By Julie Vargo, Editorial Contributor
Florida’s balmy breezes, sandy beaches and relaxed vibe are an invitation to bare our feet. But slipping off our shoes to join the unshod masses has its pros and cons.
On the plus side, going barefoot helps improve foot strength, circulation, posture and balance by restoring your natural gait. “Being barefoot helps provide better control of your foot position striking the ground,” says Dr. Lori Grant, a foot and ankle specialist with Orlando Health Physician Associates. “Since you use more muscles, ligaments and tendons when barefoot, you also strengthen your feet and improve foot mechanics.”
On the other hand, if you’re not used to walking barefoot, going shoeless can put painful pressure on foot joints. Without protective footwear, feet are also more susceptible to injuries, infections and fungi like athlete’s foot.
Some folks shuck their shoes the moment they get home in favor of house slippers. While cultural for many, ditching shoes at the door also helps keep the house cleaner. Remember, whatever you step on outside — from pet waste to street dirt — comes home on the bottom of your shoes.
Whether you dare to bare or stay laced up, practicing proper foot care is essential.
- Apply sunscreen to bare feet before heading outside.
- Choose well-fitting, supportive shoes.
- Avoid extremes. Flat, thin shoes lack shock absorption. High heels can cause tendon issues, bunions or hammertoes.
- If you have diabetes, circulation problems or neuropathy, see a podiatrist yearly.
- Keep feet clean and dry.
- Check for cuts or blisters daily.
- Buy exercise shoes designed for your foot type and sport.