Driving Barefoot

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					      Running & Hiking                                          Barefoot-like Designs
When a barefoot Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia won                  Some shoe manufacturers have begun to recog-
                                                                                                                         Love Going
the marathon at the 1960 Olympics and barefoot
runner Zola Budd set records in the 1980s, the
                                                              nize the benefits of nature's original design and
                                                              have even developed footwear to simulate the
                                                              biomechanical advantages of walking barefoot.
                                                                                                                          Barefoot?
world saw how functional bare feet can be.
American Ken Saxton has inspired many to in-
                                                              Of course, for those who prefer the real thing,                     So do we!
                                                              nothing surpasses going barefoot.
vestigate the benefits of barefoot running.
Saxton has finished more than 50 marathons                    • Nike Free: A training shoe that simulates
                                                                                                                   Society for Barefoot Living
running barefoot. www.runningbarefoot.org                        barefoot running, created after observing the
                                                                 Stanford track & field team train in bare feet.
The number of barefoot
runners keeps growing.                                        • Swiss Masai Barefoot Technology: This                                  Barefooters: People from
Brett Williams, right, ran                                       shoe style provides less support and stabiliza-                       all walks of life who sim-
                                                                 tion, requiring the foot muscles to work dur-
the 2006 Salt Lake City
                                                                 ing the act of walking. As a result, the feet                         ply prefer to go barefoot.
marathon sans shoes. The
Wall Street Journal and oth-                                     become stronger and more developed.
ers took note of his feat, and                                • Soleless     (bottomless)
                                                                                                                                     Why barefoot living?
ABC News aired a barefoot                                        sandals: Available in                                               Barefooters value its
running feature that year.       Photo by Kristyan Williams
                                                                 bejeweled or simple                                                 comfort, health benefits
Barefoot Hiking: When did you last feel a cool                   hemp and leather de-                              and sensory pleasures. They appreciate
carpet of grass beneath your feet, soft dirt be-                 signs, this “footwear” is                         the freedom to choose healthy feet over
tween your toes or a refreshing woodland stream                  designed for those who
                                                                 wish to remain barefoot                           the problems and discomforts that often
underfoot? Barefoot hikers appreciate the sen-
sory “vistas” of ground textures and tempera-                    while still decorating                            result from over-reliance on shoes.
tures in addition to the visual vistas of forests,               their feet and giving the
hills and plains that other hikers enjoy.                        appearance of wearing
                                                                                              Soleless sandals
                                                                                                                   Foot Facts:
                                                                 some sort of shoe.                                • Going barefoot offers many health bene-
Before Richard Frazine’s 1993 book “The Bare-
foot Hiker,” many who enjoyed barefoot hiking                                                                        fits. It promotes general foot health and
did not realize they had so much company. As                  “What spirit is so empty and blind, that it            strengthens muscles in feet and legs.
Frazine notes, “Going barefoot in the forest is a             cannot grasp the fact that a human foot is
very sensuous and pleasurable experience. For                 more noble than the shoe and human skin              •   Many types of footwear can cause harm
some of us, it is an almost mystical experience.”             more beautiful than the garment with                     to overall foot health.
Outdoor activities suitable for bare feet also                which it is clothed?” — Michelangelo
                                                                                                                   •   Going barefoot is legal. Health codes do
include volleyball, disc golf, Frisbee, playing
catch and other backyard and beach endeavors.                                                                          not require footwear for customers in
Indoor activities routinely conducted in bare                                                                          stores, restaurants or other businesses.
                                                                   Would you like to join
feet include martial arts, yoga, gymnastics and                                                                    •   Driving barefoot is legal and often safer.
modern dance.
                                                              the Society For Barefoot Living?
                                                              www.barefooters.org has a link for joining.
   “The human foot is a masterpiece of                        Membership is free and includes email corre-
                                                                                                                       To learn more, visit our website:
     engineering and a work of art.”                          spondence with others around the world who
                   — Leonardo da Vinci                        also prefer going barefoot.                                  www.barefooters.org
    Comfort & Freedom                                              Health Benefits                                            Barefoot in Public
Remember how good                                      Going barefoot can improve general foot health. It                Health codes, the law and bare feet: Have
it felt to go barefoot                                 allows normal foot development and promotes                       you ever seen one of these unwelcoming signs
when you were a child?                                 strengthening of the musculature in the legs and feet.            at a store or restaurant entrance: “No Bare
                                                       A study published in the September 2006 journal Ar-               Feet” or “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service”?
