"I'd go barefoot all the time if I could."

We hear that sentiment ALL the time! Really. You CAN go barefoot much more often and in many more places! This site has tons of resources to help society become more barefoot friendly, but you must begin with your own two feet.

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Saturday
Jul282012

Olympics Features Several Sports With Barefoot Athletes

Many athletes find that their sport is best performed while barefoot. After all, going barefoot is a great way to maintain strength, flexibility and sensation in the feet!

As the Games of the 30th Olympiad begin in London, here's a list of events (in no particular order) that are worth checking out and regularly feature barefoot athletes:

  • Diving
  • Swimming
  • Sychronized Swimming
  • Water Polo
  • Artistic Gymnastics
  • Rhythmic Gymnastics
  • Beach Volleyball
  • Judo
  • Taekwondo

We believe that if athletes in these sports can safely go barefoot, walking around in daily life -- even in public -- can be perfectly fine.

To check out ALL the sports represented at the Olympics, visit the official Olympics site.

Friday
Mar112011

Tsunami Floods Can Be Danger to Unprotected Feet

AP PhotoPrimalfoot Alliance supporters are encouraged to wear protective, close-toed footwear if they must walk through tsunami flood waters caused by the recent earthquake in Japan. Because flood waters are often murky and likely to contain contaminants, going barefoot in these conditions introduces a high risk of injury to bare feet. Toes can easily be cut on unseen threats below the surface of flood waters.

If you are in areas affected -- or potentially affected -- by flooding, wearing close-toed shoes will provide protection against injuries. Open-toed footwear like flip flops and sandals are not reliable due to skin still being exposed to unseen dangers. Those who prefer primal shoes should be well protected by most brands that are available. We recommend you avoid primal "shoes" that are made of only soft, easily-punctured fabric around the toes. A rubber sole is recommended.

After leaving flood waters, clean your bare feet with clean water and antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer gel or even another clean, wet material like baby wipes. It's important that any contaminants that got on your feet from wading through flood waters is washed off. Any small cuts or abrasions that were already on your feet could still be infected by these contaminents.

To everyone affected by the earthquake in Japan and subsequent tsunami waters, we're thinking of you. Stay safe to go barefoot another day.

Tuesday
Sep212010

Preparing for Barefoot Activity in Cooler Months

Primalfoot Alliance president and founder Barefoot Michael Buttgen recently posted to his blog, BarefootandGrounded.com, an article worth passing along. While going barefoot in warmer months is ideal, the northern hemisphere will soon see cooler temperatures sweep in with the arrival of autumn and winter. The Primalfoot Alliance is re-publishing Michael's post for those who wish to stay barefoot as much as possible in the coming months.

Many people are open to the idea of going without shoes in the summertime, but get "cold feet" about the idea of baring their feet in the fall and winter months. It's true that we humans would typically prefer to be warm instead of cold. That said, there are still ways that you can get yourself -- and your feet -- more comfortable with the idea of going without shoes as the days get shorter.

Among questions regarding broken glass or fungal infections, another concern that we barefooters regularly hear about is cold feet. "Don't your feet get cold?," one person may ask. Another may state, "I'd like to go barefoot more often, but I can't stand for my feet to get cold," or "My feet get cold really easily."

For someone who truly is open to the idea of going barefoot in the cooler seasons of the year, my top advice would be this: "Get used to it." At a glance, that statement could come across as calloused and uncaring, but it's meant with all respect, sincerity and kindness.

Going barefoot when it's cooler is really an exercise in preparation and acclimation before the thermometer dips. Just as Rome wasn't built in a day, you can't expect to be able to walk barefoot outside on the chilly sidewalk and immediately feel all right about it. Preparing your feet for the winter months and acclimating them is the best way to stay barefoot as much as possible until Spring springs forth again next year.

Now obviously, a lot of this is dependent on where you actually live and what the thermometer is doing. The longer and colder that your winter is, the harder this is going to be. You also must realize that there will be times that going barefoot just isn't smart. Just as there are occasions when you feel it's best to wear gloves outside, there will be occasions when you should wear shoes outside. These factors are so variable depending on your geography and personal tolerance to cold that I will leave much of this to your personal discretion.

Here is some general advice on how to stay barefoot as long as possible during the next several months:

Go Barefoot NOW

To successfully go barefoot in winter, you must work your way into it. Barefoot runners don't start off running marathon distances and you shouldn't start going barefoot in winter. The sooner that you adopt more barefoot activity, the more likely it is that your winter barefooting will be successful.

