Barefoot is great if you don't have an inherent structural problem like flat feet, as I do. We didn't evolve wearing shoes with thick foam padding and the fancy junk we have today. Being critical of the barefoot movement, fad, crowd, nuts, whatever you want to call them, only reveals how weak and insulated our own feet are and how ignorant we have become of something that should be natural. However, just like benching heavy pounds, anyone can do it in time, you just have to build to it gradually. You can't go out and run a marathon barefoot having never run 1000 feet barefoot, and you can't hike on rough surfaces having never done that before. Basically, your/ our feet might look mature, but they are really baby feet, having never grown and developed the musculature, skeletal, skin, and support structure necessary to run comfortably or hike comfortably bare or in a minimal thin sandal or shoe.
One thing people don't understand today is that we walk unnaturally due to our developmental use of thick soled, and thick heel shoes. People who walk, run, or hike in thin sandals (not tevas), moccasins, or barefoot don't land like a NAZI on their heels. Mid-foot and fore-foot landing is normal, and it takes advantage of the natural shock absorbancy of the foot's structure. Saying:
No, I value my feet
only reveals how far from using our body and wrapping ourselves in excessive padding we have come, since it assumes that barefootedness is bad, padding good, and somehow we are better off landing heel-toe and placing hard shock onto our heel bones.
There have been studies going back at least 110 years where doctors have examined the feet and walking pattern of "primitive" non-shoe wearing people vs westerners. Pointy toe-box shoes of today, high heels, cowboy boots, and even the north face hiking sneakers I have all restrict toe movement. Photographs taken of people who haven't worn our modern foot mutilators (shoes) have feet with toes that are spread out wider. Yes, they walk differently, and according to the studies, they also don't have the knee, back, hip, and ankle problems many westerners do. Supposedly, those Indians in Mexico in Copper Canyon who wear or wore nothing but cheap, thin and flimsy sandals and ran long distances all the time, they weren't going to doctors complaining of the problems that many of the trained modern runners do. When you get right down to it, people in the west like to be horrified by Chinese foot binding of little girls in the past, but we are ignorantly doing a very similar thing.
Of course, this much like the modern fad of household sterilization, where people have been convinced that we need sterile surfaces all the time, and we use harsh chemicals to clean floors, windows, tables and so on, and we wash our hands in anti-microbial soaps. The problem is that we evolved with microbes, and using these products has had an affect on our immune function, and the excess use of anti-microbial soaps creates resistant organisms which, like anti-biotic resistant high virulence staph, won't be affected by our defenses when we really need them to be.
When you get right down to it, we always seem to take an extreme approach to things. Maybe we don't need to wash in triclocarbon all the time, just when we're going in to surgery. Maybe we don't need to clean the table with bleach all the time, just after we cut up raw chicken on it. Maybe we don't need to wear thick heavy shoes all the time or go barefoot all the time, but we might like to wear a heavy shoe when cutting a tree with a chainsaw or a lawn with a power mower, and wear a thin sandal to run on bare ground, or even go barefoot if we are so accustomed. With the kids in flip flops all the time these days, you should be able to go unnoticed in a thin sandal in stores and restaurants. Just don't run or walk heel-toe. Also, hand washing is effective without anti-microbial chemicals because the friction and force of the water removes the microbes from the skin. Some bacteria, like Clostridium defficile
, which, in October of 2010, I was told is in "outbreak status" in the Phoenix area, is a spore forming bacteria that causes severe diarrhea in the infected. Alcohol gels and the anti-bacterial soaps are not effective on them. What is effective is the force of 20 to 30 seconds of vigorous hand washing. Trouble is, just like with shoes and boots causing people to walk lazily and have skeletal issues, these sterilizing agents have made people lazy and people aren't washing their hands effectively after a bowel movement and they are spreading the spores.
Oh, I checked, I like it "Yes, all the time", because even though I only do it in the house, I like it
all the time. I just can't do it.
Nothing more enjoyable than a good hike out of town.