yours, tiramisu

walking barefoot

One of my favorite hobbies is taking barefoot walks. In suburbia, doing this will get you plenty of strange looks, but plenty of good reasons make this habit worth your while.

For starters, walking without any foot protection renders you vulnerable to all kinds of small objects on the ground, like rocks, thorns, and bugs. The risk of stepping on small debris like this will make you walk more slowly and be more mindful of where you step, both things that I find make my walks more enjoyable.

This vulnerability also changes the way I walk. When walking barefoot, my feet land on the ground far more lightly than I would if I had shoes on. Not only does this mitigate the pain of stepping on an object, but it also reduces the impact on my joints. Over time, you'll walk with this improved stride when you have shoes on too, and your body will thank you for walking like your body was designed to do.

Beyond your stride, walking barefoot benefits your feet. Provided you start small and progress slowly, spending time without support for your feet will strengthen the muscles in your feet, especially the arches. Without a constraining toebox, your toes have the freedom to splay out, develop strength, and stretch naturally. And the contact with the ground will thicken the soles of your feet as well.

Finally, feeling my feet directly in contact with the ground beneath me makes me feel a deeper connection with my surroundings. Without shoes you can really feel the difference between different types of surfaces, like pavement, asphalt, grass, and dirt. I like to think that all these new sensations wake up the nerve endings in my foot. Because we constantly separate our feet from the world with cushions, they lie dormant there, but we can stimulate them and rediscover their joys by spending time unshod, away from our shoes.