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Barefoot Being

By stzu in Culture
Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 08:22:10 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

Early this summer I was at the Small World Music festival in Kent Southern England.  The music was great the crowd superb and many of us enjoyed wandering barefoot on the grass.

A lot of the positive feelings were down to the general ambiance but I took particuar notice of how vital my feet felt, the coolness of the dew, the playful tickling of the grass, the warmth of the bare earth in the sunshine.  3 days barefoot and my feet felt alive and energised.  On returning to London and putting shoes it felt like caging a bird which had  been given a taste of freedom. So the shoes came off again.

Yet this was not the grassy countryside, this was the big city.  Glass, asphalt, concrete sidewalks and disapproving glances all threated.  Dissapproving glances - Hah! - I rejected conformity some time ago so the public disapproval was a small hump and the least of my worries.  What about the dangers? Well feet get pretty tough don't they?   Did humans not survive millenia without shoes?  A quick google search revealed a whole community of "barefooters" many of them living in cites this support and contact with others abandoning their shoes allayed many worries.

So the shoes came off and have remained off for the past month.  The experience has been educational, delightful and profoundly liberating, except for a pair of flip flops and one now rather dusty pair of trainers all my shoes have been discarded.

Reactions have been few and far between, London is a fairly tolerant place, I have not yet been asked to put on shoes before entering an establishment (I carry a pair of flip-flops just in case).  The strongest reactions have been from friends and family who don't fully understand why I am now barefoot and suspect a strange form of rebellion.

So why? Apart from "It feels good"?

Foot Health

Feet soon become free of corns, buyions, ingrown toenails and any other ailments caused by rubbing of the foot on the inside of shoes.  

Fungal infections cannot cope with the air and sunlight and quickly clear up. I had a persistent toenail fungus on my right big toe which had resisted tea-tree and all sorts of anti-fungal creams for years, it has now cleared up and the damaged toenail is growing out.

Toes liberated from narrow confines begin to strengthen, spread out and get used much more during walking. My feet have become buff!  Even when they are relaxed you can see the tendons and definitions of the small foot muscles.  My pinky toes have already started to straighten out after lying slightly on their sides.

Shoes act like casts, holding the bones of the foot so rigid that they can't move fluidly, Steven Robbins [MD and adjunct associate professor of mechanical engineering at Concordia University, Montreal] explains. "The foot becomes passive from wearing shoes and loses the ability to support itself."

Gait and Posture

Shoes alter our natural means of walking.  We are evolved to be barefoot and as natural selection is longer operating on humanity we will never adapt to wearing shoes.

Bad posture and gait is the cause of a multitude of problems and a the main cause of bad posture is shoes.

"I had ample opportunity to watch the boy's feet as he walked about that summer. I could not help wondering what, during his first two years of life, had ruined his feet, turned them outward, and caused him to walk with a fallen-arched gait. For months I watched every movement of his toes, each twist of his ankles, the way he lifted his feet, the manner in which his foot first made contact with the ground.

Then an amazing thing happened. He finally stopped leaning on his arches; he started to walk straighter and more normally. At last I began to understand the cause of fallen arches and the origin of foot trouble. With his toes continually pressed together in his shoes, his body had to improvise a brace-instead of leaning on his weakened, squeezed-together toes, the inner sides of his feet were turned outward for balance. I realized then why people persist in leaning on their strained inner arches, which were never meant to support continuous leaning, and why they have to push off painfully from their arches instead of their toes, at the end of each step.

Going barefoot had made this boy's toe area broader and stronger. When he stood, his stronger toes were now able to spread out, giving him a broad forward area on which to support his weight. Now he used his toes in standing and walking-he would even stand on his toes frequently while playing. His fallen arches were cured. With better foot balance, he rarely fell. He no longer begged to be carried, and he seemed tireless in his activities."

~ Simon J. Wikler D.S.C.   (Doctor of Surgical Chiropody)

Overall Health

"Wow your feet have no tension at all" exclaimed my friend Greta when giving me a foot massage.

Recounting my barefoot exploits had inspired Greta to give me the massage in the first place ("Your feet look so free I want to touch them - would you like a foot massage?" -  about a milisecond later I agreed!).  

Being barefoot is healthier in many ways - not just for the feet but also for the back, the gait and posture.  Indeed if one accepts reflexology as in any way valid (and some studies seem to esp. with regards to stress reduction) walking barefoot is good for our whole system.


In the United States people spend an estimated $26 billion a year imprisoning their feet, and another $28 billion in attempts to relieve the resulting pains!

Personally I've spent a lot of money on shoes, I will be making considerable savings in this area in the future.


Being barefoot makes you more aware of your environment.  Having your feet unprotected means you are aware of their vulnerability and pay more attention to where you are going. Not only this but you have a whole extra sense engaged.  Normally we see, hear and ocassionally smell things on our travels - we don't feel them.  

When recalling yesterday's walk to my friends house I remember not just how the journey looked, and sounded but how it felt too.  The roughness of the gravel near the mosque; the pressure of the knobbly non-slip paving near the traffic lights; the coolness of the iron manhole cover.

Without shoes I find movements are more delicate more nuanced, and it suddenly feels like this body is five kilograms lighter.


I see the search for the eternal as the purpose of existence. Ideally the spiritual path is not separate from everyday life and I have found being barefoot is immensely supportive of integrating the two. Materialists may find much to disagree with here - feel free to skip to the next section.

Holy ground is meant to be trod barefoot.  Hindu temples, mosques and many other sacred sites require that devotees remove their shoes. Yet if we truly accept the presence of the sacred is not all ground holy?  The Kogi people, believe that to wear shoes is to cut oneself off from the mother (Planet Earth) and become deaf to her.

Jesus sent the disciples out two by two and barefoot. (Luke 10:1-16) "I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Take neither purse nor pack, nor sandals.".  Saint Francis, Santa Teresa, Saint John of the Cross, and many others took bare feet as a literal command of Jesus. Bare feet are prominent in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, often appearing in contrast to shod feet as a mark that distinguishes humility from pride, spirit from flesh, or sacred from profane.

It is not just in the Christian tradition that saints are to be found barefoot but many others too:

"Earlier I had mentioned he walked everywhere and was almost always barefoot. I also mentioned he didn't drive, but seemed quite comfortable riding around in my wagon. I thought it extremly odd that a one time World War I fighter pilot refused to drive." -'The Wanderling' speaking of his "mentor" (who was the real life counterpart of the 'Larry Darrel' character in Maugham's "On The Razor's Edge")


Being Barefoot makes me feel free.  Liberated from shoes and also liberated from caring about approval or disapproval of society.  My feet love the feel of the ground

Possible Risks

Like anything worthwhile being barefoot carries some risks, after one month baefoot I must say most of the dangers are exaggerated.

Stepping on something unpleasant/dangerous - Being barefoot really improves your peripheral vision/awareness.  For the first few weeks you do spend a lot of time looking at the ground but after this one makes do with an occasional glance.  In a month of barefooting I have had just one small piece of glass which came out after a day and some work with a needle, most barefooters report years between injuries. After a few months of being barefoot feet become very tough and resisant to punctures, gravel and hot pavements.

Cold - This will be interesting as I've not barefooted a winter yet, but other barefooters tell me that the feet do ideed adapt to the cold (within reason!) and indeed theyfound that being barefoot made them overall less cold sensitive. This is speculative but perhaps feet have some sort of thermo regulating function in the body...

Wounds - I've had a couple of scrapes on my toes (in the house!) and these have healed very fast in the fresh air and sun.  I remember having a cut on a toe last winer which took ages to heal in the moist environement of shoes

Physical Threats from the barefoot hostile - Weeeelll maybe in the US but here in the UK I couldn't imagine someone being violent because of bare feet.  If they were I would practice the venerable martial art of Run-FU, bare feet make you faster and more manouverable so I would expect to quickly lose them.





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Display: Sort:
Barefoot Being | 140 comments (129 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
You've obviously not run into me in London yet (2.50 / 2) (#2)
by rpjs on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 06:31:11 AM EST

'Cos I am embarrassingly clumsy, and end up accidentally treading on someone's foot several times a week.

I wear shoes because of people like me, and not to mention all the dog shit etc.

Hey (2.83 / 6) (#3)
by I HATE TROLLS on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 06:51:30 AM EST

I dare you to walk outside a pub in the dark and reach the end of the block without bleeding.

Recycling glass (none / 0) (#15)
by Alan Crowe on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 11:03:57 AM EST

I take my glass bottles to the bottle bank barefoot. Yes, there is a lot of broken glass lying about. No, I don't get cut, I've been going barefoot for five years and my soles are adequately thick and leathery.

[ Parent ]
Don't forget to tell us (2.50 / 6) (#5)
by destroy all monsters on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 07:43:01 AM EST

what kind of worms you get doing that.

"My opinion: You're gay, a troll, a gay troll, or in serious need of antidepressants." - horny smurf to Lemon Juice
...think I'll go and eat worms... (none / 0) (#71)
by mrogers on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 08:38:13 AM EST

The trick is not to eat your dinner off your feet afterwards.

