I know some people feel they need to continually wear shoes, but how freeing is it, when you kick back at the end of the day with your shoes off? What about going barefoot everywhere? Let’s look at the ins and outs of going barefoot in public places and what’s to know about going barefoot everywhere.
This article is not intended as legal advice. You should check with your local authority.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.
Laws on Going Barefoot in Public
Going barefoot in public Australia
Across Australia, I have been unable to find any legislation explicitly forbidding driving barefoot or requiring you to cover your feet in some way.Iain Kelly, Contributing Journalist CarsGuide, 7 Feb 2018
Australia is one place in the world where you’ll find some people going barefoot everywhere. It’s not illegal to go barefoot in public.
Is Going Barefoot Healthy?
Is walking barefoot good for you? It is, in that it massages and strengthens your feet, joints, and muscles.
The evolutionary history of humans shows that barefoot walking is the biologically natural situation.Footwear Science, Volume 1, 2009 – Issue 2
Going barefoot all the time may not be practical. But going barefoot at home or running barefoot on beach areas is an easy option. For running on firmer ground or harsher environments, see my article on barefoot running shoes.
5 Benefits of going barefoot
Did you grow up going barefoot as a child? If so, you’ve had a good start, let that (barefoot) inner child run free. Going barefoot in public will be easier for you than others.
# Lifelong healthy feet benefits
First hand, I’ve seen older ladies with deformed toes, especially their big toe points towards the others, and smaller toes are permanently bent. They tell me it’s the high heel shoes they wore when younger.
It appears growing-up barefoot can help avoid these deformities later in life.
…growing up barefoot or shod may play an important role for childhood foot development, implying long-term consequences for motor learning and health later in life.Sci Rep. 2017; 7: 8079
Whether we wear shoes or not affects the shape and development of our feet and there are barefoot benefits.
Individuals that have been barefoot almost all their lives (habitually barefoot) seem to have wider feet, as well as fewer foot and toe deformities.Sci Rep. 2017; 7: 8079.
It appears that growing-up wearing closed-in shoes impacts foot arch development [Ref] and coincides with a prevalence of flat feet, and that can have its challenges.
# Plantar fasciitis and walking barefoot
What is plantar fasciitis? It is a common foot problem, a condition that causes heel pain, arch pain, and heel spurs. It is mostly a stabbing pain.
It is inflammation of the plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel bone to the toes, caused by excessive stretching of this ligament.
Wearing shoes continually (all day, every day) is one reason people acquire this condition. So going barefoot will help prevent it.
NOTE: If you already suffer from plantar fasciitis, then going barefoot straight off the cuff might be a challenge and you may need to take a special course of remedial action.
# Earthing benefits
While walking barefoot in the house has advantages, there are earthing benefits that come from direct contact, going barefoot outside, on natural substrates. 2
A 2012 review of earthing research reveals the array of evidence emerging on the benefits of being in contact with the Earth through going barefoot outside. Findings suggest the effectiveness of this against chronic stress and numerous other health disorders, including cardiovascular disease. 2
The authors go so far as to say “from a practical standpoint, clinicians could recommend outdoor “barefoot sessions” to patients”. 2
# Avoiding foot fungi growth
A fungal infection can be painful or at least annoying. It also contributes to smelly feet.
Going barefoot around the house can allow your feet to air and this is good for avoiding fungal growth, which thrives on moisture.
Where do fungi thrive the best? “In dark, warm, moist places, like your shoes” according to current medical advice. 3
# Toe dexterity
You can become quite dexterous with your toes. Picking up small objects off the floor with your toes becomes quite easy. This skill is handy for avoiding that extra strain on your back.
It’s a natural gift I have that I find useful for when my hands are full or at times when things fall under the table or I might need to discreetly fetch something off the floor.
Being able to stand on your tippy-toes also has advantages and it is due to toe dexterity that you can acquire through going barefoot.
You learn a lot when you’re barefoot. The first thing is every step you take is different.Michael Franti
Are there walking barefoot dangers?
What’s bad about going barefoot everywhere? There are dangers in doing most things and going barefoot everywhere has its risks.
For instance, if you have cuts or open wounds on your feet, there’s the risk of infection, especially where you might be walking in mud or across contaminated grounds.
