure his shoes haven’t been made by slaves?)

(Update: Informed Mama [in the comments below] directed me to this fascinating article about Earthing. The idea is that direct contact with the earth balances the electrons in your body and improves your health. Check it out!)

So for these reasons and more, I am happy to kick off my shoes each spring and leave them on the shelf for the remaining three seasons.

For further reading, check out the Daniel Howell (a.k.a. The Barefoot Professor’s) Fact Sheet on living barefoot. I’ve also written about going barefoot here and here.

Can you think of any other reasons to go barefoot?

(This post was linked up with Your Green Resource, hosted by Sorta Crunchy. Check it out!)

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  1. Even though I wear shoes a good portion of the day (at work) when I’m at home they get kicked into a corner. I love walking thru the yard barefoot and encourage Henry to be barefoot as much as possible so that he gets used to bumps, scrapes and getting dirty!

    That being said I don’t think I could give up wearing shoes out running errands – but that stems from what I’ve seen walking across floors in my years working grocery and retail and an inexplicable fear of ripping off my toenails (I know weird, right?).

    I still hope you get to enjoy the pure bliss of handknit wool socks in the winter!
    Molly W. recently posted..Pray for RainMy Profile

    • All you barefoot lovers need to get yourself a pair of my new patent pending neoprene footwear. Iinvented them because I don’t like wearing shoes. I can now go into stores, restaurants, drive my car, ride my bike, kayak and just enjoy nature all day feeling like I am truly barefoot. The best part is that my toes are totally free of anything covering them. You will see when you have a pair on that getting caught in the rain and walking in puddles is now ok and encouraged. Get yourself a pair of Barefoot Feet and let us all know what you think. We use no animals to manufacture our Barefoot Feet and they are made in America! Find us at barefootfeet.com

      • Justin J says

        Seriously neoprene is made with some really bad chemicals no thanks

      • i ordered these stupid things. They were ridiculous! Stunk, didn’t fit or stretch, and just plain did not work. Just go barefoot.!

      • Joseph Tesh says

        ALL shoes are bad, period, your not helping humanity by selling your own what-so-ever…we need to fight the oppression that is the no shirt, shoes, service signs etc because personally they will accept my money along with my feet and i am not going to lower my self respect and bend over for their stupid dictations

        • No.

          Some signs exist for a very good reason (and there is not much “oppression”). There’s a difference between most footwear being bad, and that it is sometimes necessary to don footwear. I am a farmhand and sometimes make things out of metal and wood. I need to wear steel toes or risk having my feet crushed by livestock and the odd heavy piece of material.

          In most other situations, I go barefoot. When I do wear shoes or boots, they are usually thin-soled and pliable.

          • SOMEtimes it’s smart to wear shoes, but those “no shirt, no shoes, no service” signs don’t indicate such times.
            Claims on those signs that they represent a legal requirement are downright lies.

            On a farm, people worked barefoot without getting their feet crushed for thousands of years.
            While it might make part of the job easier, it’s certainly not a requirement to prevent injury.
            It might however be a legal requirement under OSHA if you’re a commercial operation (if you’re an employee that is, OSHA does not cover visitors to a company, only employees).

            Don’t get me wrong, I’d wear sturdy shoes when working heavy machinery. I’d wear them in extreme environments (extreme cold or heat, etc.).
            But if I’m walking through a street, or store, or a field, I’m barefoot. It’s healthier, it’s more safe, I get less injuries (the only serious injuries I’ve ever had walking were when wearing shoes and seriously twisting my ankle stepping into potholes I didn’t notice because the stiff soles prevented my feet from warning me about the uneven surface).

            I still wear shoes or clogs at work, because it’s expected and “normal” but I’m seriously considering having a talk about that when I get back from extended sick leave as during my time away from the office I’ve been barefoot fulltime and my chronic back and knee problems have all but disappeared.
            Seems well worth people looking a bit weird at you if nothing else.

        • If you’re in a store and cut your foot because you’re not wearing shoes the owner can be sued, hence the rule about wearing shoes. It’s a liability issue and the store’s insurance policy prohibits non shoe wearers from entering.

          • Following this line of thinking, I must then have my hands covered with gloves, no? After all, if I am in a store and cut my finger, that is a liability issue, so would the insurance company want all future patrons to have their hands covered?

          • Yes, it is just a liability issue if you cut your hand in their store. But the likelihood of you cutting your foot walking because a broken jar wasn’t 100% cleaned is a lot higher than cutting your hand reaching for a box. It’s a cost-benefit analysis made by the insurance company.

        • They never say anything about pants in those signs.

      • Joseph Friedman says

        Christine will you get rid of all your shoes

      • Joseph Friedman says

        Christine will you get rid of all your shoes
        can you give me your shoes

    • Ben Kleschinsky says

      Wear socks to prevent your feet from getting dirty in public places.

      • Dylan Kemp says

        Dirty feet are never a concern. When I was a kid my mom just kept a wet towel on the back porch for me to wipe my feet on before going into the house. I still go barefoot most of the time (23 now).

      • Kevin Benecke says

        I’ve never been bother by dirty feet either. In fact there are times it’s fun to get your feet dirty. One thing I think is kinda funny is when you go barefoot in a supermarket and you are going through the produce section and there is a grape or a small tomato on the floor. I don’t always step on them. But I find it funny to watch me walking barefoot through. And if they are watching closely, I find it funny to let them watch me step on and squash it. The look on their faces is funny when you see it in their faces that they can’t believe you did that with your bare foot. I’ve even had people ask me about it to which I just say it washes off with a little water later. I think the funniest time was when someone was watching and I walked right over a fallen banana and it squashed out and got all over the bottom of my foot. In fact I think they were either amazed or disgusted when it didn’t even phase me and how I didn’t even try to get it off. In fact I ended up tracking it around a bit. I even said oh well, it washes off later. I told them I would rather have to clean it off of my foot rather than having to try and clean it out of the treads of a shoe. They actually agreed with me and said they wish they could go barefoot like I did.

        • I’m kind of on the fence in the decision to go back to barefootedness, but to purposely step on a banana or other produce and track it around for others to slip on seems irresponsible.

        • Don’t waste food. I always pick food and other stuff when it is on the floor.

    • Well said. I too never wear shoes. Most of the young men wear shoes to show them as great and many offices don’t accept to work without shoes.

    • Joseph Friedman says

      Christine would you like to destroy all your shoes

  2. Great points! Barefoot is so fantastic. I love it. My favourite point you made is point number 6. I wonder how much dark chocolate I can buy since I’m not buying new shoes? ;)

    I still don’t have enough guts to go into stores without shoes — I maybe have done this once. The kids do it whenever they want and I don’t worry about it because people seem to be able to forgive kids more easily if they don’t have their shoes on. I sometimes get the odd remark of ‘You need to wear shoes in this store because there could be broken glass, we drop things!’ haha I think they are speaking out of what they would say to their kids though rather than on behalf of the store. Well I think I should just get brave and go through a store with no shoes… if I keep my head up people will look at my smile rather than my feet, right? ;)

    All in all I know that if I had worn barefeet more often through out my life my feet would have been awesome! But they are much happier now and stronger too since I’ve worn shoes less and less. But that dead grass is a killer hey! Prickly! ;) Happy Barefooting!

    • HeatFooter says

      The best way to go into stores regularly without wearing shoes is just to do it. Leave the shoes in the car. Get a shopping cart before entering. Shop normally, don’t look down at the feet too often and definitely don’t check the soles. Most store staff will completely ignore barefoot shoppers. Some ofther store staff may make a comment or two, and at most say don’t enter without shoes next time. Some other customers may be the ones commenting about being barefoot. In all cases I have encountered, store management has never approached and asked me to leave and put on shoes, and I completed my barefoot shopping at the store.