[ Parent ]
nasty sharp things (3.00 / 2) (#6)
by monad on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 07:49:18 AM EST

You are a braver person than I. Living and working in a city, I can think of a multitude of reasons not to go barefoot, even though I have few doubts that it must feel good. For example, I would be worrying about sharp objects, which one might not spot before treading on. Used hypodermic needles, broken glass. If I lived in a more temperate climate I think I would be wary of poisonous snakes, insects, etc.. If you were to be engaged in physical violence wouldn't your bare feet be one of the first targets for a shodden assailant? What about things like verrucas and warts? Taken from netdoctor.co.uk:

A foot with verrucas releases virus infected cells onto the floor. The wet and more receptive skin of others may then become infected.

Perhaps this post is highlighting my paranoia above anything else, but I think much of humanity decided to wear shoes for good reason.

Please don't take this as personal criticism; on the contrary, I admire your courage to decide for yourself how you want to live. Interesting article too, BTW. :-)

I too was once a hippy (3.00 / 2) (#9)
by QuantumG on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 08:37:44 AM EST

But I learnt that what makes a pair of shoes good is constant wear. So not putting on your shoes before leaving the house is just a wasted opportunity to mold your shoes to your feet. Once you have a pair of shoes that are well worn you have all the benefits of going barefoot with none of the pitfalls.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
I like the idea (3.00 / 3) (#10)
by TheVenicianEffect on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 08:42:59 AM EST

and maybe it would make me feel liberated, but do you have any practical advice? I imagine that people might stare at me if I walk down the street barefoot, which I might not mind too much.

But what if I trod in chewing gum or a hot cigarette butt? I occasionally have to remind myself not to walk around looking at the floor, would I now just have to look at the floor constantly?

Practical advice (3.00 / 4) (#24)
by Alan Crowe on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 01:19:00 PM EST

When I was twenty I worried what people thought of me.

When I reached forty I stopped worrying what people thought of me.

When I turned sixty I realised that people hadn't actually been thinking about me at all :-)

[ Parent ]
oh we're thinking about you (none / 0) (#66)
by speek on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 07:26:19 AM EST

and talking about you too.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

I work amidst heavy machinery, and ride a two (3.00 / 5) (#13)
by Adam Rightmann on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 09:50:50 AM EST

wheeled machine at high speeds. I have a need for leather shoes and boots. I suppose were I to live a slacker life on the doll, like the lilies of the valley, bare feet might be more of an option.

Suped up segway? (none / 0) (#16)
by Mr.Surly on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 12:03:45 PM EST

[ Parent ]
his wife is handicapped :-( (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by army of phred on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 12:24:27 PM EST


"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]
What a great idear! (none / 0) (#42)
by greenplato on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 09:01:53 PM EST

I'm picturing a Segway with a treadmill built onto the top of it... that way you can walk barefoot on your own personal moving sidewalk without the worries of glass and debris and without incurring the sneers and scorn of your fellow man for the use of a bipedal Rascal.

What a "Great Idea" Mr. Surly! You just have to think up a name now...

[ Parent ]

Lillies of the FIELD (3.00 / 2) (#22)
by LilDebbie on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 12:51:44 PM EST

Oh wait, who cares?

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Anyone who neither spins nor toils? (none / 1) (#95)
by rusty on Fri Jul 01, 2005 at 01:47:46 AM EST

N[o] T[ulips]

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Hey, give 'em a break (none / 0) (#104)
by LilDebbie on Fri Jul 01, 2005 at 05:28:54 PM EST

Photosynthesis is hard. I know, I've tried.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
kind of hard to kick ass like that, right? (nt) (2.75 / 4) (#14)
by pyramid termite on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 10:06:02 AM EST

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
Unless you open a can of whoop ass (none / 0) (#27)
by LO313 on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 01:41:03 PM EST

then feet are optional.

[ Parent ]
I have to take my shoes off... (none / 0) (#92)
by mikelist on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 09:22:53 PM EST

...before I kick someone, or else it's felonious assault, due to my carefully honed martial arts skillz. Besides, a near miss can stun, at least right after I take my shoes off. eat my socks, beyotch!!!

[ Parent ]
I barefoot a bit (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by whazat on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 12:37:05 PM EST

Personally after having a couple of years where I went everywhere barefoot I compromise. Anything over a mile or so or in unfavourable conditions (night, bad weather etc) boots anything else barefoot.

Also you sometimes get people in super markets hassling you because of your bare feet.

meh (2.00 / 3) (#23)
by dhall on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 12:53:07 PM EST

I'm barefoot at home. If I go anywhere else, I put on the shoes.

Actually, why don't you walk around town in the nude? I'm sure it would be seen as stylish these days. And it feels liberating - isn't that what you want?

The real answer is compromise. (3.00 / 6) (#25)
by it certainly is on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 01:23:43 PM EST

Walking barefoot is quite exhilirating, but this is because you are breaking a mental barrier rather than a physical one. Combine this with the new sensations you experience and it seems like nirvana.

However, the problem thereafer is that urban environments are quite hazardous to bare feet. Pavements have a gritty feeling because they're are hard-wearing and they're there to give good traction to shod pedestrians. You cannot walk nearly as far barefoot as you can in shoes. Nor can you run as far, your feet will hurt very quickly compared to lightweight running shoes, no matter how many calluses you collect.

You should also never drive a car barefoot as you will fear to slam the hard metal pedals - you know that would hurt your bare foot, yet in an emergency it is essential you do it. So shoes are again a requirement (likewise, don't drive in slippers).

So yes, go to your countryside and parks and enjoy walking barefoot in the summer. It is one of life's little pleasures. But do not mistake it for a way of life, because it will disappoint and limit you. Buy good shoes instead, ones that are designed to support your feet rather than squeeze them in the name of fashion. Remember to change your socks and shoes daily to allow them to air, clean your feet daily too. Wear leather shoes and cotton socks that allow your feet to breathe. This will give you almost as much enjoyment in walking as going barefoot in summer does, although the thrill of liberation is a one-time only thing.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.

driving barefoot (3.00 / 2) (#33)
by boboli fresh on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 03:31:14 PM EST

though it's against the law most places, i love to drive barefoot.  i'm tall and have huge feet, and the extra few centimeters stretching space gained from not having shoe soles is pleasant.  on a hot day you can turn the ac to point at your feet, it's great.

i've slammed on the brake pedal barefoot many times, and it was exactly the same as when i had shoes on.  also, wtf kind of car has metal pedals?  mine are rubber-coated.

"Kaycee, you don't need this negativity in your life."
[ Parent ]

Nope (none / 0) (#36)
by NoBeardPete on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 04:39:25 PM EST

It's not against the law to drive barefoot in very many places. See http://tafkac.org/legal/driving.barefoot/driving_barefoot.html , where a helpful soul has written to the DMVs of all 50 US states plus the District of Columbia asking about this. As it turns out, it's legal everywhere in the US except for Kentucky.

Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Also, your seatbelt laws (none / 0) (#48)
by it certainly is on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 11:06:06 PM EST

are not the envy of the world. It behooves the Land of the Free to make no prohibitions against dangerous driving practises.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Here in Soviet UKistan, (none / 1) (#47)
by it certainly is on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 11:01:46 PM EST

we drive manual transmission cars where the cold, patterned metal pedals have a direct mechanical connection to the clutch, brake lines and fuel valve. Given the heat the clutch pedal can reach, I fear that a rubber one would melt.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

metal petals (none / 0) (#52)
by edmo on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 01:19:08 AM EST

Some old cars have metal petals, but I don't see why these should hurt bare feet.  In my experience it's no more painful than stepping on a metal surface, which is to say not painful at all.  Besides, you can feel the petals, and are thus less likely to mix them up in an emergency.

[ Parent ]
Driving Shoes (none / 0) (#74)
by TheWake on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 10:12:13 AM EST

You should try wearing driving shoes. They have all the feel you want, plus some level of protection for your feet. See this page for examples: Puma motorsport shoes

[ Parent ]
Protection? (none / 0) (#84)
by reidbold on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 03:36:25 PM EST

Protection from what? In the event of a catastrophic engine failure, your feet are as just about as vulnerable as the rest of your body. What else is there to be protected from while your feet are in a steel cage? (I'm talking about standard road driving here, racing is another story of course.)

[ Parent ]
from (none / 0) (#130)
by TheWake on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 05:02:06 PM EST

From scraping against the pedals, or other things that find thier way into the footwells. I occasionally will catch the side of a pedal with my shoe. Not enough to be worrisome, but it has left scuff marks on the top and sides of my shoe. The back and side of the pedals can be rough. There also seems to be plenty of stones/gravel and other stuff that accumulates in the footwells (I drive quite a bit) that I have brought in on the soles of my shoes. I tend to clean it out regularly. I still do not think I'd want my bare feet in there.

[ Parent ]
barefoot driving (none / 1) (#79)
by the_idoru on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 02:02:37 PM EST

While I don't go barefoot, I do wear sandals about 3/4 of the year. It's almost a necessity here in the desert. I usually wear "thongs", which are next to barefootedness but are clunky for driving--especially a manual transmission car like mine. So, I flip them off when I enter the car and drive barefoot everwhere. Though it's likely illegal, I've done this for years. I've experienced just about every driving condition short of a crash (knock on wood) while driving barefoot, including extremely hard braking. My car's pedals are metal, and while they get warm in the summer, it's never been an impediment to driving barefoot. I've never injured my feet driving, and my foot has never slipped off the pedal for a lack of traction.

