Barefoot Sock DocThis is my recent article in the Aug/Sept edition of Paleo Magazine. Check them out for more great articles.

Humans, with rare exception, should be able to function well while barefoot from birth until death. Although sadly many people are unable to walk, run, or stand barefoot even for a few minutes without feeling discomfort, pain, or general uneasiness. Many people have essentially lost their ability to support themselves without secondary support, either because of poorly developed biomechanics or underlying health problems. What I’m referring to is a true barefoot individual – one aspect that should be, but often is not part of, a Paleo lifestyle. If you’re one of those people with a closet full of minimalist shoes for every occasion and you put yourself in that special barefoot club, I’m suggesting you actually literally step out of that false sense of reality that you’re giving yourself and your feet, and truly go bare.

Is Barefoot for Everyone?

I don’t think there is a debate on how we were meant to run, or even walk for that matter. Humans are not meant to over-stride and land on their heels when running, which today’s typical running shoe forces. Even while walking, conventional footwear will elicit more of a heel strike, extended stride, and an unnatural, inefficient push-off with the foot. A barefoot walker will land softly with a shorter stride and efficiently roll off the foot. Yes, even if you wear the thinnest of something under your feet you will change your gait and how your foot lands. But you also need to be healthy to be able to move barefoot.

Read the rest of the article here at Paleo Magazine!


  1. Mike Harold says:

    Have you any experience (or findings) about alpine hiking in bare-foot style shoes? Ie with very thin and flat soles rather than the clunky 2 kg boots that seem to be standard?

    Mike Harold

  2. Well said.

    I recently couldn’t figure out what was going wrong with my running. Crippling calf pain was limiting me to short, under two mile, runs. I realized that it seemed to coincide with my switch to Merrell “barefoot” shoes from VFFs. I ditched them both and went back to barefoot and experience a pain free run immediately. I ran barefoot exclusively a couple years ago but slowly, as you described in the article, reverted to thicker and thicker minimalist shoes. It resulted in my not liking to run anymore and basically, for the most part, stop running. But I’m back… working on it anyway.

    I’m also real curious about hiking and backpacking. I have done day hikes in VFFs but not sure what to do about overnights. Any thoughts?


    • Yeah your experience is not uncommon. Some people find it very difficult to find shoes (if any).

      I’d think VFF’s would work on long hikes? La Sportiva makes some “great” shoes but unfortunately none are less than 4mm drop and they’re all stacked up.

  3. Nico Wellinger says:

    Hi Mike,

    my family and friends are using nothing but Luna Sandals when hiking and climbing in the bavarian, austrian and swiss alps. You have a Vibram Sole working on all even wet rocky terrain and don’t have to complain about aching toes hiking down the hill for hours:-) But this is only our solution for rocky terrain above 6000 Feet, below we try to move barefoot.

    Check out

    Cheers from Munich

  4. Karen Johnson says:

    I’ve been transitioning to barefoot over the last 4 months. Currently I hike about 5 miles a day wearing patagonia rovers. Inside I’m barefoot. At other times I wear zero sandals or VFFs or moccasins. For the past month I’ve been experiencing tingling or pins & needles in my feet for about the first 5 minutes after I get out of bed, or after I’ve been sitting for a long time. The rest of the time my feet feel fine. I’m in good health (no diabetes), paleo diet, 53 years old. I’ve tried searching google for this symptom but have found nothing. Any thoughts?


  5. I came across your website last year after having trouble with insoles and really liked your barefoot philosophy so I tried it out. I was trying to ease into it slowly, but one day while standing in my office barefoot I felt a subtle shift in the ball of my foot. This was last November and my foot has been numb ever since radiating up past my knee. I’ve done chiro, physio, acupuncture, osteopathy. Nothing helps and it seems to be getting worse. Have you ever seen this before?

    • Well I’ve seen a lot of foot problems; I suggest you look for another therapist who can address this for you. Barefoot doesn’t cause this problem, but if your shoes were supporting a weakness/imbalance then that would have been revealed once you took that support (shoe) away.

  6. Kathy Poling says:

    What are your thoughts re: cross friction therapy? Specifically on an achilles pump bump.
    Would you know of any physicians like yourself in Southern California?? Your web page has completely changed my thoughts on running gear (now running in Altra shoes) and I now go barefoot more than ever before at home.
    Thank you!

  7. Hi Doc. Two years ago I was virtually crippled with Plantar Fasciitis and had spent over $1,000 trying to address it. I read your blog and healed it by following your advice. You changed my life. Thank you. I’d love your opinion on the following:

    My pediatrician noted at my son’s recent (12 yrs old) well check that he has flat feet. She said that should always wear shoes with arch support. I have been buying him barefoot style shoes and encouraging him to go barefoot when possible since discovering your site. Would you recommend anything specific for a child with flat feet?

    Many thanks for what you do! Sally

    • Your pediatrician won’t be able to back up her claims regarding the arch support. That is ridiculous. If you want to weaken your child’s feet as he grows, then use arch supports and orthotics. So disappointing to hear that so many docs are recommending this based off misconceptions and bad science.