      • I love going barefoot too!

      • Recently I’ve tried telling fussy shopkeepers that it is against my beliefs, and most of them leap to the conclusion that I mean religious beliefs and back off immediately. I get to stay barefoot and have a good laugh too.

      • Hi my name is jay I go too the dollar tree barefoot i never have a problem with the employees I also go too stater bros stores and gas station plus i walk 2 miles a day from sierra avenue to cherry avenue in Fontana ca it feel great walking barefoot plus the good health it brings

      • Been thrown out of stores twice for being barefoot in 15 years.
        Came very close to calling the consumer protection agency and work safety agency on the second store who claimed that I had to wear shoes in their supermarket because it was a) too dangerous because of the danger of being run over by employees restocking shelves and b) so dirty I could easily get a dangerous infection.

        Decided against it and just gave them a piece of my mind, told them I’d take my bi-weekly grocery shopping (which I had done there for years, barefoot, this was a new manager) elsewhere. Their loss, store I go now has the same quality goods at a lower price.

    • but shoe shopping is teh one thing you can do when you feel fat or depressed ok chanel is more pricey than pinot but dont you feel better after dropping a houspayment on a pair of shoes? or a scarf? or a tie guys?

  3. i love going barefoot and agree with all your reasoning. unfortunately my toes go white very easily (raynaud’s probably but i don’t care to over-medicalize) and it’s not warm enough often enough here for me to go out barefoot much. shame because i love to walk on warm concrete and soft grass and even gravel.
    mine barefooting comes mainly having large feet and shoes being such a nightmare to find full stop let alone considering ethics.

    • Steve Rogers says

      I am 3 years late reaponding, but anyway I have Raynaud’s and I seem to get it mostly in my fingers. My feet used to get cold all the time; I was a conisure of wool socks. Barefooting have changed something and now my feet don’t get cold like they used to. Maybe due to better blood circulation.

  4. You make it sound very appealing. Unfortunately for me I have fallen arches which result in a lot of pain if I go barefoot for long on unnaturally flat surfaces (anything man-made)
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    • I’ve actually heard several accounts of fallen arches improving through going barefoot, including my husband who had very flat feet, but now has a noticeable arch. Now I’m obviously not in your shoes (or out of them, as the case may be, haha!), but I would wonder if the pain came from using muscles that simply aren’t used to being used. It might be worth looking into more if you were interested.

      • I’ve read that before too, Vanessa, but didn’t have to personal experience to back it up. Thanks for sharing!

        • HeatFooter says

          I do have personal experience that fallen arches can improve by going barefoot, even on paved surfaces. What I end up doing is first crossing a foot over the opposite knee (i.e., right foot crossed over the left knee) and I observe whatever the arch is supposed to be when the foot is relaxed.

          When walking, there may still be some compression of the arch with each step. For flatter feet when the arch compresses–these are still flexible feet with spring in the step as opposed to rigid flat feet. A side effect of that arch compression may also that more of the middle of the foot gets dirty when walking on paved surfaces when contrasted with someone with a much higher arch (that only has an L or 7 type pattern only with the heel, edge of the foot, ball of the foot, and toe pads). That said, this paved surface dirt pattern, when it occurs and checked regularly for less middle of the foot dirt, is an effective way of confirming that the arch is compressing less and less.

          That said, the arch will not get any higher than the arch of the foot in the relaxed position.

          • Kevin Benecke says

            Walking through a puddle also works. And then looking at the footprints on a dry surface. There shouldn’t be any print where the arch is.

      • My feet certainly became stronger and better shaped when I ditched shoes.

        And my physiotherapist and ergotherapist agree with me.

      • I had the same experience when I ditched my bras. As my chest muscles got more use, they became stronger and much more supportive.

  5. Love this. I used to never wear shoes for a couple years during high school. I did get glass in my foot regularly, walking through city streets.
    Now I’m never barefoot, but your post inspires me. I do at least always buy my shoes used, so I don’t have to worry about what I’m supporting with my purchase, or spend a lot on them!
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  6. I think I read one of your previous posts on this like two months ago, and it’s come to my mind several times since! I think it makes complete sense to go barefoot on grass and dirt, but I do wonder if it’s really good doing it on hard surfaces such as concrete (as in, perhaps there you do need man-made support, for your arches or whatever, for man-made surfaces?). I did try running barefoot once, but I’m not in the habit of stalking the edges of golf courses, which is the only area I’d feel safe enough to do so (I’m not very observant). What are your thoughts on those barefoot running shoes?

    I do try to let Miriam go barefoot a lot. I remember walking barefoot across the gravel lot on our farm growing up all the time and it was never a big deal. Now I’m a wimp and kind of limp and jolt over it when I try! I want her to at least have the freedom of being barefoot now while she’s young and able! She also is much less clumsy when barefoot.

    Oh, and man, I never realized there were ethical concerns with shoe manufacturing. I have so much to learn! I’m having a hard time just finding some that are comfortable! If you know of any particularly good brands, I’d love to hear them.
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    • I’ve also wondered about whether our feet might need protection on man-made surfaces. So far, I haven’t come across any research that says so. My own experience seems to suggest that going barefoot is still superior than wearing shoes. Since going barefoot changes your gait to be more springy, encouraging you to put more weight on the balls of your feet rather than slamming your heels into the ground, I think you’re actually better off that way.

      And oh, I know what you mean about the ethical concerns. Every time you turn around you run into another thing that’s morally problematic. It’s so easy to fall into despair! Unfortunately, we haven’t come across any particularly good brands (hence the reason I’ve just eschewed shoes generally). If I do, I’ll have to do a post on it!

      • HeatFooter says

        Feet don’t need protection on man-made paved surfaces as long as overstriding does not occur while walking, and the pavement is not too cold nor too hot to tolerate for longer distance walks.

      • Kevin Benecke says

        Vibram 5 finger Shoes. I’m looking to buy myself a pair of these. These are considered minimalist shoes and have a close feel to being barefoot. Nothing can take the place and feel of truly being barefoot. But these are the next best thing.


        • I can’t stand wearing shoes of any kind. I don’t know what I’m going to put on my feet when winter comes. After being barefoot the whole summer I can’t see myself wearing regular footware.
          Any thoughts?

          • I have found that water shoes offer a lot over regular shoes. There are a lot of styles, most of them with little sole, so the feeling is of being barefoot in that way. The upper part of water shoes is usually mesh or perforated light material for water to drain out. The shoes usually have light elastic, almost like a slipper. But the shoes, when on, do not appear to be much different than a regular shoe. The mesh gives a lot of circulation, and are flexible if your feet swell. They are easy on and easy off, and come in many styles. I got 2 black mesh at Walmart, and one other brand also in black somewhere else. I like them a lot, and they can be worn with socks if needed. Mine look just like shoes, but at a fraction of the price.

          • Depending on how cold it gets out there, a pair of hiking sandals may be all you need even in below freezing weather (mind, if it gets to -10C or so, something more protective is called for if you’re going to be out for prolonged periods).

          • Leather moccasins with wool felted insoles, leather soles.

  7. I thought one of your main reasons would be earthing. Look into it – barefoot and grounding, or barefoot and earthing. Here is one link – http://news.yourolivebranch.org/2011/05/18/why-does-walking-barefoot-on-the-earth-make-you-feel-better/ I am consciously trying to spend more time outdoors without shoes on. I have to overcome thoughts of germs!

    PS. great blog!