Frankly, I think it would be more dangerous to drive wearing thong sandals than driving barefoot. They slide around your foot too easily, and I can imagine your foot sliding in them and off the pedal. Also, if your heel is on the floormat, it could force the sandal off your foot, and a loose sandal down around the pedals is a very bad thing.

[ Parent ]
I Used to Not Wear Shoes... (3.00 / 4) (#26)
by unknownlamer on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 01:24:32 PM EST

Then I got a planters wart and it hurt like fucking Hell to have it ground at with a stone for three god damn months.

As such, I have worn shoes outside since I was five years old to avoid such a thing from reoccuring.

<vladl> I am reading the making of the atomic bong - modern science
Ground with a stone? (none / 0) (#131)
by awgsilyari on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 06:36:36 PM EST

They couldn't just freeze it off?

Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]
Not Sure (none / 0) (#132)
by unknownlamer on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 06:39:44 PM EST

I was four or five at the time, so I don't know what the options were. I had kept its existence a secret from my parents for a very long time, perhaps a few months. I think that may have been why it had to be ground with a stone instead of frozen off.</p

<vladl> I am reading the making of the atomic bong - modern science
[ Parent ]

Yeah (none / 0) (#134)
by awgsilyari on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 06:49:05 PM EST

I had one under the first joint of my big toe, when I was around the same age. It was burned off using salicylic acid. Oh boy, did that fucking hurt. Several weeks of daily applications, each of which would burn away one layer.

I had a tough spot on my skin there for years afterward. Finally when I was about 20 I noticed that it was gone.

Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

When I was in high school (3.00 / 6) (#28)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 02:08:49 PM EST

way back in the 1980's, there was this one guy that used to refuse to wear shoes as some kind of personal philosophy.  In the winter he wore plastic bags, which of course, are a kind of shoe, or at least a covering, so it was frikkin retarded idea.

also, he got frost bite and his feet were a disgusting mess. But, he was a moron.


Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.

Obvious problems with this; (3.00 / 3) (#30)
by sudog on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 02:41:21 PM EST

Urban areas are rife with low-lifers who think nothing of discarding infected needles. Just think: that one time you weren't looking, you didn't have an inch of hard rubber or boiled leather between your foot and the ground, and you get the death sentence.

Pavement and concrete paths and roads are built for the rubber of car tires, and the rubber/plastic of actual shoes. Going by your natural environment ideals, pavement and concrete were never available in an ancestral environment and thus our feet haven't, in fact, adapted to walking barefoot on such surfaces. Therefore, it is illogical to conclude that it is better to walk barefoot on such unyielding surfaces as concrete because you think we've evolved to do it.

Even the most minor scratches in the skin on the side of your foot or the non-calloused areas opens you up to viral infection. Warts are of course the most common, but people spit, hork, and generally befoul the ground with their bodily fluids (and solids) all over the place. Lots of other animals do too: birds, dogs, cats, rabies-infected animals, plague-flea-carrying rats, bats, raccoons, coyotes, etc.

Not to mention just biological contamination, you also neglect to consider chemical contamination: something that could eat through rubber over time can smear on your feet just as easily what are you supposed to do when you're in the middle of the street and you suddenly realise your feet bottoms are more slippery than they should be?

These chemicals can be invisible to the naked eye, and therefore you can't simply avoid them by looking around on the street every once in a while. They could be in the form of a powder which is then triggered by the moisture from the perspiration of your own feet. It would suck not even being able to pinpoint where you picked the chemicals up to begin with.

Finally, consider the possibility that you might end up getting stuck in an area which is in fact dangerous for your feet to begin with. Say a friend drinks too much and you have to walk home, or your mind is wandering and you suddenly realise you're in the middle of a construction zone with nails and screws all over the place. Now what are you going to do? Call a cab?

Shoes are what we wear because we have the luxury of *throwing them away* if we have to. You only ever get one pair of feet. If you fuck them up, that's it: game over.

Perhaps your energising walks are the result of your subconscious' awareness of these facts and triggering of your survival instincts?

Chemical contamination (none / 0) (#46)
by Mathemagician on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 10:51:20 PM EST

Just curious, what kind of rubber-eating chemicals do you think might be found on the urban ground? Do you mean to imply that wear and tear on shoes is not from the rubber/leather rubbing off onto the concrete?

[ Parent ]
An answer (none / 0) (#90)
by Mathemagician on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 08:43:52 PM EST

I was e-mailed an interesting story in response to my parent comment. Here it is:

I once walked over the tiled platform of an underground railway station in Sydney, Australia as it was being cleaned. The product being used was Johnson & Johnson's "Break Up."

The cleaner complained that I had left footprints in the area that was being cleaned, and I realised that the soles of my shoes were rapidly degrading into slop.

Despite removing the shoes and washing the soles under brisk running water, three quarters of the sole (approx) dissolved.

The shoes were Bata "Rawhides" and had a synthetic sole (rubbery plastic).

When I complained to the cleaner, he said the product was routinely used, and was highly caustic, basically an industrial detergent. I imagine it would have taken the soles of my feet "clean off" as he explained that it made quite nasty caustic burns if splashed onto the skin in even quite dilute forms.

My bet is the clown was using it at a strength that was way over the manufacturer's recommendations.

Hopefully this is useful to you.

[ Parent ]

Detergent vs. Caustic (none / 0) (#105)
by Winkhorst on Fri Jul 01, 2005 at 07:19:54 PM EST

"highly caustic, basically an industrial detergent"

Well, "caustic" is a term normally associated with strong alkalis like soda lye (Sodium Hydroxide). This will cause burns, as will ammonia in high concentrations. These are not, per se, "detergents."

But keep in mind that there are things that will dissolve plastics without being terribly hazardous to skin. It's a matter of the polarity of the molecules. Brake fluid, for example, will dissolve certain plastics without doing much damage on a one time basis.
______ *****Welcome to Avalon*****
[ Parent ]

Shoes are for slumming? (3.00 / 3) (#62)
by Alan Crowe on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 05:23:58 AM EST

Urban areas are rife with low-lifers who think nothing of discarding infected needles. Just think: that one time you weren't looking, you didn't have an inch of hard rubber or boiled leather between your foot and the ground, and you get the death sentence.

I don't think that Nike are going to hire you onto their advertising team any time soon. Your pitch for shoe wearing boils down to:

When you are really hurtin and you've just gotta visit that bad part of town again, its time for SHOES.

[ Parent ]
*You* boiled it down. (none / 0) (#101)
by sudog on Fri Jul 01, 2005 at 02:54:51 PM EST

...incorrectly and illogically, I might add.

I know you must have trouble understanding the meaning and intent of the people you're communicating with, so try making more of an effort next time, hm?

Bad stuff is in more than just the bad parts of town, but thanks for reading one sentence and ignoring the rest of the note. Besides, sometimes you have no choice but to visit that "bad" part of town.

This is my last response to this branch of the thread.

[ Parent ]

Cute idea... (3.00 / 3) (#31)
by Pat Chalmers on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 02:58:14 PM EST

...but I prefer to not get burning cigarette butts, chewing gum, jagged pebbles, broken glass, dog shit, motor oil, and spit all over the soles of my feet. I agree that shoes may alter the way our feet function, but as far as I can see you get the same advantages just by switching to sandals.

awesome, +1 fp (2.80 / 5) (#34)
by circletimessquare on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 03:51:50 PM EST

exactly the kind of esoterica that makes kuro5hin interesting

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Insensitive Clod! (none / 1) (#35)
by vhold on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 04:06:41 PM EST

I live in a cold climate, such shenanigans would cause my feet to literally die and fall off.

(Actually I don't anymore, but if I did, they definitely would.  Have you ever stuck your barefoot in snow in subfreezing temperatures?  I bet you wouldn't be able to do it for more then a minute or two before you began to feel the earliest stages of frostbite.  People lose toes -through- their shoes, without them, here comes darwin.)

Shoes are tools, and without tools, humans are a pretty crappy animal.

"bare feet make you faster and more manouverable"

... I hope you don't really believe that for your own sake.  Traction + protection == speed and maneuverability.

You're going to end up stepping on something sharp with all your weight, and in the split second you feel it begin to dig into your feet, since you are running and can't pull your weight back up, you are going to instinctively throw all your weight forward into the ground so it doesn't penetrate your entire foot.  

Also shoes have way more surface area contact and grip to asphault/cement then barefeet so your ability to change direction without slipping in the other direction will be massively affected.

And once you -really- build up some old school foot armor, you'll barely even be able to feel that massage.  You'll have a thick hide of numb callouses.  Yum.

You've obviously never gone bare-footed (none / 0) (#51)
by edmo on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 01:11:55 AM EST

Barefoot in snow: check
Admittedly this wouldn't work for more than a few miles, but I have walked 2 or so mile in the snow barefoot.

Traction and Protection
Bare-feet have better traction than any shoe save cleats, that means better speed and maneuverability, also being able to feel the ground lets you adjust your stride to the terrain.  The biggest risk of injury to bare-feet(in most parts of the world) is people trying to stomp them.  Shoes offer more protection, obviously, but avoiding stepping on stuff is better still.  Having once or twice stepped on sharp stuff when walking/running I can say you don't just fall over(thow you may start hopping on the other foot).  Bare-feet help with balance, which also helps speed and maneuverability.

