Is barefoot walking really healthy?
Why barefoot running is so healthy and flip flops are good for your feet
Every day we squeeze our feet into sturdy, often too tight footwear. This is a real challenge for vision, ligaments and joints. Pressure pain, blisters and calluses, but also knee and back pain and cramps are often the result. Walking barefoot, however, is like a short break for the feet and should not be neglected in everyday life.
False footwear aggravates foot deformities and discomfort that may go along with them. For example, high heels strain tendons, ligaments and joints considerably, because the foot is like a slide. The pressure exerted on the forefoot should not be underestimated. The calf muscles can shorten in the long run and back pain occur. Too often you should not wear high heels therefore.
Too small shoes worse than high heels
“Even worse than high heels are generally shoes that are too tight or too short and do not fit. Tanja Kostuj from the section German association for foot and ankle joint (DAF) of the German Society for Orthopedics and Traumatology (DGOU). “The foot is pushed into an unhealthy position: calluses, blisters and pain on the foot are first indications of wrong footwear.
Insole-trick makes it easier to buy shoes
Who buys shoes should always make sure that he perceives no seams, hard leather spots or friction during the test run. According to the orthopedic surgeon, the removable insole is often a valuable guide when it is present: when standing on it, the foot should not project beyond it. Then the shoe fits and the toes usually have enough space.
“Also, make sure your toes do not hit the front when running, ” advises Kostuj. “Once the foot is squeezed, that’s unhealthy.” And the expert has another tip: Anyone who buys sports shoes can have a treadmill analysis done to find the right shoe and prevent foot and joint discomfort.
Flipflops healthier than expected
And what about flip-flops ? Are they really as damaging to the feet as is often claimed? The orthopedist gives the all clear. Healthy feet could easily handle flip-flops and benefit from freedom of movement and fresh air. However, one should choose models that offer a certain stability. “If the flip-flop slides back and forth, you unconsciously start clawing your toes to hold it in place, which can cause stress pain and cramping,” she says.
If you notice that the bridge is rubbing, you can buy a special upholstery. And as a rule of thumb: No sports and no driving with flip-flops. “They simply do not provide the necessary support,” warns Kostuj. “And when it rains you should not underestimate the risk of slipping in the shoe, but when it comes to foot health, flip-flops are definitely better than high heels.”
Foot deformities: walking barefoot can relieve pain
The expert advises to walk barefoot as often as possible to strengthen the feet. A strengthened foot can relieve discomfort caused by foot deformities. “We see it over and over again in practice, especially in winter, when the footwear gets tighter, the patient’s complaints increase, while light and open footwear in the summer does the most good,” says the expert.
Barefoot walking not suitable for everyone
However, there are exceptions. Not everyone does well on their bare soles: “If the foot needs firm support due to certain illnesses or if there are nerve damage, for example due to diabetes mellitus, barefoot walking is not suitable, then the sole of the foot needs protection and padding,” says Kostuj. “Even if the patient has to wear insoles to compensate for a malposition, such as a kink, and relieve pain, extended barefoot walking is not recommended.”
Barefoot shoes during sports activate the natural cushioning function
However, those who have healthy feet or whose foot deformity causes no discomfort can easily walk barefoot – and even do sport without shoes – or walk with so-called barefoot shoes. It is important that you slowly get used to the new running feeling and give it the chance to adapt muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments to the new load.
A strong and healthy foot can even jog in barefoot shoes for long distances. “Walking barefoot stretches the entire foot and activates the natural cushioning function through muscles, tendons and ligaments to cushion shock in parts even better than in unsuitable, firm footwear, as the foot can react much more flexibly and compensate for bumps,” she says Orthopedist wearing barefoot shoes. “But it’s also true here: Listen to your feet, if you are in pain or do not feel well in general, if you’re barefoot put your shoes on.”