    • Wow, informed Mama — I hadn’t heard of this before! Thanks for passing it on — fascinating!!

    • Kevin Benecke says

      There are other benefits as well such as being able to absorb nutrients from the ground into your body. Not all nutrients are taken in through eating. Just like you get Vitamin D from the sun, you get other nutrients just by walking barefoot on the ground. Here is a short article about how we absorb vitamins and minerals through our skin. This includes the soles of our feet. http://drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/Minerals_and_vitamins_delivered_through_the_skin

      Just by walking in the dirt, mud and other surfaces we come in contact with them. Every time to take a step, you get a little of mother earth stuck to the sole of your foot. And by this happening, your body absorbs the vitamins, nutrients and minerals in that dirt. And each time you step, you get more and more as your body absorbs it. Even though your foot has a thick skin, it still has pores on it, even on the soles. Our bodies are also designed to absorb things through the skin. Dirt has iron, zinc, magnesium and many other things in it. It also has bad things which helps to build and maintain your immune system. When it comes down to it, everything we come in contact with comes from the earth in some form.

      Don’t be afraid to walk through the mud because you get nutrients from this as well. Let it cover your entire foot. The more contact you get the more nutrients you absorb at the same time. Don’t be afraid to step on any berries laying on the path. When you walk over berries and squish them under your feet, you release the vitamins and minerals present in them from the juice that gets on the bottom of your foot. Some berries are not meant to be ingested such as those little red berries. But they are OK if they get squashed under your foot. If I see berries in the path, I tend to like to step on them just for the benefits they provide. Even when working in your garden, don’t be afraid to step on the tomatoes that have fallen off of the vine. You can still absorb there nutrients through your foot.

      And I mentioned about stepping in mud earlier. As a kid we used to love playing in the mud and puddles with our bare feet. It is just as much fun to feel the mud squishing between your toes.

      Just think of all those people that spend tons of money for those expensive mud baths. And how about all those pedicures people get. We get them for free just by going barefoot. Walking over a path with pebbles can massage your feet. Walking over pavement removes dead skin from your feet. Walking over sand scrubs your feet.Everything we walk over has some sort of benefit either to our feet our our bodies including our immune system.

      This is just one more benefit of being barefoot.

      • What about absorbing unwanted chemicals through our skin? This is one thing that keeps me from going barefoot at home. We have that fake wood flooring. I know it’s loaded with PVCs, estrogens, fire retardants, and all kinds of nasties. I dream of having a tamped clay floor, but that’s not realistic right now. Any thoughts?

  8. ok, here is my comment blitzkrieg starting…and in no particular order, first about shoes! i would love to do this. i remember hearing about this when i was younger and loving that i could play outside with no shoes and it be GOOD for me! and then i grew up :/ unfortunately what’s (mainly) stopping me now is an extremely bad plantars wart smack dab in the center of my left foot. i have literally been trying for 5 years to get rid of it. i’ve been to several doctors about it (one who had the gall to suggest that if i just “believe it will be healed, it will heal”….thanks dufus). in short, getting stuff in it really hurts! have you heard about going barefoot helping those of us who already have a tendency to get warts? i think its a genetic thing.
    anyway, maybe one day when i’m finally able to concur this thing.
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    • I can’t say for sure… but going barefoot might help you conquer that wart. I imagine being cooped up in shoes all day is just what the little monster wants! Try it, gradually at first. I bet it’ll work!
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    • Alison — when my son was 18 mo, he had plantar warts all over his hands, and I was at a loss what to do about it. Didn’t want to put anything toxic on that he might (who are we kidding… “would”) put in his mouth; I’d heard that duct tape will work (basically by “suffocating” the wart), but how to keep it on his hands? For completely unrelated reasons, one night before bed I covered his hands with vaseline and put socks on over. In the morning, all the warts were gone! Unfortunately (as far as confirming the experiment), we’ve never had a reason to try the same thing again so I don’t know if it was a fluke, or if this really does work. But it probably couldn’t hurt you to try it!

    • Jenn Hall says

      I know I’m terribly late, but I would agree about the shoes being the culprit of the plantars wart! My right foot was covered in them for close to 10 years. It was incredibly painful (and embarrassing for me) and nothing I tried was helpful; neither were the doctors.

      However, I moved from NY to FL and within 2 months they had all completely dried up and flaked away. I attributed it to being barefoot in our home and wearing only sandals anywhere else. Now, when I’m visiting in NY I take my shoes and socks off as quickly as possible when I get inside. I haven’t had a recurrence of the warts in 2 years now.

    • My mother in law told me to rub a penny on the wart I had on the bottom of one of my toes about three years ago. I did it, the wart (which had been hanging around for quite sometime) went away, and I haven’t had one since. I don’t know why or how it worked, but I’m so glad it did!!!

      • Late, but rather late than never. Pennies contain a lot of copper. Copper is well known to combat certain infections and fungi. And guess what warts are?

  9. I really love the idea of going barefoot! I recently read a few excellent articles on the improvement one gets from running barefoot versus running shod. Freeheel Runningpads (or something like it) might be an alternative for walking barefoot in urban areas. Just a suggestion! :)

    Im definitely going to try going more barefoot though!

  10. Awesome article! I also am a barefooter. I live my life without shoes, and I thoroughly enjoy it! A few months ago, I moved to the jungles of Burma. Everyone assured me that my barefooting would have to be temporarily put on hold. I didn’t believe it, but I brought some boots just in case. I’m happy to report that I’ve trudged through mountains and dense jungle without shoes and been perfectly fine! Although, I did have my first foot injury – a small thorn. So you’re ahead by one point.

    Way to go on being all natural! Woot!

  11. I quit wearing shoes to keep cooler in my shop in summer. As I adapted, I found joint pain in my hip that I’d get after walking not too far, completely ceased.

    It also occurred to me, that being dependent on shoes makes one weak.
    I have friends in the special operations community, and it’s funny… All their training aside, they’re about defenseless without shoes, as they cannot walk fast, let alone run.

    In an emergency, I can always put shoes on and not lose speed, albeit after adapting, they’re uncomfortable… They’d be immobile for a week at least trying to adapt. :)

  12. I agree-for the most part. While in college I went barefoot for a whole year-this included the cold, snow and ice of a Maryland winter- and only rarely experienced any problems from cuts or such. You do tend to feel better connected to the world when you’re barefoot-go electrons:)!

    However, in many work situations I don’t think it would be appropriate or safe. I’ve seen trash workers in Indonesia standing and working atop mountains of garbage that includes glass and metal, wearing only flip-flops or barefeet…egads!

    Commonsense is not a common virtue. Often, better to opt on the side of caution. Try to buy local and buy leather when shoes/boots are needed.

  13. Patricia says

    This was an interesting post. I once worked for a shoe manufacturer, and part of the managerial training was a pretty in-depth understanding of foot mechanics. I don’t know how many times I had to talk a mother out of trying to find baby shoes with arch support, or gently lead a woman with one foot in a podiatrist’s cast (!) away from the 3″ heels.

    I prefer to go barefoot whenever possible, myself. The folks at the small office where I work grin at me padding around barefoot, and at home the shoes generally come off inside the door. Outside is more of a challenge, since I have bamboo growing around the house. I cut it when it gets into the yard, but this results in little hard skewers just below grass level all through the yard, and can make walking barefoot painful. I’m hoping to put a stepping stone labyrinth in the backyard that I can walk barefoot over the next summer.

    Going barefoot here in public is problematic. Not only are shops generally disinclined to allow it, but the temps between May and October can easily be over 90 degrees F, with July – September being often 100+. If you’ve never walked across an asphalt parking lot barefoot on a sunny 100 degree day, let me tell you — you don’t want to! I remember it often from my childhood.

