Sunday, May 8, 2011

Barefoot Walking

The more I barefoot walk, the more I love it!  Each morning for the last few weeks I have started out my walk in my Vibram Five Fingers and then each day I take them off a little further from home.  Today I did more than half of my two mile walk with Izzy completely barefoot. 

A few things I have noticed about barefoot walking:
  • I find my feet craving to touch the earth as I walk and let them decide now when to remove my Vibrams, which have become easier and quicker to put on with more wear. 
  • I like walking on the hard sidewalks and then finding soft, cool grass to step into. 
  •  My feet are getting tougher and aren't as bothered by little pebbles. 
  •  I notice more about the nature around me.  I now know which tree leaves want to stick to my feet and which don't. 
  •  I am more aware of trees that drop many seeds. 
  •  I notice that when I walk on hills and need to bend my ankles, they freely move with my foot which is so different than when wearing shoes. 
  • I feel light and free when I am without shoes.  I feel less stress on my hips and knees.
  • When I go without shoes for most of the weekend, my feet seem pleased.  The tingling in my toes and shooting pain disappears over the weekend and returns on Monday when I walk in my shoes for hours. 
When I got home today I gave my feet a warm foot bath.  It felt fantastic!


  1. I started wearing my five fingers a year ago, and after the first month, never looked back. I wear them all day, every day. I work in a professional setting, and wear them with my suit. Since my boss knows I have RA, there is nothing that can be said about them being inappropriate. I wear them hiking, I wear them gardening - who would have thought you could use a shovel in five-fingers. I wore them all winter in NC, with smart wool toe socks! I think they have helped my toes get straighter and stronger. Nice to know someone else with RA who has discovered the wonders of 5-fingers!

  2. Wow! I am wondering how your feet can handle walking barefoot with ra. I find it fascinating. Is there some info you can provide me on it all? I follow another blogger..she does marathons running barefoot and she also has ra. Just amazing to me. Do you have any foot damage from the ra? I tried walking barefoot in my own home a couple times and wound up the next day in terrible pain. When I was pre ra I walked barefoot alot. That is one of the things I have had to give up. But I am interested to learn more. thanks.

  3. Gardensongs, I have worn my hiking too as well as bike riding. The Five Fingers are becoming my best friends. I think when I wear them my toes don't feel like they need to curl as they do in other shoes so the pain in my toes is less intense when I wear them.

    You might want to read The Barefoot Book. It explains a lot about barefoot walking. What got me interested was when a chiropractor told me I need to go barefoot more often because the shoes I wear are very supportive and aren't allowing the muscles in my feet to develop.

    I don't have a lot of inflammation in the balls of my feet. Is that where yours is? When the inflammation is in the balls of the feet, it is hard to walk barefoot. My pain is mostly in the toes right now and wearing the Five Fingers or barefoot eliminates a lot of that pain.

    Thanks for reading!


  4. I've always loved being barefoot. It makes me feel free and close to nature, and there's nothing quite like cool grass on sore, achy feet. As a kid I prided myself on the fact that by the end of summer, I could run down the gravel driveway and not feel a thing.

    That said, I've never thought of it as a deliberate tool in my approach to RA. It's been really interesting to read about your experiences and how beneficial you find barefoot walking. Maybe I'll start getting my shoes off more often.

  5. Hi Deb, Cathy, Helen & all,

    Sorry this is kind of long - I really like my shoes :)

    Started wearing the 5-fingers because of baby toe curing under causing a huge callus, bigger than the toe, from walking on it. It was to the point that it hurt to walk, even in sandals, just couldn't get the toe to straighten.
    I also had flat arches and plantar fasciitis in both feet. My feet are my worst part of my arthritis, with both large toes and baby toes involved, and swelling in the balls of the feet. Toes are swollen and red and hot most of the time.
    I wore the 5-fingers for short periods of time at first, gradually increasing the time I wore them, like the literature advises. In about a month I was able to wear them full time.
    My left baby toe is still swollen, and still protests each morning when I settle it into it's new home, but the entire callus has disappeared, as have the calluses on my big toes.
    Recently, after being told my whole life that I have flat feet, a new foot specialist told me I had the nicest arches she's ever seen! So, there must be something to letting your feet to use the muscles as they were intended to be used!
    My RA is mild at this point, so don't know how they would work for others, but they are really helping me.
    I put them on first thing in the morning, and don't take them off until I'm in bed for the night.
    The other big advantages, in my experience, is that they have a nice grippy sole, that helps give me stability. They also allow me to feel any uneven surface beneath my feet and adjust my foot, thus being less likely to stumble and fall.
    If you decide to try some, get the classic design, as they are easier to put on. Here's the link to vibram's website
    One other plus - all models are machine washable (line dry).
    And one caveat - if you don't like to talk to strangers, don't wear them in public. Not a single day goes by that I don't get asked about them at least once!
    That's all I can think of. If you have specific questions let me know. I'm very new at commenting on blogs and not sure how it all works, but am having fun learning the lay of the land and learning a lot about this strange journey we are on. Thanks to all of you, after a year of going it alone, I now feel more hopeful and less alone.

  6. I got some yoga toe sox and I really love them. My husband wants to look into getting us both a pair of vibrams so we'll see! They even have kid size so Sophie can get a pair :)

    I hate shoe shopping because one foot is larger than the other and I have an odd shoe size, so it's hard for me to find shoes that fit. I hope the vibrams fit better!

  7. Helen, I hope to get to the point I can run down a gravel road without a problem. Today I did 3/4of my walk barefoot!

    Gardensongs, thanks so much for sharing. I have heard stories of others finding their arches. Wow! My dad was flatfooted. I wonder what barefoot walking or Vibrams would have done for him.

    Heather, if there is one thing I wish I could redo with my kids it would be to keep shoes off their feet. I hope you are able to find a pair of Vibrams. The more I wear them the more I love them!