Win a copy of Building Community this week in the City Repair forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • paul wheaton
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
  • Joylynn Hardesty
stewards:
  • r ranson
  • James Freyr
  • Burra Maluca
master gardeners:
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Ash Jackson
  • thomas rubino
  • Carla Burke

Going Shoeless: A discussion about barefoot living

 
Posts: 8
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi, all!

I'm new here, and this is my first post.

I'm so glad to have found this particular thread. I injured my ankle two years back, and I am a serious, competitive runner.

I took nearly 10 months to recover, and when I eventually returned to running, I went down with a stress reaction. I mainly worked on my form to address this issue, in addition to changing my strength training routine, but I kept facing severe pain.

I took a friend's advice and began barefooting it at home, where I spend most of my time. It has really changed my life. I am a better runner now, and the ankle no longer troubles me. I also train barefoot on lawn/grass, which also helps a lot.

I have shared this with many of my running friends, but they don't think barefooting it was the gamechanger.

Now, being barefoot is more than just a means to be a better runner. It has become a political statement. I don't buy new clothes, either. The lase time I got a new shirt was 4 years back. The shirt is still in great shape. I work from home as an academic editor, and I have no need to please people with my dressing, which I think is a luxury.

Anyway, Happy New Year, all!
 
steward
Posts: 5144
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1843
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mark: Sorry about the injury. I sure missed "runner's high" after I injured my calf muscle as part of my transition to barefoot living. I'm glad you are able to run again.

Chronic aches in my knees, hips, and back disappeared after I started living barefoot.

The advise that I frequently hear on barefoot running groups, for developing the most natural gait, is to run on pavement. The theory being that there is less margin for error, and the body quickly adapts to the most efficient form for avoiding landing shock. My transition to barefoot living took a good two years to lengthen the calf-muscles and Achilles tendon, and loosen up the foot/ankle joints.
 
Mark Rainer
Posts: 8
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
@Joseph

Thanks!

Being unable to run as much as one would like is truly depressing, so I understand what it must be like to miss or crave the "runner's high." It is such a nice feeling--face red with good blood circulation and exhaustion and the feeling of contentment after a good cool down!

I am refraining from training barefoot on pavements--at least for another 3 months. But I must certainly--and I want to--do it. Ive been imagining what a barefoot trail run must be like. That's also something I'd like to try.

And 2 years to acclimatize to barefoot living? Wow! How much do we take for granted?! Take away footwear and it necessitates a lifestyle change. Uff! Congrats on the sustained barefooting!  
 
Posts: 499
Location: Rural Unincorporated Los Angeles County Zone 10b
32
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm in the middle... while I don't go barefoot I don't wear shoes either.
(neanderthal feet... ;  )



Instead I wear Tevas all year round. It's California so the tan is year round as well. Now I can't stand to wear regular shoes because my feet get so hot and feel really cramped. Once you give up shoes, you never go back! (lol)

 
steward
Posts: 5509
Location: United States
2182
transportation forest garden tiny house books urban greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
After having walked minimal for a few months, trying to approximate shoeless, I think going shoeless is awesome, and I love it, so long as I am walking on soil and earth. Walking on concrete, tile, and stone with my barefeet hurts my back and neck, because the concrete and stone do not have the same flex and give that walking on soil does. I have noticed that soil gives when I walk on it, which I think is why it is easier on the body. I don't feel any pain or jostling of my back when I walk on good soil.

At the moment, I am thinking I will probably be wearing normal shoes when walking on concrete and stone, because the cushions of shoes seem to protect my back from some of the hurt I get from walking on stone and concrete. And for soil, I think I'll keep going barefoot or minimal, because that feels good to me.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 5144
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1843
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dave: My experience was that walking/running on concrete was my best strategy for learning the barefoot gait. Soft surfaces allowed a continuation of the heel-strike gait which was the way I learned to walk (in shoes). Walking or running on concrete requires landing on the forefoot to avoid transmitting shocks through my knees, hips, and back joints with every step.

It took me a good two years for my gait to fully change, and for my muscles, joints, tendons, and habits to readjust. I pay much more attention to my body these days, and if I'm feeling a jolt in the joints with each step, i take it as a sign that I have fallen back into my shod heel-strike gait. I've been wearing shoes this winter, and catch myself often doing the old heel-strick gait. My knees are so sore.