    • HeatFooter says

      I find that hot parking lots in 90 degrees F are very doable. Hot parking lots in 100+ degrees F are indeed the most foot-burning challenge.

      I start out, believe it or not, by standing on the asphalt–see how quickly it becomes too hot with the whole foot on the asphalt, then stand on the outside edges of the feet and see if it still gets even hotter the much quickly. If it’s really too hot to stand on the asphalt that short of a time, then it eventually be just as hot walking across the parking lot, so I don’t plan on walking as slowly as possible or blisters can occur.. However, I also don’t depend on white lines or shade patches–in peak afternoon there may not be any usable shade patches and some parking lots are now using yellow or green lines instead of white lines.

      One heat-dissipation technique I learned is to lift one foot that is burning in the air–clench and wiggle the toes to further dissipate some heat, then, put that foot down and lift the other foot that is burning in the air–once again clenching and wiggling the toes to further dissipate heat. I do this about three or four times to pre-heat the feet, trying to tolerate as much heat as possible, and hopefully the heat isn’t still increasing. But with both feet having absorbed the same amount of heat–I immediately walk as quickly as possible across the parking lot, and if the heat still keeps building, run if necessary.

      • Kevin Benecke says

        One thing to keep in mind. Cement is cooler to walk on than asphalt. Dark colors attract heat and lighter colors repel it. Just like when you wear lighter colors in the heat and darker colors in the cold. If you have a choice, walk across the lighter colored cement. It may still be hot. But it won’t be as hot as the black asphalt. And you won’t have to worry about the waffle effect on the sole of your feet.

  14. I always walk barefoot at home. In the summer, I even walk barefoot outdoors occasionally, as well. I just hate shoes. I can’t stand wearing them! It is so much more comfortable to set my feet free and go barefoot, not to mention it is also much healthier for your feet! :-}
    Dino recently posted..The Living Dinosaurs of Northern Chile – Part 3My Profile

  15. Kathleen, what is the longest period of time that you have gone completely barefoot? Do you ever wear shoes when the weather is warm and if so, where?

  16. Kyndra P. says

    So, I love this! I just have 1 question”public places” like stores and such say “no shoes, no shirt, no service” so what do you do then? Flip flops? Just curious thanks!

    • I just go in barefoot. I bring a pair of Xero Shoes which I carry in my back pocket. Most of the time no one says anything. But be prepared to either put the shoes on or walk out in protest. Read up on the Society for Barefoot Living website so you know all the myths to re-educate people.

    • Most stores put up signs like that (if at all) to scare away drifters and homeless people.
      If you have money to spend they couldn’t care less.

      The few that do, just leave and go to a competitor (and be sure to tell them you’re going to take your business elsewhere and why), they may just come around.
      I’ve personally only ever been kicked out of a store twice in over a decade, and both of those claimed it was corporate policy when other stores in the same chain had no problems with me being barefoot at all.

  17. I love going barefoot as much as possible, especially places where you’re “not supposed to” like shopping malls! I just love the looks people give you, most of them they grinned real big and I know they’re wishing they could do that too. And of course there’s the fun with the mall cops when they tell you it’s a law you have to wear shoes, and I correct them and tell them “no it’s not… it’s a societal convention” only once have I been asked to leave the mall. And then there’s the question “are you afraid of stepping on something?” To which I explained that no I’m not, but one thing when you go barefoot you learn to watch where you’re stepping. And secondly, if you do come down on something sharp you also develop quicker reflexes to get your weight if that foot before the skin is hurt. Don’t your feet get cold? Yes a little sometimes, but it’s worth it – and that’s part of the fun sometimes! I just don’t understand people who don’t enjoy to luze the shuze!

    • HeatFooter says

      I have done several grocery stores but I haven’t yet tried a mall department store or the mall itself. I know there are cameras and security does walk along the mall. Was there ever a time where department store management or mall security demanded wearing shoes or leave?

    • What about when people say buy shoes

    • Kevin Benecke says

      Here is another way to work around the issue. Go to this link which is here on the site, and print out a card. They may help you to talk your way out of having to wear shoes. Just click on your state or which ever state you want to visit. They are in PDF format and printable. They tell them that you have a religious belief and even quotes the law about it.


  18. I’ve been a natural barefooter all my life. Since I was about 7 I simply refused to keep shoes on! Finally mom just let me start wearing flip-flops so I could step out of them and carry them easily, since that’s obviously the way I wanted to be. Since then I’ve expanded on the theme and become a naturist (sometimes dispensing with clothing as well as shoes for an even more incredible feeling of freedom) but mostly I just love living my life unshod! As the author of this article said, you learn to appreciate all the things and daily activities you DON’T need footwear for. Plus it is much healthier, there is a litany of foot problems which barefooters don’t suffer from.

    • Kevin Benecke says

      I love working in my flower garden barefoot. The flowers are so thick that it is usually impossible to step into the garden without stepping on some flowers to pluck a weed or to do something else that requires me to step into and quite often onto the flowers. With shoes I would always end up crushing them to the point that they would whither and die. With my bare feet, of course they get flattened down under them. But they don’t suffer the damage they did under a shoe or even a flip flop. When I was finished, I would give them a little water, they usually just perk right up again as if nothing happened to them. Even the more fragile ones survive the weight of my bare feet. Just more proof that an unshod foot is better for the environment than a foot with a shoe on it. Plus the misses seems to like the smell of my feet after the flowers went under them. She says they smell like the flowers that got stepped on at the time.

      • Kevin Benecke says

        If you want to try it, use your entire foot so your weight is evenly distributed. When having to step on the flowers, don’t do the heel-toe method or try to stand on the ball and toes of your foot. Step straight down with the entire foot. This minimizes the impact that either the heel or the front part of your foot would cause. You’ll still smush them down, but you won’t smash them. You may damage some flower tops. But the new buds will fill in what got damaged. And by evenly stepping down with your whole foot, you won’t smash the stems preventing the water from fixing them. This is why a little water perks them right up again.

        And I have to say, flowers under your feet feels a lot like moss.

  19. I love your posts!! I would love if you’d consider joining us at the Weekend Whatever link up :).

    Have a lovely weekend!

  20. Hey. I just found your blog. I am also a barefooter and would like to encourage you to keep it up. You can read about my blog at http://barefootsanfords.wordpress.com. I haven’t figured out how to follow your blog yet, but I’ll keep looking.

    It sounds like you have a good grasp on why you want to go barefoot. I haven’t read everything you’ve written yet, but I would encourage you to also look up http://www.barefooters.org. This is a great website that has a ton of resources on going without shoes. I hope you know it is not illegal or against any health codes.

    I do understand that going without shoes is one of many activities that you are choosing to live by. I look forward to all your posts, but I would invite you to any discussion or questions you may have to this topic to contact me. Keep walking barefoot.

  21. “the soles (with proper use) naturally form a protective callous” I Love this post, but don’t you think you should have said that your soles get thicker not calloised?

  22. alicia beru says

    I don’t use shampoo either. In fact Im one step ahead of you here — I use only water for my face-cleansing routine. i dont take medicines when im ill, to develop my immunity. But heres the deal — Im only fifteen, and have a hard time convincing my mom about all my experiments in life. ive always had this idea, and for the very same reasons, too!
    so… when people ask you (as in when your snobby, teenager “BFFS”) ask you what the heck you are doing in a mall, barefoot, what do you do? what do you say? how do i convince my mom? and also, my school doesnt allow being barefoot. do you go barefoot to work, too? and, i live in india. that means, i also face puddles, and insects a lot. im not afraid, i can handle a couple of bites everyday, and dirt, too! but i wanna know what you think about me trying out this thing…
    thanks for your time and help, and please answer this! ^_^ also, thanks for putting my ideas into words, so nicely!

