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Never thought I would really do it.

I never thought I would really run with bare feet, only with minimal shoes. The last two weeks I ran barefoot through the woods three times and I really loved it. It gives me a lot of energy. After the run my feet feel very well and then I look at them with pride. I always watch out very well where I put my feet. Especially Pine cones have to be avoided. In some places they are on the trail everywhere. My feet got bruised a few times a littlebit but this is part of the game. Running barefoot is actually a matter of technique and a lot of concentration. So you can enjoy the surroundings less. My skin is quite thin. My experience is that you don't need a thick skin as long as you watch out very well and know your limits. But you need a thick 'elephantskin' for the responses from some other people you pass on your barefoot run. After the run I clean and inspect my feet very well. A cotton wash cloth or washing mitt is the best for this.


Answers and Replies


I love trail running in bare feet it is a lot of fun, but as you say, takes quite a bit of concentration as you get used to it. The worst for me is running barefoot in fallen leaves... you just can't tell what lies underneath not matter how careful you are...


I'm not a runner (!), but a hiker and walker. I've gone a fair amount of barefoot hiking, before the current fad/trend, though I've not done it for ages. Can't beat the underfoot feel of hot, dry rock or a bed of springy pine needles. :)

You may have thin skin now, but it'll thicken the more you are walking and running barefoot, or with open air sandals. Your skin will thicken and harden wearing something cushioned like Chaco sandals. The trick is to be barefoot or in sandals as much as possible. Otherwise, your feet won't adapt to being barefoot and you'll remain just as vulnerable to injury.

My personal theory, informed only by personal experience, is that the moist environment your feet have when wearing socks and shoes, won't allow the skin of your feet to callus up and thicken. Sort of like rubbing lotion on your feet constantly, your skin stays soft, supple, and moisturized. Good for some people, but not the best for folks who want to run barefoot in the woods.


I've hiked and backpacked a lot in Chaco sandals but I usually wear socks to protect myself from chafing from the straps and for warmth (I've backpacked in below freezing in my sandals). Even with socks my heels get really dry and start to get deep crevices. I'm wondering, going barefoot do you still get the cracks in the heels?


Hello Piper, I am still having some cracks in my heels. These are from my shoes and not from running barefoot. I still have to learn a lot about footcare and how to deal with callus. You hike in below freezing temps with sandals and socks. The below freezing temps may damage your skin because it dries it out. You could start wearing minimal shoes or maybe rub your feet with a footcare product. Maybe you could try Bodyglide. See Bodyglide products that you could use are: Anti-chafe balm, Liquified Powder or Footglide Foot Formula.


I have had a heel fissure problem for about 3 years, and while going barefoot most of the time has cleared up my other foot ailments (athletes foot in particular hasn't shown up since ditching the shoes) the fissures remain. The remedy that seems to be working best (I've tried several) is the new (I think it's new, anyway) gold bond heel cream. I've been using it for a week and while they aren't magically healed I have seen some pretty good improvement. We'll see what I think in another week or two, but so far this seems to do the trick.


When you folks talk of this issue are you seeing it in summer or winter or both? I have only been bare for 5 months now but I am bare all day and on some rough ground compared to forest trails so far no issues with fissures.


Well, my heel cracks aren't very severe. I live in Southern California, so I will wear sandals any time of year and the below freezing stuff seems to happen at high elevation in Spring when the weather can turn.

A lot of Pacific Crest Trail through-hikers who attempt to do the trail in sandals get really bad fissures in their heels. They recommend bag balm as an attepmt to sooth or prevent them and super glue to fix them. I have yet to go several months hiking on a dusty trail in the heat without a daily bath so such deep cracks have not happened to me.


Mine have been a year-round problem, and was a pre-existing condition before I started spending more time bare.

Update on the gold bond usage: it's been about 2 weeks and the improvement is pretty noticeable. Mine were bad enough that it seems like it'll take more time yet, but they are much better!


So.... here is where I am struggling with this issue. Shoes are a newish invention and we agree in this forum that we are intended to go barefoot. Today in areas where the population is mostly shoeless they do not have this problem. I doubt our ancestors did either so why do so in the West have this issue. Why is the foot not adapting quickly enough.

Sudden thought do you guys eat a low fat diet?


Perhaps the adaptation takes a lot longer than we think. In other countries, they have been going shoeless since birth - because they can. I would say that most (probably all) of us here in North America have not - because we can't.

My thinking is that man started inventing shoes when he started to venture out into climates/environments where they became necessary.


No low fat diet here, although I do have a hard time getting omega-3s due to a fish allergy/intolerance. I did try using chia to get the omega-3s but after a few weeks of it didn't notice any difference, so I decided that must not be the problem.


I'm not lowfat, but I live in a low-humidity climate. Where I live humidity is often below 30% and where I go backpacking it can be as low as the teens or single-digits. It is never like it gets in the midwest or southeast.


Well add me to the list. I can not believe it but just last week they showed up. I am in a high humidity climate. The last 2 weeks we have been 80 percent of sucks. I am also low carb high fat. The skin on the heel is all very hard. Guess I will have to get the Gold Bond fast while they are minor cracks.


Once a month my wife and I go in for a pedicure together. This does not affect the thickness of my sole, just gets rid of the cracks and the crud, plus it feels great! The ladies have been keeping this a secret for too long. Besides, most of us guys could use a little cleanup.


I read an article online somewhere by a Thai podiatrist (I think). He said heel fissures come from improper foot strike. That is, people who generally heel strike harder have fissures. I notice in myself that this is true: when I wear sandals, I heel strike more. When I heel strike, my heels crack. When I wear leather, totally flat, hard flipflops, no more problem.

The solution he gave if one couldn't learn proper form is to wet a foot file in the shower and rub it against the soap bar. Then, file the dirty, cracked area on the heel. Do this every night in the shower.

This is the only thing that's worked for me. :0)


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