hiking barefoot

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Do you like hiking barefoot?

Yes, all the time
2
5%
Yes, under certain conditions
7
17%
No, I value my feet
33
79%
 
Total votes: 42

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azdesertfather
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hiking barefoot

Post by azdesertfather » Aug 22 2011 9:30 pm

Seriously? This is a burgeoning trend? Are there others of you out there??
Tucson REI — Barefoot Running Information Session

Date: 9/21/2011
Event Location: Tucson REI
Time: 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. (MST)
Presenter: REI Specialist

Description: Are you curious about the new trend in "barefoot" running? Come to our informational clinic to learn more about this emerging sport! We'll cover topics such as the history of barefoot running, the technology behind it, the benefits of this type of running, and some precautions to keep in mind.
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." — Henry David Thoreau

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big_load
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by big_load » Aug 22 2011 10:14 pm

azdesertfather wrote:Seriously? This is a burgeoning trend? Are there others of you out there??
It comes and goes every few years, most notably since Abebe Bekila won the 1960 Olympic Marathon barefoot. (He wore shoes when he won again in 1964). Not many people can tolerate going barefoot over a whole running career, so the fad dies off after a while and doesn't start up again until the lapsed converts are out of the picture. I think this is the third time it flared up since I started running, and I often point out (as I do here again), that while I knew people who picked it up in each previous fad, none kept it up as long as the start of the next fad, or resumed it when the next fad kicked in.

It really does work for some people, and many of them are reasonable about it.

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te_wa
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by te_wa » Aug 22 2011 10:36 pm

rei's clinic on barefoot running seems to have little to do with barefoot hiking, those are seperate activities.
:D

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big_load
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by big_load » Aug 22 2011 11:19 pm

te-wa wrote:rei's clinic on barefoot running seems to have little to do with barefoot hiking, those are separate activities.
I don't run barefoot, but I backpacked barefoot for a bit less than a half mile once, carrying about 45 pounds. (It was Thanksgiving in the Gila, and darn cold). You know how sometimes you get a pebble in your shoe and begin to wonder how much it has to bother you before it's worth stopping to fix it? I found the same thing is true about cactus spines when you're hiking barefoot.

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chumley
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by chumley » Aug 22 2011 11:33 pm

I've never hiked barefoot, but I have gone extended periods of time barefoot in my daily life, including one year where I never wore shoes at all ... including a summer in Phoenix, walking on concrete, pavement, etc.

I hate shoes, and choose to remove them whenever possible. Nowadays I'm always barefoot at home and all day in my office. Basically the only exception is for sanitary purposes, where I will always throw on some flip flops when I go to the public restroom. And when I'm out and about anywhere. People look at you funny if you're barefoot in the grocery store. I've gotten kicked out of places for that. (Not exactly sure how it's more unsanitary for me to walk through a store barefoot than in shoes I just stepped in dog poo with, but that's another discussion...)

With that said, except for that one year that I was barefoot ALL the time and built up some pretty impressive calloused feet, I don't think that I could actually hike barefoot due to the large variety of sharp objects in hiking terrain that my feet simply are not prepared to endure.
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azbackpackr
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by azbackpackr » Aug 23 2011 7:49 am

My son hikes barefoot. We did a backpacking trip to Wilderness of Rocks in June and he didn't even BRING any shoes. He will tend to spend weeks and months at a time without putting on a pair of shoes, though, so he has an advantage over people working in offices. I asked him if he gets thrown out of grocery stores, and he said most of the time it is not a problem. So then I tried it. I went to several stores barefoot, and found that no one pays any attention. However at the little store in Summerhaven, they did ask him to leave. I told him later that the appropriate response is "my feet are no dirtier than your shoes." That is what I learned way back in the 60's, anyway! ;)

Right now he has a part time job rigging rafts for river trips. So he has to wear flip flops or Tevas to work, alas.

