Is going barefoot healthier?
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Gregory West
(gwest) - F
re: on 04/30/2008 01:11:29 MDT Print View

There's a guy in my office that goes barefoot. All the time. I should ask him if he does hiking/running.

Unless your feet are really tough, i think it'd be pretty easy to get a little cut, ..and then get dirt in it and have it not heal and become more and more painful for the rest of the trip. Especially with the broken glass you can find almost anywhere, including wilderness.

Plus as you're probably aware, we learned to walk/run with shoes, and as a result we impact our heels too much. So it might require an adjustment there.

I hiked in essentially running flats all last year and didnt notice any ill effects of almost no padding.

Andrew :-)
(terra) - F

Locale: Sydney, Australia.
Barefoot... do it, or start doing it. on 05/02/2008 08:39:23 MDT Print View

You will benefit from going barefoot when possible.
Even just a weekly walk barefoot on grass in the park for 10 minutes.

Honestly you will have healthier feet and ankles (which means healthier knees, hips, back, neck, proprioception, mood etc)
Look at the homunculous (sensory nerve proportions).
Notice the size of the feet (and big toe).
Then also realise that neurologists regard afferent nerve impulses like a 'nutrient' of cerebellum... And are also realising that the cerebellum does soooo much more than just balance and co-ord.

Most shoes stop normal use of the big toe (and foot structure in general). In fact they alter your gait.
Now question if you are experiencing life to its fullest whilst tied perpetually into your shoes.

Caveat: Modern society has robbed us of much of the natural terrain we evolved for. Hence a minimal sole which allows natural foot dynamics may be better that prolonged barefoot in urban areas on flat, level, paved surfaces.

Anyhow, trust me on the 10 minutes barefoot in the park thing. ;-)

This is a good intro: http://nymag.com/health/features/46213/index3.html

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Pre-built toughened soles on 05/02/2008 14:13:01 MDT Print View

For those of you who don't want to spend the time toughening up the soles of your feet, you can always buy some pre-built ones here: http://www.vibramfivefingers.com

There are guys doing ultra-marathon type trail runs on rocky terrain in them (i.e. over 50 miles) and are just loving it. For more info on that subject, you can check out one guys blog here: http://www.barefootted.com

For me, I have been hiking exclusively in them for over a year now and wouldn't go back. I really didn't have much choice, it was the only solution for me that worked to solve some foot and knee problems that continued to get worse as time went on.

At work and around town I typically wear a pair of moccasins so that I look a little more normal. I don't like them quite as much as the FiveFingers though because they still restrict my toes a bit.

There is a great article on the subject of barefooting here: http://nymag.com/health/features/46213/

Ryan Gardner
(splproductions) - F - M

Locale: Salt Lake City, UT
Vibram Five Fingers... on 05/03/2008 17:33:01 MDT Print View

Damien,

Glad to hear you love them! I am just waiting to Vibram to get my size and color in stock and then I will be ordering a pair myself. By the way - which style do you prefer for hiking? The KSO's seem like the most practical. Thoughts?

I have started a site called barefootrevolution.com - I hope to gather information, studies, reviews, links, etc and make it a useful and informative site.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Re: Vibram Five Fingers... on 05/03/2008 17:40:42 MDT Print View

I have the Classics right now, when I bought them that was the only model that was available. My wife just got the KSOs, which I think is better for hiking/trail use because they keep out debris better.

Good luck on the site, I will check-up on it as you go!

David Thul
(thuldj) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Is going barefoot healthier? on 05/04/2008 00:07:43 MDT Print View

I have been running and hiking mostly barefoot for about 2 years now.

In high school I suffered a torn meniscus and fractured tibia while skiing and that pretty much ended my running, too much pain. Come to find out, I just needed to run correctly, more mid-foot striking and no heel striking (this technique is explained everywhere barefoot running is discussed).

I have been pain free for 2 years. No injuries. Not even any abrasions or cuts on my feet. Basically I run ~15% barefoot, 65% in Vibram FiveFingers or homemade Huaraches and 20% in Shoes (mostly La Sportiva trail runners like the Crosslite or Skylite). Oh, and my mileage can vary from 30 to 100 miles per week so its tough to argue distance matters.

I cover all surfaces from trails, to tar, to cement to granite blocks even gravel. Its amazing to feel the difference under your feet. One dirt trail in Chataqua Park in Boulder is dirt but feels harder than cement due to the traffic. So I don't really buy the "we can't walk on modern surface barefoot argument". And others are always worried about glass, I mean if you can't see some glass and avoid it, you probably need to pay more attention to your surroundings in general.

I wouldn't say it is the cure for everyone. Some people (but still few overall) just have serious problems that need to be addressed by footwear. But, I think people might be astounded by how their chronic injuries might go away when foot and ankle strength are built.

I will watch the discussion and address any questions, if you want more info, let me know.

Robert Devereux
(robdev) - F

Locale: Pittsburgh, PA
Re: Vibram Five Fingers on 05/04/2008 14:17:50 MDT Print View

I'm waiting for the KSO to get (back?) in stock in my size. I think I've got about a one month wait.

I've been looking for something for casual or work wear. Besides leather soled moccasins, are there other flexible soled shoes? I'm a bit intrigued by the Patagonia Toast & Jam shoe. It is a leather upper with a removable sole. It has a removable plastic frame, it would probably better without it.

