National Barefoot Day

June 1, 2021

The pandemic allowed many of us working from home to enjoy going barefoot. But, doctors say too much walking around (or running) without shoes is not healthy for your feet. Now that summer is here, walkers and runners should think carefully about what they are wearing on their feet.

Dr. Joshua Blomgren, a sports medicine physician at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, has this to say about going barefoot, “Walking barefoot in your house is relatively safe. But, outside there are potential risks that could be dangerous. Without good strength in the foot, you are at risk of having poor mechanics, thereby increasing your risk for injury, like an ankle sprain.”

Other problems can develop from walking or standing barefoot for a prolonged amount of time (athlete’s foot, warts, MRSA, hookworm, fallen arches) and there are some pre-existing conditions that can get worse by the lack of foot support or protection (such as plantar fasciitis and neuromas).

Dr. Blomgren also warns runners against barefoot running which became popular several years ago which creates a greater likelihood of injury. Some of the most common are stress fractures, pain in the shin and calf, and edema.

Dr. Blomgren's tips for runners:

  1. Replace those old running shoes every 500 miles or every 4 months or so with heavy use.  Working out in worn gear is a shortcut to an injury. 
  2. Buy shoes designed specifically for running. They have to handle the shock of 2.5 times a person's body weight. That is the impact created with every stride when your foot strikes the ground. A shoe should have the proper cushioning to absorb the increased force transmitted to the foot with running. 
  3. Choose shoes with materials that allow your feet to breathe.  
  4. Stretching and warming up before your run and cooling down after a run can help to prevent injuries.
  5. Avoid running on consecutive days to avoid overuse injuries. Also alternate running with other exercises such as biking, swimming, or lifting weights.

The take-away

Enjoy going barefoot on occasion but limit when and where you go barefoot, especially if you already have some foot pain or have certain health conditions.

“Protect your prized possessions,” Dr. Blomgren says.

Dr. Joshua Blomgren

A graduate of the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University, Dr. Blomgren completed a Family Practice Residency at Resurrection Medical Center in Chicago, IL. Following his residency, he completed a fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine at Rush University Medical Center where he worked alongside many of the physicians at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. During his fellowship, Dr. Blomgren served as one of the team physicians for DePaul University and Trinity International University, providing injury evaluations in the training room and providing sideline coverage for home football, basketball and soccer games.