#barefoot

This is what bothers me about #barefoot.

1. It’s cold.

Inside and outside, it’s always warmer with socks and Ugg boots.

2. That my feet don’t look very good.

Of course “good” is subjective. I think that my callouses and dry patches and rashes and bumps and mangled dogs perform exquisitely, but ain’t nobody going to hire me to pose for their foot photo.

3. That when you’re barefoot, you realize that there is crap ALL OVER THE FLOOR. A situation made worse when you feed your 11 month old on the floor. It’s a creepy feeling, all that stuff underneath your feet, see:

4. That people are stripping off their shoes after years and years of use and don’t realize that they’re asking their atrophied muscles and poorly conducting nerves to support their mis-aligned body weight before doing any sort of restorative work on their lower legs, ankles, and feet. Seriously? If you took a cast off your hand after 20 years, would you start doing cartwheels? No way.

Two words: Get this book (this book right here — click) and realize strong, healthy foot muscles, bones, plantar fascia, ankles, knees, calves, and hamstrings.

Who just counted those words? Ha. Caught you.

5. That Universities (our public universities, supported by government dollars) are exhausting barefoot research on topics like barefoot running. I don’t mean this as snottily as it looks in print, but come on folks.

//Rant on

Improving intrinsic muscle use in the foot can drastically impact a human’s physiology. Nerve health. Bone density. Osteoarthritis. Pelvic floor disorders. A child’s physical and mental development. Health care funding. A decrease in the 12 BILLION dollars spend annually on lower leg amputations. Diabetes. Metabolism. Balance. Fall risk.

Why are we spending millions of dollars researching extra curricular activities when we have a nation full of people suffering due to their lifetime of stiff-soled, positive-heeled footwear use? Let’s start doing some helpful studies, and by helpful, I don’t mean to a footwear company or a small percentage of athletes but to the broad field of anatomical, physiological, biological, medical, and human development science.

//Rant off

Reset picture:

Aw. Ok.

This is what I love about #barefoot.

1. I’m improving my ability to regulate my body’s temperature. Sensing heat and responding with the appropriate physiological response is a skill that needs to be developed or you lose it. This physiological ability depends on one’s exposure time to actual cold. So, I guess I’m OK with the cold. Now that it’s Spring, I’m OK with it.

2. That my scaly dragon feet aren’t dragging down my knees, hips, and spine with every step. Yes, my feet are scaly and inflamed, but you know what parts aren’t? My joints. Those are (probably) pink and pretty and ready for a photo shoot. You get to pick, see — red scaly feet or red scaly knee cartilage. And, P.S. Skin turns over faster cartilage does, and is designed to keep sloughing off; your cartilage isn’t. You make the call.

3. That I am not one of the 20,000,000 people in the US who have neuropathy of the feet. That I can feel something as tiny as a grain of rice under my foot. And, even though that little grain of rice want me to kick my feet about the place, my nerves aren’t in the process of dying. The rice is there to let me know that the use of my foot muscles are keeping foot death at bay. Thank you, foot muscles. Thank you to my son who spread rice all over the floor. (www.neuropathy.org)

4. Grounding. Have you heard of it? Researchers are beginning to examine the human’s relationship with the Earth. Evidently, when you walk barefoot on the planet (natural surfaces) there is something happening in terms of exchange. Evidently, the exchange between human and planet is different than human and footwear. Or footwear and asphalt. The research was just published this year, but the fact that research is being published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health means that there is something to the data.

Abstract: Environmental medicine generally addresses environmental factors with a negative impact on human health. However, emerging scientific research has revealed a surprisingly positive and overlooked environmental factor on health: direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth. Modern lifestyle separates humans from such contact. The research suggests that this disconnect may be a major contributor to physiological dysfunction and unwellness. Reconnection with the Earth’s electrons has been found to promote intriguing physiological changes and subjective reports of well-being. Earthing (or grounding) refers to the discovery of benefits-including better sleep and reduced pain-from walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems that transfer the Earth’s electrons from the ground into the body. This paper reviews the earthing research and the potential of earthing as a simple and easily accessed global modality of significant clinical importance.

Significant clinical importance? Simple and easy? Intriguing physiological changes and well-being? Yes please!