  23. I love the look of shoes, but I’m not naturally a shoe-wearer, preferring to have my feet feel free. My kids go through barefoot phases, too, and I’ve encouraged them to go barefoot when they feel like it. Our climate is predominantly muddy, cold, and rainy, so whenever we have weather that is conducive to going barefoot, we go for it! The mind-blowing thing is the looks I get from people when they see my kids without shoes in public places. If I was swearing at the kids and calling them every name under the sun, I think they’d look at me with less condescension. Seventy years ago, going barefoot was a sign of dirt-poor poverty, not choice. It’s fascinating to note that those dirty looks are a reminder of the deep cultural scars we carry; and our innate aversion to poverty, fear of poverty, and judgment of poverty.

  24. I went on a barefoot hike for the first time yesterday. I walked about 2-2.5 miles. In the last half mile or so my feet began to feel irritated, but the rest of the time I was fine. Overall it felt amazing. I went off the trail for a while and walked through a pine grove next to a swampy pond. Walking barefoot on a mossy log or rock is a great feeling. If you’re considering hiking barefoot, go for it. Just be careful not to go too far the first time.

  25. Hey, I’m a huge believer in grounding, however, we’re hikers. I don’t mean nice dirt and groomed trail hikers, I mean Adirondack High Peaks rocky, rugged, TOUGH terrain hikers.

    That said, I love my hiking boots. :)

  26. OK so after having searched the web without coming to any conclusions or finding anything helpful, I have a question for you. The reason I’m asking you is because I think I’d like you personally, and you are not one of those OMG BAREFOOT RUNNING LOOK AT THOSE GLUTES people.
    I walk barefoot a lot, as long as it’s warm enough, but often resort to wearing shoes because I know I will be entering somebody’s home.
    Now, it is probably not the norm everywhere in North America to take off your dirty shoes upon walking into someone’s house, but here in Canada it’s fairly common.
    The point of the exercise is obviously to leave the dirt outside, and by that I mean the visible dirt, and wetness etc.
    While not as much dirt may cling to bare soles as does to shoes, they still get fairly unsightly, and there are people out there who have carpets and rugs in their houses, even light-coloured ones.
    It makes me feel extremely awkward thinking that I’d have to tread on someone’s treasured Berber rug with feet that are dirty and a bit damp after a rainy day.
    In some places, people may have slippers for guests, but I would obviously also not want to get those dirt on the inside!
    How do you handle this, if you do?
    I’ve been thinking about carrying some sort of minimal slipper with me, the kind you could roll up and put into a pouch. I don’t yet own any of those, mind you …
    But I’m really curious about how other barefooters handle this, and I was actually surprised to find next to nothing on barefoot etiquette when in someone else’s domain.

    BTW what kind of shoes do you wear in the Winter time?

    Sorry for having written a book! ;)

    • That’s a really great question, Asdis! I actually live in Canada, too, so I’m familiar with the practice of taking off your shoes upon entering someone’s home. I guess it’s just an indication of how much more considerate you are than me, because I just kind of decided not to worry about it! That’s probably not very polite of me.

      If the ground is wet and my feet have gotten kind of damp/dirty, I’ll usually do my best to wipe them off on the door mat (if there is one!). I’ve thought about keeping a cloth in my purse (inside a small protective bag) to wipe off my feet if necessary, but have never gotten around to doing it.

      Sorry I wasn’t very helpful, and you’ve had so much trouble getting an answer!

      In winter, I just wear regular shoes/boots. :) I don’t worry about finding “minimalist” shoes or anything, since I only wear them to go outside.

      • HeatFooter says

        Carry pocket size handwipes such as Wet Ones (there is also Wet-Nap but I’ve only seen them in a canister). Use one or two of them per sole to wipe off as much surface dirt as possible. Any residual dirt, especially if baked into the sole from longer walks on sufficiently hot enough asphalt, will not start to come out from inside the sole unless it gets wet.

  27. I’ve been a natural born barefooter all my life, mom says that even as a toddler I refuse to keep my shoes on when we went places. She would put them back on me (had to get little sneakers with laces so I couldn’t so easily get them off) And I would fuss and complain she had to promise I could take them off later! Never worried about stepping on something, diehard barefooters well, we seem to develop a sixth Ssnse about watching where we put our feet. And if you do step on something ouchie well it’s usually not all that serious so NBD. I’m lucky to work in an environment where I can go bf all day at work, I’m in the massage industry (no not that kind) so I get to do the no-shoes thing on carpet – I love it! Summer jobs in high school was in an office, and I did it there too but got away with it quite frankly because it was an office full of men and I was a cute girl [grins] But being barefoot in nature, whether a forest trail along the river beach or just in town on the sidewalks. I just love being naturally unshod the way we were created because I believe the work perfectly well just they way they are, no need to make the shoe industry richer! When people notice it and act like I’m weird, I always recommend they check out the website of the “Society for Barefoot Living” (barefooters.org)

  28. Unfortunately, many sedentary individuals who start walking programs quickly develop foot problems.
    The podiatrist can also advise you on the use of medications to reduce the inflammation and pain of flat
    feet. Corrective shoes are specialty shoes designed to treat a
    foot abnormality.
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  29. I just found your site. I think we were twins separated at birth. Nice to see someone with similar outlooks on life!

  30. The Mysterious Barefoot Cowboy says

    Awesome! Lose the shoes and keep ’em bare! I live a complete barefoot lifestyle which encompasses driving, stores, restaurants, errands, for walks and runs, etc…It’s legal, healthy and safe. I have been going barefoot for 34 years and love it. It’s always very nice to meet a fellow barefooter.

  31. I love a barefoot woman! They’re cute!

    • Hello

    • Kevin Benecke says

      I have to admit I do too. Especially one who isn’t afraid to get their feet dirty because they had to walk through some mud. When I walk in the woods, I love to walk though the mud. In fact I will walk through it on purpose because I love the feeling of mud on the soles of my feet.

  32. It took me about 4 days of going barefoot 24/7 to “learn” to how to be barefoot with like how to step and everything. I read wearing shoes causes varicose veins after seeing the beginning of one and looking it up and that got me started and past the awkward beginning stage where barefoot feels wrong when going ‘off carpet’ and into the world. I can walk miles on pavement pain free where in the beginning going two blocks started to hurt. I don’t have callouses , the new toughness isn’t roughness.
    If any one is just starting out barefooting take a before picture of your feet , they get stronger and better looking real quick when you loose the shoes, even that crooked toe straightened out quite a bit. Also calves in much better shape.

    Have fun !

  33. I rarely wear shoes or socks inside at home & thought nothing of it. I read a whole lot of stuff online about the benefits of going barefoot about a month ago & now go barefoot around the yard most of the time now. I love the feel of it, but keep a close eye out for dog poo on the lawn. I’ve always loved getting my hands into the dirt when gardening rather than using a hoe to remove weeds, the whole connection with the earth thing & now going barefoot gives me the same feeling. My wife keeps at me to “Put some shoes on” but I reply with “Why???”. She never has a good reason. I did my 1st reasonable length walk home from a friends place on Friday carrying my flip flops rather than wearing them for a couple of kilometres. It felt great & was much easier as my feet are getting used to walking around without shoes outside now. My next adventure will be to barefoot it into a shopping centre, wonder what sort of looks I will get???
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    • I recently decided to venture to a local hardware store to get some stuff for a back yard job. Barefooted I approached the door but the elderly man greeter wouldn’t let me in. He pointed to a long list of conditions of entry on the wall beside the main entrance,. One of the conditions was No Bare Feet. Luckily I had my flip flops in the car just in case
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  34. I live in Australia, and the place where we live is absolutely stiff with deadly spiders and snakes….

