People in Texas love to barefoot anytime of the year. Your feet don't hurt, so no harm no foul right? The answer is yes, you're right! Now the real questions you should be asking is: if I keep walking barefoot what will happen to my feet? Will they start hurting later on? I am here to give you the intel on what happens when you walk barefoot to help you make an informed decision on whether or not you want to keep trusting your feet will behave in your lifetime.
I have had the beauty of practicing for long enough to witness the progression of what can happen to patients' feet over the course of decades.
Here's a Cliff Notes version list of what I have seen in my practice: I see more people with foot problems that have a history of walking barefoot than people who never do. People who walk barefoot and come in with foot pain have to stop walking barefoot because their feet hurt.
Here are some of the reasons why:
- When you walk barefoot, you slowly wear down the fat padding underneath your feet. It is not immediate and happens slowly over time. Once it is gone, it is gone forever!
- When you walk barefoot, you're more likely to jam your toes up against furniture or other household objects. The most common fractures I see in the office are from patients' feet running into furniture.
- When you walk barefoot, you are obviously most likely to step on something that then gets stuck in your foot and causes endless discomfort until you get it out or you have to have surgery to remove it.
- When you walk barefoot, you rely on your own bones, ligaments, tendons, and joints to cushion and support your body where it needs it. This is very taxing on the feet over time, given that they have to walk you from point A to point B all day long. Overtime, arches begin to flatten and your foot begins to widen and can become stiffer with the arthritic changes that happen with mistreatment over the years.
- As we get older, we tend to gain weight, which puts more pressure on our feet. People who like to walk barefoot and are overweight tend to experience more of what I call "biomechanical and functional pain" because of this overload. This is the kind of pain that is caused from no other cause than the fact that their feet are having to bear the brunt of excess weight without any support.
- When you walk barefoot, you can inoculate your foot with anything that is on the floor, including fungus and the wart virus. People think the only way to get Athlete's foot is by your foot sweating in a shoe. It is just as easy to pick up a fungal infection by walking onto some of it and infecting yourself. By the same token, you can just as easily inoculate your foot with the wart virus that survives on all kinds of surfaces.
I hope this list gives some guidance to help you choose how you tread on your feet. My hope is that you tread lightly!