I’m hoping by now all of my readers are aware that it’s not a good idea to walk with bare feet outdoors. Shoes are a necessity outside, whether you’re running through the grass, entering the locker room, or getting ready to jump into the community pool. They guard you against cuts, scrapes, germs, and that most dreaded organism: foot fungus!
This is a given, right? What about while we’re at home? Your own house is, after all, undoubtedly clean. You shouldn’t be at too much of a danger since the bacteria in it are likely your own, or are you? At the end of this article, we are going to take a more in-depth look at the dos and don’ts of being barefoot in your own home. But let’s first go through the dangers of barefoot walking.
3 Reasons Why You Should Never Go Barefoot
Here are three issues that might arise from constantly being on your bare feet, all of which are preventable.
1. Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that often appears on the bottoms of your feet or between your toes. Don’t assume that this kind of infection is not a worry at home just because we normally see patients contracting it when going barefoot in public spaces like the pool or locker rooms. You have a higher chance of contracting athlete’s foot by going barefoot in the same area as any members of your family or even your guests, especially in the toilet.
2. Plantar Fasciitis
Your feet flatten down and your arch collapses when you walk barefoot. Your plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue whose main function is to support the muscles and arch of your foot, is placed under strain as a result. And if the stress becomes unbearable? Your plantar fascia may become overstretched, which might lead to discomfort or even minor tears. And if that happens, you could have plantar fasciitis, which causes heel pain.
3. Toenail Fungus
Fungal toenails are often caused by athlete’s foot infections, in which the invading fungi find their way into or beneath your nail. Therefore, the same activities that raise your risk of athlete’s foot also increase your chance of toenail fungus.
When NOT to Walk Around the House Barefoot
First and foremost, if you have diabetes, you should never walk barefoot inside or outside your home.
Peripheral neuropathy, a condition brought on by advanced diabetes, may cause a gradual numbness of the feet. This loss of feeling might make it difficult for you to feel anything you walked on, such a glass or wood splinter or even a nail. This often results in infection and may worsen to the point where your foot may need to be amputated. People with diabetes should always wear shoes, house shoes, or slippers with a solid sole to protect their feet.
When CAN You Walk Around the House Barefoot
There is slightly more wiggle room with this problem if you do not have diabetes. The answer depends on the type of floor you’re walking on. For instance, a house with plush, soft carpeting is ideal for barefoot walking. Your feet will experience less shock when you walk on carpet, which also acts as a cushion for prolonged standing.
However, the majority of us don’t have thick carpets throughout the whole home. In fact, it has long been known that most families spend the majority of their time in the kitchen, and most kitchens aren’t carpeted.
What if we are standing on a kitchen floor made of ceramic tile? There are two different types of forces at work when we stand or move on a hard surface. One is the force with which your foot strikes the ground. Then, an equal and opposite force called the “ground reactive force” is sent back into your limb from the ground. Unprotected steps on a hard, unforgiving surface can increase the stress on your feet because of those mechanics. When you run, that force is multiplied by four.
By including shock absorption, these forces may be reduced. Typically, we refer to this as “footwear.” For example, a rubber sole will partially absorb the shock from the foot striking the ground as well as some of the reactive energy. In other words, even a pair of slippers with a rubber sole may significantly reduce foot pain as you move about your home.
Returning to the idea of “kicking off” your shoes when you arrive at home… generally speaking, you’re okay to do so as long as you protect your feet in the areas of your house with hard tile or wood floors by wearing some decent, cushioned footwear. That is, of course, unless you have diabetes or another ailment that has affected your feet’s sensitivity. In such scenario, it is better to be careful and wear shoes than sorry and risk losing a leg!
Dr. Ejodamen Shobowaleof DeNiel Foot and Ankle Center provides sports podiatry, diabetic foot care, and treatment and surgery for all foot and ankle problems to residents of Houston and the surrounding areas. Please contact us right away to schedule an appointment.