Can Walking Barefoot Really Improve Your Health? Here's What Scientists Say

Discussion in 'Barefootedness' started by Barefoot TJ, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ
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  2. CharlieGreen

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    I disagree how the woman in the photo above is stepping bare feet. When you walk or run bare feet the front of your foot must touch the ground first when you step. You must not heel strike when walking or running bare feet as this makes your body come to a sudden stop and shocks your knees. When walking or running bare feet you light step and you never heel step i.e: you never put your heel down first. The problem with trainers is that people heel step hard because they got cushioning on their feet which sends shock waves to their knees and cause injury.

    Your thoughts?
     
  3. Jon from PDX

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    I think you’re right that heel striking will be uncomfortable and may cause injury, but I think there’s a lot of difference between heel-striking and heel-landing, especially while walking.

    While I feel like my walking gait touches down on my lateral forefoot, I suspect high-speed video would show that I actually touch down first on my heels. I think I usually follow this process:

    1. Touch surface with heel to determine height.
    2. Lay foot flat to gauge angle and detect pokey or unstable bits.
    3. Compress my foot from the lateral arch to the medial; this is what makes walking barefoot on concrete feel softer than in hiking boots. It also provides lots of opportunities to correct balance or abort the step altogether.
    4. Transfer weight to the heel. At this point, I have very little control over my balance and am mostly moving on momentum. The advantage, though, is that most of my weight (and downward pressure while lifting other leg) is carried vertically through joints rather than across muscles. This phase is what makes bipedal motion more efficient than quadrupedal.
    5. Maintain weight on heel for as long as possible. While landing the other foot, the forefoot on the weight-bearing side should be ready to suddenly push down. This, in concert with collapsing the hip and knee, allows the center of balance to change enough to abort the other foot’s landing process.
    6. Roll forward on windlass-locked forefoot while the other foot is transferring weight to the heel, providing last-moment opportunity to adjust momentum going into the next step.

    And, of course, the knees, hips, spine, and arms are also involved on top of what the feet are down to. [Ed. note: we apologize for the latter pun in the preceding sentence, but not the former.]

    The fact that our bodies do this — adapting to thousands of variables on a millisecond time scale thousands of times per hour and without our conscious awareness — astounds me. (Three cheers for the cerebellum!) Appreciation for this makes me wary of absolute descriptions using words like “must” and “never.” It also casts a slight pall over the claims of shoe companies that they’ve discovered ways to improve our ability to walk.

    My inner curmudgeon wants to add: I disagree with disagreeing with the way someone walks. It is a photo of a step that someone took; assuming the photo is authentic, I hope we can all agree that her steps are hers to take. I can get on board with disagreeing with that photo as an ideal demonstration of proper barefooting technique, but I’m not too worried about that because anyone who takes steps like that will quickly learn not to...if they’re going any appreciable distance. I’m in favor of normalizing barefootedness, and I’m happy to see photos of people going barefoot even when they’re clearly not used to it — and perhaps especially happy because it shows new folks giving it a try. If anything, my biggest problem with that photo is that it places barefootedness in the category of things you’d do for your children but not for yourself, which means that child will likely never do it for herself as she grows up.

    Maybe what that photo says is “we need to convince New Zealand photographers to create more stock art of people doing everyday things while barefoot.”

    tl;dr: Jon hasn’t yet learned when to stop adding words to his posts.
     
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  4. BareFootHeath

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    Very well put. If anyone is going to judge my style of walking or running barefoot they’re wasting their time. I do it for me, not attention, criticism, style points. etc.

    I’ve noticed when I walk there’s a bit more heel touchdown first versus running when it seems like I’ve got the forefoot thing going for the most part. Not pushing off my feet walking or running is of more importance to me, I find if my attention is on that the rest falls into place.

    There’s a lot of literature and opinion out there on barefoot technique. I’ve definitely picked up some pointers (such as the previously mentioned not pushing off) but if I spend my time focusing on the way someone else says I should be running or walking it takes some of the enjoyment away.
     
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  5. Barefoot TJ

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    Actually, humans tend to touch the ground with the heel first when *walking*. That's very normal, common, and nothing wrong with it.
     
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  6. CharlieGreen

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    When I ran with trainers I rand stepping more on my heels and use to feel my knees. Now running bare feet, fearing I am going to pick up injuries, I run on my balls of my feet, light stepping and I am finding that my leg muscles are sore for days afterwards but my knees are perfectly fine.

    I do find running bare feet now, that I am more aware of my feet muscles, my leg muscles, I concentrate more on how I run and step much lighter now running bare feet. With trainers I didn't care if I stepped down hard, which I don't think is good for your knees but now I pay attention to every step. I think bare feet running in my opinion makes you more aware of your body and makes you realize how important rest days are between runs.

    I am beginner at bare feet running but I can see as well if you not doing bare feet running correctly you can pick up big injuries. I think people who run with trainers who over train who change to bare feet running are going to pick up serious injuries if they over train bare feet running. Bare feet running where your look after your feet and body and take rest days works well but if you do it wrong you going to pay a big price. Changing over from running trainers on the road to running bare feet, I have found it a very big transition i.e I had to do baby steps big time, from running 7.5km twice a week with trainers I had to cut down to do 4km once a week.
     
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  7. Barefoot TJ

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    @CharlieGreen Your leg muscles, calf muscles, etc., are tight from running in/wearing shoes with an elevated heel. When we run barefoot, we target other leg muscles, especially the calf muscles, which elongate from the lack of a shoe heel. These muscles will get stronger the more you do it, and you shouldn't feel discomfort anymore, as long as you continue to run barefoot responsibly. Sounds like you're doing just fine. :barefoot: Again, welcome!
     
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  8. CharlieGreen

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    Thank You Barefoot TJ for the information! I really appreciate it.
     
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