    Much as I’d love to…. not sensible.
    This is a country where you NEVER kick through a pile of dead leaves without shoes. The venom of what’s in there will likely kill you in under an hour. Even in urban areas.

    You can go barefoot in very short grass -sometimes, depending on local spider colonies. You can go barefoot on city pavements – depending on local meat ant colonies. And there’s always the beach.

    Our ecology has been so disrupted that you can’t accurately predict the habitats and behaviours of our nasties… one lady found a red belly black snake holed up in her computer tower!

    So, Earth shoes for me, gratefully kicked off in the house every day, but as my house/local area is full of white tail spiders and red back spiders, (and I’m allergic to pesticides), I still tread very carefully.

    • Kevin Benecke says

      I have to watch for bees. But I don’t worry about spider too much because I don’t think they can harm you unless they bite you. And the soles of our feet are too thick for most of them to penetrate enough to get the venom in the bloodstream. As far as stepping on one, I’m not worried about that either because I know my foot will do more harm to him than he will to me. Most of the time you can’t see them anyhow. With the exception of a little spider on the sole of your foot, I don’t think anything would happen. You have more dangers where you are. But other than bees which I have an allergic reaction to, I’ve never had much worry about stepping on a bug. We just got done with the cicada season here. I can’t tell you how many I ended up stepping on with my bare feet. Other than a crunch, nothing happened.

  35. Don’t get me wrong I do own about ten pairs of shoes but I can’t stand
    Having to wear them when I do I cheat I put them on when I get there
    And take them off when I’m done

    • Kevin Benecke says

      The only specialty footwear I have is a pair of heavy thick rubber waders that go up over my chest. I have them because I like to pick black berries when they get ripe. Those thorns are too nasty for bare feet. And they don’t do my legs too good either which is why I have them.

  36. Great blog! I love going barefoot too, and I think you really expressed the same sort of feelings I get from it. And being “peculiar” is rather fun for me, too…;-) Rock on!

  37. I used to be really shy about being barefoot, wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have to. But I slowly got over that comfort zone, and now, putting shoes or even socks on is such a bother! I completely agree with this article. :)

  38. melissa d. says

    That’s why I just wear flip flops everywhere! Lol all year, rain, sleet or shine! Now I do admit that I have very long narrow feet, so I buy special flops for my heels, but the freedom I get from wearing sandals all year is amazing. I can be barefoot whenever I please but just slip on the flops and I’m out the door.

  39. There’s glass on my street

  40. Thanks for your very good summary. I am very thankful for good parents but two nonsense things they taught me were to wear shoes and to not go out in the rain without ‘suitable’ clothing. It has taken many years to discover that getting wet is actually pleasurable (it is getting cold that is to be avoided) so I tend to wear fewer clothes if it rains. Indeed the opportunity to stand naked in a tropical rain storm is an experience I still seek. Swimming in the rain is good too. And whenever feasible I much prefer to go barefoot for all the reasons you give, and I wonder why it has taken me so long to arrive at this conclusion. I’d love others to similarly be able to enjoy this freedom but I have found that people are ever so set in their ways (like I was) and, judging from comments I hear, it seems they think I am a bit weird.
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    • Kevin Benecke says

      I’ve basically gotten to the point where I don’t care what they think. In fact if the keep staring, I love to let them watch me step in or on something totally disgusting. They usually turn away with the disbelief that I would actually be bold enough to step on something like that. Especially in a supermarket, where people can’t believe we can do this. I get a laugh when I watch the look of disbelief on someones face when they watch me step on a fallen tomato or grape in the produce department and keep going like nothing happened.

  41. I’m all for bare feet in the natural world but not in the modern one. Just thinking of all the chemicals that would be absorbing into my body…

  42. Only issue I have found is Poison Ivy. I live in wooded areas, getting Poison Ivy on your feet is one of the most aggravating and nastiest looking thing to get.

    • Kevin Benecke says

      I actually have an immunity to poison ivy and poison oak. It doesn’t bother me. I used to work with a landscaping company. I always did the cleaning of it because I was the only one who wasn’t affected by it. They say you can often find the antidote to poison ivy or poison oak near them. Here is an article for you to read about Jewelweed which is a natural cure for it. This may be helpful especially for those of us that love to go out in the woods barefoot and who may have the unfortunate pleasure of stepping on some. This will help you cure it if you can find some.


  43. I wonder if you have any thoughts or resources for treating a fallen metatarsal arch without footwear (aside from chiropractic) I can’t seem to find anything…

  44. I must admit that as a fellow Canadian who has lived in Toronto and now resides in Vancouver, I am fascinated that you’re able to do so much without wearing shoes. Alas, as I work a corporate job in a downtown office (and in a city known for its rain at all times of the year), being shoeless isn’t something I would ever consider. I take the train to work (it’s not so much different from the subway in TO), so that’s one excellent reason for me to keep wearing shoes. I must confess, though, that paying through the nose for pricey shoes that I don’t have to replace every few months is not the most appealing way to spend my money.

    Also, this past summer, after letting my toddler son roam our yard and the daycare playground shoeless, I was shocked to discover several small but deep splinters in his feet that had started to get infected. As you know, trying to do anything with an unwilling toddler is a challenge, never mind having to pull splinters out of their tender little feet. Does your daughter go shoeless as well? How have you found that to be?

    I am a big fan of being barefoot at home, and since childhood I’ve yanked my socks off the moment I arrive home every day. My son does the same. So long as fire ants don’t move into our neighbourhood (they have already arrived in Vancouver), I’m sure we’ll continue to go shoeless and sockless in the house and around the yard.

  45. I ‘ve been a barefooter for years, still am, just because i like it, it feels good; not to make a statement or be provokative.
    I read in the comments some people seem to like the comments they get from other people; after years of barefooting i got tired of the comments and looks of disapproval (i think a young lady gets away with it easier because they’re ”cute”) so now i wear boots when it is needed, depending on the situation.
    It still amazes me bare feet in the Western world are considered socially unacceptable, unfortunately.

  46. When the environment is safe, going barefoot is good because it allows you to feel and connect with the ground, forces you to move well. Alternatively, you can also wear barefoot running shoes, but the downside is that when you are wearing your shoes, your feet remain sweaty and invite more bacteria -candida/fungus etc. You can still use though but you have to spray an anti-fungal agents to keep it clean.

  47. Question,
    Where do you work that you don’t have to where shues.
    Because I want a job there !

  48. Alexandria says

    The only time I really like wearing shoes is if it’s cold/snowing out

  49. How do you keep the edges of your toe nails so smooth?
    Mine always get hard and unsightly, even though I care a lot for my feet.
    I’m a guy and I don’t like guy feet at all. That’s why my goal was for my feet was, that they should not be like that. I wanted to prove that guy feet could be really sexy to the point where I’d het compliments and girls wanted to touch them.
    I achieved that. But still, those little spots at the edges of the nails bug me. It’? the one thing missing from perfection.

    Do you have any hints? (Preferably so that it happens naturally, without putting any products on there.)

  50. JanelleBell says

    One of the most interesting benefits I’ve experienced are the connections I’ve made with people because of going barefoot. I’ve met several people from different countries/cultures who approach me and start talking about my feet because they always went barefoot but after moving to America and learning that its socially looked-down upon, they start wearing shoes so they can fit in better. Its a great conversation starter and I find it really interesting to learn about their experiences.