 
Dave Burton
steward
Posts: 5509
Location: United States
2182
transportation forest garden tiny house books urban greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you, Joseph, That helps me see I still have learning and progress to make with changing my gait and walking, so that going barefoot is more enjoyable, for me, than just when I am simply on soil. I'll get my minimal shoes out again today and try to focus on forefoot walking.

EDIT: I put my minimal shoes back on and focused on walking on the forefront of my feet, and my back felt a lot better. So, this part requires a bit of focus right now. Hopefully it will become second nature eventually after I practice focusing on it more when I walk.
 
gardener
Posts: 669
Location: PNW
300
trees books food preservation cooking writing homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am not barefoot but have been minimalist for a year and I found this link  (and video) helpful.  Agree with Joseph. Walking on pavement is the best reminder for me to refocus on what I think of as rolling my hips. It makes it pain free.

https://xeroshoes.com/barefoot-running-tips/how-to-walk-barefoot/
 
Dave Burton
steward
Posts: 5509
Location: United States
2182
transportation forest garden tiny house books urban greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you, Sonja! I'll try to practice the walk described in the video from the article you linked to

 
Posts: 1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
.
Anyone here who lives in London, UK???

Healthy BAREFOOT lifestyle:

I am looking for local people who live the modern liberal healthy BAREFOOT lifestyle to create a barefoot local community. South-West London, UK, (about Wimbledon, Merton, etc.)

Furthermore, I am looking for a DOMESTIC (or any other (please, suggest)) part time job where I could work BAREFOOT. Please, suggest. For example: housekeeping, cleaning, shopping, etc. or SUGGEST if YOU have a concrete job offer, please.
BAREFOoOT-10-PROCENT.jpg
[Thumbnail for BAREFOoOT-10-PROCENT.jpg]
 
pollinator
Posts: 108
Location: Central Virginia
26
bike medical herbs wood heat
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was going barefoot a lot in the 60's-70's and discovered positive and negative aspects of this.

Positive... stimulates reflexology points in the feet by walking on irregular surfaces, puts you in direct contact with the earth, feels really good on grass, sand and certain other surfaces.

Negative... you can be injured by stepping on the wrong things; it can cause your feet to spread, so that when you do wear shoes you'll need triple-E; if you're running your knees and everything else is taking more impact without running shoes which absorb impact forces.

In the West it is difficult due to puncture vines.

On a beach in Mexico once I stepped on a marine catfish, the spine went an inch deep behind my 2nd toe, I had to yell at a guy there to pull the fish out of me, he was squeamish until I screamed "goddam it pull it out right now you f----ing..." etc. My foot swelled up like a football, I couldn't walk for days, but I was lucky as those fish are toxic and the Mexican fishermen there were telling me people had lost hands after being cut by one of those fish.

Here in the Piedmont it's all grass and dirt with no puncture vines or marine catfish, so a lot safer.
 
Greg Mamishian
Posts: 499
Location: Rural Unincorporated Los Angeles County Zone 10b
32
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Victor Skaggs wrote:Negative... you can be injured by stepping on the wrong things; it can cause your feet to spread, so that when you do wear shoes you'll need triple-E;



You're right Victor. My toes all reverted from their former "canned sardines" state to spread out and separate from each other. However, for me it's not a negative as I'm never going back to wearing shoes again. It's not a hinderance in my job as I work for myself and enjoy the luxury of wearing whatever the hell I want on my feet.

if you're running your knees and everything else is taking more impact without running shoes which absorb impact forces.



This is true, which is one reason why I wear Tevas, to protect my feet from both impact and rocks.




In the West it is difficult due to puncture vines.



I hear ya. (lol) For years we have been waging a constant war against them and have almost completely eliminated them from our land. After I hike, I check the sandal bottoms to make sure they don't carry any seeds back home.

Here in the Piedmont it's all grass and dirt with no puncture vines or marine catfish, so a lot safer.



That's sounds great. :  ) The trick is to find a place and a way to live there that works best for you. There are an infinite number of different places and individual approaches so everyone is free to go in any direction.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 5144
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1843
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I ran my first race today. A barefoot mile to start off the 4th of July parade. Time 9:40.
hyrum-mile-2019.jpg
4th of july race, hyrum utah
Barefoot mile
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 5144
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1843
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm entering my 4th winter of living habitually barefoot.