David Passey
(davidpassey) - F - M

Locale: New York City
Vibram Five Fingers on 05/05/2008 17:20:13 MDT Print View

I'm intrigued by the five fingers, but about foot odor? Wouldn't they get really smelly?

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Barefoot Ted on 05/05/2008 17:37:21 MDT Print View

I have seen Barefoot Ted in action. Last year I was hiking in the Angeles Forest with my dog on a usually quiet trail. I then had to move over for a few guys running downhill, then some more, and more. It was an ultra-distance run (44km I think). Then along came this barefoot cat. The trail is often hardpack with some areas that are pure rocks. When I got to the top of my trail I asked the volunteers about the barefoot guy and they said, " Oh, you mean Barefoot Ted". It is quite funny to see it. There was at least one other woman doing the same (barefoot Alice?). Anyway, I guess if you do it a lot you can do it. I spend a lot of my summer barefoot at the beach and lakes but never considered hiking since I don't get the chance to do enough of it.

Can't tell you if I have normal feet or not.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Re: Vibram Five Fingers on 05/06/2008 12:11:52 MDT Print View

I find that wearing the Injinji Nuwool socks in my FiveFingers pretty much eliminates the odor problems.

Haley Brown
(okirun) - F
I believe barefoot is healthy! on 01/23/2009 13:01:25 MST Print View

I just made the decision to give up shoes 3 days ago. Yesterday I walked 3 miles on rough ground in 36 degree weather (sort of to prove to my friends that I could) and the skin of my feet became sore, but there were no cuts or punctures or blisters or ANYTHING. It's been surprisingly easy so far. Also, sometimes my knees and ankles twinge, or my hip feels strange, but that hasn't happened at all since I started to go without shoes. My feet feel warmer too. (Better circulation?) It's also been very easy to avoid stepping on things I don't want to, and not a nuisance at all.

I'm planning to go on a backpacking trip this way in a couple months. I think I will bring the most lightweight Teva sandals I can find, because Tevas have proven themselves to me and I know I can hike in them without pain, but I think I will be able to hike better barefoot.

Sometimes with Tevas and other shoes I slip and fall, but I've been realizing I feel much more sure-footed when there's nothing between me and the ground. I read that the reason people often twist their ankle when they hike is because the sole of the shoe does not provide a sturdy enough platform because it doesn't conform to the ground shape and your foot can slip on the top of it. I guess that's why people wear those big ankle-covering boots. (I've never worn those.) But if dogs can go on trips like this with no shoes, I don't see why I can't, especially since I'll have had a couple months' practice by then. I have read some peoples' claims that they can crush glass and step on thistles with no problem, and I believe it can be done. Plus it is much less weight to carry and walking in water is no problem.

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Vibram Five Fingers on 01/23/2009 13:30:39 MST Print View

I want to try these bad, but what about people who's second toe is slightly longer than the big toe?
It seems these are designed to fit generic proportioned feet only.

b hitchcock
(slowoldandcold) - F
barefoot walking on 01/23/2009 18:18:38 MST Print View

haley i wish you luck---i wore no shoes for 7 years---lived in the country with no car and probably walked 30 + miles a week just in the course of normal life--going to the shop/pub/friends/etc---ocasionally i might walk to town and back 15 miles---my feet were tough---but there was some rough rock types that i could never walk over easily----anyone thinking of barefoot walking has to realise there will be a long toughening up period and even after that there will be some places where it will be better to wear shoes---i wear terrocs now and find my toes open and feel the ground-- a bit like pressing your hand on a table with your fingers with spread apart----this reminds me of my barefoot days and seems like a reasonable compromise between barefoot and shoes

Edited by slowoldandcold on 01/23/2009 18:21:51 MST.

Adam M.
(AdamM) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Re: Re: Vibram Five Fingers on 01/25/2009 18:54:52 MST Print View

Hi Brian,

I have Morton's toe and two different sized feet. My left foot is a US 9 and my right foot US 8 measured on a Brannock Device (shoe size scale). I have been using the FF KSO's in size 40 for over a year for run's up to 40 or so minutes, some day hikes and in the gym. I work full time barefoot.

They fit great, no sizing issues, no blisters, no problems. If I didn't get such odd looks they would be my only choice of footwear.

give em a shot, they're great.
Adam.

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Re: Vibram Five Fingers on 01/25/2009 18:58:13 MST Print View

Thanks thats what I wanted to hear!
I just need to drive into the city to try them on in person.

Scott McClure
(scottmphoto) - F

Locale: The beautiful Arkansas River Valley
Barefoot on 01/26/2009 05:49:57 MST Print View

I like my boots while on the trail. If it's warmer weather, I might go barefoot around camp just to let my feet air out. I sometimes wear sandals if the terrain is rocky in camp.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Punting rocks on 01/26/2009 07:54:30 MST Print View

I punt too many rocks while hiking to seriously consider giving up shoes on trail. The rocks don't move, by the way. Hiking sans shoes would render me toenail-less.

Edited by citystuckhiker on 01/26/2009 09:54:23 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Punting rocks on 01/26/2009 09:14:52 MST Print View

Matt, I agree with you! In summer of 2006 I wore sandals while hiking. I did some real numbers to my feet. I have wondered though - had I been fully bare foot I might have been more careful. Yet, the thought of stepping on a sticker bush would have sucked as well ;-)

I keep flip flopping about getting a pair of Fingers. I love wearing Injini socks so it wouldn't feel weird!