bare male feet on cracked ice with title winter barefoot walking

Winter barefoot walking & living: should YOU try it?

Winter barefoot walking and living was something I was looking forward to as well as fearing once fall started getting to its end. Now even if winter still isn’t over in April, I can proudly say – I did it. I lived through this entire winter without shoes.

Another fact is that this post took me about three months to write. I want to share my experience and give some advice here… Basically you should not try walking barefoot in winter, yet you most certainly should do it. Even now I’m not sure how to deal with this contradiction as I don’t want to scare you as well as mislead you. I guess I’ll just keep hitting the keys and if at the end of this article you’ll have questions unanswered – drop a comment bellow and I’ll be glad to drop a response.

So, in this post I’ll try to elaborate on the subject of winter barefoot walking (and living in my case) as much as I can as well as provide you with tips and things to be cautious about in case you’re thinking going barefoot in the cold season.

Major part of this article will be based on my personal experience of winter barefoot walking and living without shoes in general. Let us go then.

Without shoes since August 2017

Who the heck am I to give advice on such a crazy topic – you might ask. Well, I have been living barefoot 24/7 for 8 months now (you can find my initial insights on the subject here and here) and I experienced temperatures from +30°C to -20°C through my feet without getting frost bite, joint inflammation, or any other inflammation. In fact for the first time in my entire life I haven’t had cold and flu during the cold season. Hence my body, my mind, my feet (let’s pretend it’s not the same as my body) have had plenty of time to gradually adapt to the cold. At the start as well during this period I didn’t have any sorts of inflammation inside me, thus my body was able to dedicate itself 100% to cold acclimatization.

Probably most important thing to understand is that if you will start doing cold exposure of your feet like right now (now being the cold season with snow and stuff) – there will be serious consequences. Your body needs time to adopt to walking barefoot on snow in all ways imaginable.

Also if you have any sort of inflammation – you must treat it in less extreme ways first. Yes, cold water and cold air can treat all sorts of illness (check out cryotherapy or Wim Hof as well as his method).

The wisest thing to do in case you’re thinking of taking your shoes off in winter is just to follow your common sense – would running an ultra-marathon in a desert without prior trying to get used to 3k or 5k be safe? Would flying an aircraft full of people without knowing how to do it be wise? You get the idea. Everything needs to start with small steps and one step at a time. Now since you’ve gotten it, let’s move forward.

What should you NOT do.

Walking barefoot is something that is truly natural to all human beings. Thus it should just come out as a natural consequence of you wanting to get healthier, stronger, maybe wiser. And in order to do that, you need to do it because you want it and you feel it might be right for you. Obvious? Not so much…

You should never start winter barefoot walking (or in fact any other activity, that, besides helping you improve your health, might also do you harm) out of reasons other that your personal well being. I know there are people who have dropped their shoes and go barefoot even in winter to express their protest against politics, economy, climate change (Mark Baumer) etc. While protesting against unfair things is good, doing it at expense of your own health, in my opinion, is a bad idea. Especially when people are using such a natural and healthy thing as barefoot walking without preparation (yes, you need preparation, because you’ve spent your whole life in shoes), get injured and form a negative opinion on the subject just because they’re doing it all wrong.

Usually those people get more attention because of their ideas. And say if their measure of protest is winter barefoot walking or living barefoot in general – then it ALWAYS leads to all sorts of traumas, with the queen being – serious frost bite (e.g. where your toes turn black and need to be amputated). Obviously lots of pictures are put on the web to show other people the sacrifice – and naturally all who see those horrible pictures of frostbite and similar think, that winter barefoot walking and living is a thing that only a mad or fanatic person could do. But in reality it is not only wrong to assume that, but it is also wrong to make assumptions based on experiences that have no connection to health and are rather provided and exposed to get publicity and promote the idea or make a point through sacrifice.

So once again – if you’re going to try winter barefoot walking – do it only because you want it. Only if listening to your body will you be able to achieve results safely as well as have constant pleasure in doing it and not to get hurt.

We’re spending too little time outside in winter to keep the health at its peak

Major part of human population doesn’t like cold season, because of flu and other diseased they get during this time of year. Seems like a reasonable reason to not like it, because one can’t live through it with happiness. But in reality our bodies have literally no time to adopt to cold weather and get shocked every time we go outside.

Just think about it. If you spend 1 or 2 hours outside daily then you’re spending 22 hours inside in a temperature that simulates summer. So every time you get yourself outside you provide your body and mind with at least 19°C of difference in temperature. 19°C being the minimum, usually the difference reaches 30°C or more. Now try to think of a time when you went outside into -10°C cold with positive attitude about the cold.

Same applies to me. After I dropped my shoes and after winter came I started noticing, that average time I spend outside is about 2 hours daily with about an hour at once and then several 2 – 20 minute intervals. I occasionally max out at 2.5 hours if a walk with my son takes an unexpected turn (a bath in a river & sound effects gathering or else). And that is really short amount of time outside, when you think about it.

What I also noticed is that being barefoot for those pathetic two hours a day helped me perceive cold and winter completely differently than ever before when I was wearing shoes and many more layers of clothes.

Since the winter is almost gone now, I know that winter barefoot walking really can help to overcome that cold-hate most of us feel. Suddenly -15°C doesn’t feel that unpleasant if you accept it barefoot.

The safest way to dive into winter barefoot walking or running, or living.

As stupid as it sounds the main thing to do when starting winter barefoot walking practices is to NOT start it in winter. Reasons:

  1. To withstand cold surface the snow provides you need to grow a natural sole on your feet. Pretty self explanatory – it will act as an additional layer, that will protect your skin and feet from getting frost-bite. Since (thanks to road salt) I managed to get my natural sole off on some parts of my feet before snow was gone, I can assure you that cold is incomparably colder on “unprepared” skin and it most certainly is much milder on natural sole, that builds up through constant friction during “no-snow” seasons.
  2. Gradual exposure to cold is crucial for your feet for the process to be natural. As no one of us was thrown into the snow right after we were born, we don’t need to do it now either. By experiencing slow decrease of temperatures, you will have lots of new sensations also your body and mind will “record” the references of coldness for future “projects”. Meaning if at the end of summer +10°C seemed like cold, after winter barefoot walking in -20°C you will no longer fear or think that +10°C has something to do with cold. And after your first -20°C you will no longer think of it as cold too. That is only if you will do it gradually.
  3. Cold is kind of extreme thing, since we lived our lives (me – 30+ years) in comfort it is simply stupid to start something this new, this exciting and this healthy at it’s worst and hardest point. Graduality gives you a way to experience the barefoot life step by step if done right. First you need to feel, make peace and fall in love with the difference between tandem of socks+shoes and nothing hindering your contact to the earth. Then you need to go through all the phases of discovering all the new sensations that will be given by 1300 nerve endings unleashed from their jail – socks and shoes that is. You need to let your body and mind explore all the surfaces, compare, remember and know them.
  4. You need to get used to the energy other people will constantly be throwing at you once they pass by and see you with naked feet. This may sound/look like it’s a no biggie, but it is. Unless you’re a natural superstar, those looks and comments will be throwing you off constantly. The energy is big so you need to learn to deal with it in small amounts first. I promise you, you’ll look crazy/psycho to 99% people you pass by on the streets in +30°C. Now imagine how you’ll look to them at -30°C. You need to learn either to ignore them, or to face them, or use their negative energy to your advantage. Either way it is better to start taking in smaller amounts of that energy. Also you need to have polite answers to stupid jokes like “who stole your shoes?”, or “didn’t have enough money for shoes?”, or “should we organize a fundraiser to buy you new pair of shoes?” etc. Polite – because being rude is rude.

Winter barefoot walking hazards and precautions.

There are three major hazards when walking barefoot in winter.

  1. Road salt, that is being used to melt the snow on the roads. This shit is killer for the feet. Even though I had thicker skin from being barefoot ’till first snow – after exposure to salt my skin started to crack at points where toes bend. It burns as hell and as I already mentioned “unprepared” skin can not handle direct contact with cold without harmful consequences (frost bite, swollen feet, torn skin etc.).
  2. Second one is sticking to metal, concrete, ice and all the other surfaces your wet feet (and they’re wet most of the time, since your own heat constantly melts snow under your feet) may step on. This is probably even more dangerous than salt. A good idea is to take a bottle of hot/warm water in case you’ll need to unstick yourself from something. Pee might help as well. Luckily I managed to not  stick to anything this winter!
  3. Lack of decent movement. You need to constantly keep moving at least a bit. The more you move, the better since movement increases blood circulation and blood circulation in your feet means HOT feet on cold snow. Sounds impossible, but is quite easy to achieve and it feels amazing getting that warmth from inside.
  4. Lack of blood circulation in your toes also known as Raynaud’s Syndrome.

BONUS: things you’d better have with you when walking barefoot in winter: secret pair of shoes, a bottle of hot water, all other clothes, your head.

What are my goals of not using shoes?

Recently I was invited to host a “lecture” on the topic of “life without shoes” for a group of young families.

I was asked what are my goals of walking barefoot. And honestly – I have no answer to this. I could only ask – what is your goal of walking in shoes or eating with your right hand? Personally I just live my life. As strange as it sounds I live it without shoes and I love every aspect of it.
It improved my immune system – as I already mentioned – for the first time in my life I haven’t had cold (or some other disease) in the cold season. This is enough for me to say that winter barefoot walking (if approached in a right way) is healthy.
It makes me appreciate the moment, because I need to constantly watch as well as feel my step and my body. This helps to not think about what will I do to earn money tomorrow or where will I spend it, because first thing I need to do while being barefoot in -10°C is deal with it and accept it.

Conclusions

Now let me .zip everything into these simple rules if you’re thinking about winter barefoot walking:

  1. Don’t start in winter.
  2. Start building your natural sole in warm season.
  3. Build your cold tolerance in advance. Consciously.
  4. For the first time on the snow – be relaxed, keep breathing, walk – don’t run around squeaking like little cute pig. That does not help. Concentrate and make peace with the fact that you’ll be touching snow with your feet for some time now.
  5. After walking on snow spend some time on a relatively “warm” yet still cold surface to allow your feet to heat up naturally.
  6. Always move. Don’t stand still.
  7. Dress warm.
  8. Best of all use your brain and listen to your body.
  9. Don’t force it and don’t do it for something or someone else except your own health.
  10. Ask me a question. My response rate is 100% on this subject.

This looks like a nice ending to my story of winter barefoot walking which is a major achievement for me! Finally I’ll be able to write something new!

Thanks a lot for reading. Hope you found some useful information here. Stay safe and leave a comment, question or suggestion below!

19 comments

  • Just amazing man👍 keep up the good work you are an inspiration!

    • Thanks so much, David. Although I don’t have an exact date when my “experiment” ends, yet since I lived trough the winter I don’t think I’ll be wearing shoes soon. Especially when ALL the surfaces are so pleasant and warm after snow and ice at -15°C.

  • would this be safe for someone with anemia (lack of iron)?

    • Hi, unfortunately I’m not a doctor, hence I’m not authorized to give you advice. Of the top of my head – with ones body already not at its best (like having anemia), one shouldn’t try being barefoot in winter. But I’d be without shoes in summer as much as I can IN SAFE AND KNOWN environments. Meaning on my own or my neighbor’s lawn, or somewhere deep deep in the woods where there’s no chance to step on a piece of glass.
      What I could recommend you is to take a look at Wim Hof Method (maybe join official group on FB) and see if you might believe in it.
      Thanks for your question. Hope I could help you somehow.

      • alright, thank you! I love walking barefoot but I won’t do it during the winter. Definitely gonna look into the Wim Hof Method.

  • Absolutely brilliant. Going barefoot all the time is something that has fascinated me for a long time. Sadly, I would be starting towards the beginning of winter, so my question is, do you have any recommendations for barefoot shoes that would be good for the winter season?

    • Hey! Thanks for reading my essay. Honestly – I wouldn’t advise starting being barefoot in winter. Not sure how much experience you have on the subject, but as a general rule of thumb I’d say just wait for spring, or even better summer. This way you’ll win following things:
      1. Being barefoot in summer is pure pleasure especially if you’re determined to start it even in winter. So you’ll have a MUCH better first impressions.
      2. Your soles need to get a bit thicker trough friction – this helps withstand colder conditions later. Best conditions to thicken your soles – when there’s no snow.
      3. Since your body and mind adapts to being barefoot gradually there’s very little chance you’ll catch some sort of cold related illness (not talking simple cold with all the nose goods, more bladder inflammation, joint pain, spine pain, muscle pain etc.).
      Ok, now for the shoes – I would strongly advise against any sort of fivefingers (yeah, I know I voted positively several years ago). But since I sometimes carry a pair of shoes (fivefingers – facepalm) in my backpack for unexpected situations now I’m looking to exchange them for a pair of rope sandals like these: https://shop.nomadicstateofmind.com/jc-sandal-camel-p/jc-camel.htm
      Anyway – whatever you’ll try just see how your body feels about that and remember that gradual is much better than eager. Thanks for your message. Hope I answered your question. If not, will be waiting for your reply.

      • Thank you for your well written and informative articles about walking bare foot and the videos of the unique Orthodox Churches of Vilnius with the beautiful choir! I have shared the link to the Churches video with many of my online friends.

        We live and work on our small farm near the Southern Coast of Western Australia and walk barefoot at our farm and at our local beaches. Climate is cool Mediterranean. Summer temps rarely exceed 30c. Winter day temps average 12-17c. Min temperatures for Winter nights may get down to 4c. So not a harsh environment like Lithuania! When I go to town, I admit I wear Birkenstock sandals or my Vibram Five fingers. 🙂

        My daughter and I have trained for and walked ‘pilgrimages’ the past four years:
        Sep/Oct/Nov 2015: Camino Santiago, ending in Muxia (~900 km) lowest temp 9c in pouring rain near Cee;

        Sep/Oct 2016: London (city walking)+Hadrian’s Wall. Very wet walking in paddocks, min temp 10c

        Sep/Oct/Nov 2017: Via Francigena, Lausanne to Rome, (~1200 km) lowest temp a Dry -2c at Great St Bernard pass… but we were moving well, and didn’t seem to feel the cold. Colder walking in Rome, wet 4c.

        Oct/Nov/Dec 2018: Shikoku 88 temples, Japan (~1140 km) avg day temp in Dec: 12c
        lowest temp at KoyaSan, near Osaka: -2c

        Because we were used to walking barefoot; before our first pilgrimage in 2015, I researched the Barefoot approach and purchased Vibram Five Fingers Woman’s Spyridons. After training in the Vibram shoes for ~500km, we decided to walk the Camino Santiago in them.

        This was a radical decision! Many people thought our shoes were crazy and inappropriate. I found we could not maintain the ‘longer strides’ to keep up with other pilgrims in conversation. I am 159cm and have short legs and carrying a 8-9 kilo pack… so, like you, walking in barefoot shoes discourages heel strike!

        We do walk slower and much softer. I imagine it ‘Walking softly like an (American) Indian’. Your descriptions of walking barefoot resonated deeply with my experiences walking long distances in the Five Finger shoes.

        We haven’t seen any other pilgrims wearing Vibram Five Fingers, in our pilgrimages, although we did talk to one completely barefoot walker (like you!) going back home from Santiago. There were a few wearing Crocs, .including one woman who wore Croc thongs!

        Our shoes initiated many lovely conversations about our Barefoot shoes, most were positive (many photos taken of our feet). Perhaps they were kind and attentive to us because we were a Mother and Daughter.

        After the Camino, we were more confident in wearing the strange shoes, and we’ve walked pilgrimage in Vibrams ever since. (My daughter prefers the thinner soles. of the VTrek.
        Up to now, we have not worn socks… although I am ready to add socks, easier to wash. 🙂

        For 2019 Sep/Oct or Nov we hope to walk the Annapura Loop in Nepal.
        My research into wearing Vibram Five Finger shoes in Cold, High places brought me to your delightful website.

        Among other reviews, I read your August 30, 2017 positive review on the Vibram Trek Ascent Insulated Five Fingers. I’ve since purchased a pair each (half price special) for my Daughter and I. Plus an assortment of toe socks.

        Finally! My question is why in this, your most recent blog, so negative on the Five Finger shoes?

        Perhaps reduced Foot Sole build-up? I’ve noticed this … so we often train w/out Vibrams at the Beach or doing Stair Climbing or at the gym or trail walking. It’s just so much of the modern pilgrimage is on Automobile Roads and Sidewalks. I have to admit I prefer the Vibrams especially as we are walking 18-26km per day.

        I am very interested in your opinion! Thank you very much, Warm Regards, Jeni

        • Hey, Jeni!
          Thank you a lot for sharing your story, reading my essays and sharing my video on Orthodox churches! And now as I’m righting this for taking the time to point out my writing mistakes! Will correct those ASAP!
          Every time I get such a comment/story like yours I instantly feel very ashamed that I’m not righting enough (usually I’m just moderately ashamed). But I will write on all the subjects some time – why I don’t like five-fingers anymore (that much), how’s my barefoot life going (since the excitement is long gone and now I can see some things more clearly and relaxed). I’m also training for an 82k ultramarathon so that should be interesting too.
          I’d love to walk a pilgrimage like you do, but my son is a bit too young for this and my wife doesn’t find the 1200k walk too exciting, although she loves walking and usually does it alone since I’m not able to keep up with her. Not sure if the fast walking is good for our spines (shoe-less or shoed).
          People react to abnormal things be it a barefoot person or even five-fingers. Although both of these are just a different option. By their reactions you can tell how deeply indoctrinated they are and if it’s worth talking with them. By no means “talking” means trying to convince them to do something differently, but just letting them know (since they’re enormously curious behind all “oh, whatever” masks) why are you doing something or wearing something and that doing it doesn’t automatically make you insane, stupid or a member of a religious sect, yoga guru etc.
          Ok, now to answer your question. Why did I turned my back to five-fingers. Probably it needs to be said – that this happened just after living barefoot for quite a while. Basically every shoe be it V-Runs, slippers or rope sandals makes my sole sweaty and HOT. And I don’t like that. I can bare the heat in army shoes in winter at -15°C standing still and watching my son play in snow, but everything higher in temperature spent moving not standing is too hot for a person who’s used being barefoot. Also the concept of my toes being separated each in a personal pocket (in five-fingers) looks unusual and unnatural after some time. With that being said – I still take my V-Runs as “safety” option in case someone won’t let me into somewhere I MUST be inside of. V-Runs – because I haven’t found a better solution. Would like to try rope sandals, but those are quite expensive in Lithuania. So expensive and not necessary adds up to me still using V-Runs from time to time.
          As for a person who walks pilgrimages in shoes like you are, Jeni, I’d use five-fingers and forget everything else. Especially if you don’t get blisters or pain in the back. It seems like you figured out the right-er way to walk. What I’d do because of the toe separation – I’d probably look at their “furoshiki” line.
          So to wrap up and for me to understand what is my opinion on five-fingers… If you’re used to them and spend lot’s of time wearing them – you know how to walk correctly and your stride is short and like you said you’re walking softly like a Native American would do, there’s probably no better solution than V-Runs or any other model of FF’s. But if you’re going to spend more time barefoot – there’s literally no shoe that will please you, because it’s not the absence of contact with the earth that irritates, but the unnecessary heat build up either on your sole or around your entire foot. It’s like wearing gloves on a hot summer day. And since we don’t need precise toe control like we usually do for fingers, it’s better to wear mittens. And mittens on a hot summer day is as uncomfortable as gloves. Wow…
          Thanks for reading this. And let me know if I was clear enough with my response!

      • Hope you don’t mind… just a very small spelling correction.
        I’ve noticed reading your blogs, especially as your English is better written than most English writers 🙂

        “Your soles need to get a bit thicker trough friction”

        should be:

        “Your soles need to get a bit thicker through friction”

        through begins with ‘th’

  • Hi there! I’ve been barefoot for about 9 months now. The only problem I have had is cracking skin on the back on my heels. I think this is due to the temperature change or possibly when I took a break from my daily 2-hour walks for a couple weeks. Sanding off that extra skin solves the problem. Anyhow, I don’t know if road salt causes cracking. It hasn’t with me. I live in Salt Lake City. I go out to the lake (spring, summer, and fall so far) and walk in the salt all day with no effects at all. I like your enthusiasm and how you said “fall in love with being barefoot.” It is such an awesome connection to Earth that it is spiritual to me.

    • Hey Steve! Thanks for your comment and for reading my post. It seems that sensations and processes (like crackling of the skin) depend highly on the person as well as is directly related to their way of life before going barefoot.
      Since you live in Salt Lake City, I guess you have lots of free and natural salt to cover the roads. Here in Lithuania I believe they use some sort of chemical compound where actual salt may be only a part of it. Because when I stand on a “salty” sidewalk or run over the street covered in melted snow my feet start burning like hell. The sensation when walked on road salt is many times worse than walking around barefoot in -20°C for an hour or more.
      Because of that I even decided that it is not worth injuring my feet and I take a pair of sandals with me in case I’ll be walking salty roads a lot.
      What I noticed that it annoys me being in shoes now, which is strange, but I like it.

  • Hello Tomas,

    Greetings from Panama! I am also a “barefooter” who resorts to shoes only in an absolute necessity like having to appear as a witness in court or to attend some formal occasion. I applaud your decision to live your life barefoot. I can attest to the many health benefits of living barefoot as my habitual condition. I was born on an island and have lived on the ocean for most of my life living barefoot whenever possible.

    I am currently living in the mountains of Panama. When I go to Panama City, the Capital, I will even walk around the hotel barefoot and go shopping without shoes. Even though Panama is very hot and humid—unlike Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia (all of which I have visited)—the temperature at almost one mile high in the mountains is much cooler. Our seasons are in reverse, that is, the summer season occurs from January through April. This is also the dry season. The winter months run from May through December which is also the rainy season. Especially in the evening hours, the ground temperature here can be quite cold and damp but, of course, there is never snow or ice.

    I would like to comment that there are hundreds of medical studies that prove the health benefits of “earthing” as you have stated indirectly in your posts. Many studies using both infra-red images and MRI images show the dramatic reduction in inflammation by presenting both before and after images. Also, your comments about the strengthening of your immune system are very true. Most studies indicate that your skin, like bare feet, need to be in contact with the earth for between 30 and 45 minutes on a surface that allows the earth’s negatively-charged electrons to enter your body. An appropriate surface would be bare dirt, grass (preferably a little moist), concrete, gravel, sand (at the beach) and ceramic tile that is set on a concrete slab that is in contact with the earth. Tar or asphalt road surfaces or in parking lots are NOT able to conduct the electrons into your body. Some people sleep on special grounding sheets that are connected to the ground circuit in your house’s electric plugs or outlets. These circuits are connected to a metal rod in the ground in order to “ground” electric circuits. If you would like copies of some of these medical studies, I would be happy to send them to you or others.

    Concerning the cultural acceptance of walking barefoot in public, it depends on the country that you are in. Here in Panama, it is NOT common to see people walking barefoot. It is seen as a sign of being poor. Although in Panama there are a lot of poor people whose children maybe have only one pair of cheap rubber clogs or flip-flops. After school, they remove this footware to make them last longer. So these children essentially live barefoot after school. Also, even from ancient times, slaves and prisoners were not permitted to wear shoes.

    Despite these cultural, negative feelings about seeing someone barefoot in public, it is only rarely that I receive strange looks or any comments. I can go into a bank, store, pharmacy, restaurant without shoes without a problem. I keep a pair of flip-flops in the car for an unexpected emergency. I do tend to wear black flip-flops in church (I am Catholic) so as not to risk offending anyone.

    If you have never been to New Zealand, you will be amazed at the number of people including kids, teenagers, adults and older people who will walk around barefoot even in cities. Try doing a google search for something like “pix of barefoot people in New Zealand.” You will find barefoot people in supermarkets, shopping centers and waling on the sidewalks, etc. A few times, I have shown to some curious person these pictures on my Android or iPad of barefoot people from New Zealand or Australia to demonstrate the difference in cultures.

    In closing, Tomas, I extend you kudos for discovering and living a barefoot life. I also want to compliment you on your extraordinary ability with English! Excellent. I speak other foreign languages fluently and so I know that you have worked hard to handle English so well. Felicidades!

    Best wishes for continued success in your business and carefree lifestyle.

    Alan

    • Greetings from Lithuania, Alan.

      Thank you very much for such an in depth reply and all the extra info you gave on earthing as well as barefoot culture in Panama and New Zealand. I’ve read the “Earthing” book and am familiar with those MRI scans of all the people with inflammation who took part in the study. But I’m sure it would be very interesting and useful for my blog visitors to take a look at these. So if you will find a minute to share the copies of medical studies, I’d really appreciate that.
      Now a barefoot person in Lithuania 90% of the time implies not POOR, but IDIOT. Or maybe both. Having in mind that few decades ago the situation in Lithuanian country-side was exactly like you said it is in Panama – it is funny how people want to look rich (meaning having shoes makes you look rich). Younger guys and girls don’t know that any more, but people over 50 remember exactly the situations where as kids they used to walk to school several kilometers barefoot and put on shoes only at the threshold of the building. The other occasion was the church. Back then of course it was the way it was. But today I find it sort of oxymoron-ish that people judge you (me) being barefoot in a church, since it is Jesus who probably was barefoot a lot and it is Jesus who celebrated the poor. That being said – I completely understand your with to not offend the crowd in a church. I too tend to either put on shoes or just keep a pair in my backpack in case where I might face potential groundless anger. Like for example going to a theater plays for kids with my son. Where there’s a risk of making parents angry because they just can’t come up with an explanation why is it that this guy can walk around barefoot and they can’t.
      But that’s more theory than real life. I’m really happy and can proudly say that there were only one or two more insulting reactions to me being barefoot in two years.
      Alan, when you were visiting Baltic countries – were you barefoot here? And how did you come op with such a travel plan?
      As much as you like my WRITTEN English (while talking I use lots of mmmmmm’s, eeeeee’s and aaahmmm’s), I love how educated you’re on the subject of barefoot lifestyle health vise. Probably I should dig more into it too, but I’m too lazy. If I were more into making other people be barefoot, I’d probably study the subject more. But for now I’m just being barefoot, observing myself in the context of living without shoes, and I really don’t care if someone thinks it’s harmful and I can’t explain why it is not. People who want to understand will eventually understand, and people who don’t want to – won’t be convinced with all the medical studies of the galaxy.
      The fact that there are people who attend church every Sunday morning and still are judging a barefoot person in their house of worship or in the street says a lot about them.
      Thanks so much for you honest comment and for reading my thoughts, Alan!

  • Hi, I’ve been walking barefoot for the last two weeks in the north of England, it’s summer and it’s warm, it’s lovely! I did stand on a slug the other day which was disgusting, but even worse for the poor slug i fear! Anyway, my question is about cleaning feet after walks or at the end of the day. I have read pages and pages about barefooting but not once has anyone covered this topic! How often and with what do you clean your feet? Do we meed to clean them at all? (unless we’ve stood in something particularly nasty) Look forward to any information you can give on that, also links to any other literature about it. Thanks. x

    • Hey, great practical question of yours! My apologies on behalf of slug. Must have been very unpleasant. I have a mild fear/not likingness of frogs, so I feel you here. Never stepped on one of the frogs though. Now about feet cleaning – I’d say it depends on your perception of cleanliness. I’d advise you to do whatever you feel will scrub off all the filth on your feet. As off myself – once I get back from the city I usually wash my feet under cold water (nothing special about cold water – except that I only use cold all the time) in a sink or bathtub, because my feet are black from asphalt and all the chemistry on the sidewalks. If it’s raining, and I get back from the city – I usually rub my feet against concrete tiles in my yard and that’s about it. Wet concrete is great soap. In winter for example I barely wash my feet as the snow does it for me. Love this about the winter. Don’t like all cold though. When I get back from nature (yard, run in the forest, unpaved road emmm “trip”) I just take a look at my feet to evaluate if I need a feet-bath.
      But you probably wanted to know I you need to wash your feet using soap or some other sort of anti-bacterial scrubbing chemical. I personally don’t use any of those.You however should go with whatever suits YOU.
      About the frequency of feet cleaning – you should clean those every time you get back from the city + every time you feel you should. Just like our hands or face.
      Unfortunately I’ve read no literature on the subject, so I have no references for you. Just go with your gut.
      And for closure: now imagine who’s feet are cleaner – a persons who walks barefoot everywhere and washes her/his feet every time once indoors or a person’s who walks in socks and shoes and washes feet only before bed or every few days if he/she decides to go lazy on the shower this evening. Simple yet mindblowing.
      Hope I helped you somehow here. If you have further questions – let me know! Have mercy on slugs – watch your step.

  • Yes on this topic Hilary… I remember as a kid I went barefoot all summer only wearing shoes to go to the movies or grocery store where the management insisted… we lived near a lake and I did not shower or bathe all summer. Ever. Except in the lake of course but the lake had formerly been the end recipient of a sawmill effluent as well as the town sewer and bathing suits smelled horribly after drying if they were not rinsed off first. My feet were the cleanest part of me by far…. what I would do is, first thing in the morning when the dew was still fresh and cool, walk through the grass, even a short distance, and my feet would be as clean as new!

  • I have started walking barefoot, though I started late September. The feeling of your feet being warm while still being on snow in -10c is amazing. And yeah, I get the thing about the looks and comments.

    I live up north of Sweden, and am a trucker (sadly forced by common rules to wear steel toed shoes while working). There’s a running joke amongst my coworkers to start a fundraiser so “the poor boy, can buy some socks”. And I get looks from all neighbours who comments “isn’t it cold?” “I am freezing my toes off just in my shoes!” And they treat my explanation of “yes its cold, if I don’t move, but walking keeps the blood flowing and them warm.” as if I am speaking babble.

    Right now however I am suffering from blisters, common friction based blisters, Took a run in 15-20cm new snow(aka it had been warm during the day but freezing and snowing by the time I got off work. After a little bit I got blisters on my… second toe? and the foot sole to it. Now everyone talks about me gotten frostbitten, while I feel its overreacting on their part. It is why I found this post 😀 I was wondering if you also had this happen to you… cause… well it could be frostbite but I am a bit confused if so. I should have gotten it a week earlier while walking on asphalt in -17c. (my walks are usually not longer than 15min)

    • Hey, thanks for your comment! A truck driver, ha? Have you noticed how much more steady your bare foot “sits” on those pedals? It’s funny how everyone’s imagining that driving barefoot is very uncomfortable, but at the same time driving in high heels or flip flops is OK. When people ask me if it’s comfortable to drive barefoot I always ask them if it’s more comfortable to hold a fork with bare hand or a whilst in mittens. Yeah…
      OK, now about your blisters. It might easily be light frostbite, as your skin probably haven’t got the time from September to grow some thickness. And since snow is like really cold, one should approach it carefully. I remember my first winter going without even one blister, but that’s because the temperature dropped gradually and my feet were adapting to lower and lower temperatures over time of three to four months. Yet I tired to stay away from deep snow because I noticed that after it covers top parts of my feet it gets harder and harder to keep those “warm”.
      I’d probably advise you to jump in some sort of shoes during winter. At least this is what I do now two years into barefoot life. I tried being barefoot for one winter. It is possible, but hell it is not comfortable especially if you have a child who wants to play with you. So now once the temperatures drop below zero degrees Celsius I usually put on some sort of shoes, cause in my opinion whatever goodness I get from being barefoot in winter it’s not worth the pain and constant caution. If I were you I’d probably do several short round-a-yard runs during winter days, and would wear shoes all the other times when there’s snow or a temperature is below zero. Then I’d start being barefoot as much as I can once the snow is out in spring. Build some thickness on your soles and feel the pleasure of having dry feet all the time when all the others are in constant search for “breathing” shoes or socks. And we all know those does not exist. Whatever gloves you’ll be wearing in summer, your hands will be sweaty. Same with shoes. Of course that’s only my opinion.
      Anyway – I’m also positive about the frostbite theory. Let those blisters heal and wait for the spring, Emil! Let me know if I can be of further help. Take care and thanks for your message!

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