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Shoes or No Shoes – Is It Really a Question?

Every one of us puts on a pair of shoes before heading out to work for the day. We have to. Shoes are required in public places. Perhaps the one exception is a job that involves a pool or the beach, like a lifeguard for example. But for everyone else, shoes are part and parcel with going out in public.

While we adults might struggle with the idea of wearing shoes all day, there is a growing movement among parents to allow their children to go shoeless whenever possible. In fact, The U.S. Sun recently published a story about a young mother who lets her sons go without shoes whenever they want. She and her boys are traveling around the U.S. in an RV with dad.

To this particular mother, whether or not to put shoes on her kids isn’t really a question at all. The boys are only required to don shoes when visiting public places that require them. Everywhere else, it is up to them. They walk beaches without shoes. They go hiking in bare feet. Mom says that her biggest concern is the occasional splinter or insect bite.

Why We Wear Shoes

The fundamental reason for wearing shoes is to protect the feet. Whether you are walking down a city street or traipsing through a forest, there are things on the ground that can cause harm. Going completely shoeless in every environment is a good way to suffer cuts, abrasions, and all other sorts of nasties.

The natural environment can be so tough on the feet that some people go one step further by wearing shoe covers. For example, a business executive might wear GC Tech waterproof galoshes whenever he has to go outside in inclement weather. He doesn’t want his shoes harmed any more than he would want to put his bare feet at risk.

When Shoes Become Fashion

Shoes provide a very necessary function in protecting the feet. When they move from function to fashion however, the very things we use to protect our feet could actually end up harming them. If you need evidence, look no further than stiletto heels. They certainly haven’t done anything to improve foot health for women.

Above and beyond fashion, it could be that we are trying too hard to ensure our feet stay comfortable. Go to any store that sells athletic shoes and take a look at the sneakers. You will find thick rubber soles and plenty of foam padding inside. It is all meant to cushion the feet against shock.

Cushioning the feet during a physical workout is probably a good idea, but should our feet be cushioned all the time? Should there always be a significant amount of material between our feet and the ground? That depends on who you ask.

Benefits of Going Shoeless

There is very little hard evidence proving that going shoeless is better for foot health than wearing shoes. However, there is sufficient speculation, based on what we already know about the feet, that there could be something to going shoeless. Below are just some of the suspected benefits of going with bare feet:

  • Better walking control
  • Better foot mechanics
  • Improved balance and proprioception
  • Better range of motion in the feet
  • Stronger leg and back muscles.

There are those among us who avoid shoes at all costs simply because we find them uncomfortable. If it turns out that going shoeless is beneficial to foot health, all the better. Unfortunately, being out in public means wearing shoes on most occasions. We do not have much of a choice.

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