Over on the Running Barefoot yahoogroup, there was a question from somebody there (a non-barefooter) about a painful condition under the ball of his foot. He of course wanted to know what to do about it, and whether barefooting might help him out. Another reader was concerned whether the non-barefooter had good circulation, since the non-barefooter had had a string of injuries that just didn’t seem to heal up.
I responded, and since I think it is of a more general interest and really explains some of the benefits of going barefoot, I’ll also put that response here:
What you need to do it a lot more barefooting. I know this sounds like broken-record advice, but here is why.
Shoes really restrict the movement of the foot and its muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and that is what tends to lead to foot problems.
When you put your foot down wearing a shoe, there is really only one way to do so: heel to front, and you really cannot vary your weight side-to-side at all, or make foot posture changes to relieve stress on any one location. When you are barefoot you can adjust all sorts of things about where you put weight to relieve pressure on sensitive parts. I have shattered cartilage in one knee (caused when wearing shoes in a place that would not let me in barefoot). When I wear shoes, everything hurts, because I cannot really adjust my step. Barefoot, it is very easy to put my foot down in a fashion that really limits the damage to the knee. I can actually see slightly thicker callous in one particular location on my foot due to this posture change. It doesn’t hurt my foot at all (if it did, I’d find an even different way to position my foot to stop it), but relieves a lot of stress on the knee.
Regarding good circulation: again, barefooting to the rescue. The other things shoes do is restrict blood flow to the feet. You’ve fastened your shoes down nice and tightly so they don’t flop around and give blisters. Well, that also compresses the veins and arteries. It also means that your muscles and tendons and ligaments are not moving much. However, when they do move, they help draw blood in and out. All those parts moving really give a continuous massage and impetus to the blood that just cannot occur when wearing shoes.
The proof is in the pudding. Shoddies really don’t understand how barefooters can go barefoot in the winter. It’s because of the great blood flow we get from barefooting. That is what keeps our feet warm.
Increased blood flow to your foot, combined with an ability to adjust the posture of your foot to take weight off the sensitive spot, may provide you with the relief you are asking about.