You are right here, when in extremely cold climates and for specialized purposes(climbing shoes) shoes are a useful tool, but that doesn't mean it's smarter to wear them all the time.  A thick winter coat is also a useful tool, but you don't see many people wearing them in the hot summer sun.

As for the calluses, I'v gone barefoot my whole life, and can feel fine in my feet, better than any shoe wearer I know in-fact.  

[ Parent ]

Then.. (none / 1) (#56)
by vhold on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 02:55:40 AM EST

if the speed argument were true, and I'm open to the possibility that it might be, then why don't any olympic runners go barefoot?  They do all kinds of other freakish things to gain any edge possible..  running barefoot isn't one of them.

[ Parent ]
Zola Budd (none / 1) (#67)
by uberleet on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 07:40:27 AM EST

is the best known barefoot runner. There are a number of Kenyan marathoners who run barefoot as well.

[ Parent ]
I stand corrected. (none / 0) (#87)
by vhold on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 04:27:16 PM EST

I was definitely wrong to say there weren't -any- barefoot olympic runners.  It's definitely an exceptional case though.  If it really gave her an edge, I'm sure more people would have followed in her footsteps.

A couple quotes from Zola Budd.

".. and it wasn't until the cross-country season that year that I got my first pair of proper training shoes. Before that, I was content to run in plimsolls, or 'tackies' as the South Africans call them, if I was training on hard surfaces, but as most of the work I did was on grass I would usually be back to 'normal', barefoot. '"

"Barefoot on firm ground is one thing, running without shoes in mud quite another... Going barefoot had been a big mistake as I struggled to keep my footing on the slippery downhills and the pack was closing in."

[ Parent ]

Shoes are fashion items (none / 0) (#61)
by Alan Crowe on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 05:06:16 AM EST

Look at women's high heel shoes, or the great chunky things worn by Goths or even traditional "sensible shoes" which are not wide enough at the front to accomodate the toes.

Shoes are tools, and without tools, humans are a pretty crappy animal.

Historically correct. But do try to keep up to date, we've had the wheel for some time now.

[ Parent ]
Eh? (none / 0) (#64)
by vhold on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 05:40:04 AM EST

So basically, because we occasionally turn tools all the way around to counterproductiveness, the original usefulness is universally invalid to the point that we should believe advocation that says the tool is invalid to begin with?

I'm pretty sure I missed something here.

[ Parent ]

Do we? (none / 0) (#65)
by Alan Crowe on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 06:17:30 AM EST

So basically, because we occasionally turn tools all the way around to counterproductiveness,...

Do we ever turn tools all the way around to counterproductiveness? Do we have refrigerators that make food spoil faster. Carpenters saws that make bits of wood stick together? Step ladders that let us reach less high? Lights that make the room darker? Filing cabinets that shred our vital papers? Matches that make firewood damp? Shoes that make our feet hurt and give us blisters so that we take them off to help us walk?

Shoes are a uniquely crap product.

[ Parent ]
Can't relate. (none / 1) (#76)
by vhold on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 12:33:12 PM EST

I think it's just fundamentally impossible to see eye to eye, I have some pretty comfortable shoes, and while they did hurt while I broke them in, they feel great now, and I've never gotten blisters from them, even when going several miles.

Now when it comes to dress shoes and the like, I'm going to totally agree, in my experience they are pretty painful, and they are entirely not useful tools.  I just don't think that's a justification for saying all shoes are bad.

[ Parent ]

It's fasion (none / 1) (#85)
by NoBeardPete on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 03:44:53 PM EST

Shoes are generally designed to be fasionable, for some sense of the word or another. Lots of things which started out with a simple, pragmatic purpose turn useless or even counterproductive when they turned into primarily aesthetic items. This happens with a lot of items of clothing. The necktie seems to have evolved from some sort of pragmatic scarf. People often wear clothing that restricts movement or is uncomfortable, but looks good.

There are other examples of this, too. People put big spoilers on their cars for aesthetic reasons, even though said spoilers often worsen performance. People put unhealthy amounts of assorted compounds (salt, dyes, msg, preservatives, etc) into food so that it will look, taste, or smell better. People breed dogs into interesting looking shapes, but also into terrible health. People sometimes use unhealthy diets, exercise regimens, and drugs in an effort to achieve a desired physical appearance.

Shoes may be on the worse end of the scale in this regard, but they aren't uniquely crap.

Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

There's a lot to what you say (none / 0) (#37)
by jd on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 05:16:35 PM EST

(Which is precisely why so many K5'ers are objecting, I suspect. Ignorance is strength, according to some.)

The only thing I would note is that the bridge of your foot is incapable of supporting the weight of most people indefinitely. A lot of early humans did suffer from collapsed arches.

It probably doesn't matter exactly how you provide the necessary support, or exactly when, provided the foot gets the support it needs at some point.

I wouldn't worry too much about those who decry hippies - the bulk of prejudiced people are "trailer park trash", and the bulk of 60's hippies are multi-millionaires. In the case of Bill Gates, multi-billionaire. The prejudice is ultimately because hippies have been damn successful, and "conformists" have usually been damn miserable.

Bill Gates is not a hippie. (none / 0) (#38)
by tweetsybefore on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 06:05:23 PM EST

Dude do you even know what a hippie is? For men you need long hair and a beard. Bill gates had none of those. For women You need to have long hair and fuck alot of male hippies.

I'm racist and I hate niggers.
[ Parent ]
Did you see any photos of Bill Gates in the 60s? (none / 0) (#55)
by jd on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 02:30:17 AM EST

Beard? Check. Long hair? Check. Total rejection of cultural or social norms? Check. Yep, he was a hippie.

[ Parent ]
You're thinking of Paul Allen (none / 0) (#59)
by HyperMediocrity on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 04:12:48 AM EST

Gates just looked like a stereotypical computer nerd.

[ Parent ]
Nerd/Hippie Overlap (none / 0) (#125)
by Xoder on Sun Jul 03, 2005 at 11:25:20 PM EST

There's a lot of Nerd/Hippie overlap. Take a look at RMS, for instance.

Lately I've been hearing that god's on our side But rumor has it, there's one on their side too So what I'd like to know is, when it comes down to it, can my god kick their god's ass or what?
[ Parent ]
dude, (none / 1) (#63)
by mikelist on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 05:33:56 AM EST

check out some haight ashbury documentaries, you'll see that long hair wasn't universal, in fact there was a wide range of hair lengths and styles. Lotsa short-haired underground hippies have existed to this day. Most current long hairs are not hippies, mulletheads are most definitely not. Hippie is inside rather than outside a person's head. I wore poorly fitting shoes growing up, and I don't wear shoes whenever I don't need to. Unfortunately that means steel toes for 11 hours a day many days. Thre was the time I got kicked out of a festival by the swine of the kalamazoo valley blues association, for being barefoot, but that's another story. Don't worry, I'll keep it to myself.

[ Parent ]
How about an article about good shoes. (none / 1) (#39)
by tweetsybefore on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 06:07:41 PM EST

There should be shoe designs that are based on making your feet perform better(healthier comfortable etc..) rather than on what looks nice and how marketable it is. I am unconvinced that the shoe manufacturers of today give a damn about this.

I'm racist and I hate niggers.
Cleats (none / 0) (#49)
by Mathemagician on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 11:09:24 PM EST

Actually, you can get "non-cleats" for indoor sports. It'll cost you though.

[ Parent ]
i agree (none / 0) (#88)
by CAIMLAS on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 05:08:49 PM EST

When I buy shoes, that's what I look for: comfort and functionality.

I bought a pair of leather Airwalks about 6 months ago from Payless Shoes; they're tan suede leather and look work-casual. They've got to be some of the best shoes I've ever owned, as they don't constrict at all and look basically like a leather clog, or an enclosed slip-on sandal. Kind of like a 'dutch shoe' if that makes any sense.

I've got wide feet, and it's very difficult to find work shoes that even fit, let alone fit properly. Finding a 'work-like' shoe that feels like a slipper is hard, but these feel like a nice pair of leather mocassins.

And I can't find another pair anywhere. I went back to the store the next week, and there wasn't a single pair of this model left anywhere in the region - despite the fact that they had like 3 or 4 pairs of my size when I'd been there previously. They cost $40, which is a lot for Payless Shoes. Makes a person wonder: why aren't there more decent shoes out there? They sell well, and fast.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

My experiences (none / 0) (#126)
by chroma on Mon Jul 04, 2005 at 04:01:37 AM EST

I had a hard time finding comfortable dress shoes. Then I tried a chain store called "The Walking Company". They sold me a pair of black leather shoes made by Ecco. These are quite comfortable.

New Balance seems to make pretty good athletic shoes. They're one of the only manufacturers that make multiple widths, and I have wide feet.

[ Parent ]

Thanks to me (none / 1) (#40)
by D Jade on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 08:22:50 PM EST

This story is going to be on the front page! This is a first for moi so I am celebrating by taking my shoes off...