5. That transitioning toward barefoot has never been more simple. Do you have to bare all to get any benefit? No way. You can start by just doing easy exercises at home, no shoe change required. Then, you can start moving toward more minimal footwear. Here are four ways to evaulate your footwear (also from my book):

  1. Flexibility of sole.
  2. Width of toe box.
  3. Minimal (read: NO!) heel
  4. Fully connected (read: no gripping to hold a shoe on)

Making a change to any or all of these characteristics will have positive benefit on your whole-body health.

So, what do YOU like and dislike about #barefoot?

Are you still interested in learning more on this?

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74 thoughts on “#barefoot

  1. So your saying that beautiful foot on the cover of your book is not yours!

    I really appreciate the analogy of comparing shoes to casts.. I know for myself when I first joined yoga I sure was not use to doing many activities for any great length of time without shoes on my feet. The first few months were quite a wake up about how much attention my feet were getting. When I first became a teacher of yoga the first 6 months I would take the first 20 minutes of class to go through all the joints of the body and activate the joints or at least get attention to that area, always starting at the toes.

  2. OH, what drives me crazy is number 3 all the way. I am always barefoot at home and the entire floor is tile and with two kids and three dogs it doesn’t matter how many times I sweep per day. Gross. I have a couple of mats that are always grimy because I’m perpetually stepping onto them for the sole purpose (pun! haha!) of wiping the grunge off my feet. Why does food/dust/hair on tile feel gross, but walking on dirt/grass/evendirtybricks outside feel lovely? Purely psychological? Lack of electrons? What I love about barefoot? Um, more comfortable??

    1. More comfortable and your socks last longer! LOL. I go barefoot all summer and my socks don’t wear out nearly as fast as certain other people’s in my household. *cough* husband *cough*

      But, OH I HEAR YOU on the floor guck. I have a six-year-old, an outdoor cat and a large dog. My floors are NEVER clean.

  3. I must admit, it’s the nasty stuff on the kitchen floor that gets me! I have 6 (going on 7) kids so you can imagine what it looks/feels like, even with thrice daily sweeping. 😉

    By the way, the baby looks EXACTLY like you in that pic! The expression matches your face totally.

    1. He does look exactly like me at that age. Plus, I also do most of the cleaning around here. Just sayin’.

  4. I love the connection with the earth. As my neighbor used to say about my very energetic younger brother “that boy needs to FEEL the earth!” Feeling the earth does calm me.

  5. just this morning i decided i was going to be barefoot as the temps are warming up — cold feet are a problem for me too — but had gone to get my new earth sandals bc of the gross floor . . . great minds think alike. i took them off and i’ll see what i can do to get through the day 🙂 thanks katy! and i agree – your baby looks just like you 🙂

  6. I love everything about going barefoot, all the points that Katy brouhgt up, of course for me that means mostly wearing vibrams or sockwas on my feet. I wore my sockwas in the desert all weekend and finally my feet don’t react when i step on rocks and other debris, they just fold right over the object it took awhile to get to that point but I made it. I guess one thing about going barefoot is all my pants now drag on the ground, and I have been too lazy to hem! LOL

    Barefoot Brenda!

  7. The upside of having a poor ol’ bod nearly crippled from years of martial arts (thousands of hours of horse-riding stance–pelvis tucked–anyone??) is that I have never been able to wear heels, and any type of shoe with a raised sole caused major hip/back/butt/leg/foot issues. I love being barefoot and only wear shoes when I have to run to the store. And since changing to minimalist shoes I no longer have any foot problems. Everything else is still out of whack (although recently started the Aligned and Well program and already noticing benefits!) but my tootsies are awesome.

    Downside of going barefoot…prickles when walking on grass. I really hate that.

  8. H,

    I love your posts and overall perspective. I have incorporated your work and. “feldenkrais” work -esPecially a cd I have by Peff Modelski “Now my feet feel great ” check it out, she taught ballet for some 30 years and like you she has prorotund respect for our feet! Thank you Katy !

  9. I grew up next to the beach, accross the street from a park…I pretty much was barefoot most the time except when I had to go to school and wore flipflops just cause I didn’t like shoes…yeah not much better but they were off my feet constantly at school too! I LOVE being barefoot! the only time I have not liked being barefoot is when living on our farm in Tonga and now even in the beach shack in Hawaii….chicken poop! and pig poop…and here in hawaii we got chicken and large toads that live under our porch poop…especially annoying cause I hang my laundry and you cant see it well on the grass. it stinks and its gross. I step in alot of poop! and then I go inside and get food crumbs from the kiddos stuck on my feet! other then that! I’m still a barefoot person as much as possible. I just slip on my flats for important meetings or outings in shopping areas that I don’t trust whats on the ground! Oh and a sugar/oil scrub each night or walking on the beach if you are near one keep your feet pretty nice looking.

