Today, we are surrounded by endless options of shoes. What we mean by that, is that the options for shoes whether it’s color, design, shape, size, texture, and so forth, are truly unlimited. That is the same for walking boots and shoes. However, over the past five years or so, there’s been controversy spun in the walking world, about not walking with any shoes.
Yes, we’re talking about walking barefoot.
After all, it’s what we did as humans in our hunter-gatherer days walking around scavenging in our bare feet.
A lot of trends and a big following have come back to people abandoning their shoes to walk like their ancestors. This concept is often called grounding, where we walk flat on the earth’s surface.
Is it really worth ditching your shoes and walking barefoot, though?
Before we make that decision, let’s explore the pros and cons of both, to become more familiar with why people walk with footwear and why people don’t.
Pros of walking with footwear
Protect them from injuries
People walk wearing walking shoes or boots to protect their feet from injuries such as blisters or callouses. Similarly, if anything was to fall on top of the food, the skin is protected by material stopping the foot from being pierced from above.
Reduces Shock Absorption
Footwear seems to provide shock absorption for your feet and prevents them from bouncing back. This is because many walking footwear has cushioning, which protects your feet from the surface of the ground.
Breathability/ Temperature Regulation
Certain fabrics of walking footwear allow moisture to be absorbed quickly and temperature to be regulated.
Walking shoes or boots often have a form of cushioning such as gel, leather, fabric, or soles, and after long periods of walking, they serve as a cushion for the person’s soles. Therefore, people opt for footwear as they don’t want their feet to ache.
Walking is a fantastic activity to do and can be done pretty much anywhere on a range of terrains. To walk on harsher terrains such as rocks or ice requires a certain amount of grip; otherwise, you could slip and become injured.
Protects from bugs/insects
If you’re walking in a renowned season for a mosquito outbreak, then walking with a shoe or boot may stop the mosquitoes from coming from inside. Similarly, if you’re walking in an environment with any other animals, the material could prevent them from biting your feet.
Gives you height
Depending on the type of walking shoe or boot, the midsole on your footwear may heighten you. This could be good as you may be able to see objects well in the distance.
Cons of walking with footwear
Weighs you down
A lot of walking shoes or boots are quite heavy to wear. This is because their heel and midsole are thick to endure the terrain around it. Therefore when walking with footwear, your feet may feel heavy and get tired.
Just like we mentioned at the beginning, walking shoes or boots can be costly. Especially as you’re presented with a range of colors and styles. Likewise, if you’re the type of walker who walks across numerous terrains, this could be even costlier. Similarly, after a time of wearing one set of footwear, you do eventually have to invest in more.
Heel Pain and Foot Pain
We hope you choose the right walking shoes or boots, as otherwise, you could get great heel or foot pain. If you don’t see a walking specialist get your gait and balance tested, you could be at risk of having pain in your feet after long walks, especially if you’re wearing a boot.
Risk of Athletes Foot
If you’re an active walker, irrespective of the footwear you purchase, you could be at risk of getting athletes foot. There are fungal species we all have present in our skin known as a dermatophyte.
This can flare up when you sweat a lot during exercise, and rigorous periods of walking can cause a lot of sweat to develop in your boot or shoe. After a lot of sweating, your toes and the arch of your foot could become red, flaky, and itchy, inflamed as a result. Do note that if you choose to wear footwear, seek advice on your shoe fit or boot. Athletes foot can also be caused by the footwear not fitting right.
If your foot does not fully fit, your nail could rub against the material of the shoe or boot. Which means pushing the skin to the nail plate and make you prone to getting an ingrown toenail.
Why do people walk Barefoot?
Walking barefoot or the term grounding is preferred by many people and is on the uprise. People tend to find when you walk barefoot, you get reconnected to the earth. It’s believed that when you walk, you get electrical charges from the surface, and this is a topic in its early stages of scientific research. A study has shown that the natural defenses of your body can be restored.
Pros of walking barefoot
There are many pros to walking barefoot; they are:
It’s often mentioned if we walk in our bare feet, that we will gain a good balance. Similarly, if you walk barefoot at short intervals it’s often mentioned that it helps make the bones of your feet more robust and helps your food become stronger.
It can help reduce inflammation
As we mentioned before about the term grounding, it can help reduce inflammation. While there is still more research to be conducted in this field, it’s been shown that when you walk barefoot, it helps the cytokines, which are compounds used in your body’s inflammatory process. It’s also been associated with electrons.
When your skin makes contact with an earthly element, the earth moves the spread of electrons from its surface to the human body—in a way, recharging the body. This is because the electrons enter through acupuncture points and mucous membranes underneath your skin.
Our bodies are made up of electrons that help cancel out free radicals, and then inflammation is eventually reduced.
It’s been shown to soothe anxiety
Some people report that walking barefoot on top of the earth serves as a calming agent, reducing their anxiety.
Can boost your immunity levels
Similar to inflammation, as you’re walking on the earth’s surface, you will absorb electrons. Therefore the less inflammation, the higher your chances of immunity as you’ll have more white blood cells in your feet. If you don’t have enough electrons, you may face your body’s mitochondria becoming weaker. Which could then result in chronic fatigue.
Better control of your foot position
You’ve got no midsole or sole of a shoe or boot beneath you, just the bottom of your foot. Which means you can directly place it in its natural rhythm on the floor. Doing this allows you to naturally control your foot position and also prevents any risks a shoe could pose, such as collapsed arches of your feet.
You do not need to purchase any footwear, which means you can use your natural assets to walk anywhere. Walking is free to do, and you don’t need any shoe either, making you spend no money at all.
Stronger leg muscles
As you’ve not gotten the support of footwear, your legs have to work harder to maintain your balance. Because of this, you have to engage your abs and back more to allow you to have a more muscular core/balance. If your body’s balance is evenly placed, then your legs become stronger.
Walking barefoot allows you to stand naturally, allowing you to stand taller elongating your spine, which generates you to have a better posture.
Cons of walking barefoot
It’s not for everyone
If you have any foot deformity, allergy or condition, you may not want to walk barefoot, as you may be embarrassed to show your feet. Feet can be a sensitive subject!
Feet get dirty easily
If you’re a germophobe, walking barefoot may not be for you. Walking across different terrains, you’re bound to pick up a range of dirt or bacteria on your feet that you will need to wash off later.
Feet are exposed to bugs/insects
Your flesh is out there in the open to the whole world. Which means you could be exposed to mosquitos or biting bugs that could pierce into your skin.
Step on a sharp object
Depending on the terrain or environment you walk in, you could risk standing on a sharp object. This means you’re putting the soles of your feet at danger, risking them from being cut or pierced from a sharp source.
What’s better walking barefoot or with shoes?
Here at walkathon, we feel that it’s hard to say which one is truly better. We encourage more people to walk barefoot as there are more scientific studies emerging out there stating its great benefits.
However, is walking barefoot all the time possible, though?
We know barefoot is excellent, but sometimes it’s not acceptable to walk barefoot all the time. For example, if you’re trekking, entering a walkathon, a marathon, or a public place, it’s not always deemed appropriate for the environment you’re in. Plus, footwear allows you to have a grip.
Therefore, we suggest considering your environment and the length you’re walking to choose the best option for your walks.
Have you tried walking barefoot?
Let us know your thoughts.