I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent most of my coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantine time pretty much forgetting that I, in fact, own shoes. I might slip sneakers on to do some exercise, but otherwise they’re all mostly collecting dust — which got me wondering if there any benefits to walking around barefoot.
According to Dr. Jonathan Kaplan, a foot and ankle specialist who spoke with Healthine, waltzing around shoeless can come with perks. “The most straightforward benefit to barefoot walking is that in theory, walking barefoot more closely restores our ‘natural’ walking pattern, also known as our gait,” he explains. In fact, too much padding in our shoes might feel cozy when we’re wearing them, but could get in the way of actually using the muscles in our feet that help keep our bodies strong.
Healthline shares a few more potential benefits of going barefoot, including better control of your feet as they hit the ground, improved balance and body awareness, and stronger leg muscles.
Dr. Miguel Cunha, founder of Gotham Footcare, told Well+Good that walking barefoot can also improve the flexibility of muscles and ligaments in our feet. That can in turn help us with better posture and, again, balance. However, he warns, “I urge you to avoid hard surfaces for long periods of time.” Placing more weight on our bare feet can add stress and alter the placement of pressure that’s usually distributed through shoes. “This imbalance may increase the progression of underlying foot deformities, such as bunions and hammertoes.” Other potential issues? Tendonitis and shin splits, which can carry up and affect the rest of your body, too. Ouch.
Basically, it turns out that walking around barefoot more often really can help us with things like balance and posture — which is great to know if you’ve been embracing a shoeless quarantine lifestyle like me. But we shouldn’t overdo it and also pay close attention to any pain that might pop up, especially those of us who have hard flooring.
If you’re looking for more of a middle ground, you might want to consider investing in a cozy pair of house shoes (click here for some of our favorite options).
Whatever helps us all have happy feet while stuck inside is all that really matters!