    1. Oil treatments are essential! Loved living by the beach too…although with all that poop, doesn’t sound as glamorous as I imagined 😉

  10. Dislikes from barefoot experiences that made lasting impressions:

    stepping in dog doo/cat puke/dead mouse:<

    stepping on a snake

    stepping on stinging nettles

    Dislikes now:

    When wearing my 5-Fingers my jeans drag on the ground and I don't like them rolled up.

    Shopping cart hazards presented by mindless cart drivers

    I never like goo/food/glop of any kind stuck on my feet. Minimalist shoes help plus I am being more mindful when walking barefoot outside.

    Winter limits outside 5Finger/moccasin use. Wool toe socks w/ 5Fingers helps when indoors.

    Toe injuries

    Expensive footwear

    Pebbles just the right size to cause excruciating pain

    Pinecones

    Likes:

    Quirky, comfy non-heeled shoes in bright colors

    Opportunity to spread the alignment gospel when asked about my 5 Finger shoes

    Feet and body feel good

    Grounding to earth via walking barefoot or in leather moccasins (Tread Light Gear)

    Mindful field and woods walking with heightened sensory input via feet, and experiencing of these ground/grasses/mud/etc environments in a way unavailable while wearing shoes.

    No complaints from my body or ESPECIALLY my feet yesterday while standing for several hours at an event. I checked my alignment periodcally. *"when in doubt, stick it out" track running in my brain*

    Opportunity to ponder proprioception and unintended biomechanical changes re my cats walking & running on bare floors when they didn't evolve to do so. They exhibit that guardedness against slipping mentioned in another blog post.

    I own 3 pair Vibram Fivefingers, 1 pair buffalo hide moccasins, 1 pair of Blundstone boots which are darn close to flat, 1 set of feet

    1. and oh yeah…. deadlifting in 5Fingers instead of my Olympic lifting shoes = even more booty power development. I can feel my glutes workin’ hard. :o)

    2. Running Loon- thanks for your inspiring example and for sharing your list of footwear (love the 1 set of feet)!

      I didn’t think about the Vibrams opening up opportunities to talk about alignment.- good point.

  11. Like feeling as though I can just jump, twirl, bound with no preparation.

    Dislike being stung by something. (Yep, last year on the grass near the garden.)

  12. My former bunions love being barefoot and free, next to that they love the Vibram Kamodos best of all. Have you tried Injinji 5 finger socks ? — Actual socks super thin to moderate thickness. These add a really new dynamic to walking in shoes for those days when you really can’t get by barefoot or in Vibrams. On the flip side, the tile in my house is really cold — my feet are looking forward to summer.

  13. I always used to get home from school all of 9th and 10th grade, I would go across the street to the woods that were there and explore the area completely barefoot. It began as a self-dare (“Will I get hurt if I walk in the woods barefoot?”) then as a form of rudimentary experimental archaeology (“Native Americans lived here and walked this area with nothing more than soft leather between their feet and the earth, if that, what did they have to do different in their walk to hunt these woods than I do in my shoes?”) and finally… it ended up feeling “wrong” to be in the woods with shoes on. I did feel divorced from the experience without what my feet had to say about the day. (Was the soil cool or hot? Wet or dry? HOW wet or dry? Were the leaves sticky or were they crunchy? Etc.) Thank you for providing a study that backed up the mental-healing I experienced in those woods with science.

  14. Is your complaint about public university research that it’s all about barefoot *running*, as opposed to barefoot anything-else? It’s entirely possible that research is funded by shoe companies. Much of a university’s research money comes from drug companies; why not shoe companies too?

    I bet you could get research money from a foundation to study the benefits of barefoot activity for, say, arthritis sufferers.

