Now that we’re coming into summer and the weather is nice more often than not, it’s time to kick off those shoes! There’s really nothing like feeling all the different textures and temperatures the ground offers. It’s one of my favorite simple pleasures. Here are a few tips to help you spend more time barefoot without hurting your feet.How much time you can go barefoot and what surfaces you can walk over depends largely on how much time you spend in shoes. The more time in shoes, the more careful you’ll have to be barefooting.
If you spend a lot of time in heeled shoes, especially high heeled shoes, you’ll probably have to spend some stretching to restore enough flexibility to walk comfortably barefoot. Here’s a link for my calf stretch video.
So the next thing that wearing shoes all the time causes is a laziness about where we put our feet. I know it seems like a silly concept, but you really need to pay attention to where you step. Shoes allow us to ignore all kinds of things we shouldn’t really be stepping on.
I’ve found that asphalt is one of the most unpleasant things you can walk on. It can get crazy hot on a hot sunny day. Your feet can take a long time to get used to it. To adjust to the asphalt spend a little time on it and then move over to the grassy areas that are almost always right next to sidewalks. If you’re in a parking lot you can move really fast along the white painted lines. Don’t fall off!
I like to go for walks barefoot, but I usually carry my Luna sandals with me in case I need to put them on. It’s pretty miserable when you get halfway through a walk and realize you’ve overdone it and that you still have to get home! If don’t bring something to put on your feet once they start to get sore, it could take a week or two to recover. And even walking in shoes could hurt the first couple days.
Walking in a grassy field can be a great way to expose your foot and ankle to lots of new positions. You foot is an incredibly flexible thing, or at least it should be, and it can conform to most reasonable surfaces. Unfortunately a lifetime of wearing ill-fitting shoes has made our feet… about as flexible as concrete. A grassy field actually has quite a bit of variation and is a great way to start loosening and retraining your foot.
Once you get comfortable walking around a grassy field, get brave and find a local trail to try. There will be a lot more surfaces and a lot more textures. There will also be much steeper angles that your foot and ankle will have to adjust to. Take your time and go a little at a time and your feet and ankles will get used to doing what they should do again!