Reasons your family should walk barefoot

Being barefoot was part of growing up a few years ago. Due to various reasons, this has changed in the last years. Children don’t go barefoot as often as they should anymore.

Leonardo DaVinci once said: “The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art�?.

Some reasons why we should preserve this masterpiece that DaVinci highlighted are:
1. Feet should develop the way they were meant to.When comparing a baby’s foot with that of an adult we can notice many differences. The most obvious would be that a baby’s foot is at its widest at the tip of the toes, whereas an adult foot is the widest at the ball of the foot with the toes curling inward. This is because the shoes we wear force our feet into this unnatural position. Changing the shape of our feet obviously alter the way they work.

2. Bare feet are stronger feet.When walking barefoot all the natural arches and positions of muscles are encouraged. This strengthens the muscles and will make the body more agile and less prone to injury.

3. Walking barefoot encourages development. As the little feet feel, balance and move on various surfaces it sends tactile, proprioceptive and vestibular information to the brain. This assists the child to climb, pivot, balance and adjust rapidly and experiment with the way they manipulate their bodies in the environment.

4. Healthy gait patterns are established when walking barefoot.
When we walk barefoot we tend to take shorter strides putting less pressure on our heels. Our knees bend to absorb the shock before we place our foot down. And then our toes curl to push the foot off the floor again in preparation of the next step. By wearing shoes we train the wrong muscles in our feet to assist in walking. 

5. Improved safety when walking barefoot. We tend to think that wearing shoes are safer, but in actual fact the contrary is true (in my opinion). Many scraped knees and broken arms could have been prevented if children did not have pieces of foam or string dangling from their feet. When children are used to walk barefoot they have a heightened awareness of their surroundings and they instinctively pay more attention to where they place their feet. Because their proprioceptive system provides them with more information regarding their surroundings they also place their feet down carefully and gently allowing time to quickly lift their foot when something sharp is in the way.
6. Less wear and tear on shoes. This is a bit of a tongue in the cheek reason for going barefoot. But just imagine the amount of money that will be saved if children rather walked barefoot than wearing shoes.

7. Bare feet are healthier feet. Shoes are damp, moist and warm and this provides the ideal place for fungi and bacteria to grow in. Sunshine and fresh air are good for feet too!

8. Walking barefoot is a joy to the senses. Think of the feeling of soft, warm sand on the beach, the cool feeling of dew on the grass, slippery mud squishing between the toes, rough bark on a tree. Children are deprived of these sensory rich experiences when they wear shoes all the time.

  • Leave all shoes at the door at home. 
  • Try gardening, hiking, walking and playing barefoot.
  • Wear a variety of shoes and make sure that you don’t wear the same pair every day.

A few ideas of how to encourage barefoot walking:

Let us allow children to experience a bit of shoe-free time. And more than this… let’s challenge ourselves to also kick off our shoes and play. Enjoy your feet and appreciate what they were made for!

Do you know how to look for the right school shoe?