    Anyway, what I dislike about barefoot walking is that I have used a lift in my right shoe for about twenty years to even up a leg length discrepancy. The lift has minimized back pain for me (and back pain is my number one health problem, at two surgeries, several herniated disks beyond that, and lots of physical therapy). I just don’t know how to do barefoot with a lift, and I suffer if I go without the lift too often. Of course, reading your blog, I now wonder about how I’m shortchanging that one foot/leg/hip with extra heel height. But the discrepancy is genuine, and so’s the back pain, so I defer to that. 🙁

    1. Yes, that it is all about barefoot running. I understand that there is funding from she companies, but the bulk of university research is directed by grad student-professor relationship and is not expensive, just part of the thesis/dissertation process. If departments (i.e. kinesiology, physical therapy, orthopaedics,pediatrics, anatomy/physiology) were up to speed on trending and breakthroughs in paradigm, these would be much more abundant. Instead, research is being directed by pop culture and fad. Not surprising, but at a certain point, department research should be managed, i.e. what populations were affected by data created in this decade, where are our holes, where is the need…how can this public institution serve the public in a more robust way.

      And, if barefoot isn’t for you, that’s fine. You can still do everything but and be making huge headway (also, working towards restoring to their potential, that foot, leg, hip, psoas, etc.) Fake it til you make it!

      1. Huh. That’s a different take on University research than I’ve heard. I had understood there was pressure to secure funding in such departments. I like your model better.

        The problem with paradigm shifts is that it takes so long for people to revise their basic approach. And then a new shift comes along . . .

    2. Kerry, I have a lift for my right foot to reduce sacroiliac joint problems. The lift helps me even out the weight on both feet and has helped reduce back pain a lot. I am trying to work/walk without it for some period of times by releasing tension in the muscles in the right side of my spine but then I end up using them again to give my back a break. For barefoot walking I put the lift in my sock and wear minimal foot wear. I have a home-made pair of soft leather shoes and as the lift is only underneath my heel this still leaves the front of the foot and toes feeling the ground and of course the other foot too.

      1. Thanks Christine! That’s a good idea.

        Does the lift slide around much?

        I’ve been finding that sometimes my body wants to be barefoot and uneven, and sometimes it wants the lift. It’s strange. And I can attest that the footbone is connected to the back bone via the nerves — a shift in one can change the other.

  15. I hate having cold feet. Our house is on a slab and we try to use our heater as little as possible so our floors are always cold in the winter. I can’t do it. I have to wear socks and (minimal) slippers most of the winter (and now spring). Also the crumbs drive me batty. I love that my kids are comfortable with no shoes or socks though. The cold doesn’t seem to bother them as much.

  16. LOVE the feeling of grass between my toes.

    HATE the feeling of stepped-on breakfast between my toes.

    LOVE how much better I feel in flat/no shoes

    HATE how much mud comes into the house attached to those bare feet. Which, of course, I then step on!

  17. I love my Earth shoes. I love that Sockwas are somewhat affordable.

    I love grass but not dog poop.

    I love that I found your blog before I spent too much time stuffing my toddler’s feet into sensory deprivation devices.

  18. I used to like my Earth Shoe slingbacks, but then noticed the shoe was going one way and my heel another. The rest of my earth shoes have high heel counters that give me blisters on my heel.

    Can’t get into my 5 finger Vibrams because I have one hammer toe and bunions. It just doesn’t happen unless I want two toes in one hole, and even that takes a half hour. I can wear finger socks, but need someone to help me into them (and hubby doesn’t necessarily want to help!)

    Yoga sandals spread my toes nicely and have no heel, but my arches are not quite happy.

    Barefoot doesn’t work on uneven terrain- I tried doing my workouts barefoot but the part of my forefoot closest to the 4th toe fell in on the mini trampoline. And then my foot alignment went nuts.

    At home I wear flat shiatsu sandal thongs that I picked up for $2.99 but they are almost worn away. I’d use it as my only shoe if I could. No more to be found. I love the way the rubber prickles stimulate my feet and it is more comfortable than barefoot.. The more expensive slide versions send my feet sideways.

    MBT sandals work well most of the time when I can’t wear the shiatsu sandals. It isn’t barefoot, but it is dynamic. Some of the time I am negative heel, some rocking positive and some in the dynamic center. But I have to get a pedicure before I can wear them and my nail salon closed. Skanky nails.

    I have also tried Gravity Defyers with springs inside, but they are positive heel. Dynamic positive heel, but you don’t have the full rock of the MBT.

    I like barefoot in grass but there is precious little of it in the city and we share it with dogs.

