Walking Barefooted… The Dilemma

To do or not to, that’s the question… It’s a daily occurrence at the Clinic, followed by disbelief, denial, and even covert defiance, when clients are asked, and told, not to walk barefooted. “But why ah cyah walk barefoot, that is how we grow up!” ” Ent we suppose to connect with mother earth?” “My house always clean, so I ent have no problem!” ” I’s only walk barefoot in the house, not outside.”

To put things in perspective, we live in different times. The environment is very polluted, and as we repeatedly point out, you can’t see Don't walk barefootgerms. No matter how clean you think your home may be, each time you enter in, you don’t know what germs you take in with you. But, who contributes to the pollution? We should all know the response.

As we should be aware as well, carpets can be the greatest repository of germs. And what about if we have pets in the house? If you are diabetic, it can be a prescription for disaster, if you suffer from neuropathy and are experiencing numbness.

What can affect me when I walk barefoot outside?

Caribbean culture has nurtured many unhealthy practices due to the ignorance of the older generation. So some of our elders went to school without shoes, and they would claim that they are not worse off for it. Not from our experience; a lack of knowledge about foot health, causes persons to walk around with issues they are not even aware they have.

Plantar wartLong ago, it wasn’t unusual to hear someone suffering from jiggers (parasitic fleas which burrowed into the skin

Athlete's Foot
Athlete’s Foot
Calloused feet
Calloused feet

and laid eggs); which was not only painful, but difficult to treat. Today, it’s athlete’s foot, itchy feet, both of which can be contagious and lead to toe nail infection. Plantar warts (fish eyes) is another very popular ailment we encounter; it is a viral infection, painful, and takes time to heal. Deeply calloused feet and cracked heels are very much par for the course. Cracked heels can attract infections, causing more problems for the individual, and not to mention very unsightly.

Animal faeces may abound if you have pets, and you could accidentally encounter it. If you have a compromised immune system, you can be exposed to infections such as hookworms.

It's risky to walk on stonesThen, there are twigs, thorns, glass, and nails that can get into the feet. Rocks and pebbles can cause injuries too, especially for those with sensitive skin, including seniors and young children.

Our beaches can be dangerous too, given our predisposition for littering and not necessarily cleaning up after.  When so tempted, be environmentally conscious;  think about someone who could be negatively affected by your actions.

What about my Religious Practices that require me to be barefoot?

By all means perform your duties. Just conform to your normal habits after, particularly if you are diabetic. If you have existing health issues, and you could be allowed to use socks, by all means explore that option. Prevention is always better than cure.

What about Young Children?

Most doctors will agree that children’s feet will benefit from spending a lot of time barefoot. When young children wear shoes, it can inhibit the normal growth pattern of the feet and interfere with proper foot development. By allowing babies and young children to walk barefoot, the feet are given the chance to develop and grow naturally, resulting in strong muscles of the feet and ankles.

Parents who advocate barefoot walking for their children claim that the younger the age when a child wears shoes, the more damage that will result. For those who choose to let their children walk barefoot, the necessary precautions for outside should always be taken. It’s better to be safe than sorry. As well, ensure as clean an environment as possible to facilitate the children.

 The Way Forward

There are proponents for walking barefoot, since there would always be opposing views on issues. However, as indicated, persons are being affected seriously, so that is the concern.  It is for you to review your situation, against the facts presented, and make your decision. I trust that you would allow good sense to prevail for your health and safety. Save yourself the potential pain,  discomfort,  loss of limbs, and money that may have to be expended, if you choose to continue being in denial.

                                                   Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!

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