Well, it turns out that science is siding with me and my barefoot ways. There’s a long article in New Yorker Magazine called “You Walk Wrong“. It’s all about the damage we are doing to ourselves, particularly our joints, by wearing shoes. Any shoes at all. And it turns out that the more supportive and padded the shoe is – the worse off you are. One study found that people in expensive, cushioned running shoes had over twice as many injuries as those running in hard soled shoes.
The problem with shoes is that they remove a proper sense of connection with the ground, causing us to pound our feet in ways that we wouldn’t if we were able to feel them hitting the ground. They also prevent the natural rolling motion of the foot which places additional strain on our joints. I bet it also accounts for the fact that I rarely step on things on the floor and when I do, I rarely step on them hard enough to hurt. My husband, OTOH, gets some little lego piece embedded into his foot every time he takes his shoes off. Not wearing shoes probably creates a greater awareness of where you put your feet and what might be underfoot before you impale your foot with it.
There also appears to be a correlation between putting shoes on kids and them having flat feet. So let their little toesies out! Shoes are bad, bad, bad. (Here’s a NYT article about kids and shoes.)
I’m so glad I read this. I am in dire need of new workout shoes as I don’t think they’ll let you go on the elliptical machines at the Y barefoot. There is nothing in this world that I hate more than gym shoes. They make me feel like my feet are stuck to the floor. I expect to try a lateral move and wind up on the ground like a cartoon character. Now I know that I’m best off buying some cheap, flimsy, flat shoes rather than the cushy, padded monstrosities I thought I was going to have to get. Really, I think that my hatred of gym shoes is probably about 40% of the reason I hate to exercise. (Feeling like I’m suffocating makes up the other 60%. I hate exercise almost as much as I hate shoes.)
So next time my husband tries to give me a hard time about my feet (which I have been cleaning and buffing everyday, thank you very much), I will smugly rest assured in my superior foot habits. Nah!