Happy Feet:  5 Reasons to go Barefoot and 3 Solutions for Healthier Feet

Happy Feet: 5 Reasons to go Barefoot and 3 Solutions for Healthier Feet

One of the things I love most about being a yoga teacher is the abilty to go barefoot on the job.   I have heard from numerous yoga teachers over the years, how bad shoes are for your feet.   In a recent interview with   , I learned a new term for shoes: feet coffins.   When you think of the excruciating pain, cramming, re-shaping and overall unnatural sensations that shoes create, the name makes perfect sense.   Shoes, no matter how expensive, how scientifically researched or described as “comfortable,” take away from the natural movement our feet are supposed to experience to stay healthy.


  1.  Your feet can move as nature intended, with no restriction, rubbing or cramped toes.
  2.  You will improve your posture. Even a very small heel can put a “spanner in the works” when it comes to your feet.   By shifting the body forward, you alter the alignment of the whole body.
  3. No more painful, squished toes. The forces of fashion have pushed us towards dainty, pointy and unnaturally shaped shoes.   Place a barefoot on top of almost any shoe on the market, and you’ll notice something rather obvious – your foot is a different shape than the shoe!
  4. Better balance and agility. Whizzing between your brain and your feet is a huge amount of sensory information.   Your brain is trying to process what’s underneath the foot with each step so it can guide skillful movement decisions.   A squishy padding or rigin heels make this task a whole lot more difficult.
  5. Do everything with more ease! The feet are the foundation to healthy movement. When left to move naturally, most feet do a brilliant job of effortlessly supporting happy, healthy movement.   Flat feet, plantar fasciitis, bunions, knee pain and back pain can all be linked to problematic shoes!

Though we are getting close, not everyone is a yoga teacher…yet.   And even though some people may have the luxury of going barefoot often, modern life means kicking off our shoes is not always possible. Here are three of my favorite fixes for aching feet that are exhausted from wearing traditional shoes:

1. Toe Stretch.   Screaming Toes pose is another name for this in yoga.   It is performed by coming onto the hands and knees, curling your toes to press into the ground and sitting back onto the feet in an upright position.   Sounds easy enough, right?   After a few moments, the sensation becomes very apparent.   With 26 bones, 33 joints, 100 muscles and over 7,000 nerve endings in each foot, you will definitely feel some resistance.   Try to stay in it for atleast two minutes.   Taking deep breaths will help!

2.   Fingers in the Toes Exercise.   This one is nice because there is a little more movement involved.   Simply take one hand to your opposite foot and place one finger between each of your toes beginning with the index finger between your big toe and next and so on. You should finish with the pinky finger inside the pinky toe, the palm of your hand cupping the ball of your foot and the heel of your hand in the arch.   Begin to circle the ankle a few times in one direction and then the other.   Flex and point the foot a few times as well.

3.   Barefoot Shoes.     They are naturally foot-shaped, have zero elevation, with room for the toes to spread apart with each step.   shoes have a minimal sole that is still highly durable and puncture resistant.   The shoe is designed to encourage the foot to stay naturally strong, flexible and healthy.   In the absence of support and padding, the foot remains inherently strong and supple (rather than becoming lazy and weak) – and does a very good job of keeping you moving without pain or injury.