On my recent Grand Canyon river trip I went barefoot for 48 hours. This was toward the beginning of the trip. We had a hike to Bert Loper's boat and up the canyon next to it, and I did it all barefoot. Not too hard, since I had been "practicing" all summer. However, while on the raft on the river, I realized you might take a sudden swim and be stranded on the shore of the river in some nasty rocks and cactus--I saw this happen to one kid--so I started wearing my Tevas while on the boat, but in camp I mostly went barefoot. The camps are mostly very sandy.
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
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chumley
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by chumley » Aug 23 2011 8:08 am

To be fair to stores that don't smile on bare feet, I've been told it's usually a liability issue rather than cleanliness. E.g. you step on some broken glass, cut yourself, and sue... :roll:
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Jim_H
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by Jim_H » Aug 23 2011 9:55 am

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.
:o

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chumley
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by chumley » Aug 23 2011 10:17 am

@JimH- I agree with almost every point. That's why I think kids should eat dirt! It helps develop a healthy immune system. :D

Related story of how our society means well but doesn't quite put it all together: In the men's room in the public building I work in there are small stickers/signs adjacent to the stalls and urinals with nice reminders about hygiene and washing hands. One says that 1/3 of people don't wash their hands after using the restroom, and of those that do, 2/3 do it wrong. It then reminds you to wash your hands with hot water for a minimum of 20 seconds. You then walk over to the sink only to realize that to conserve whatever (ultimately money), the building was constructed without any hot water plumbing. Cold is your only option. And to conserve water, the faucets automatically shut themselves off ... after 5 seconds. So much for all those instructions on proper hygiene!
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Jim_H
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by Jim_H » Aug 23 2011 10:25 am

chumley wrote:@JimH- I agree with almost every point. That's why I think kids should eat dirt! It helps develop a healthy immune system. :D

Related story of how our society means well but doesn't quite put it all together: In the men's room in the public building I work in there are small stickers/signs adjacent to the stalls and urinals with nice reminders about hygiene and washing hands. One says that 1/3 of people don't wash their hands after using the restroom, and of those that do, 2/3 do it wrong. It then reminds you to wash your hands with hot water for a minimum of 20 seconds. You then walk over to the sink only to realize that to conserve whatever (ultimately money), the building was constructed without any hot water plumbing. Cold is your only option. And to conserve water, the faucets automatically shut themselves off ... after 5 seconds. So much for all those instructions on proper hygiene!
Thats a perfect example of penny wise and pound foolish. With instant hot water or solar hot water and foot pedal operated faucets, people could wash effectively and not contaminate their hands by touching handles, get sick less and cost the company less on sick time and employees less on doctor visits for a note to prove they had a cold if in fact the company requires such absurd things. The door is a separate area, but ....
:o

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Tough_Boots
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by Tough_Boots » Aug 23 2011 10:38 am

Don't ya miss the days when we all had immune systems and didn't instantly keel over dead after touching a handle? I would wear a bio-hazard suit every day if they had a little pee slit in the front.
"there is no love where there is no bramble."
--bill callahan

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chumley
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by chumley » Aug 23 2011 11:03 am

Back on shoes, I'd be interested in the history of their use. If in the course of human evolution we had feet which were able to withstand going barefoot across rocks and jungles, why and when were shoes developed?

I'd presume that using some kind of leather moccasin was a "technological advancement" that allowed us to run faster, farther, etc. whilst doing "hunter/gatherer" activities in pursuit of survival. Or perhaps they first came about as an insulator in colder weather, snow and ice?

I guess my question is whether footwear was developed as a luxury or as a necessity. I suspect it began as a luxury and evolved into a necessity.

Which leads to the question of toilet paper. Is there another mammal on Earth that wipes it's butt? :-k When did that practice begin? :STP:
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Jim_H
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by Jim_H » Aug 23 2011 11:58 am

Well, I've seen dogs drag their butts on carpet, does that count?


I think shoes developed over time in various places based on the available materials and climate. Closed toe shoes and solid boots have no real use in hot humid places, just as woven grass sandals suited to use in Malaysia are just about useless in northern Russia in winter. People routinely went barefoot in this country well into the 20th century, but that was more to do with poverty than comfort, I would guess.

I think thin shoes, or a very basic moccasin or thin moccasin boot is very useful in the right climate. Wouldn't an ancient Casa Grande resident, or Swede wear what was comfortable based on the conditions of the day? My guess is that as we have, as humans or neanderthals, or older homo ergaster, erectus species, been making rudimentary tools for some time, that it wouldn't have been that hard to make a thin shoe or boot from animal skin for use in colder climates and with snow on the ground. On the other hand, perhaps with thick skin, the foot can acclimatize to cold and snow and with the harsh conditions of the past, a cold foot while out hunting was just as much a part of winter as a cold nose and face. Human skeletons have been getting less dense since agriculture began, we know a sedentary lifestyle is physically less demanding than a non-sedentary one, so what we have come to tolerate as comfortable has changed. Think of it like this, today, people want all kinds of overly soft and supportive mattresses and yet they still can't sleep well. 200 years ago, a sack stuffed with straw was the yeoman's night time friend. We used to sleep on the ground, on fur and skins at best (you can't carry a Sealy Posturepedic), and on less friendly stuff than that, in the more distant past. People, even me, complain about smoke from fires impacting air quality. In the past, a smoky home, or tee-pee, or wigwam, or cabin, or whatever, that was fairly normal. An open fireplace is very inefficient and stinks up a home. Today, we regard that as unhealthy.