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
Why not just wear flip-flops permanently? (none / 0) (#41)
by Protagonist on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 09:01:11 PM EST

Since doing so would provide most or all of the same benefits you describe under "foot health", and since I don't for a second believe what you say about shoes being the main cause of bad posture, I really don't see how full barefootedness can be worth it. Especially given the risks of overly-thick soles and cracking.

Hahah! Your ferris-wheel attack is as pathetic and ineffective as your system of government!
lotion (none / 0) (#50)
by edmo on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 12:56:23 AM EST

As a bare footer I can say cracking isn't a serious problem.  I developed one crack during the winter a few years back(damn you cold dry air), since then I'v lotioned my feet, and have never come even remotely close to a reoccurrence...

The posture stuff dose seem a bit of a stretch, thow most of the hippies I know have good posture, so it's that or the pot ;p

[ Parent ]

As a former fellow barefooter (none / 0) (#43)
by czar chasm on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 09:34:46 PM EST

A few years back I lived in a commune (this was during the active anarcho-syndical days) and there started going barefootedly everywhere. It was also the time that I grew my hair and beard long. It is ultimately very freeing and enjoyable.

However, now that I spend most my time at an extremely large university (UT austin) with a number of students that simply don't watch where they're going and whose density precludes seeing too far ahead I've had to readopt sandals or other footwear so as to prevent things from foot stepping to stigmata. But, the second I'm in class or at work* they're off and it's free time again.

*(I work in an academic job with very relaxed bosses, and having pretty much all seniority I can get away with it).

Not unusual (3.00 / 2) (#44)
by tyagi on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 09:58:57 PM EST

Here in New Zealand, it is common for children and adults to be barefoot, particularly in Summer. In cooler months, many people still wear flip-flops or sandles rather than shoes. This applies to both country and city areas.

When I first moved here, I did find it strange to see groups of kids walking to school with no shoes on, or to be in the supermarket and see a whole family with no shoes. It's one of those things you get used to and noone regards it as strange here. Saying this, you still wouldn't turn up to work without shoes.

Depends on the area (none / 0) (#53)
by BJH on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 01:44:18 AM EST

You'd be more likely to see it in, say, the Nelson/Blenheim area compared to Christchurch or Dunedin.

Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
New Zealand (none / 0) (#93)
by tetranz on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 10:48:07 PM EST

As a kiwi living in the US, I really miss New Zealand's easy going attitude to bare feet. Back home I never gave it a second thought before going into a supermarket, gas station, fast food place etc in bare feet. No chance of doing that here. The post office is about the only place I go barefoot here and even there a young boy once yelled out in shock "Mommy, that man is barefoot!" which caused the other people to keep their distance and shield their children from danger :)

I've read on the net that the US didn't used to be like this but it started in the 1960s as a way of discriminating against hippies. I wonder if that's true. I imagine liability is a big part of it for lots of places.

I always drive barefoot in summer here. I was once stopped by a cop for a tail light out. As he came up to the car he saw my feet and his first words, somewhat aggressively, were "Are you driving in bare feet?". I responded "Is that illegal?" and he thought for a few moments and said he didn't know. The weird thing is that he then saw that I had some flip-flops on the floor almost under the seat, far from my feet, and he was perfectly happy then. He was quite polite about it all but I found it strange that he would hassle me about something that he didn't know the legality or otherwise of and then, if he thought it was a safety issue, why did the flip-flops on the floor make it okay? This is in New Hampshire where seat belts are optional.

From reading other people's experiences, it seems that barefoot driving is one of those things that lots of people, police included, assume is illegal but it is not. Driving in flip-flops is quite dangerous I think.

[ Parent ]

You're confusing nerds with hippies. (none / 0) (#45)
by Fen on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 10:30:23 PM EST

We want bionic feet that can walk on Venus (and are removable).
Problems (none / 0) (#54)
by cronian on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 02:13:30 AM EST

I've walked around barefoot before, but shoes really do serve a useful purpose. In the winter, getting your feet frostbitten is not fun. In the summer, stepping on glass is a problem. I really couldn't get around without having to step over glass. Besides, there is always the remains of all the other junk that has been left in the streets.

Furthermore, I recall it being unpleasant stepping gravel alleys, when I've tried walking around barefoot. Also, I've seen with my own eyes, that going barefoot in public bathrooms leads to foot diseases.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
Electric shocks (none / 0) (#57)
by Owl on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 03:10:28 AM EST

I loved reading your story, stzu.

One of the things that I find drives me mad about shoes with rubber soles is the electric shocks. I don't know if it happens to anyone else, but in my case I often find that I build up electric charge during the day which is not naturally earthed through my feet. Then I touch a metal handrail or something else that's earthed and I get a big shock as the charge jumps off me. Now I find myself steering clear of anything metal that looks like it might be earthed if I can at all help it.

I've often thought to myself what it would be like to walk around barefoot all the time, but I'm too shy to actually try this out for real. I do tend to take my shoes off when I'm indoors, such as at work, though.

Plus I really hate shoes. Especially buying them. They're just horrid things. There's something not quite right about shoes. Like sportswear, it doesn't feel natural somehow.

{o,o} ~ Owl
/)  ) Homepage

Grounding Static (none / 0) (#83)
by virg on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 03:00:53 PM EST

> One of the things that I find drives me mad about shoes with rubber soles is the electric shocks. I don't know if it happens to anyone else, but in my case I often find that I build up electric charge during the day which is not naturally earthed through my feet. Then I touch a metal handrail or something else that's earthed and I get a big shock as the charge jumps off me. Now I find myself steering clear of anything metal that looks like it might be earthed if I can at all help it.

I have this problem as well, due to where I work and how I dress (all cotton clothing builds up huge static in the wintertime). Take the opposite tack to grounding out, and it's a lot easier. That is, touch every metal object you pass, properly earthed or not. I do this at work, brushing file cabinets, door frames, railings and anything else I pass, so that I don't blow up some costly piece of electronics when I handle it, and I find that a thousand barely-sensed sparks keeps the one big one from smarting so much. Also, make contact with a covered surface first, and you'll throw some of the built-up charge off at a time. Be sure to touch that railing with your sleeve instead of your hand, or put your leg against the car frame when you stand up before you touch the door, and you'll minimize the shock.

Oh, and be glad you don't have an annoying nickname like "Sparky". Unless you do, in which case, sucks to be you.

"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Additional methods (none / 0) (#133)
by awgsilyari on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 06:47:20 PM EST

Wear a thick metallic ring that fits your finger well, i.e. makes good contact with your skin. When you must touch a metal object, touch it with the ring first. This causes the spark to jump from the ring instead of directly from your skin. You may feel a slight sensation, but nothing like a skin-to-ground shock.

I always get zapped when reaching for my car door handle. So I've taken up the practice of touching it first with the car key, so that the spark jumps from the key instead of my finger. Same basic idea.

Ground yourself. Do this by pressing a thumbtack into the inside of the shoe so that the tip barely protrudes from the sole. When you put your foot in the shoe, this grounds your body directly through the sole, preventing a charge buildup. This sounds ridiculous but if you really are plagued by shocks, it might be worth it.

The downside is that it makes it more likely that an electrical accident will be fatal.

Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

Not having to watch what you're walking on... (none / 1) (#58)
by MyrdemInggala on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 03:25:31 AM EST

...is an advantage as far as I'm concerned.

I wear boots all the time (except at home, where I wear slip-slop house shoes; I like the idea of shoe-free houses, and I may try that out sometime).  My boots are well-worn and comfortable - they bend where my feet bend and there is plenty of room for my toes to move around.  They're made of leather, and I've never had any problems with fungus or other infections.

I do own a handful of other shoes, mostly sandals.  Every now and then I put them on (either because it's very hot outside or because I'm dressing up particularly smartly for a special occasion).  I always end up getting annoyed with them.  This is partially because I have to change the way I walk completely, which slows me down, but mostly because I have to pay attention to what I'm walking on.  In boots I can walk over mud, gravel, stones, chunks of rusty metal, or just about any other terrain, and it provides no obstacle.  When I'm wearing sandals, walking on anything that's not flat is risky, and stones and gravel get stuck in them.  If it's raining, I have to watch out for puddles, and oviously my feet get wet no matter what I do.

I consider this to be a major disadvantage.  I don't want to be limited by difficult terrain.  I want to be able to walk anywhere and not have to worry about it.

On an tangent: common sense would suggest that feet kept in closed shoes all day would be likely to become smelly, whereas feet in open, ventilated shoes such as sandals should not become smelly.  However, I have noticed the exact opposite, both with my own feet and other people's feet.  Whenever I have encountered feet so smelly that they made me want to gag, they were feet in sandals.  Anybody else noticed this?

I have insufficient data on barefooted people to have determined where completely bare feet fit into this.

-- 22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head. -- Evil Overlord List

On foul-smelling sandal feet (none / 0) (#110)
by syncrotic on Sat Jul 02, 2005 at 02:36:51 AM EST

The simple reason why feet in sandals stink while those in sneakers often don't is the presence of socks in the latter, and their notable absence in the former.

For some unfathomable reason the wearing of socks with sandals is a "fashion don't" or some such retarded thing - like pocket protectors or plaid flannel shirts. People would rather deal with hot, sweaty, foul-smelling feet than to simply stop caring about the opinions of others and put on a pair of socks.

