Barefoot running has moved from weird to phenomenon in the past few years. Many thousands – perhaps millions – of people have kicked off their shoes and at least tried the barefoot running thing. That’s good. Running is a complex biophysical process and barefoot is the most natural way to do it. People are discovering that the bells-and-whistles that have sold running shoes for the past few decades do more harm than good since they change that complex, biophysical way in which we run.
Now, what about walking?
It should be no surprise that shoes change the way we walk, too. And surprise again, those changes are negative and unhealthy. Should you then walk barefoot? Yes! Even if you’re an avid runner you take many more walking steps per day than you do running steps. If you’re walking in shoes you are putting extra stress on your joints and causing them undue wear-and-tear. Undoubtedly, the damage done by walking in shoes is slower than that done while running in shoes because walking is less impactful, but you’re taking more walking steps than running steps. And the damage adds up over the years.
But is barefoot walking weird? Well, remember... modern shoes have only been on the scene for a short time compared to the eons in which man has walked barefoot – or nearly so – on the Earth, so it’s definitely not weird as human locomotion goes. However, we do live in a shoe-addicted culture, so yes; it may be weird in the sense that it’s not (yet) normal. Perhaps you will attract a few stares if you walk around the neighborhood shoeless, but like running, all it takes is a few people willing to kick off their shoes and stroll to move it from weird to phenomenal.
So kick 'em off and take a walk.
PS. Tomorrow (June 11, 2011) is YOUR DAY WITHOUT SHOES, an excellent opportunity to try the barefoot walking thing!