  51. Michelle says

    Well, as much as I would love to go shoeless everywhere, my back and hips have many complaints about it as well as the bottom of my feet. Many markets, stores, etc require shoes as a health objective. You can also pick up lot’s of bacterias, bug bites, maybe a topical skin issue. As long as my back and hips scream at me when I’m bare foot, I shall have to invest in shoes. I can only get by with it short distances or sitting down. I am glad you found a way to do it without consequence.

  52. Wife and I have been advocating barefooting for years! There are so few situations when shoes are actually NEEDED mostly they’re worn for reasons of social convention, or habit, since we’re all brought up being taught as part of getting dressed. Since our teen years [high school sweeties] we flaunted that convention, going bf when going for a walk, driving [yes it’s legal, why wouldn’t it be?] and at the mall, shopping… pretty much everywhere you can. But most favorite is hiking outdoors! Unless treading upon a painful or hazardous surface, it’s just wonderful to be in contact with the ground and feel all the different textures. It’s fun to encounter people wearing shoes or hiking boots and they comment on us, we encourage them to give it a try! One by one we try to win converts!

  53. MY height is 5’5 3/4″ and my shoe size is 12M. My feet are as big as they come for a woman of my height. I am acquainted with a woman who wears size 13M but her height is 6’4 1/2″.
    I like my big feet! That gives me a sense of parity with men! Also, I love going barefoot! I am almost 27 years old and I have hated wearing shoes, socks or panty hose as long as I can remember. Even as a toddler a bared my feet whenever I could often to my mother’s consternation. In my teens and early twenties I went barefoot in public places. Numerous times I was ejected from restaurants and buildings for being barefoot. I think that one has a god given right to go barefoot if one wants to.

    I. Shannon Halloran

    (I am a Blood Type B/Rh Positive Blood Donor)

    • HeatFooter says

      From my own experiences, and in summer I regularly burn my soles on hot asphalt as part of running errands (not just crossing parking lots, but also if the overall walkway is asphalt I do not avoid it if it has nearby sidewalk):

      1. Clean soles are more acceptable than dirty soles; but,
      2. Dirty soles are tolerable with clean tops of the foot and clean arches (especially since my soles have white calluses showing through the dirt); and,
      3. Don’t specifically check the soles or they’ll notice them more, clean or dirty.

      In the case of a store, having a shopping cart helps call less attention to the feet. Without a cart, just walk in confidently as if shoes were being worn. Ignore any comments that are not specifically from store staff, because some customers will comment (and in one store a customer reported me).

      So far, I only had one flea market turn me away in hot weather because the asphalt got too hot (but I can handle going from shade to shade at flea markets without getting blisters too quickly if at all), and one *outdoor* mall had security go and find me (but still let me walk to the car unescorted after they *radioed in* that they found me).

      Every other place either didn’t bother me, or told me I needed shoes but didn’t ask me to leave, and one told me not to come in there barefoot after I was leaving.

      I haven’t tried any restaurants other than fast food. Probably having someone else with me, especially also barefoot, might make that easier to be seated (but probably still not somewhere like an expensive steakhouse).

      • Thanks for this. I love going barefoot especially in the spring and summer. Even in the winter I’ll usually just wear sandals unless there’s snow ON the sidewalks. but I always travel with shoes and just put them on to go into stores. Thanks for the encouragement that I might not have to do that

  54. I have preferred going barefoot ever since I learned to walk. That was about 26 years ago. I will turn 27 on September 9, 2015. I love going barefoot. I hate shoes, socks, and panty hose. I have very big feet and I like showing them off. My big feet gives me a sense of parity with men. My height is 5’5 1/8″,
    exactly 167.0 cm., and I wear size 12M shoes.

  55. i have to say i am a big advocate of earthing though ive never been brave enough to go barefoot anywhere beyond my own yard. Forgive me if i missed this in your article, but what about parasites and chemicals and germs and other nasty unseen things your feet are picking up while walking? Wouldnt this be a concern?

  56. Donna Guruvia says

    Ive been doing research for 12+ years about a serious health problem in women from NOT being barefoot we have conducted research on it at Georgetown University and it links all kinds of serious issues, it affects 80% of women ages 12 to 45. Any women interested in learning more email barefootdonnancs@hotmail.com

  57. Dear Ms. Quiring:

    I like your website. I have a few questions about going barefoot full-time, but don’t know if this is the correct forum to ask.

    Here goes:

    How long did it take for your bare feet to get tough enough to really enjoy going barefoot everywhere? What did you do to get your bare feet tough enough?

    I’ve tried going barefoot, but it seems potential injury is a constant threat and I don’t know how long it takes to get tough, calloused feet and under what conditions (e.g., walking in the woods, etc.). Barefoot walking in a city just doesn’t seem to work well.

    I enjoyed the reasons behind the original blog for starting to go barefoot six years ago. Was there a specific event or reason that you decided to start going barefoot full-time most of the year–was it the start of the 2010s decade, or did the time just seemed right and you just kept going barefoot.

    Are you still the lone barefooter in your area or have others started going barefoot full-time, too?

    I have other questions, but this is a start. I hope this is the correct way to ask. If no, thanks anyway.

  58. I once got a ticket for driving a car without shoes…who knew? I used to go every summer without putting on shoes once.

    • Kevin Benecke says

      You could’ve fought that by asking the officer where it says so. It is not against the law. The courts would’ve dismissed the case.

  59. I can use a shovel without any device. I can’t crush popcans with my bare feet, though.

    • Kevin Benecke says

      I actually crushed a piece of coal under the heel of my foot and didn’t hardly feel it. I just heard the crunch and looked to see what it was.

  60. I’m sitting at my desk right now, shoes kicked off to the side until I go home….where they will be kicked off to the corner. I can barely bring myself to put shoes on in the mid of winter, let alone the rest of the year. 3 Cheers for going barefoot!

  61. I do not don footwear most of the time, either. I’ve been at it for ages and will go nearly everywhere as such.

    I’m wondering, though, is there some literature you can recommend? Every now and then there’s some hiker, or anyone else really, who so arrogantly asserts their opinion that footwear is practically natural, and that I “just haven’t found the right pair yet”. I should like to point these people somewhere so that they might consider it. I’m not usually affected by the opinions of others, but some folks can be pretty pushy, sometimes to the point of anger.

    Maybe it’s something to do with the area I live in.

    Thank you.

  62. I enjoy walking around barefoot especially feeling with my feet. I find that many adjustments are made by our brains when our ground sensors are reporting data. Our gait, posture, as well as circulation changes. Our body is better able to regulate temperature. The list goes on.

    My problem is finding a woman that enjoys going everywhere barefoot. I live west of Fort Worth Texas by 50 miles and on a lake. i have seen very few women barefoot in a 50 miles radius over the years. The weather is so nice and no one to share with. Are we really that rare?


  63. Kevin Benecke says

    What was the grossest thing you ever ended up stepping on during a barefoot walk?

    I think the grossest thing I ever stepped on was a dead frog I didn’t see while going through some tall grass along a lake. It didn’t feel weird at first. But half way through the gait as my weight shifted to the front of the foot, it popped under my foot and I saw the juices squirt out. I’ve stepped in dog poop and other nasty things. But this was the worst feeling I’ve ever had under my feet when it happened. But I knew not to try to wipe my foot off because of not knowing if there was something sharp that could’ve tore my foot open. And like they say, our foot is too thick of anything bad to get through. So after a short distance, it all came off. And when I could get to the water, I rinsed my foot off. I usually like to carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with me for when something like this happens. But I never got physically sick form the experience. All it did was make a mess of the bottom of my foot.