Back in September, when we got our first cold day, I whined a lot about being barefoot for another winter. Then I adapted. I went barefoot until a few days ago (late November) when snow arrived and stuck.  I'm putting shoes on if I have to be out for a long time, but not for quick trips. It's still warm-ish slushy snow. When it gets cold enough that the ice gets like knife blades, then I'll wear shoes.

I have learned the temperatures where it feels like frost-bite is imminent. I put shoes (or socks) on before going out in those temperatures.

I'm still running barefoot. In cold weather I put on a pair of thick socks. And I run in mid-afternoon, only on sunny days.  And when the pavement is dry.

The first winter, I was a barefoot zealot. This winter I'm being cautious and conservative. I'm wearing footwear that is soft, zero-drop, and extra roomy.

---

Enough about winter. Here's more general barefoot news.

My toes continue to spread, straighten, and un-twist. My feet are getting longer. One toe is still hammer-toed. It's not dragging the ground any more and wearing the skin off. Wishing that I had taken better photos early on.

In the fall, I went running on a trail with horse-chestnut burrs. I ran through them for 1/4 mile and missed them all. Felt glorious to be so coordinated.

Sometimes, I still find myself using my old gait of stomp, stomp, stomp -- where each stomp transmits jolts through ankles, knees, hips, and back, and neck. Ugh! When I become aware of it, I switch to my gliding forefoot-landing gait. My calves have finally adapted enough that I can walk that way as long as I want.

I retired from beekeeping. So disposed of my beekeeping boots. They have had a hole in the side of them for 5 years. A bee finally stung me through that hole on the last day that I wore them. In any case, they no longer fit. My feet have out-grown them.

beekeeping-boots.jpg
beekeeping boots
Discarding holy beekeeping boots
 
Posts: 25
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Amazing how things change and can change so quickly...

I think prior to a couple of days ago, maybe once I had walked on snow barefoot, maybe. Three out of the past four days I have walked on the lovely corn snow I have around my house. Not fun to say the least. I think I like gravel better:)

Today I decided to really try something new and different since it was right around the freezing point. I decided to go for a nice 2 mile sidewalk walk barefoot. I have walked rocky/rutted hiking paths on a few occasions in the past but I hadn't ever really tried any decent length pavement/sidewalk walking before. I thought I might find sand on the sidewalk from the town salting/sanding the sidewalks after so I wasn't surprised by it. I was surprised how easy it seemed to go on the feet. Granted all my recent activity, not in the past couple of years had been on the hiking trail which was not fun thanks to gravel in spots on the hiking trail.

I already had the idea about changing/watching the way you walk so I was putting focus on trying to always land toes first instead of heel first. By the time I got home I was starting to notice something occurring if I put my mind to it. I found myself using the knee to force the heel down at the end of the step. I was surprised to see how much I was paying attention to the way I was walking and was able to notice small nuances in my gait.

The other thing I found after I got home kinda surprised me and kinda didn't. I have several blood blisters on the ball of each foot. I also found the calluses on the heels had rubbed off, this didn't bother me any and actually I'm glad to finally have the calluses gone.

My question, a very poor question under the circumstances, what would typically cause the blood blisters when you are walking barefooted? I had in two spots on both feet, one right behind the big toe and the other one right behind the second toe.

I haven't did much of any barefoot walking, most of my life so this new for me and I don't have much in the way of calluses built up. I just started experimenting with the idea a few days ago and figured why not start with walking on snow first, be real crazy from the get go.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 5144
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1843
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Hank Fletcher wrote:what would typically cause the blood blisters when you are walking barefooted?



The blood blisters were caused by doing more than the feet were able to handle. I participate in a number of barefoot running sites. Newbies frequently ask how they should get started. Those with a lot of experience say, "Start gradually, and transition slowly". I usually add, "even slower than you can imagine".

As humans, we tend to avoid doing activities that have injured us in the past. So the best way for me to want to  continue a barefoot lifestyle, is to avoid injury that would make me want to avoid going barefoot.

Blisters are caused by a shearing motion against the skin, so mechanically, I'd guess that the gait included some type of twisting or scuffing.

For what it's worth, even though I live habitually barefoot, I don't have calluses on my feet. My feet are as soft and supple as my hands.
 
Posts: 34
Location: Mendocino County, California, 9a
4
forest garden bee greening the desert
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Snake
I stepped on a rattle snake while barefoot watering veggies a few years ago.  I felt animal-ness below me as i was transferring my weight.  I was stopping my forward weight transfer as i looked down.  Before I could think I jumped backwards, yelled and raised my hands.  It didn't try to strike, it just stayed there.

