Bare feet are healthy feet!
Human feet, just like human hands, are not designed to be encased for hours on end in a pair of shoes that allow very little airing and movement. Just imagine what would happen to your hands if you kept them confined in a pair of constraining gloves – such as boxing gloves, for instance – an average of 8 to 10 hours a day, your entire life: they would become useless! The same way, people practically cripple their feet by confining them to shoes (in most cases, ill fitting shoes) most of their lives. By wearing shoes all the time, most people interfere with the natural development of their feet. This creates lazy bones and muscles that, in return, need more support progressively as they age.
See these comparative images below, taken from a study performed more than 100 years ago, published in 1905, in the American Journal of Orthopedic Surgery, showing the difference between a pair of feet of a native of the Philippines, who never wore shoes (Fig 1), and those of a Westerner, whose feet have been deformed by shoes (Fig 2).
You might think that the “natural” pair of feet in Fig. 1 are totally alien-looking, even unappealing, since they don’t look like any other pair of feet we are used to seeing in our societies today. However, notice the striking resemblance in the soles of these feet to the ones of a newborn baby! Now, you can draw your own conclusions on how shoes interfere with the proper and natural development of the human foot.
While one’s feet might never achieve the “natural” state again just by shedding one’s shoes, they will surely gain some of the beneficial traits such as: straighter toes, and a stronger bone/muscular structure.
Some benefits that can be attributed to going barefoot are:
No offensive foot odour: Properly aired feet don’t have the characteristic “foot smell” that we all hate. There are approx. 250,000 sweat glands in a pair of feet, and they excrete as much as half a pint (0.285 litres) of moisture each day. If this moisture stays trapped in a pair of shoes, added to the dead skin cells that detach naturally from our feet, it becomes the perfect nutrition source for a whole array of bacteria that causes offensive foot odour.
Healthier skin: As bare feet are naturally aired, they don’t retain moisture and won’t promote the growth and development of bacteria or fungi such as the infamous athlete’s foot; therefore, the skin will stay healthier.
Healthier Toenails: When they are uncovered and have no pressure on, nails grow faster, straighter and stronger.
Fewer Calluses: Calluses develop as a result of pressure and rubbing points that shoes and sandals put on certain areas of the feet. Going barefoot helps develop even, stronger, healthy soles that are virtually callous free.
Stronger Arches: Going barefoot allows feet to move naturally and to develop properly, including the arches. Shoes and sandals may put pressure on top of the feet, interfering with the natural movement and “bounce” of the foot’s bones, ligaments, and muscles. Most shoes and some sandals also provide extra arch support that, over the years, can weaken the natural foot structure and result in “lazy” arches.
Enhanced Tactile Sensory: Contrary to popular belief, going barefoot actually enhances the tactile properties of the feet. It actually “awakens” the nerve endings on the skin surface, allowing them to function properly and to “feel” properly – thus, helping with body awareness.