  19. **Dislike** the crud on the floor neath my bare feet. I always feel like the princess and the pea – now I see this is an excellent problem!

    **Like** – actually LOVE the grounding. I recently got hardwood floors installed in my house and I hate leaving to go to work. Give me bare feet or give me death! OK that’s maybe extreme. I also love the feel of my legs (esp calves) when I’m barefoot.

  20. it’s interesting, before I knew anything about barefoot this or electrons that, I used to instinctively take off my shoes when I was walking outside. In grass, on trails, even on the hot street during my lunch break walk at work. what i love about barefoot is that when i’m barefoot, it just feels like that’s the way it’s supposed to be. 🙂

  21. That’s fascinating about the grounding research. I’ve found tremendous energy rejuvenation from lying on the ground outside on top of a blanket (can’t lie on the grass directly because of a grass allergy). I discovered this accidentally, but now it’s something I try to do at least once a week. It makes me feel inexplicably better. Good to know I’m not crazy.

    I went barefoot as much as possible my whole life, except when I was wearing stupid heals, until I developed plantar fasciitus. Go figure. Now I can’t go barefoot hardly at all without pain. But I’ve started doing the exercises from the foot book and Down There. I’m hoping my feet will once again be able to go barefoot pain free. The good news is, I think that going barefoot as much as I did (especially in childhood) kept my feet from getting completely damaged. They are shaped like feet, not like shoes. The toes are nicely spread and well-formed. Hopefully that means I’ll recover more quickly. My husband on the other hand, poor guy, he’s already headed for a bunion at 31. Yikes.

      1. Oh, and review All About Your Knees for plantar fascia saving external rotation. It will really help you take a load off your feet (coupled with all your exercises and BACKING UP YOUR HIPS!!!)

        1. Ah, a DVD I don’t have yet! Thanks for the tip. I have femurs that are VERY inwardly rotated. Everyone I’ve worked with is stumped on that one. Nothing’s made a dent so far.

  22. I get my bare feet outside just about every morning, even if only for a few minutes. In the winter, when there’s snow, I put my feet in the snow. I find that the fewer clothes I wear when I do the snow thing, the better. The temp differential between my feet and my torso makes it harder (when bundling up). It’s really upped my tolerance for winter weather. (I live in NJ).

    I’m not too thrilled about being barefoot inside in the winter, so I usually wear socks and minimal shoes or slippers with no heel.

    As soon as it’s warm enough, I’m barefoot most of the time indoors and sometimes out, otherwise minimal shoes with little or no heel.

    Last summer I started wearing Merrell barefoot shoes. I admit I really like them. My toes are naturally pretty independent because my mother put me in big clunky square toed shoes until my feet were fully grown. I’m sure grateful. That being said, I haven’t yet tried 5 fingers because I’m a mitten person, not a glove person. I had toe socks for a while years ago and I disliked them for the same reasons as gloves – my fingers and toes like to keep each other company.

  23. My partner & I are barefoot people all the way! Barefoot inside always, and shoes optional outside. I had to laugh at your comment regarding rice in the floor, my boy has done exactly the same thing recently.

    Here is the thing I find weird – I’ve been keen to keep my son as barefoot as possible, but his grandfather gave him some sneakers for xmas (definately NOT what I would buy – too hard in the sole), so I thought that I would put them on Finn’s feet for a photo to send to his grandfather and that would be that. But no, my son loves these shoes, he brings them to us and asks us to put them on him, and he seems to quite like wearing shoes in general. WHY? I just don’t get it 🙁

    1. Hmm, good question. I know that MY Finn (hey, cute name!) likes hats and sunglasses too — he just likes the fact that he can have stuff on or off — but not clothing though. He hates to be pinned down, I guess.????

  24. i love going barefoot, although i’m a bit of a wimp when it’s cold and rainy. i dove feet first into barefooting about 2 years ago and promptly got stung twice while walking in grass at the neighborhood park! then i got into trying to walk/jog barefoot on the sidewalk and it just never got easy. i agree with what you say in your book about barefooting not being natural or healthy on man-made surfaces!

    i also ended up getting PF again which i had several years ago. i’m still trying to get rid of it, so now my barefooting is mainly just taking my shoes and sox off at lunch and sitting outside barefoot at home when i can. i also got a pair of soft star moccasins and wear those sometimes for some short walks on grass or dirt when my heel feels up to it. i need to start doing the foot exercises daily!

