Knowing how to walk and exercise barefoot takes time, patience, and the right information. So, before you in favor of a more natural approach to walking and exercise, there are a few things to consider.
- Start slow. You need to be patient and start with short 15- to 20-minute sessions of walking barefoot. Kaplan says it’s vital that you allow your feet and ankles to adapt to the new environment. As your feet get used to walking without shoes, you can increase the distance and time.
- Ease up if you feel any new pain or discomfort. “While walking barefoot sounds like the perfect option, there are dangers that should be considered,” explains Kaplan. “Without appropriate strength in the foot, you are at risk of having poor mechanics of walking, thereby increasing your risk for injury. This is especially important to consider if you are beginning to incorporate barefoot walking after spending much of your life in shoes,” he adds.
- Try it out indoors. Before you hit the pavement running, it might be a good idea to let your bare feet get used to the safe surfaces in your house. Misiura says the best thing to do would be to use an indoor surface that you know is free of something you could step on accidentally.
- Practice on safe surfaces. Once you’ve mastered the indoors, try walking on outside surfaces that are less dangerous, such as turf, rubber tracks, sandy beaches, and grass.
- Consider using a minimalist shoe. While your feet are adjusting to less structure and padding from your shoes, you may want to consider using a minimalist shoe before going completely barefoot.
- Experiment with balance exercises. Misiura recommends you start with simple balance exercises like standing on one foot or pressing yourself up onto your toes and lowering down slowly.
- Try an activity that requires you to be barefoot. Take advantage of activities that are already performed barefoot, like yoga, Pilates, or martial arts.
- Examine your feet for injury. Every day examine the bottom of your feet for injury, as many have reduced sensation in their feet.
More strenuous activities such as barefoot running or hiking should not be incorporated until you’ve spent adequate time preparing your feet for this type of activity.
If you have pain in your heels after resting or have pain when you walk, you may need to go back to supportive shoes and start slowly again when your feet have healed.