Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why a blog about going barefoot?

Why would I care to write about going barefoot? Why, for that matter, would someone want to go barefoot? Well, basically because it is comfortable and enjoyable. A lot of people have misconceptions about going barefoot and don't understand why someone would willing choose to forgo modern footwear. I hope to shed some light on the subject, to explain why many of us find it safe and enjoyable to go barefoot.

Going barefoot in soft, cool grass, or even in silky smooth mud can be quite pleasant. If you are concerned about getting your feet dirty, they clean off pretty easily. :-) Many people are concerned about their feet being sensitive walking on anything but the softest surfaces. The fact is that your feet adapt over time. If you make a habit of walking barefoot, your feet become tougher and walking over coarse, hard ground is no longer an issue. You can start out by walking in the grass, and gradually adapt to be able to walk over harder surfaces. Some people go hiking barefoot or walk around most places quite naturally barefoot without being bothered by rocks or coarse ground. It certainly gives a more intimate feel for nature, hiking barefoot in the wilderness!

Other people are concerned that going barefoot is inherently harmful. Actually, walking barefoot helps raise the arches, preventing flatfeet. Humans don't need shoes for proper foot development, the idea is actually rather absurd when you think about it.

Now, I am not suggesting that no one should ever wear shoes or that they have no purpose. What I am advocating is for people who live in areas where it is safe and shoes are over-used, to consider the simple joys of going barefoot on occasion. In some areas of the world where soil-borne helminthic parasites are endemic, shoes are vital for health and can save lives. In advocating that people who have the privilege of more pairs of shoes than they can possibly need consider that going without them can be a simple pleasure of life, I do not mean to discount those who need shoes and can not afford them. Part of the reason we can safely go barefoot is because we have adequate sanitation (we don't have to worry about walking through human waste in the street, our yard, or the local park) and antihelminthic drugs and antibiotics, just in case. In fact, I urge you to consider doing something to help those who don't have the privilege of shoes for all occasions, or safe places to walk:

Shoes for Humanity
Tom's Shoes

Perhaps as you learn the simple joys of going barefoot, you will also find that you don't need as many shoes yourself. You can give your old shoes or the money you would have spent on new ones to help someone who has much more need for shoes than you do.

And if you have children who like to pull off their shoes and run around barefoot, rest assured that it is quite healthy.

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