[ Parent ]

Stinking feet and why flip flops are bad. (none / 0) (#139)
by the dehorned unicorn on Thu Jul 21, 2005 at 01:47:41 PM EST

Also remember that foot stink takes a while to fully remove from your feet, and that many people who wear sandals also wear shoes. I used to have some of the world's stinkiest feet. I'd come home, take off my shoes and socks, and if I didn't spend 5 minutes in the shower scrubbing at my feet I'd stink to everyone else, *and* myself.

Currently, I mostly go barefoot, and failing that I wear flip flops (Yes, I'm the guy in ontario who walks the dogs thru foot high snow in just flip flops (actually, I'm more likely to be barefoot in the snow, the cold doesn't bother my soles, just the tops of my feet)). Ever since I've done away with shoes, I don't have any annoying foot odor.

But in the few cases where I do have to wear shoes (job interview, formal get-togethers, etc) even if I'm just in them for a few hours, it takes about 2 days for the stench to leave.

But that's just me, it could be different for other people.

As for why one shouldn't wear flip flops, one's gait is different with flip flops vs. barefeet. Flip flops lend toward's one putting one's heel down first, and then the ball of the foot. A proper barefoot gait involves the ball of the foot landing first, and if walking then the heel. When I jog or run, my heels never touch the ground. FYI, I jog 2-3 miles a day, barefoot, at a pace of 6-7mph.

[ Parent ]

Sandals - a happy medium (none / 1) (#60)
by RSevrinsky on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 04:59:32 AM EST

Here in Israel, sandals are quite common -- for both men and women. Sandals have all the benefits of allowing your feet to breathe freely and spread out, while protecting them from Nasty Things Below.

Of course, sandals aren't really that comfortable in the rain, so there are sizable chunks of the winter for which I have to switch over to sneakers. Being used to sandals, I'm even more sensitive to being constricted. And when those sneakers come off, boy, do my feet stink!

On the whole, I definitely agree with the author, but I'd like to protect my feet from the (sub)urban environmental hazards.

Sandals in the rain (none / 0) (#117)
by kmself on Sat Jul 02, 2005 at 10:51:15 PM EST

"River sandals" -- Tevas and the like -- are great in wet conditions. Your feet do dry out, faster than with socks (as Einstein observed, or was it hats?), and the soles have a great grip on most surfaces.

Two best pair I've had are a set of leather Tevas, and IIRC a pair of Solomons, which would be eminently appropriate for Israel. Mine never made it there, but got a good workout in California, Australia, and across the US. Even a bit of actual river walking at Zion Canyon.

Closed shoes, I go for Doc Martins, mostly because they last ferfreakinevah. Three pair have got me through a decade, and the most recent have plenty of miles on 'em. Loafers / dress shoes for work aren't too bad, if you kick 'em off at your desk. I'm a socks-around-the-office kinda guy if I can get away with it. Apparently something I got from my Dad.

Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Source (none / 0) (#119)
by roiem on Sun Jul 03, 2005 at 06:58:50 AM EST

I wore Source sandals all last winter here in Israel, no problem. Of course, I didn't walk that much, I own a car and used to drive everywhere. I also wore shorts and short-sleeved T-shirts all winter, so maybe I'm just weird. I probably won't wear sandals next winter - I'll either walk barefoot from the train station or wear sneakers.
90% of all projects out there are basically glorified interfaces to relational databases.
Parent ]
Doesn't mix well with drink (none / 0) (#68)
by OmniCognate on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 07:53:33 AM EST

I went barefoot for a short while at university. Then one evening I became far more drunk than I intended (wine does that to me), and ended up in a kind of attempted fight with a townie. Both of us were too pissed to even stand up properly so we didn't do each other any damage, but I stepped on a piece of broken bottle, gashing my big toe nastily.

To add insult to injury, my over-careful mates phoned an ambulance because there was so much blood everywhere. It was completely unnecessary. A bit of antiseptic and a plaster would have done the trick, and was essentially what the paramedics did. Ambulance crews who don't need to be there are good at making you feel guilty. We were all medical students too. At Oxford. The shame.

SNL skit (none / 1) (#82)
by RevLoveJoy on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 02:44:01 PM EST

It takes a big man to admit when he was foolishly wrong and an even bigger man to laugh at that first man. Guess which part I play in this parable?

Brilliant image, BTW: Oxford med students battling it out with the natives getting bloodied because they don't fear the hookworm. I cackled madly while reading.

Thank you!
-- RLJ

Every political force in the U.S. that seeks to get past the Constitution by sophistry or technicality is little more than a wannabe king. -- pyro9
[ Parent ]

Made me think (none / 0) (#69)
by ljj on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 08:06:51 AM EST

Great article. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

I won't be going to your extremes, but I will experiment with going barefoot more often.


i agree (none / 1) (#70)
by fleece on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 08:34:20 AM EST

living in australia, I go barefoot most of the time from about december -> march. Walking on the gravelly surface on the road hurts at the very start of summer, but your feet get used to it quickly. I think in australia walking around barefoot is much more widely accepted. A lot of people wear thongs all year round also. (you call them flip-flops)

I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
Greta (2.66 / 3) (#72)
by actmodern on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 09:24:58 AM EST

Something tells me that with friends like Greta you probably had a lot of this nonsense fed to you by your new-age hippie friends.

"Hey man, be free, don't wear shoes."

Then you liked the experience and dug around for every piece of evidence that would prove going around barefoot is healthier, and better overall.

Personally I'm not looking into stepping on broken glass on some sidewalk.

LilDebbie challenge: produce the water sports scene from bable or stfu. It does not exist.

Reflexology (2.00 / 2) (#73)
by moeffju on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 09:40:07 AM EST

Is bunk.

evidence? [nt] (none / 0) (#97)
by monkeymind on Fri Jul 01, 2005 at 07:01:11 AM EST

I believe in Karma. That means I can do bad things to people and assume the deserve it.
[ Parent ]

Pissed me off... (none / 0) (#75)
by Gooba42 on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 10:30:35 AM EST

For the most part I'm barefoot anytime I'm not at work, in a restaurant it's not an option.

I just recently moved and during this move I was barefoot until I finally gave in to my friends and dad bitching at me how dangerous it was, etc., etc.

I put on my sandals and while carrying a computer monitor across the parking lot got a wood screw jammed into my heel about 1/4".

It may have just been some sick irony but I blame the shoes.

The Dirt Problem? (3.00 / 3) (#77)
by dannyman on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 01:06:13 PM EST

When I first stumbled on alt.barefoot in the 90s I pooh-poohed the idea at first.

Then, I tried it one summer.  Being barefoot is fantastic, even in an urban environment.  But nice lawns are the real pleasure.  Feeling the ground ... I mean FEELING the Earth, is wonderful.

But ther's a catch.

I kept tracking dirt on the carpet, and the bathtub got NARSTY.

I concluded that I'd be happiest barefoot if there was a foot-cleaning mechanism at every door, preferably a shallow pool of running water.  Though a tickly brush might do ...

How do you barefooters deal with the dirt problem?  I'd like to know.  Please, drop advice on dannyman@toldme.com.


Same as always: (3.00 / 2) (#124)
by The Voice of Reason on Sun Jul 03, 2005 at 08:43:51 PM EST

Do the same thing they did thousands of years ago to stop spreading dirt inside: get Jesus to wash your feet.

[ Parent ]
I have one word for you (3.00 / 3) (#78)
by Kasreyn on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 01:43:54 PM EST


Better not take that trip to the south of France.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Pompous, are we? (3.00 / 3) (#80)
by CAIMLAS on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 02:22:31 PM EST

Weeeelll maybe in the US but here in the UK I couldn't imagine someone being violent because of bare feet.

You seriously think someone would be attacked for being barefoot here in the US of A? The concept of such a thing is so far beyond the pale that imagining such a situation is unfathomable. We don't have the violent culture here in the US you wish we did, and that's why it's so difficult to comprehend.

Unlike the situation in the UK, we don't see reports in the post daily, weekly, monthly, and very rarely even annually where a gang of barely-pubescent children beat to death a grown man over a cigarette lighter, elderly veterans are prosecuted for defending themselves against multiple home invaders, or nonsense like this. It's a complete and utter farce of common sense and simple human brain activity that things that go on over there, do go on over there. It just doesn't happen here, but appears to be becoming much, much more prevailant there. More useless legislation to try and patch a leak in a seive. Your system is broken, and it no longer listens to you.

However, I can be slightly understanding of your statement about the US, as you are innundated by media and government propaganda telling you how much safer you are now that guns are essentially illegal, and how much more inherrently dangerous things are in America because of guns. I've got news for you: in every state that concealed weapon licenses are allowed, the crime rate is not only significantly lower, but has dropped significantly since the passing of such laws.

By the way: it would've been better if you'd taken the time to put in proper punctuation and avoided using run-on sentences. It doesn't bode well for the representation of your literacy to write as you do.

Though, I do embrace the concept of barefoot existance. It's quite refreshing in many different ways, but unfortunately entirely impossible here during the winter.