    But I am fully prepared for it to happen again because you just never know and you can’t always see what you are about to step on. That is why we often have to rely on our senses to keep us from harm. I can honestly say that because I like to fish, there have also been several times where I ended up stepping on a dead fish. But as an avid barefooter, we have to take the good with the bad.

    Happy Barefooting and be safe. Remember, everything washes off.

    • Kevin Benecke says

      This is my advice to anyone wanting to try this. Don’t be afraid. This was a once in a million thing that happened when I stepped on it. But I can never guarantee that it would never happen again.

      If you aren’t sure how you will react to the weird things that can end up under your feet, your backyard may offer some tests for you to find out. better to find out at home rather than to have something happen and you freeze up because of a bad sensation. Walk through your yard a bit to see how it feels. Don’t be afraid to step on or in various things to experience the feeling of it. Walk through your garden and feel the dirt and mud under your feet. Step on some fallen tomatoes to find out what a slimy feeling is like. Don’t be afraid to get your feet dirty because it’s better to know how you’ll react at home where you have access to water and other things to clean your feet if you decide you don’t like it.

      Remember, barefooting isn’t for everyone.

    • Kevin Benecke says

      Here is something interesting to consider if you live in a place or go places where they frown upon bare feet. You can make an incognito shoe. You cut the bottoms out of a pair of shoes while leaving the tops in place. Your foot is exposed under neath so you can feel the ground or floor or whatever you are walking on at the time.

      Here is a short video of a pair on YouTube.

  64. I’ve been totally barefoot for two weeks now but have been bare footing on and off for the past couple of years. Mainly going for evening and morning walks to get my feet used to it. I can really notice the changes taking place over the last couple of weeks. Still having trouble walking on sharp gravel though.

  65. i wear shoes but they are the shoes Indians wore which is just leather the are just like going bearfoot but you can go into stores and other places

  66. I too go barefoot as soon as the weather allows. My only problem is after a few walks around the yard or neighborhood, I can get my feet clean, but my toenals become (semi-) permanently stained and no amount clean, scrubbing, soaking, etc, gets them looking clean

  67. Trying to figure a way to keep my toenails looking clean as they become stained and look dirty. No amount of scrubbing/soaking makes them look clean

    • Hi Gretchen! Honestly, I struggle with that, too. One thing that I find helps is painting my toenails a dark colour to hide any staining. (I like black and purple. Glitter helps, too!)

  68. I have started to go barefoot most of the time because I, like many people, have developed foot pain. I have plantar fasciitis, or some related problem, and it goes up into my ankle. My normal footwear has been athletic shoes, and I don’t wear heels or shoes that are not good for my feet. I also wear flip flops a lot. But the problem has come on with a vengeance, and I have bought several pairs of expensive shoes to help with the condition. It helps, but the problem has not gone away. So, I started noticing when the pain was worse, and when it is better. Shoes make it worse, and I was changing shoes/sandals/flips up to five times a day. And taking anti-inflammatories or OTC pain pills. Limping, etc. So, I started wearing flat water shoes, and that helped a lot. Then I started going barefoot, and that also helped. I bought Xero shoes, and have them on now. But my feet need to heal. It will take time. So now I only put shoes on if I am going to take a walk (my feet are very sensitive, and I cannot walk far barefoot) or go to work for a bit, or shop, etc. I have to find some pain relief!

  69. Dru McFadden says

    I honestly hardly wear shoes unless I go do laundry, shop at walmart because the floors go uncleaned so long, and if i want to dress myself up. I never have to worry about my feet growing as I have had the same size shoe since middle school. Even in the winter and summer I will not wear shoes. I find it feels really good to feel the cold ground and hot concrete on my feet. i will comment that my feet don’t have an odor at all as I have noticed I am more aware of my environment

  70. You must live in a warm climate. In the spring summer, I rarely wear shoes. In the winter when it’s 20 below zero however, I have to, to prevent frostbite.

    So it kinda sucks.

  71. I live in a warm climate and I go barefoot just about anywhere. I exercise barefoot by going to the park and doing yoga. I also go barefoot to outdoor concerts as well as other events and do daily activities like drive and pump gas barefoot. I am glad you enjoy living a barefoot lifestyle. It’s very healthy and you don’t have to worry or spend money on shoes.

  72. Love your Q&A Kathleen! I have lived in the Fla Keys all my life and have gone barefoot my entire life. I married my wonderful husband right out of high school (he was, and continues to work for my dad’s property development company) and we started a family immediately. I’ve never worked, always been a barefoot and pregnant stay at home mom – so who needs shoes??? I go everywhere barefoot and rarely even think about flip flops, much less shoes. I really can’t remember anyone ever having an issue with me being barefoot. Where I live going barefoot is really no big deal.

  73. Wow, I can’t believe we share the same feeling about being barefoot. I feel more connected to nature especially when walking on sand. It feels healthy.
    life recently posted..I want to be a part of my child’s lifeMy Profile

  74. At the National Gallery, they asked me to put on shoes or leave. When I asked why, they said it was disrespectful. I have no idea how. And when I visited the 9-11 memorial in New York, they wouldn’t let me in. I wanted to go, so I bought some flip-flops. It felt strange. I have two children aged nine and seven. It’s their decision if they go barefoot, too. Sometimes they do, mainly not. People don’t generally comment, but we were in town once and a social worker started asking questions. I felt shaken, but I understand the importance of making sure children are cared for properly. They wear shoes to school.

  75. I myself am very afraid of getting my body dirty, which includes my feet. And you know, there are many potential dangers in the world, and you don’t know when you will encounter a nail or a glass shard or something sharp that will penetrate you skin. Wearing shoes don’t matter a lot to me, but I don’t like wearing socks so I always wear sandals. Is that quite similar to barefoot?

  76. Now that’s something new, personally I have never tried going out barefoot. But, I am also trying to declutter a few things as I learned about Minimalism recently. I might try stepping out barefoot it at later stage. Great share.

  77. You should live in a warm environment. In the spring summer, I seldom wear shoes. In the colder time of year when it’s 20 under nothing in any case, I need to, to forestall frostbite.

  78. Well that is something new, by and by I have never taken a stab at going out shoeless. Yet, I am additionally attempting to clean up a couple of things as I found out about Minimalism as of late. I may have a go at venturing out shoeless it at later stage. Extraordinary offer.

  79. I walk barefoot daily in the morning on grass. I feel like, I am refreshed and tuned.
    Who else have the same experience??
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  80. Good One

  81. This only works for some people in certain climates. Most of us live in toxic cities with poison and glass on the ground and have to walk on unnatural concrete and asphalt. The asphalt and sidewalks are covered in oil, gasoline, and other poisons that you are absorbing into your feet, so it makes no sense to go unshod in those settings.

    Shoes have been around for thousands of years, but yes, if you live in a rural setting you can go unshod (which is a luxury today at least in the industrial countries). Most of us have to live in urban settings, where going barefoot is poisonous and dangerous. Also I believe in having clean feet in the house, so you would need a way to wash your feet before going into your house (towels and wash bins outdoors, like they do as mosques), unless you’re fine tracking dirt and mud in the house. Everyone should be barefoot in their house, but it’s not practical to go without shoes so long as we live in an industrial culture of toxins, poisons, and metal/glass everywhere.

  82. Wondering if you have any problems with dry skin from not wearing shoes, when I started bare footing I thought of all of the problems but not that and I haven’t been able to overcome it



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