Being barefoot allowed me to know what I was stepping on, although it could have bitten my toesies easy without protection.

TBJ's Tracker School
I went barefoot or with thin, flat-soled shoes for a few years after I attended the tracker school a bunch.  They call modern footwear "Coffins for our feet" -TB III.  Modern footwear limits blood flow, movement, tactile perception, agility, speed, temp perception, aeration, stealth and build bacteria/fungus.  

The tracker school advocates a "fox walk" which is a relaxed, nature-connection-enhancing movement. Most of videos I saw under a "fox walk" search did a decent job at teaching it. However, none mentioned that the tracker school advocated the foxwalk as our baseline movement.  Baseline means 'relaxed / typical'.  For example wild dog's baseline movement is a trot, cat's is a nap "fox walk" ...so just watch them. ...Or walk barefoot on sharp gravel, you'd learn the fox walk real quick.

If you fox walk, barefoot while using wide-angle / splatter / owl vision you will experience the forest like a widescreen movie and not need to stare down at a 55degree angle like most do to avoid tripping.  ...Cause you feel stuff before you've transferred your weight and can be looking around more than down.  

The longest run I've gone on was about 12 miles barefoot, and I'm not a runner.  I used what they call the fox run.

There is a certain ground temp which you shoultn't go barefoot if its colder than... I think they teach 50F (?)

Since I'm plugging them so hard: note their school isn't perfect. TBJ is just a person. TB III is just a person.


Here is a video of a running tips from pros. I was happy to see his run [4:50 into video] is exactly what  would suggest aiming towards running.  Short steps, bent legs, front foot takes body weight when it is fully under you or even after, push forward with your butt+ quads.
 
Hank Fletcher
Posts: 25
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

Hank Fletcher wrote:what would typically cause the blood blisters when you are walking barefooted?



The blood blisters were caused by doing more than the feet were able to handle. I participate in a number of barefoot running sites. Newbies frequently ask how they should get started. Those with a lot of experience say, "Start gradually, and transition slowly". I usually add, "even slower than you can imagine".



Okay, I'll bite, I have been looking all late last night and all morning this morning at some of the BR sites. I had to get across a busy stretch of road at one point on the two mile walk yesterday and ran across it at by the time I got to the other side I knew I just had an uh-oh moment(extremely positivie, not negative uh-oh moment). It was definitely the weirdest run I have ever experienced in my life, felt so good yet I knew it shouldn't.

I'll bite, if I were to have even thoughts, I'm hoping I don't, of getting into barefoot running, is it better to start out barefoot running or barefoot walking. Do you let the feet toughen up first before you start running or just start running from the get go. I know on one of the sites I saw it mentioned to avoid running on grass(granted with nothing but snow around here right now grass is not much of an option for a while:)) and instead train yourself by running on asphalt, and run fast not slow. So if the idea is to start small and build up do you start walking or start running first. I know I was shocked at the difference in speed between some grass I did find and the paved sidewalk I spent most of the time walking on yesterday. I couldn't believe the pick up in speed on grass. I never would have thought I would see that much of an increase in speed.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 5144
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1843
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A typical runner's meme is to increase distance by 10% per week.

My experience was that the skin of my feet adapted quickly. What took years to adapt were the calf-muscles. Because, walking over a one inch heel for most of my life, created calf-muscles that were one inch shorter than they would have been if I had lived habitually barefoot. So I had to grow an extra inch of length in the calf-muscles. That took about 18 months of living and running habitually barefoot. In the process, I stretched the calf muscles faster than they were growing, and tore one of them. That sucked!!! There were also lots of shifts that occurred in my toes, feet, ankles, knees, hips, back, neck. Those take time and patience. No point rushing into an injury. It took a lifetime to get to my pre-barefoot shape. Might as well plan on a couple years for the remediation work.

I started running barefoot before I started walking barefoot. That was because I enjoyed the barefoot runs so much that I couldn't stand the thought of putting shoes on when I was done. My initial barefoot runs were around 300 feet long, which I did 3 times per week for weeks. Then when that was really comfortable, i did barefoot runs of about 750 feet for months. Then started increasing distances week by week.

My strategy for barefoot running is to run lightly, and joyfully. Like I'm playing a hide and seek game, and want to sneak lightly past the seeker. I don't give any thought to pacing, other than to choose a pace that can be maintained indefinitely. Easy, light, delicate. My biggest challenge in learning to run was slowing down the effort to match the available breath.