Ötzi the Iceman, from Europe some 5300 years ago, he had shoes that were describe as " actually quite complex" and the academic who studied them was, "convinced that even 5,300 years ago, people had the equivalent of a cobbler who made shoes for other people", but they still look like a fancy moccasin, not a timberland boot or Nike running shoe with fancy spring construction.
:o

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Tough_Boots
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by Tough_Boots » Aug 23 2011 12:28 pm

chumley wrote:Is there another mammal on Earth that wipes it's butt? When did that practice begin?
Is there another mammal on earth who's poop shoot is surrounded by butt cheeks? :sl:
"there is no love where there is no bramble."
--bill callahan

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Jim_H
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by Jim_H » Aug 23 2011 12:40 pm

Tough_Boots wrote:
chumley wrote:Is there another mammal on Earth that wipes it's butt? When did that practice begin?
Is there another mammal on earth who's poop shoot is surrounded by butt cheeks? :sl:
Well, the "shoot" would be the rectum, not the exit of the anus, and therefore yes, every animal with a rectum or rectum like structure has cheeks or some other part of their body around it.


Have you ever looked at a cow's butt? Some of them need to be fire hose cleaned.
:o

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Jim_H
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by Jim_H » Aug 23 2011 12:40 pm

It's awesome to me, how many odd personal topics of mine have all come to light in this one thread.
:o

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big_load
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by big_load » Aug 23 2011 1:11 pm

Jim_H wrote:Barefoot is great if you don't have an inherent structural problem like flat feet, as I do.
That is one of my beefs. My little tad of leg length differential eventually led to a collapsed arch on one side and recurring bursitis in the opposite hip. Custom orthotics cleared that right up. All the positive thoughts and clean living in the world won't fix that collapsed arch to the point where it will function as originally intended. Zealots who have never experienced this condition are all too happy to lecture me on how it doesn't actually exist.

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Jim_H
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by Jim_H » Aug 23 2011 1:16 pm

big_load wrote:
Jim_H wrote:Barefoot is great if you don't have an inherent structural problem like flat feet, as I do.
That is one of my beefs. My little tad of leg length differential eventually led to a collapsed arch on one side and recurring bursitis in the opposite hip. Custom orthotics cleared that right up. All the positive thoughts and clean living in the world won't fix that collapsed arch to the point where it will function as originally intended. Zealots who have never experienced this condition are all too happy to lecture me on how it doesn't actually exist.
I too have one leg longer than the other. My right is about 1/2 inch longer than the left. The left arch is lower, but that foot pronates less than the right, which has a slight arch that pronates far more. My right foot is the one that has the far worse (both have it) pre-metatarsal joint pain, ankle issues, and really bad knee problems for about 2 months. Othotics have thus far, been slightly better than placebo. I seriously hope to not need a knee replacement by the time I'm 50. I'd like to think I can get the Sinus Tarsi implant done and have my feet accept the implants. If I do and can adjust, I plan to go barefoot a lot.

Do you have , or did you have, lower back problems related to the leg length issue?
:o

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big_load
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by big_load » Aug 23 2011 2:47 pm

Jim_H wrote:Do you have , or did you have, lower back problems related to the leg length issue?
It's funny you should ask. When I first stood on the temporary orthotic, I instantly realized that my back had been continuously fighting itself my whole life. I hadn't been in what I would call pain, but I felt a wondrous sense of relief when it stopped. I also don't tire as quickly now (or as asymmetrically). I decided to stick with the orthotics based on that feeling alone. My difference is a little less than yours, about 3/8 inch.

I should also mention that I have a torn meniscus, too, but the docs are less certain about ascribing that to anything but miles and years. Physical therapy helped a great deal with that and while I had to stop running, I'm generally free of pain in all other activities. Apart from hiking, I log my training miles on an elliptical machine. Every once in a while I run half a mile on the treadmill just to feel the speed, but it makes my knee swell up.

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te_wa
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Re: hiking barefoot

Post by te_wa » Aug 23 2011 6:58 pm

well there was this bear, doing his business in the woods, see... when this rabbit shows up.. ;)
:D

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