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    teach2183's Avatar
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    Going barefoot

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    So I'm almost done reading PB and was intrigued by the barefoot idea. I am home with my kids all day so spend quite a bit of time barefoot. But I've noticed that if I do it too often in the house (hardwood floors), but feet hurt. I've always "had" to wear supportive, high arch running shoes or my feet hurt. So the idea of not having to spend $$ on shoes and be in less pain sounds good. I've had a lot of problems with calf and shin pain over the years as well, stress fracturing both shin bones while training as a goalkeeper for college soccer.
    Do I just need to push through the discomfort when going barefoot at home? I will start wearing slippers when my feet hurt and that seems to make it okay. Should I keep wearing them until the discomfort subsides and repeat the process until (hopefully) the pain goes away? It does seem to be surface dependent as my feet do not get sore on carpet or the grass.

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    apple's Avatar
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    I think the general consensus on transitioning to barefoot is this: transition slowly. Your feet are going to really hurt if you jump into it 100%. Spend some time barefoot around the house but put those slippers on before your feet start hurting. Slowly extend the amount of time that you spend barefoot. Walk barefoot in the grass for a few minutes every day, and slowly extend that from 5 minutes to 10 minutes, to 15 to 20, etc. Then transition to harder surfaces for short amounts of time and build up.

    I don't really have a program set up for going barefoot, but the idea is to start small and work your way up. You have to strengthen the muscles in your feet. If you wanted to lift a dumbbell and had never done it, you wouldn't start with a 75 lb weight, you'd probably start with 10 lb or so. Same with your feet: start small, build up. Your feet might feel sort of tired at the end of the day, but they shouldn't feel painful.

    Hope this helps.
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    It's nice to be able to go barefoot around the house, for sure. I tried barefooting outside, and wearing vibrams. It seems to me that while shoes have their drawbacks like raised heels and keeping the toes bound together, their cushioning is a good thing. The human foot has spent most of its time on natural ground with contours and a bit of softness, not concrete. Go barefoot in the park or the beach or wherever, but don't feel like you have to make it a lifestyle.
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    Your feet will condition, but like Grumpy said, it's not absolutely necessary to always be barefoot. Personally, I wear mostly minimalist footwear, or shoes with minimal raise now that I'm used to it. I also look for wide toe boxes, there are actually quite a lot of options out there. Transition slowly as was stated above, around the house is perfect, I do it all the time.

    You're essentially waking your feet up, some of the smaller muscles are going to be bothersome for a little bit, but it shouldn't last too long.

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    Another vote for long, slow transition. Your feet need to strengthen. It is like rehab after a long period of immobilization. For me, it took perhaps a year before I didn't have a general ache in my feet from lots of time in barefeet and minimal footwear.

    A friendly amendment to a post above: the benefit of shoes is not conditioning (that often makes you subtely plant a foot harder to find solid ground); rather the benefit of a show is abrasion and puncture protection and protection from bruising from pieces of gravel and the like.

    If you are planning on running barefoot, the absolute best surface to start on is smooth concrete. It is flat, consistent, not too abrasive, and you can see every tiny pebble and avoid them.

    Have fun in your foot freedom!

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    Dumb question maybe, but, are you heel striking when you are walking around barefoot? I ask as this would be more noticable when walking on hardwood floors than on grass or carpet. I have recently started spending more time barefoot, I found the other week when inside on a hardwood floor I was reverting to heel striking automaticaly and had to make an effort to place my feet more naturaly, though when outside better foot placement seems to come naturaly, maybe cause I'm looking where I'm going more?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tribal Rob View Post
    Dumb question maybe, but, are you heel striking when you are walking around barefoot? I ask as this would be more noticable when walking on hardwood floors than on grass or carpet. I have recently started spending more time barefoot, I found the other week when inside on a hardwood floor I was reverting to heel striking automaticaly and had to make an effort to place my feet more naturaly, though when outside better foot placement seems to come naturaly, maybe cause I'm looking where I'm going more?
    How would I know if I'm doing that? I do often look where I'm going at home since I have 2 small children that like to leave small toys on the floor ;-)

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    I dunno, a lot of people say transition slowly but I didn't really and was fine. I used to get savage shin splints - forced running in the military - and since switching to barefoot running in vibrams I don't have those problems anymore. I WILL say that my legs hurt in much different places than they did in running shoes. Much more soreness in my hamstrings and calves than before when I used to be sore just in my quads. I actually really enjoy running barefoot. It feels amazing. The vibrams - and I'm sure other brands of minimalist footware - are killer in the gym to! Its like an automatic fix for poor form because you can really feel the weight transfer on your heels.

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    Tribal Rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teach2183 View Post
    How would I know if I'm doing that? I do often look where I'm going at home since I have 2 small children that like to leave small toys on the floor ;-)
    Your heel will hit the floor first, like most peoples do when walkin in normal shoes, I know I do, but when barefoot or in my aqua shoes (the nearest thing to barefoot shoes I can afford atm) then I usally put the ball of my foot down slightly before the heel, but my foot is fairly flat. I do find that I sometimes revert to walking like in shoes even when barefoot as I've been wearing shoes at lot longer than I have been going barefooted.
    You know all those pictures of Adam and Eve where they have belly button? Think about it..................... take as long as you need........................

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    My 2cents' worth: I heel strike barefoot when walking, but forefoot strike barefoot when running, so IMHO that shouldn't matter. I'm also gonna through a random monkey wrench/spanner in the works here by making an odd suggestion/observation... when my feet are COLD and barefoot, they get sore. So I would say, if you're getting sore indoors, wear socks or something!

    Finally, no disrespect meant to the folks who think people aren't adapted to be barefoot on hard surfaces because grok wandered around on grass - I don't personally think you're correct in that assumption. (In truth, I think that might be a C-style assumption a lot of the paleo community makes - we've heard that soft surfaces are better so many times that we sort of absorb that as true without really thinking through it critically.) There is a lot of walkable rock in the world and it would have been easy for hunter-gatherers covering long distances to be walking on exposed rock. In fact, I would bet that Grok walked preferentially on rock because soft sand yields too much and slows your forward progress (think about trying to walk fast on the upper part of a beach) and tall grass or other vegetation would conceal threats like sharp objects and snakes, as well as making you take higher steps to not trip. Ergo, I would bet than in geographic areas where this applies, paleo people would aim for rock seams and cover distance on those.

    So I wouldn't sweat about that either, and I would just make sure you keep your feet warm.

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