Monday, November 29, 2010
The fear of getting infections by going barefoot is irrational though understandable given the cultural ‘brainwashing’ we receive throughout childhood – doctors, camp counselors, teachers and parents constantly tell kids that going barefoot is dangerous. It’s an irrational fear however because it’s not based in fact or human experience, and I’m starting to get perturbed at chronically-shod people (like Dr. Crane) infecting the populace with erroneous ideas about barefooting. If you really want to know the hazards of going barefoot, wouldn’t it be best to ask a barefooter?
I recently asked several of my full-time barefooter friends if they’ve ever suffered an infection from going habitually barefoot. The answer was universally “No.” Several of them, in fact, became barefooters to rid themselves of continuing fungal infections (e.g., athlete’s foot or toenail fungus). I stress that these people have been living barefoot for years. I have been barefoot 95% of my life for the past three years, spending as much as 6 months continually barefoot, and like my barefooting friends I’ve suffered no ill-effects from doing so; I’ve in fact benefitted from the experience.
Dr. Crane confesses to believing that airports are disgusting. I can only assume she also thinks fast food restaurants are disgusting, hotels are disgusting, malls are disgusting… heck the whole world must be disgusting. I can’t imagine going through life feeling this way. The irony is that one of the most disgusting places you can put your foot is inside a shoe (if by disgusting she means “germy”). Most people are beginning to realize that shoes are incubators for bacteria and fungi, hence the horrible smell of shoes and the plague of fungal infections in the feet.
Let me address some of the specific threats mentioned by Dr. Crane at disgusting airports:
Plantar warts. This virus infection is caused by walking in wet environments, such as public locker rooms and swimming pools. This is another good example of how most of our shoe behavior is backwards. Normally, we go barefoot in the locker room, then strap on shoes and socks for the rest of the day. As I advise in The Barefoot Book, this is the worst thing we can do. Instead, wear shoes in the public shower and go barefoot the rest of the day. Any fungus you perhaps pick up in the wet environment will likely wear off in the following minutes and hours, saving you from infection. By contrast, putting your foot into a shoe only provides a warm, moist, stale environment for the fungus to grow and infect.
Unfortunately, experts like Dr. Crane are still spreading misconceptions about barefooting to the public. In truth, going barefoot is generally safe and is almost always healthier than wearing shoes.
*Dr. Crane's article can be found HERE.
Posted by Daniel Howell at 5:36 PM