Barefoot experiences

By dkl9, written 2023-171, revised 2023-176 (1 revisions)

Some months ago, I saw a guy on the internet extol the power of barefoot running. Naturally, being me, I proceeded to try it. I interpreted it as walking, not running, and literal bare feet, not minimal "barefoot" shoes.

I started by habituating to being barefoot within my home. After a while of this, I went outside barefoot. I started walking less than 10 metres from my home, then going back, but increased the distance each time.

The first days were among the hardest. I was so used to only feeling the cushion of shoes on my feet, reduced to socks only indoors. Barefoot, you directly feel whatever's under you, inviting its hardness and roughness to beat up your soles as much as they will. The effects increased at a few notable transition points: from socks to barefoot indoors, from indoor floors to smooth tiles, from smooth tiles to the sidewalk, from typical sidewalk to rough, pointy sidewalk, from pointy sidewalk to pointy rocks in the forest (yes, I went there). But the skin toughens and desensitises. So long as I let pain slow me down when it arose, there were no real cuts.

I'm told that I'll get injured from broken glass or something, but there's no broken glass where I walk, and the skin toughens enough that the pointy rocks on the forest floor don't break thru. The realest danger I've noticed is burns from sun-heated tarmac.

I started on sidewalks, but I've found that the tarmac of the street tends to be smoother and gentler, especially important near the start. I hesitated to walk on grass, thinking it'd get my feet dirty (more than sidewalks). This is baseless. If anything, grass pulls some of the dirt off your feet. Packed/hard dirt is also fine, but loose or muddy dirt does what you expect.

Practice like this expanded into an hour or two per week, often going multiple kilometres in a single session. Eventually I stopped thinking of it as "barefoot walking" but rather as "walking", reminded otherwise by the occasional stare of confusion. Being barefoot has become my default state; I only do otherwise when others demand it, and sometimes not even then. I feel the ground in full. I no longer reluct to go outside from being too lazy to put on shoes.

§ Motives

Unsurprisingly, people ask me why I do this. In increasing difficulty-to-refute:

§ The public's response

One day, I went to school barefoot. The bus driver wouldn't let me on — I had already tried that a while before — so I walked. Tedious, but feasible.

One teacher saw my bare feet, and explicitly didn't care. Another didn't say anything about it. I don't know whether he noticed but didn't care, or didn't notice.

At least six different students yelled at me when they saw it. They were all significantly younger than me. At least six different students calmly questioned me about it later. They were mostly around my age.

What does that say about the one staff member who yelled at me?

I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid, so I brought shoes with me and put them on after some of that yelling.

I wore shoes the next day. This won't be the last time I try it, tho. It makes for good shamelessness practice, if nothing else.