  25. Like – circulation betwixt my toes.

    Dislike – steppin on sharp objects (glass) or bees (which are EVERYwhere in the yard now).

    You didn’t really address what is wrong with sock-footedness but there appears to be a preference for losing the socks in this blog post. Most socks I have aren’t really that tight and don’t impede toe wiggling and intrinsic muscle movement in the foot. Any further thoughts on socks?

    Like – the rant…attributable to multi-generational insitutionally thick skulls which are so thick that new information just bounces right off despite the evidence! Who knew there was such an adaptation?! Cultural anthropologists will be mystified by this phenomenon 1000 years from now.

    Dislike-closed minds…

    Like-Finn sweeping the floor, good to let him go on the broom early :o)

    Hope to see you next week in sunny VTA.

    1. I think the reasoning against socks is

      – if they’re too tight, they can be nearly as bad for your toes as shoes

      – if you just wear socks outside, it kills the socks pretty quickly

      – a lot of barefoot/minimalist shoes are just as comfortable without them, if your feet are warm enough, so take what you would have spent on socks and put it towards the (annoyingly) higher cost of the shoes.

      But maybe Katy knows more than i do. Ok, not maybe! 🙂

    2. Socks would limit the sensory nerves’ data collection, even though they offer the motor nerves lots of opportunity to get busy. That skin-surface interaction is required for them to not adapt to the environment of the sock, which would remain fairly unchanging…
      See you next week!

  26. I abhor dirty floors, yuck. I think sand is worse than food.

    I dislike stepping on slugs and then having to get the glue with all the dirt embedded in it, off the bottom of my foot later.

    I dislike stumbling over roots and rocks and breaking a toe–3 times in the last 3 years:(. However, I recently realized that if I cease ALL hip flexion when walking on horizontal terrain, the chances of this would decrease.

    I love, when on a walk, in the dead of winter, my feet become furnaces, my toes defrost, and it doesn’t matter how minimal my shoes are, the snow feels refreshing.

    I like when I go for a climb to the top of our rocky New England foothills and the next day the muscles between the metatarsals are sore.

  27. For kids, which is more important, a very flexible sole or a minimal/no heel? Even the “barefoot” shoes (Pedipeds, See Kai Run, etc) for kids tend to have a heel, and my oldest has grown too big for those anyway. I can find no-heel shoes like Converse for her, but they aren’t very flexible. I know about Soft Star shoes, swim shoes, etc but they are not practical for half the year in our very cold, snowy climate.

  28. I love the grounding part of barefoot walking (is that the opposite of Earthing?) Whatever it is the feeling is very relaxing and positive. I have always walked barefoot at home and when I was a teenager a lot out and about as well.

    I don’t like the pain in the arch of my right foot. I have only really started walking with minimal shoes in town and on tarmac it doesn’t really work for me, yet.

  29. I became dependent on wearing Birkenstocks for my PF, but a while ago realised it only really started after I got my first pair of… Birkenstocks. I don’t know if they wre pushing my feet out of alignment, or weakening them due to the support, but I have been weaning myself off them. I can’t do barefoot with a combination of foot problems and obesity, but I have now got as far as being able to wear Converse though not for a long walk yet. And the PF is getting better. I’ve always gone barefoot around the house so at least i had that going for me. Only problem I have now is how to find some sandals to replace my Birks with for the summer, that will fit my insanely wide feet!

  30. Dislikes: getting in trouble for being barefoot. I once had security (at the Sydney Opera House) tell me it was against health codes for me to be barefoot… No, I wasn’t going to a show with no shoes. I was on stage for a rehearsal. I had always thought it was a pretty fair deal to be barefoot for rehearsals, but wear shoes for the concert (ya know, since people actually pay for concerts and probably don’t want to look at my gangly toes). But alas, I had to put my shoes back on that day.

    Likes: wiggling my gangly toes! (or banana peeling toes as they are fondly called…trust me, it’s fitting…they are longer than most people’s fingers) .

    Oh, and I love my VFF performas. They are soooo much more minimal than most of the VFF models. Toes pads are not connected to the sole.

  31. I have always loved being barefoot. I was almost always barefoot except in school (and I usually end up kicking off my shoes while I’m sitting anyway) right up to when I went to college in Boston. My freshman year, I still frequently would run across the street to the laundromat with bare feet, but eventually the cold, filthy, glass-strewn streets got to me and the callouses faded. While I had them, I could walk barefoot in snow, woods, or across a hot florida parking lot in the summer. For the past couple of years, I’ve been getting them back, and by late summer last year, I could even step on broken glass, pick it out of the callous and walk on, unharmed. Now I’m either barefoot, wearing my VFFs, softstar boots, or Wicked Good Slippers, all the time, depending on where I am and the temperature. My feet look like feet, my pinky toes are straightening out, and my arches no longer need support. Yay!

    Loves:

    – Grass between my toes

    – Mud between my toes

    – Catching clover flowers

    – Smooth, functional callouses (as opposed to the nasty ones given to your feet by shoes)

    – Using grass to clean my feet

    – The fact that the more I expose my feet to cold, the less bothered they are by it

    – The environmental awareness that helps me to not step on glass, slugs, bees or thorns

    – The feeling of sure-footedness and strength

    – Stores that let me come in barefoot 🙂

    Dislikes:

    – Stepping on slugs

    – Places that require me to wear shoes for no good reason

    – Mowing the lawn and other activities that require shoes for good reason

    – Stepping on bees (though I’m sure the bees hate it even more)

  32. Hi Katy! Firstly, I wanted to say that since I started reading your blog (obsessively I might add – I went through and found every stretch I could on the blog because hey, why do it halfway!:) and since I started doing about 45 mins of your stretches a day in December, I have went from being totally unable to sleep on my back or stomach and having pain with any length of time standing to being almost totally pain free no matter what I do! I used to dread allergy/cold season because every time I sneezed my back would spasm. It’s insane, I never thought I could reverse this.

    It’s changed my body to the degree that I am able to do a job (one that I’ve always wanted to do) working with horses. I’m on my feet all day and doing all kinds of bending, heavy lifting and looooots of walking. And as long as I do the stretches from your blog, my back feels strong and healthy.

    I’ve been going barefoot and wearing vibrams for years and now that I’m working with horses I have to go back to sturdy shoes (heavy horses + bare feet = a very messy painful business). Do you know of any work boots that don’t have a positive heel? I can’t find a single one and good old Earth shoes just aren’t sturdy enough.

    Thank you so much for sharing all your work like this on the web! It’s a wonderful and generous thing to give people the tools to take charge of their own health.

    1. Blundstone

      :o)

      Not affiliated with Blundstone.

      These boots look heeled but they are ~ 1/2″ or less. A compromise if you must keep your toes from being crushed. The ones I pointed to don’t have steel toes. Best thing to do is find a dealer and stick your dogs in a pair.

    2. My husband likes to wear his thicker boots while doing construction, etc., but his back kept going out, so…he just cut off the heels, giving him the best of both worlds 😉

  33. I was mostly barefoot while growing up. Only wore shoes when it was demanded of me. As I got older, of course, I conformed. But I’m now re-learning to be barefoot as much as possible.

    Likes:

    * It just feels good! My whole body feels better balanced and healthy when wearing my VFF’s.

    * I’ve never been a runner, but in the VFF’s I actually feel a desire to sprint every now and then while walking the dog. He loves it, and I love it!

    * I like being aware of my surroundings. Must keep an eye on the road ahead to avoid sharp rocks and such.

    Dislikes:

    * Having a sharp stick go between my toes while feeding the horses. So far no damage done, but it doesn’t feel good temporarily.

    * Now that we’re getting rain finally, I’m not liking mud getting all over my expensive VFF’s.

    * Wearing anything but my VFF’s makes me notice the imbalances more.

    * That wearing VFF’s would probably be frowned upon by most of my clients. I trim horse hooves for a living. Many people are already shocked that I only wear Keens and not steel-toed boots. The wide toe box of the Keens are better than most shoes, but the heels are making my back hurt sooner in the day than a minimal shoe would. Are there any minimalist shoes that offer more protection in the upper part?

    1. I’m not sure if you are wearing Keen sandals or what but Blundstone boots are are fairly flat and model #163 has a steel toe. Blundstones are not minimalist-weight like VFFs or Merrells but they are flatish, don’t have supports built in the footbed, the sole is flexy and twisty too, toebox is rounded on my model.

      “The regular-toe blunnies are great too and more protective than a sandal or mesh boot if that is indeed what you are wearing. Crazy durable, almost flat, waterproof, no laces to tie, wider widths if you need ’em…. love mine. I wear the 550’s.

