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Most parents and professional cleaners have a legitimate reason for wanting to keep outdoor
shoes, well, outdoors, and that has to do with keeping the soles of our shoes from tracking
dirt, grime, toxins like pesticides and industrial pollution, and traces of both human and animal
waste into our homes.
Outdoor shoes are even known to offer free passes to bacteria that can cause health issues,
although that risk could be slightly exaggerated, according to The New York Times.
Many cultures practice shoe-free homes across Asia and the Middle East. But is the option
of going barefoot at home a habit we should all be adopting?
According to some podiatrists, the answer is no. And it's not because they aren't concerned
about having us invite a few germs and some grime into the house. Rather, they worry that
going barefoot around the house could open up our feet to developing different types
of structural injuries.
Podiatrist Phil Vasyli says our feet were actually designed for walking on softer, natural
surfaces, like sand and soil, not polished hard ones, so we may be damaging our feet
by traipsing around our houses without any shoes on. As he explained,
"Our footprint allows the natural ground to accommodate the contours of our feet. The
softer ground gives way to our heel at foot strike, allowing the outside of the foot to
sink into the surface, which correspondingly supports the inside of our foot and the collapse
of our arch."
Because many household surfaces are hard, New York podiatrist Miguel Cunha says walking
around indoors shoes-free puts pressure on our feet, causing the foot's arches to collapse
- and that in turn puts pressure on different parts of our body. The expert is especially
concerned about pronation, the rolling of the foot inward, which allows feet to support
our body weight. He explained,
"When we walk barefoot, we pronate for a longer period of time, which then alters the biomechanics
and distribution of pressure and weight across the foot. This imbalance may increase the
progression of underlying foot deformities such as bunions and hammertoes and lead to
painful conditions associated with excessive pronation such as arch and heel pain, shin
splints, posterior tibial tendonitis and Achilles tendonitis."
And if you think throwing on a pair of squishy flip flops is the way to go, think again.
The same worry applies here, too. According to Dr. Vasyli,
"Contrary to common belief, shock absorption is not the answer to conditions associated
with misalignment of the feet and lower limbs. Sure, they feel comfortable but soft, flat
foot beds allow the feet to over-pronate."
Walking barefoot at home is especially not ideal if you are older. Podiatrist Nelya Lobkova
tells Yahoo Lifestyle,
“After age 50, especially women, begin to lose the fat pad in the ball of the foot,
diminishing the cushioning."
That change hurts one's ability to protect the knees, hips, and lower back.
Meanwhile, a study by the Marcus Institute for Aging Research also shows that walking
around the house without shoes has contributed to falls among the elderly in general. Many
falls resulted in serious injuries, including fractures, sprains, dislocations, and either
pulled or torn muscles, ligaments, or tendons. According to researcher Marian Hannan,
"Our findings show that older people going barefoot, wearing only socks, or wearing slippers
may be at considerably increased risk of falls in their homes. Therefore, older people should
wear shoes at home whenever possible to minimize their risk of falling."
Another thing to keep in mind might be a germaphobe's worst nightmare. Your floors may be clean,
but they can't really ever be completely germ free, and Dr. Cunha says walking barefoot
indoors exposes your feet to potential infections caused by bacteria and fungi. As he described
it,
"These organisms first infect the skin, and then they may infect the nails, leading to
thickening, discoloration and brittleness of the nails. Both conditions become not only
unsightly but also contribute to an unpleasant odor."
The best way to protect your feet is to pick up a good pair of indoor shoes, which you
can change into when you get home. Doctors recommend looking for a pair that provides
good arch support, particularly if you already suffer from a foot condition, such as weak
arches or bunions.
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Why You Shouldn't Walk Barefoot Around The House

27 Folder Collection
Mahiro Kitauchi published on August 4, 2020
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