For Women: The Barefoot Truth
Let me first begin by assuaging a few common female concerns. I often get asked by women, “So, what do your feet really look like?” with the implication that barefoot running causes one to develop ugly, fungal growing, heavily callused Fred Flinstone feet. Here’s the truth:
1. Fear not! You will NOT develop ugly feet. In fact, they may actually improve in appearance.
2. Chances of growing fungus actually diminish when you’re barefoot! Think about it. In a closed toe shoe, you have no light, no air (aka an anaerobic environment) it’s hot and it’s humid – a PERFECT breeding ground for bacterial growth. Out of a shoe, your feet bask in open, well oxygenated air. Spend some time barefoot walking on lush green grass and soft rose petals and your feet will never smell as naturally clean and fresh. Who needs artificial perfumes?
3. You can still get your pedicures, apply that red nail polish, just don’t buff off that tough skin! Also, be wary of over moisturizing.
I decided to go with ivory polish to match my wedding dress last Fall.
So, rather than merely describe the pads of my feet, I happily oblige and turn my feet over to the curious onlookers. After some poking and prodding, women are generally amazed. Assuming I’m recently showered, you might mistake the pads of my feet with that of a gargantuan baby – they’re bright pink and softly padded with a good amount of fat beneath my thickened skin. Ever notice how babies manage to curl and wiggle their little toes just as they do with their fingers? My toes now perform the same oddities. (Unlike a baby however, I’m nowboth proud and embarrassed to say I can pick up a baseball with my toes) Aside from rejuvenating your feet, here are some other benefits you may not be aware of:
1. There’s a reason why supermodels spend so much time barefoot running on the beach – it doesn’t have to do so much with running in a bikini, it’s the simple fact that running barefoot helps them develop those sexy calves both in a high heel or out. Not that I particularly mind how strong my feet appear, but if I were single I’d rather have sexy calves than delicate feet. They’re a bit more eye-catching and they even stand out when you’re wearing flats. Meooow!
2. Flat feet? No problem! You CAN grow back a beautiful strong arch in no time. Some may mistake you for a former ballet dancer minus the bunions.
Correct Toes help realign your toes and diminish the appearance of bunions.
3. Speaking of bunions, watch as they recess and diminish in size before your eyes. After spending some time barefoot, your toes naturally spread - which is what nature intended. If you take a look at photos of those who grew up barefoot in developing countries, you will see that their feet are triangular in shape, with a wider forefoot. Yoga practitioners can relate. The toe spread and wider forefoot allow for greater stability for yoga positions and barefoot running. Check out a product called Correct Toes (TM). Developed by Dr. Ray McClanahan, a podiatrist out of Portland OR, Correct Toes help you regain your natural toe spread. Your newfound stabilizing feet will help you stay upright on those technical trail runs.
4. Improve your posture and alignment. If you’ve been spending years in high heels, you’ve likely ended up unnaturally tilting your pelvis forward. This causes you to stick out your derrière, placing undue pressure on your lower back and spinal cord. By going barefoot and maintaining posture vigilance, you can correct your alignment and build a strong (and toned) core. Forget boring beauty school marching with a book on your head. This is a lot more fun!
It wouldn’t be fair of me to exclude some seemingly sad news. After a few months of barefoot practice, you may find either a.) you no longer fit well in your pretty high heels or dress shoes or b.) you plain just don’t like how it feels to be a in shoe anymore. Here are some remedies.
1. Donate those pretty shoes to friends who adamantly refuse to try going barefoot. When you find yourself lusting after some red pumps, remember the pain that inevitably sets in 15-30 minutes later. Sparing yourself the pain allows you to focus on the fun around you!
2. Trade in your high heels for some cute flats. I’ve seen lots of unique styles from beautiful satin flats with sequins to polka dotted canvas flats. It’s a great justification for going shoe shopping yet again. Just make sure there's enough room in the toe box for wiggle room.
3. As for those occasions when you feel like running in minimalist shoes, opt for men’s sizing to allow for more toe spread. If you still fit into women’s sizing comfortably, consider going up a ½ size larger.
4. Feel liberated! It’s not quite the same as burning your bra, but who says you need to wear stilettos to feel beautiful? Nature equipped you with a pretty package that just needs to be reawakened and unleashed.
So give it a go! Move your feet freely to re-grow cushy pads, beautiful strong arches, and sexy calves. Some of you may remember how it felt to spend summers running barefoot as a kid over rocks, gravel, anything and everything. Good news is the majority of you can build those feet back and be that kid again! Go have fun and feel empowered to trek around the world barefoot or nearly barefoot. Or go get hitched barefoot!