Another thing of interest: Native Americans would walk from ball to heel of their foot, whereas modern-day Westerners (well, Americans; I'm assuming it's the same for you over there, as you wear the same kind of footwear) walk heel to toe. The majority (entirety?) of the animal kingdom also walks ball to heel. Makes a person wonder if our supposed clumsy and ungainly nature (compared to other animals) isn't inherrently linked to our method of walking. Interesting how women that wear high heels are seen as much more graceful when they walk; might this be due to the method employed?

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

OT: the British Problem (none / 0) (#91)
by Julian Morrison on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 09:14:26 PM EST

Yeah, the UK situation is a bit crazy right at the moment. It's a culture problem - that's why the law is so bad. Don't make the mistake of thinking it's some evil Big Brother tricking people with propaganda. The public wanted this mess.

Really the problem is that "civil society" was abandoned when the old prescriptive moral codes were put aside. The rallying cry of the thug and the boor is "I know my rights!" - yes there are rights and yes the law ought to be respect them, but rights only define "may", not "should". A healthy society contains permitted sub-official methods of putting down behaviour that's legal and bad. An unhealthy society tries to drag the whole of "bad" into "illegal" - turning itself into an overburdened police state.

[ Parent ]

Really? (none / 1) (#109)
by trhurler on Sat Jul 02, 2005 at 02:27:53 AM EST

That's funny. Here I was thinking this was just the natural tendency of Euro-peons towards large scale heavily centralized hierarchical authoritarianism.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
another option? (none / 0) (#81)
by CAIMLAS on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 02:37:26 PM EST

Have you thought of trying other options, like the new Nike running shoes which advertise to be like 'running barefoot'? Or do they not sell those over there?

I don't suppose the barefoot community has a preference when it comes to things like sandals and moccasins (slippers)? I would think that a thin leather mocassin would be greatly preferrable to shoes, and workable during the winter. One of my main problems with shoes is that they're so damn inflexible and constrict too much; mocassins wont' do that.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

Ken Saxton's review of the Nike Free (none / 0) (#116)
by Alan Crowe on Sat Jul 02, 2005 at 06:33:58 PM EST

is unfavourable

[ Parent ]
Not an option in southern climes (none / 0) (#86)
by Hillgiant on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 04:25:16 PM EST

Take 100+ degree air temperature and add to it asphault that has been baking in the sun all day, and not even Johnny Appleseed himself could walk across that barefoot. Burned feet are unhappy feet.

"It is impossible to say what I mean." -johnny

Ashpalt Aint Bad (none / 1) (#89)
by dannyman on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 06:07:02 PM EST

I've walked on hot asphalt.  It's rough at first, on raw feet, but after your feet have had a month or so "burn in" you can walk on hot ashpalt without much trouble.  A trick is to KEEP MOVING like those little lizards who skitter accross the desert.

But really, just stay out of the parking lots ... ?!  And shaded ashphalt is COOL.


[ Parent ]

Sure it is (none / 1) (#100)
by Verteiron on Fri Jul 01, 2005 at 02:13:36 PM EST

I grew up in Harlingen, TX. Average summer daytime temperature around 100 degrees F. From the age of 6 until I moved away at 18, I walked barefoot everywhere and so did many of my friends. The asphault was hot, yes, but not intolerably so, especially if you walked on the edge of the street where it wasn't worn smooth from traffic.

Feet can be incredibly tough. I remember freaking out my friend's mom once because I stepped on a chunk of glass and walked for a while without realizing it. It was the *tick* sound every time my right foot hit the ground that made me realize something was there; I stopped and pulled out a pebble-sized chunk of brown glass from my big toe. The skin there was so thick that the glass had gotten stuck without me even noticing. She made a big fuss until she realized I wasn't bleeding, or even favoring the foot...

The only surface I ever found that was -really- too hot to walk on was, oddly, the sidewalk. I'm guessing the lack of a rough surface to allow air underneath is what made it feel hotter than the streets.

Of course walking on the sidewalk was still preferable to walking in the grass... the thickest calluses in the world were no match for the evil spiny burrs there.
Prisoners! Seize each other!
[ Parent ]

hooray (none / 0) (#94)
by j1mmy on Thu Jun 30, 2005 at 11:49:35 PM EST

I never wear shoes at home. Cool hardwood feels great on bare feet.

I haven't really tried barefooting outside except when at the beach. My neighborhood isn't really the best for going barefoot, since people litter everywhere and there's frequently broken glass on the streets and sidewalks.

Barefoot in the office (3.00 / 2) (#96)
by paranoid on Fri Jul 01, 2005 at 03:11:30 AM EST

I never tried walking barefoot in the city, but when I was working in an investment bank, I usually walked around the office in socks (barefoot would be too much). It is indeed much more comfortable and, although people did notice that, all were very tolerant, including the bosses. It was much more comfortable to ditch the shoes for 8 hours, especially since sandals, flip-flops or sneakers would definitely not be allowed.

Oh yeah (2.00 / 6) (#98)
by bankind on Fri Jul 01, 2005 at 07:23:02 AM EST

that would go over real well in Asia. I see these smackpackers sometimes walking around barefoot. Really bright idea with the population density and the fact that parents shit their babies in the road.

Even better would be riding a motorbike barefoot. I'd love to see the skid marks as you put on the emergency brakes.

This sounds like one of those upperclass, developed world, search for identity things like white people with dreadlocks.

Your revolution is over. The bums lost. Do yourself a favor, do what your parents did and get a job.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman

Really, you aren't saying anything (3.00 / 2) (#99)
by Julian Morrison on Fri Jul 01, 2005 at 10:44:11 AM EST

I mean, your post amounts to "excercise common sense and be aware of context". But the same disclaimer has to be appended to every activity.

[ Parent ]
Actually, (2.50 / 2) (#103)
by bankind on Fri Jul 01, 2005 at 04:02:00 PM EST

I'm saying don't be an asshole and invent retrogressive means of expression to fill your otherwise worthless life.

There is the "common sense" and "context" you obviously missed in the first reading of my comment.

I work in priavte equity, bub, and we run this planet if you didn't know. You come walking in my corner office barefoot, you're going out the fucking window.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

Of course. A finance asshole. (none / 0) (#123)
by sharkfish on Sun Jul 03, 2005 at 08:25:43 PM EST

Why are all finance people so assholish?  
...what happened to all the IT jobs?
[ Parent ]
Good Question (none / 0) (#135)
by dyefade on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 08:18:26 AM EST

However, he does make a good point. We have no reason not to believe he works in a field of some influence, and in many of these cases not wearing shoes would be unacceptable. You could hardly visit your bank (other than to see the teller) with no shoes on.
Anywhere where you have to talk to someone one to one, e.g. your doctor, your bank advisor, i dunno, the police, it would be rude and insulting to not wear shoes.
I'm all for the author's points, I spent about the last month of uni (Manchester, UK (similiar situation to London)) barefoot, but you must consider there are situations which are the exception.

[ Parent ]
Exactly (none / 0) (#137)
by HollyHopDrive on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 07:47:58 AM EST

It's a question of dressing appropriately for the occasion. I'd rather wear my favourite platform trainers over high-heeled court shoes, but when I'm at work or on an assignment, I have to dress appropriately - and the courts are definitely smarter and more professional.

Bare feet are certainly not an option. It looks like you're trying to make a point of individuality against the company's dress code, even if you just like the way it feels. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing if you were, but I feel perfectly able to dress in a style I like and find individual, while remaining suitable for work - and shod.

I make too much sense to be on the Internet.
[ Parent ]

how does it feel (none / 1) (#118)
by auraslip on Sat Jul 02, 2005 at 11:38:37 PM EST

to be dead inside?
[ Parent ]
Here, it's scarcely even legal (none / 0) (#102)
by vainshane on Fri Jul 01, 2005 at 03:26:58 PM EST

Well, you won't get arrested. But I had a sprained ankle a while back and enjoyed barefooting it with a legitimate excuse, just for a change. I went to breakfast at a nice hotel with a friend for her birthday, and was intercepted entering the dining room. "Have you got your shoes with you at all, sir?" I explained, and she let me in, but asked that I not move around the floor because of "OH&S [pronounced "Osh" here for simplicity] regulations". Occupational Health and Safety, the same guys who stop you from smoking inside and are supposed to look out for things like employees with bad posture, too. It seems that bare feet is the only OH&S regulation which is enforced; certainly the only one I've come across. I imagine if I wandered around a construction site without a hard hat, I'd find another pretty common one. But yeah, that's the situation in New Zealand. Fair enough in a restaurant, with fragments of broken glass around. But I got tapped on the shoulder in the office I work at, too - several times. Crazy.

I'm a keen walker (none / 0) (#106)
by HollyHopDrive on Fri Jul 01, 2005 at 09:08:25 PM EST

I prepare for hikes by applying surgical spirit to my feet to harden the skin and make blisters less likely. Better than toughening them up the hard way by slapping them naked against unforgiving surfaces. Barefoot hiking is a terrible idea. There's frostbite of extremities, animal crap and broken glass or nails(even in the country, that happens). You want to risk a puncture wound in your foot around a farm area? Uh, lockjaw.

There's also the need for ankle support when you do prolonged walking, especially if you're on hilly ground. Insects bite exposed feet. A pair of good walking boots lets your feet breathe, dries quickly and is both flexible and supportive.

