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nirenberg lacey pictureI was recently invited by the editors of to write an article which addresses the question: Should Walkers Go Bare? To the surprise of everyone involved I managed to get the entire article written without once dropping in a mention of Lady Godiva or Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model Kate Upton. The article is all about bare feet, and I analyzed the various advantages whereby barefoot and minimalist footwear walking can be better and healthier for you than imprisoning your feet in $200 worth of leather and latex. There’s a really naughty joke there but it’s soooooooo far from family-friendly that I’d be tarred, feathered, and run out of Crown Point on a rail so let’s proceed…

I’ve rarely seen rusty nails stuck in feet

In the article I discussed that scientific research has proven that shoe wearing populations tend to have more back and knee problems, greater instances of arthritis, as well as varied foot problems and deformities. We’re not talking Chinese foot-binding here, but strictly conventional shoes: everything from penny loafers to the most expensive sports shoes lucratively endorsed by basketball stars. I explained in the article that the primary argument against barefoot walking is that you might step on a rusty nail but in my two decades as a podiatrist I have rarely seen patients with items like that stuck in their feet, so it’s about as likely as Rosanne Barr actually succeeding in getting elected President.

Minimalist footwear provides protection + comfort

The development of a broad array of minimalist footwear adequately tackles head on the arguments about foot protection and comfort. After all, even though I am a barefoot evangelist I sure wouldn’t want to walk with unprotected soles on the asphalt parking lot of the Tucson WalMart on a July afternoon. The magnificent new minimalist footwear manufactured by top ranked shoe companies such as Asics, Brooks, Nike, Reebok, and Sketchers allows any walker or runner to benefit from the unquestionable health benefits of barefoot exercise without leaving foot skin sizzling on hot asphalt in Arizona, or frostbitten on the ice in Minnesota.

Transition gradually to the barefoot lifestyle

Although minimalist footwear is the greatest thing since sliced bread or even better (try strapping Wonder Bread to your feet and see how well you walk), I advise against a sudden barefoot epiphany which sees you toss your entire Imelda Marcos collection of shoes into a dumpster. You likely have been wearing supportive shoes since you were knee high to a grasshopper so an overnight transition to barefoot walking could lead to injury. The support within the shoes you’ve worn forever has likely weakened some of your foot and leg muscles, so you need to build them back up gradually before you can join the barefoot brigade. You should also consult your friendly neighborhood podiatrist (or Friendly Foot Care!) if you have any medical issues which can affect your feet such as diabetes, poor circulation, or deformities. Tell them Dr. Mike sent you… and no, we podiatrists don’t work on commission!

Once you try bare, you won’t go back to Air

I’m looking forward to writing more articles for the readers of and hope that I can continue to spread the word about our wondrous feet and the benefits of barefoot activity.

I have lost my old footwear
I don’t care, I’ll go bare
Bye, bye Nike LeBrons
They weren’t very good to me.
Pronated me, hee, hee, hee.
Bye, bye Air Jordans
I won’t miss that little foam wedge beneath me
If you see ’em don’t tell ’em where to find me
I have lost my old footwear
I don’t care, I’ll go bare
Track shoes, bye, byeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  • Mandy

    I absolutely hate shoes but my unintentional jump into barefoot living (after the birth of my second child and decision to stay home) left me in enormous pain from capsulitis of the second toe. I’ve had it for nearly 3 years off and on and it’s much less painful when I am wearing shoes with a stiff shank. Is it possible to become a bare-footer again or am I destined to be a clunky shoe-wearer till my dying days? I’ve gotten well enough to do yoga and barefoot balancing, but walking still irritates my toe joint. Any advice?