June 22, 2012

Simple Pleasures: Walking Barefoot

"An old, ancestral affinity between the human foot and the solid ground
 is replenished by the simple act of stepping outside without shoes." - David Abram
Walking barefoot is free, requires no special gear, can be practiced anywhere, and has health benefits. So what is up with shoes?

You might think that expensive shoes do what manufacturers claim and protect your feet, but that does not seem to be the case. Phil Maffetone says in his book “In Fitness and in Health”:
For the most part, shoes are tested on machines, not people, because machines give the results the company wants and people don’t. A quick look in the medical journals will point out the abundant problems.
Did you know, for example, that the support systems in almost all shoes can weaken your ankles? And the soft, cushioned shoes of today can harm your feet?
Scientific articles over the past decade or more strongly suggest that such protective features put in by shoe companies, including shock absorption and motion control actually increase the likelihood of injury.

Yikes! Why don't we go barefoot more often, considering the injustices our feet put up with for a bit of protection?

Why? Because it's not profitable. Today, shoes are a gold mine.

The global footwear market is projected to hit $195 billion by 2015. The global barefoot market? Not so much.

It is no wonder barefoot walking isn't promoted. You are either a hippie, nature nut, running nerd, or downright uncivilized to traipse treadless across the ground. But again, what about protecting your feet from hazards?

Nope. The industry is 95% fashion, and 5% protection. Shoes can protect your feet from sharp stuff, but they also separate you from feeling the earth under you, and weaken your feet over time.

There’s nothing like walking on sand or grass in your bare feet, and the more you can enjoy nature, the better for your well-being. Going barefoot more often can also save you a lot of money. 
Walking Barefoot - Reconnecting With The Earth
Try this when the mood strikes you: step out upon the solid earth without the intermediary of a rubber or leather sole - without another creature's tanned hide coming between your flesh and that of the earth.

Notice the way your feet pressing against the coarse ground are also met by that ground, as your skin is probed by the soil and the pliant, bristling blades. How easy it is to sense that the terrain underfoot is the palpable surface of a living presence, and to allow that depth to feel your steps as you walk upon it!

Watch how your feet spontaneously relax their pace in order to respect this odd otherness - in order to reply appropriately to the caress and the steady support of that depth, to avoid insulting the living land with your carelessness. - David Abram
Walking barefoot is one of the simple pleasures that reconnects me with the earth, and disconnects me from consumerism.

It makes me more aware of how our every footprint can affect the earth. If only we were more concerned about avoiding insulting the living land with our carelessness in all walks of life.


  1. I have been walking barefoot for over a year. I find the way my sensations have come alive is amazing. I can sense so much what shoes once denied me. I wear shoes as little as possible these days

    1. An added benefit is that it is harder to spend money barefoot - no shoes, no shirt, no service.

  2. Anonymous6/22/2012

    I only wear shoes when forced. I've been known to walk in the snow with bare feet.

    I read a scientific study that reccomended that we sit with bare feet touching the ground for 20 minutes a day to soak up Earth's energy. Sounds like a lovely way to spend 20 minutes each day!

    1. Soaking up Earth's energy via bare feet 20 minutes a day just feels right. An excellent reason to stop the madness for a moment, and reconnect to the source.

  3. Anonymous6/23/2012

    From Terri: Wonderful post and information. 195 Billion makes the rebel in me say, no more shoes! I love going barefoot and do so often. Very grounding and I love the sensations of dirt and grass.

    We went barefoot as kids most of time in the summertime and nothing real bad happened. Our parents told us to be careful in certain situations and we were.

    1. The world needs more rebels - shoeless, freedom-seeking, earth-loving rebels!

      There are dangers to be aware of while barefoot, but as you say, common sense can prevent many of them.

  4. Anonymous2/24/2020

    It took me a long time to master the courage to walk barefoot in public, I was so concerned with the looks I would get and what people would say. I would try to think of reasonable excuses to why I was barefoot, like a broken flip-flop or something like that.
    The thing is, there will be looks, and there will be comments from people (good and bad). The moment I started to enjoy barefooting in public was when I internally felt at peace with it. I said, yes, this is something that in the present culture, is not acceptable, but I don't care, this makes me feel good and if someone asks, I will be honest about it, it is my preference and it brings me pleasure to do it, simple.
    Also, if one wants to see change, why not be the one to show it? The amount of people that must have seen me walking barefoot in the street is probably in the thousands by now (I live in a big city) and I'm sure that some of those, probably got home and wondered, if he did it then so can I.
    Just be careful with blisters in the beginning, it takes time for the feet used to socks to the friction of walking barefoot in the street.


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