JOINT HEALTH: The benefits of going barefoot
July 27, 2019 • 1 min read
-- Wearing shoes changes how our feet touch the ground, affecting balance and joint loading, possibly for the worse.
Also consider that going barefoot develops the calluses necessary for improved balance and reducing stress on joints. Enough to make you clear out your shoe closet?
Pondering our unshod ancestors, and how the performance of their callused feet might compare to the delicate tootsies of today’s well-heeled bipedal, researchers travelled to Kenya to examine the feet of local men and women.
Barefoot vs. shod
Other than finding more callouses on the feet of locals who spent most of their lives walking barefoot, researchers found few other differences between shod and unshod feet.
But things got interesting when the barefoot group donned shoes and took to the treadmill – their walking subtly altered, with the impacts from each stride lingering longer than when they strode barefoot.
Wearing shoes increases pressure on joints
The change, though slight, is significant. Whereas the shorter, sharper jolts of walking barefoot are more likely to rise through soft muscles and tendons, the lingering impacts of running in shoes tend to dissipate through our leg bones and joints.
Researchers say the findings suggest that wearing shoes influences the way we walk – possibly for the worse – by increasing the pressure and wear on our leg joints.
Pro tip: Take an occasional barefoot adventure – your joints will love you for it.