      1. I always meant to try out some Blundstones, but not sure where to see them in person. I wear work-style Keen shoes (not sandals) – don’t know the model, but they’re very basic and not too heavy. I can’t wear a heavy shoe, either, and certainly don’t want steel-toed (even though others think it’s best). If my shoes weigh too much or are too bulky, I feel locked to the ground. I’d rather be light on my feet and able to jump away from a horse to protect my toes and body! I’ve only been really stepped on once in 10 years (while in Keens). One toe swelled and hurt for a while, but no serious damage. And that was a large young draft cross who slammed my foot hard. I’ve learned it’s best to work with the horse alone and let them know they can move *away* from me when they get spooked.

        Thanks – I’ll definitely look into Blundstones! I didn’t realize they were nearly flat with flexible sole. Those would be better than Keens!

  34. Ugh & what bugs me is that I saw a Podiatrist a few weeks ago that shuddered at the thought of me walking barefoot most of the time on the hardwood floors of my house as that “was too high impact” on my joints. She recommended that I have something on my feet at all times.

    I know I have a bunion on one foot but.. really??? Thanks I’ll take my scaly “winter” feet bare thank you.

  35. Katy,

    I have been working on my calf stretches for about 2 weeks now and I am starting to see some improvement (meaning loosening up) Can’t wait ti l get all the way there. I prefer to be barefoot in my house but I do have issues with hurting my feet. I don’t do it outside as often as I should but I do go bare in the house.

    If I have to wear shoes outside the house, what kind would you suggest? A negative heel like some kind of Earth shoe maybe? I do have several pair of flat sandals that I love.

    Thanks 🙂

    Terri

    p.s. Got all the Dvd’s and the dome foam thingys!!

    1. Anything flat — google “minimal” — there are so many options now!!! Do you have the book? It’s got the full foot restoration program plus how to evaluate footwear for your alignment needs!

  36. I have been dabbling in the shoe-free home life. I have been doing the calf stretches for two weeks. (Need to add in the other ones). I start the day in bare feet (no pet hair yet, just ground-up Cheerios 😉 Then I stuff my feet into flat, flexible, wide toe box running shoes to drive kids to school. They seem ok but by 7pm I am reading Dr. Seuss, and simultaneously peeling off the shoes so my feet can stop throbbing.

    Love to stretch the TOPS of my feet. CAN’T do that delicious stretch in shoes =)

    Trying to use the external rotation to make my arches reappear (Lost them during my second pregnancy).

    Barefoot works for a while but I have plantar fascitis in my right foot. (Heel hurts in the morning and sometimes later in the day). I stretch before I get out of bed and before walks. Hopefully with your DVDs and books I can get rid of this curse!

    I have most of your DVDs and just viewed your PSOAS and BALL classes!

    I still can’t figure out how if I BACK MY HIPS UP, and shift the weight back on to my heels how do I stop my ribs and shoulders from coming forward?? When I press my thighs back to relax my knee caps in a straight-leg position, again, ribs and shouIders move forward. True I am a recovering rib thruster. Is it that my PSOAS is still not a good length? I can not figure this out in my body!

    Thanks for any thoughts!

    1. Yes, it’s the psoas and the shoulder girdle. Have you read the “Neutral Pelvis” post from last week — it’s the shoulder girdle that is the primary tension — the ribs are thrusting to keep you from looking at the ground! Look at all this good work you’re doing!!!

  37. I like looking back at the footprints I leave in the sand at the beach – and they look like feet, not amorphous blobs.

  38. You inspired me, not for the first time, and I decided to go barefoot out in the garden. Planted 100 broccoli, and 500 onions over a few days and walked the 300 feet from house to garden innumerable times each day ( Innumerable is kind of a cool word). Ended up with one toe cut on a piece of roofing tin, one arch stabbed with a stick, soles abraded in general, poison ivy rash between toes, and intense sunburn on both feet. Yes, I am kind of stupid, but I was inspired and something kept me coming back to it.

    Dislike: hickory nuts, crushed limestone, rose bush thorns, did I mention hickory nuts?

    Like: bare bedrock, moss, flat clay soil, low growing weeds with roundie leaves

    PS Every year at planting time I have had a terrible sore back, but not this year – thank you Katy for a whole new concept on how to use my body.

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