I truly believe that the more an individual goes barefoot, the more comfortable they become with the sensations from going barefoot. That goes not only for what's underfoot (i.e. concrete, carpet, toys, rocks, etc.), but also the surrounding temperature. The more your feet get used to experiencing all the sensations of going without shoes, the better they will be set up to get through the winter as bare as possible for as long as possible.

Keep Going Barefoot Outdoors

Find opportunities to go barefoot outside while the weather is still generally warm right now. Walk in the grass. Play in the dirt. Stroll along the pavement. As the thermometer begins to fall over the coming weeks, KEEP going barefoot outside. Your feet will adapt to the cooler ground temperatures over time. The trick is to be consistent. You can't expect your feet to react as you'd like when you haven't prepared them for new sensations.

Stay Active

The winter months are often attributed to higher rates of deaths, outbreaks of the flu and even the occurrence of a seasonal depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). These are all caused by -- or at least attributed to -- the fact that people are more sedentary in winter. It makes sense. If it's cold outside, you do more things inside. If you're inside more, you tend to sit around and do less.

Keep your bare feet warm by increasing the blood circulation in them via activity. If you own a treadmill, use it to at least walk barefoot. Run if you can. Exercise regularly to keep your whole body feeling healthy. Give your feet regular massages -- or better yet, have your partner do it for you -- to keep the blood circulating better in your feet and your muscles warm.

Wear Socks If Preferred

My purist barefooter friends may frown on this recommendation, but I give it as an alternative to keeping your shoes on inside the house all the time this winter. Socks will generally allow you to move your feet as freely as going barefoot while still adding a layer of warmth to them. Toe socks are the best for this. Avoid the temptation to put on big, thick, tight and/or fuzzy slippers. They often alter your walking gait and can even be as restrictive as shoes.

Cover Up When Sitting Down

I'm all for a warm, snuggly blanket and see no problem with covering my lap, legs and feet with one while I'm sitting around in the winter. The advantage to barefooters doing this is that it keeps our feet warmer without having to do a whole lot of work. Keep blankets around where you regularly sit in your house and tuck your feet inside to keep your piggies free, but toasty.

Wear Minimal Footwear When Necessary

Again, I'll probably have some disagreement with me on this one, but the last thing you want to do is turn yourself off to going barefoot. When it really is too cold or uncomfortable to bare it all (below the ankles, friends), minimal footwear can often provide just the right amount of warmth or protection to get you through to the next opportunity to go unshod.

For example, I usually wear flip flops out to the car when the temps dip below freezing -- even with light snow on the ground. While my feet might get a bit chilly for that short trek, I always remember that my car heater works well and that the floorboard will get nice and toasty very soon. The flip flops then might get worn into wherever I'm going but quickly come off once I'm back indoors.

If wearing sandals outside in the winter is a bit too adventurous for you, choose minimal footwear instead of big winter boots when there's no heavy snow cover on the ground and you'll be outside for short periods. Keep your feet as flexible and free as you can while keeping them just as warm as you'd like.

Don't Worry About Your Feet

Some might think that going barefoot in cooler temperatures is dangerous. I can assure you that if the thermometer is indicating temperatures above freezing, you WILL be okay to go barefoot. If the air isn't freezing, your feet can't freeze either.

Dry, cracked feet are a concern for some in the wintertime. Just as shoes cause many ailments of the feet due to their warm, moist conditions, they also do so in the winter. Sweaty feet in the colder months can lead to cracked skin once shoes are removed. If your feet are regularly allowed to breath and not sweat inside shoes in the winter, they'll be that much ahead of the game. Now, the drier months of the year do increase the risks for dry feet. To alleviate this problem, regularly use a moisturizing cream on them. Notice I said "cream" and not "lotion." Creams are thicker and contain less alcohol than lotion. The less alcohol, the better.

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Again, this is all subject to personal comfort and the climate in which you live. Certainly do what YOU feel is best for YOUR feet. I'm not responsible if you do something stupid or get hurt because you pushed your limits too far. That said, I do think that taking this advice will help you stay barefoot as much as possible while we wait for the warmer temperatures to return in Spring.

Photos: Thermometer: http://hillsteadblog.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/thermometer.jpg; Autumn Leaves: Image: Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net; Flip flops in the snow: http://nikkigsblog.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/flip-flops-in-snow.jpg