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You may have read articles about the benefits of walking barefoot - they are not wrong. However, as with everything that has certain benefits, there are certain downsides too, which is what we will be looking into.
So, why do experts say you shouldn't walk barefoot, even at home?
Reasons Why You Shouldn't Walk Barefoot At Home
But is going barefoot at home good for our feet - or bad? Well, it depends. Even though it's fine to go barefoot, it's not for everyone.
In Asia and the Middle East, many cultures practice shoe-free homes. However, is going barefoot at home - or wearing soft fluffy slippers - a habit that we should all adopt?
Some podiatrists (medical specialists who treat foot or lower leg problems) believe the answer is a resounding 'no.' And it's not because they do not care about entering our homes with a few germs. Instead, they are concerned that walking barefoot around the house may expose our feet to structural damage .
Reason 1: Hinder the 'function' of the foot, causes knee and back pain
Our feet are not only at risk when we walk barefoot but also their biomechanical function. Although many generations before us walked barefoot, we should avoid it. Barefoot walking on hard surfaces leads to foot collapse, which results in tremendous stress on the foot and the rest of the body .
When we walk barefoot, our feet pronate (turn in) for longer periods, altering our biomechanics and the distribution of weight and pressure across the foot. This imbalance can affect other body parts, such as the knees and back. Consequently, our bodies may feel sore after a long day of walking barefoot or wearing shoes that do not support the foot arch, such as flip-flops and other flat shoes .
When you are older, walking barefoot at home is especially inadvisable. This is because women over 50 lose the fat pad in the ball of their foot, which reduces the cushioning of the foot. As a result, one is less able to protect their knees, hips, and lower backs from injury.
Reason 2: Cause imbalance, risk of foot deformities
It is possible that the imbalance caused by walking barefoot on hard surfaces will cause the progression of underlying foot deformities, such as bunions and hammertoes, and will lead to painful conditions associated with excessive pronation, such as arch/heel pain, shin splints/posterior tibial tendonitis, and Achilles tendonitis .
Reason 3: Risk of infections
Walking barefoot exposes our feet to bacterial and fungal organisms that can infect our skin and nails. Infections caused by these organisms can affect the look, odour, and comfort of the foot. Examples include athlete's foot and fungus. People with thickened, dry, and scaly feet often assume they need to scrub and moisturise. Still, they need an anti-fungal cream because they have a fungal infection .
These infections are highly contagious, so walking barefoot in communal baths and gyms can easily spread them. The organisms first infect the skin and then the nails, causing thickening, discolouration, brittleness and foul odour. After a while, the toes and skin become painful as the skin fissures and cracks and the nails thicken .
Reason 4: Worsen diabetes symptoms
Diabetes patients shouldn't go barefoot in public to avoid skin infections. A skin infection, like fungus, can affect a diabetic's hydration, which alters the skin's texture, tone, and turgor. Hardness and dryness may cause skin fissures, increasing the chance of getting another infection . In addition, due to their compromised immunity, diabetics have a harder time fighting off infections, worsening the infection. The infection could lead to amputation if it is severe .
On A Final Note...
Walking barefoot isn't always bad. Walking barefoot on carpet, grass, or sand is beneficial, but not on tiles or mosaics. By walking on soft surfaces, you improve circulation, which helps nourish the nerves, muscles, and bones of the feet and minimise swelling. Also, walking barefoot improves the strength and flexibility of the muscles and ligaments of the foot, improving foot function, reducing foot injuries, and improving posture and balance. It's fine to walk barefoot on a clean, soft surface. Don't be afraid to dance on the grass on a nice, dry day.
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