Also, going barefoot at industrial or other workplaces can carry the risk of injury and protective footwear is necessary.
Sometimes your feet need protection!
There are workplaces and then there are these times…
Surviving extreme cold conditions will mean you need to wear shoes that keep your feet covered and warm.
As well, going barefoot, hiking over rocks that are sharp and jagged might cause you injury. Going barefoot on concrete or asphalt in the middle of a hot summer’s day might burn your feet if you haven’t already conditioned them for going bare.
If you suffer foot pain when walking barefoot, it’s a good idea to investigate why and whether to continue the habit of walking barefoot will improve the condition or not.
The thing about barefoot walking or running is to get your feet and legs used to it bit by bit, rather than go fall bore. Hardening your soles will protect you from injury.
You need to transition into it, if all you’ve ever done is wear shoes, the reason being your soles will need hardening and your feet and leg muscles won’t be accustomed to it especially if you wear high heels often.
How to go barefoot in public
It’s understandable if you feel embarrassed about and reluctant to go barefoot in public. Many of us have been trained from very young that going barefoot is a slight on our character. I admit I have this thing about others judging me poorly if I’m not wearing shoes in public, if I go barefoot in public places such as shopping malls and formal social gatherings, that is. This is ingrained in me because of the messages I got from my parents, my schooling, and society in general.
In some cultures, it is perfectly acceptable, and so it’s an easy thing to do. For others, like me, you’ll need to get past that ego trying to protect your image (see my article on the ego vs your true self and finding fulfilment).
In some places, wearing shoes is one of the dress laws for entering the venue, and sometimes this can mean wearing more formal footwear.
A way around this discernment and still get the benefits of going barefoot is to wear bottomless sandals or shoes or shoes with a minimal layer between your feet and the ground. Check out these at Amazon.com.au – see details.
For DIYs, you can crochet these and patterns are available at Amazon.com – see details.
Views on going barefoot in public
The idea of going barefoot in public can raise some different views, but a discussion of the topic on a public forum (Female First Forum), gave these representative responses:
I think women look good when barefooted (weather permitting, of course). Here in the US, you don’t see it very often, but I usually notice, and they always look good.
Thats a great idea! I love watching my man walk round in bare feet, especially out in public
Going barefoot actually has it’s advantages. Lot of acupressure points are there in the feet, and it keeps you fit and healthy. You should walk barefoot on grass for sometime if weather permits!
I love to be barefoot everywhere, its more of an indoors thing this time of year tho, unless I’m drunk wen my feet become immune to cold.
I wouldn’t even contemplate being barefoot at present outdoors, or any other time for that matter as usually too cold lol, only time I did was when really drunk.
Its a beautiful summer down here in Auckland, New Zealand so Im barefoot constantly…even our winters are mild so I can be barefoot all year round, no problems!
Yeah I never wear shoes when I go out in public, although down here in New Zealand our winters are much warmer than in UK. In a couple of weeks time I’ll be going to a church wedding and I will be in bare feet, simply because I am more comfortable that way.
I have been barefoot in Public 2 times, one time when my shoes were stolen at a party and once after a girls-night out when i sort of lost or forgot them.
Very seldom do I ever go barefoot in public.
I only walk barefoot in nature. In the cities is too much trash, glass or the pavement is boiling hot. I can’t stand that. But I like to walk barefoot
I hope this has given you the confidence to get out there and go barefoot in public, even if only at the beach or poolside.
Why do some people go walking barefoot everywhere?
Nothing compares to the feeling of being barefoot in the summer, especially in beach communities. In Australia, going barefoot at the beach is very common. It pervades this sense of freedom, of being true to yourself; and walking around barefoot can make you feel like you are on holidays.
- Hollander, K., de Villiers, J. E., Sehner, S., Wegscheider, K., Braumann, K. M., Venter, R., & Zech, A. (2017). Growing-up (habitually) barefoot influences the development of foot and arch morphology in children and adolescents. Scientific reports, 7(1), 8079. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-07868-4
- Chevalier G, Sinatra ST, Oschman JL, Sokal K, Sokal P. Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the human body to the Earth’s surface electrons. J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:291541. doi:10.1155/2012/291541
- WebMD Preventing Foot Fungus accessed 29 January 2020.