Do you kick off your                                   thritis and Rheumatism suggests that walking bare-
shoes at home to feel                                                                                                                   Many people assume that
                                                       foot may reduce susceptibility to osteoarthritis.
more comfortable and                                                                                                                    health codes, insurance or the
                                                       http://arthritis.about.com/b/a/257404.htm
relaxed?                                                                                                                                law require these policies. Not
Do your holiday and                                    Athlete’s foot: Going barefoot actually reduces the                              so. Almost without exception,
vacation dreams include          Barefoot graduate     opportunity for athlete’s foot to take hold. Athlete’s                           state and county health codes
walks over sandy beaches, grassy parks and             foot is caused by a fungus which thrives in warm,                                and other laws in the U.S. do
natural trails well-suited for bare feet?              moist, and dark environments. Shoes provide just                  not regulate the footwear of customers in
                                                       such an environment. Thus, the problem is not the                 establishments. Insurance policies do not
What if no one else cared about what you wore
                                                       foot-to-floor contact but the foot then entering a dark,          mandate customer footwear, and OSHA
on your feet as you played in the yard, walked
                                                       warm shoe which functions as a fungus incubator.                  requirements apply only to employees.
the dog or even ventured out to go shopping?
                                                       Those who frequently go barefoot rarely contract ath-             See: www.barefooters.org/health-dept
Would you go barefoot more often?
                                                       lete’s foot.
That wonderful spirit of barefoot freedom                                                                                Stores may set their own policies for attire,
still lives in many of us, but how often do we                                     Children and bare feet: In the        but no compelling health concern requires
choose to follow it? We likely have more free-                                     1961 classic “Take Off Your           footwear for customers. It is bare hands, not
dom to go barefoot than we may assume.                                             Shoes and Walk,” author Dr.           feet, that pose and encounter health risks as
                                                                                   Simon Wikler writes that children     they come in contact with doorknobs, food,
Why render our feet deaf and blind? Imagine                                        who regularly go barefoot develop     mouths, other people, etc. Feet generally
wearing gloves and ear plugs every time you left                                   stronger, healthier and more func-    touch only the surfaces on which they walk.
the house. Think of all the wonderful sensory                                      tional feet.
input you would miss. Now imagine expanding                                                                              Driving: Many assume that the law prohibits
                                                                                   The website below offers exten-       driving barefoot. Again, not so. As some law
your sensory input and enjoying the wide variety                                   sive helpful resources for parents,
of interesting textures and pleasant surfaces           Photo by Kristyan Williams                                       enforcement agencies note, drivers can have
                                                                                   including the perspectives of doc-    better pedal control with bare feet than with
right beneath your own two feet as you go about        tors, testimonials from parents, historical information,
your day. You can!                                                                                                       many common styles of footwear.
                                                       barefoot activities for kids and the findings of noted
“Going barefoot is the gentlest way of walking and     orthopedics expert Dr. Lynn Staheli, who observed                 Assumptions about going barefoot in public
                                                       that children raised in parts of the world where shoes            being unsafe, unsanitary or illegal are largely
can symbolize a way of living—being authentic,
                                                       are not often worn have greater flexibility, mobility             based on misinformation or a lack of
vulnerable, sensitive to our surroundings. It’s the                                                                      experience. Yes, going barefoot can involve
                                                       and foot strength. www.unshod.org/pfbc/index.html
feeling of enjoying warm sand beneath our toes, or                                                                       some minimal risk, just as living life involves
carefully making our way over sharp rocks in the       Barefoot paths have grown in popularity around the                risk. Barefooters accept these potential risks
darkness. It’s a way of living that has the lightest   world. Designed for bare feet, they offer a variety of            to gain greater benefits, and barefooted people
impact, removing the barrier between us and na-        surfaces and textures over which to walk and climb.               pose no more of a threat to shoe-wearers than
ture.” — From “Barefoot Dreaming” by Adele             The tactile stimulation underfoot is considered benefi-           bareheaded people pose to hat-wearers.
                                                       cial for the body, mind and spirit.
Coombs                                                                                                                   www.barefooters.org/key-works/case_for
                                                       One example: www.barfusspark.info/en/park.htm
                                                                                                                         http://dictionary.laborlawtalk.com/barefoot
 “And forget not that the Earth delights to                                                                              “People do better when they're free, and
  feel your bare feet and the winds long to                  “Healthy feet can hear the very heart                         the foot does better when it's free.”
   play with your hair.” — Kahlil Gibran                      of Mother Earth.” — Sitting Bull                                                  — Dr. Lynn Staheli