I mean, if you've set up your tent and the grass is clean and dry, it can be lovely to air your feet and feel the grass tickle your soles. But that's it. If you've injured your foot or your leg during the day (by not supporting your ankles), the pleasure is somewhat muted.

I don't even like being barefoot, actually. I hate feet. I hate having mine exposed. I hate wearing sandals or open-toe shoes. I'd keep my socks on if I could whenever I've got company, but my fella strictly forbids me. Apparently it kills the moment or something.

So yeah, if you're indoors or on perfect grass, then I can imagine it would be fun. If you're actually using your feet, you gotta protect and support them.

I make too much sense to be on the Internet.

This is an awesome article (none / 1) (#107)
by coryking on Fri Jul 01, 2005 at 10:49:39 PM EST

Thanks for opening my eyes to why people walk around barefoot.

However, what happens when you get to the nastiest, smellest, most fouled bathroom on the planet?  I walk around work with my shoes off, but when it's time to take a piss, I put them back on.  There is no way in hell I'll walk on a mens restroom floor with nothing but the finest of rubbery protection.

But then what? (none / 0) (#140)
by ghlavenka on Sat Aug 06, 2005 at 12:27:38 PM EST

How often do you clean the soles of your shoes? True, you're shielded from whatever's on the floor but then you track it everywhere. Wash your feet regularly and you have nothing to worry about.

Interestingly, barefooters tend to wash their feet more often than non-barefooters, but if you knew what was living in your shoes...

[ Parent ]
Um (none / 1) (#108)
by trhurler on Sat Jul 02, 2005 at 02:22:24 AM EST

You're a moron. Granted, your fungal infections probably did reduce to a point where you can't detect them(you almost never, even with medicines, absolutely and completely rid yourself of foot fungus.) However, parasites are a real problem that we shoe wearers basically just don't have, and while some places may be clean enough to walk around barefoot, most densely populated areas are so full of puncture hazards that no amount of peripheral vision is going to save you if you actually intend to walk while doing anything else, such as talking, looking at the scenery, and so on. The reason our ancient ancestors were able to do this is threefold. First, they didn't care about things like foot worms. Second, they didn't live long, and part of the reason was probably foot injuries that got infected and killed them. Third, they bred like rabbits.

I don't wear shoes where I don't need to(carpeted areas, etc,) but I will not be caught dead with my shoes off any place I don't have good reason to believe in my own safety. So far in my life, shoes have saved me from broken bones twice, punctures probably about five or ten times a year, burns at least five or six times plus every time I encounter blacktop and sunlight, and I have no parasites either.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

probably incorrect (none / 0) (#112)
by tetsuwan on Sat Jul 02, 2005 at 07:27:00 AM EST

Hunter/gatherers got to be about 50 years old and didn't bread like rabbits. Early civilizations had the shortest life expectancy. Get your facts straight.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Um... (none / 0) (#114)
by trhurler on Sat Jul 02, 2005 at 02:48:39 PM EST

The "evidence" regarding hunter gatherer societies is at best questionable. Yes, we've found some remains in their 50s. This might mean that was a normal lifespan. More likely it means that people who lived to be that old were treated differently when they died. More respect, less "leave him out where he got killed and hope the animals don't waste any of him."

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
What we also know (none / 0) (#120)
by tetsuwan on Sun Jul 03, 2005 at 09:18:47 AM EST

We also know that many tribesmen that have have a completely unmodern lifestyle are healthy. I don't agree that most people "didn't care about footworms" - evidence for contrary abound (ancient toothsticks etc). On a side note, as late as in the 15th century, Inuits outcompeted European settlers on Greenland. The Inuits surely weren't being barefoot, though.

I agree that many cultures developed shoes for a good reason, but on the other hand I'm quite pleased with being barefoot indoors.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

inuits vs European settlers (none / 0) (#129)
by bobdole on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 08:37:36 AM EST

I wouldn't consider that a fair game, the inuits certainly had more experience than the European settlers on how to survive in the arctic regions and thusly had a big up on the Europeans that came from their rather comfy (compared to Greenland) climates...

-- The revolution will not be televised.
[ Parent ]

Good Shoes (3.00 / 2) (#111)
by less than three on Sat Jul 02, 2005 at 04:34:07 AM EST

After 8 hours on my feet in snug black socks and "work appropriate" shoes, my feet feel like ass. What does one look for in a good pair of shoes? Are there any brands in particular to stick with?

Ecco n/t (none / 0) (#127)
by chroma on Mon Jul 04, 2005 at 04:20:37 AM EST

[ Parent ]
You're right - thank you for saying it (3.00 / 3) (#113)
by barefootliam on Sat Jul 02, 2005 at 09:09:30 AM EST

I've gone barefoot in the UK, here in Canada and in the US, indoors and outdoors, without serious problems, and for weeks or months at a time.

In the US I've had people be very rude to me, although not actually violent. In Canada people are polite but sometimes won't let me into a restaurant or store, usually believing it to be illegal. If I explain it's legal they're usually OK with it.

In the UK I never had any problems.

Yes, in the summer here it can get hot enough (say, 40C, or around 100F) to hurt your feet: you end up crossing the street by walking on the white lines if you're not used to it! In the winter, I can't go barefoot outside if it's below, say, -20C. It doesn't get that hot or cold in the UK, and it's just not a problem there.

Someone mentioned veruccase, and these are not a problem since they are fungal and can't live long if you go barefoot. Indeed, if you have them, go barefoot outdoors for a couple of weeks to a month and they'll probably clear up completely.

On walking outdoors near a pub, I've done it many times. The tricks are (1) you get used to putting your foot down so it lands flat, and not heel-then-toe, so you don't put all your weight down in one spot in the same way; (2) the glass big enough to injure you, you can feel (or see, in the daytime) before it's too late, and (3) the small bits either come out esaily with a pair of tweezers if really needed, or don't get through your soles.

I won't say it's a perfect solution, but you don't need to be an anti-government hippie insurgent, dirty, poor, rich, or associated with some other political or religious movement.

Yes, Mr. "this is impossible in Asia", there are many people in developing countries who go barefoot, it turns out. Of course, many of them do have parasites. It also turns out that having parasites is neither unusual nor necessarily unhealthy. If you've ever had antibiotics you probably know to eat yogurt afterwards, to help restore the bacterial parasites that live in your stomach and help your digestion. Some parasites are bad, it's true.

As for catching AIDS from stepping on a discarded needle, it would have to be a needle that someone just dropped: the AIDS virus doesn't survive long out of the body. You're far more likely to catch a sexually transmitted disease by purchasing the services of a prostitute (of either sex) or sleeping around.

So yes, there are dangers, and although if you don't experience some danger some say you haven't lived, it's not for everyone. There are benefits too.

The posture and back benefits are very real. I once had access to archives of a scientific medical journal for physicians who treat professional athlets, and was surprised to learn that there are a lot of problems for which they find the best treatment is to go barefoot for a time. This is not to say that going barefoot is a magical thing that will cure you of anything, but just that there are some things with which it is known to help.

It's not about whether you are working hard, are rich, or even whether you know how to spell dole :-) It just feels better, at least for some people.

But the article certainly drew out a lot of prejudiced comments!



Liam; you might also like Words and Pictures From Old Books
Queer (1.20 / 5) (#115)
by ShiftyStoner on Sat Jul 02, 2005 at 04:03:08 PM EST

( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
I greatly prefer being barefoot... (none / 0) (#121)
by skyknight on Sun Jul 03, 2005 at 10:22:46 AM EST

I'm more or less always barefoot when at home. While I don't in general go about in public barefoot, I have many years worth of Tae Kwon Do under my belt, a very kick oriented martial art, a consequence of which is that my toes have gotten a great deal of exercise as balance is key and all work-outs are done barefoot. I think my calves are also quite strong as a consequence.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
Hmm. (none / 0) (#122)
by creature on Sun Jul 03, 2005 at 02:58:55 PM EST

I often wander around shoeless at work, but don't go outside barefoot that much at all. I've seen the thick, dirty skin on one of my friends who does go barefoot, and I don't think that's for me.

Also, I'm not sure if you should be applauded for bravery or condemned for stupidity for walking around London barefoot. It's a rather dirty city. I'm quite happy having a barrier between my feet and the dirt, grime, excreta, and miscellaneous rubbish there, thanks.

Compromise solution (none / 0) (#128)
by z6 on Mon Jul 04, 2005 at 07:53:32 PM EST

Go bikking barefoot,both safer and ecological

it's not that bad... (none / 1) (#136)
by evilrob on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 02:08:05 AM EST

I see lots of people saying "what about hookworms?" , "what about the bathroom?", "feet stink", "It's unsanitary"

ok, so you people wear shoes.  I like being barefoot, the hot asphalt doesn't bother me (much) even in the texas summer.  I wouldn't step in the urine puddles in the bathroom, even with my shoes on.  Bare feet don't stink, sandals sometimes stink, and shod feet usually stink.

As for hookworms, avoid "moist comtaminated soil" (contaminated with feces of some sort), and you're not likely to contract a hookwork infection.

work? (none / 0) (#138)
by uptownpimp on Fri Jul 15, 2005 at 06:17:44 PM EST

Dress code?

My name is actmodern and I approve of this message.
Barefoot Being | 140 comments (129 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
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