The advice on barefoot running groups is generally to start by ditching footwear, and running on concrete. The body quickly self-corrects the gait.

 
Hank Fletcher
Posts: 25
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
After having company showing up unexpectedly yesterday right about the time I was going to go outside for a short walk and maybe a small run as well I, instead, woke up this morning, quite early as normal, and finally looked at the scenario and said the heck with it. I knew I wanted to stay as much on pavement as much as possible and stay off the sidewalk. I knew the road should be fairly clean while the sidewalk would have the salt/sand on it which I think helped caused the blisters back on Friday. I knew that meant getting on the road before the traffic picked up so I head out around 5:30AM for a short .5 mile walk with a couple of short 100 feet or so stretches of unthinkable running. Definitely need a lot of work on the mental side of barefoot running, especially free willingly. . I can't except the idea of me running, yet alone barefoot running.

Before the first run stretch I was noticing one thing which really surprised me. I was able to feel the foot step at times and at other times I couldn't feel the foot step, aka forefoot vs heel. I even noticed the difference  on the short run stretches. I don't remember noticing anything like it on Friday afternoon. I think the lack of traffic, both lack of any vibration/noise from the traffic and the lack of distractions from the traffic, made the difference. I definitely realize it will take some big reprogramming of the mind to get the forefoot landing as the new norm.

The real problem I notice right now is the lack of walking availability in the house. I have several things I want to experiment with but in the house it is practically impossible as their isn't steps needed to get from one room to the other. Patience is the key. I think I will head out each morning for a short walk/run around the block as it is the most walking I see all day anymore.

I was surprised the feet felt good afterward. The only real trouble was the walk out to the road and back in from the road, especially around the sidewalk out by the road where the salt/sand lays on the sidewalk. I need to get use to that darn stuff:) The feet weren't even all that cold given the temperature was around 30 degrees. Sounds like the same, maybe a few degrees colder tomorrow morning.
 
Victor Skaggs
pollinator
Posts: 108
Location: Central Virginia
26
bike medical herbs wood heat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Hank Fletcher wrote: I knew I wanted to stay as much on pavement as much as possible and stay off the sidewalk.



My suggestion is that you find a dirt path or grass to run on. Pavement is hard and will wreck your knees, and do so even faster if you're barefoot.

At first the irregularities, pebbles, etc., will bother you, but one's feet become accustomed to that. I can walk over gravel and other surfaces on which other people cannot walk at all.

The hard paved surfaces are eroding your knees, I'm quite sure.
 
Hank Fletcher
Posts: 25
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Victor Skaggs wrote:

Hank Fletcher wrote: I knew I wanted to stay as much on pavement as much as possible and stay off the sidewalk.



My suggestion is that you find a dirt path or grass to run on. Pavement is hard and will wreck your knees, and do so even faster if you're barefoot.

At first the irregularities, pebbles, etc., will bother you, but one's feet become accustomed to that. I can walk over gravel and other surfaces on which other people cannot walk at all.

The hard paved surfaces are eroding your knees, I'm quite sure.



It kills your knees/hips/back because you are landing on the wrong part of the foot. Do some research on the right way to run/run barefoot and you could save yourself a ton of time/money/pain thanks to it.

When you land on the heel you send 4-5 times the body weight all the way up through the leg into the spine. First the force has to get through your ankle, then your knee, then your hip, before it hits the spine. Stop landing each foot on the heel and instead start landing each step on the ball of the foot. This lets your foot act as a shock absorber and removes the brunt force of the fall before it gets the chance to work its way up your body.  I notice a big difference between landing on the heel and the ball of foot. Right now I am trying to convert myself in band marching mode. Raise the knee at the outset of the step. This pretty much forces me to land with the ball of the foot and makes for a much softer landing which I do not notice unlike when I land on the heel and feel it come up through the body. The difference is incredible. I was doing it both walking and running this morning while I was out for my half mile barefoot walk/run on pavement.

Plus, as an added benefit right now most of the ground is covered in corn snow so I want nothing to do with trying to walk on that stuff.  I had three days last week walking on it and its not fun.  I would much rather walk on gravel than this darn corn snow. Can't wait until we get some fresh snow and then I'll go play in it but until we get a decent snowfall I will definitely stick to the pavement.
 
What's that smell? I think this tiny ad may have stepped in something.
Rocket Mass Heater Manual - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/8/rmhman
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic