Published on July 05, 2022

Is walking barefoot bad for your feet?

Walking barefoot

People are kicking off their shoes more than ever as more employees are working from home. But what is that doing to their feet? Podiatrist Stacey White, DPM, Ridgeview Clinics, shares, “I have seen an increase in patients coming in with foot pain simply because they are going barefoot more often.” The pandemic has created a shift in footwear habits, causing more issues such as plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, metatarsalgia and ligament strains.

Dr. White explains that for some people, walking barefoot can stress the plantar fascia—the ligament that connects your heel to the base of your toes. This stress can cause inflammation that may lead to plantar fasciitis. A common symptom is throbbing pain in the heels, which is often worse in the morning right after getting out of bed. Plantar fasciitis is more common in people who excessively pronate or are overweight. These factors in addition to aging, which pulls our arches down, put extra stress on the plantar fascia.

Pronation and why it’s important to your foot health

Pronation refers to the way your foot rolls when you step. Some people overpronate as they walk—their feet roll inward toward each other as they step. Overpronation can lead to more injuries, such as plantar fasciitis, bunions and shin splints. It is important to wear supportive shoes, even when walking in the house, particularly if there is a need to address any foot issues. Dr. White recommends purchasing over-the-counter or custom orthotics, when necessary, and those recovering from plantar fasciitis will want to avoid walking barefoot and wear supportive shoes until they are pain free.

Dr. White says that “It doesn’t mean you need to ditch less supportive shoes like heels and flip-flops altogether, rather everything in moderation—just be smart about it.” She explains that flip-flops do not provide any support and they cause your toes to curl as you walk to hold the shoe on your foot—which can lead to hammertoe. The issue with wearing heels is that they shift the weight of your entire body forward, putting a lot of pressure on the ball of your foot which, over time, can cause foot issues and lower back pain.

Protecting the feet that keep you moving

“Gravity is constantly pulling our arches down, stretching out the ligaments, which makes us more susceptible to foot issues as we age,” said Dr. White. “We don’t give our feet the recognition they deserve for all the work they do for us each day. We should take care of them early—not just when an issue arises.”

Fortunately, if an issue does arise, many foot conditions are easily diagnosed and can be treated. Dr. White says it is a good idea to pay attention to the history of your symptoms to provide your doctor. She shares, “If I listen to a patient long enough, I can usually tell what is wrong with them without even touching their foot.”

Ridgeview’s podiatrists can provide treatments and solutions to regain pain-free mobility. They also offer same-day appointments for emergency podiatry services or injuries.

Request an appointment.

Portrait of Dr. Stacey White Stacey White, DPM, has special interests in sports medicine, orthotics and diabetic foot care. She treats most conditions of the foot and ankle including, plantar fasciitis, sports injuries, ingrown nails, neuromas, conservative treatment of bunions and hammertoe. Her goal is to provide patients the opportunity to enjoy life to the fullest by staying active. She sees patients in Le Sueur and Waconia.