Friday, June 26, 2009

Frugal Feet

I realized today that the shoe industry must really dislike barefooters. Why? Not only do we put down their products for being confining and unnecessary, but we also don't buy their shoes as much. This got me thinking: From an economical standpoint, going barefoot can be very recession friendly...for the consumer, that is.

Think about it:

If you go barefoot most of the time, that means that whatever shoes you DO buy (for any number of safety or other reasons) last longer. The less you wear them, the less you wear them out, right?

Shoes - Wear = Longer Usage = Buy Shoes Less Often

Okay, but the savings go deeper than that!

Let's assume that a person who wears shoes is more prone to health issues, whether it's foot problems, knee pain, or back issues. If you go barefoot -- which has been shown in studies to be better for our bodies -- then in the long run we could save money on health care costs because we're taking preventative measures not to mess ourselves up as much.

(Feet - Shoes) x Body = Better Health = Lower Health Care Costs

I've mentioned this in a previous blog post, but the benefits of driving barefoot can't be overlooked. From everything I've been able to find and determine on my own -- no "real" research has been done on the issue -- barefoot driving yields better gas mileage. No joke. A bare foot is able to sense the pedals and respond with a finer degree of pressing/releasing. Imagine barefoot driving like using cruise control (a proven gas saver) all the time. As a result, I've personally found up to 30% improvement in my gas mileage when I drive barefoot.

(Feet - Shoes) + Driving = Better Fuel Efficiency = Lower Fuel Costs

All of these savings are automatic, making NO other lifestyle changes whatsoever. You can still keep whatever shoes you already have, however many there may be for whatever outfits they match (ladies). You can still drive just as many miles as you normally do each week -- though it's always good to drive as "green" as possible -- and in the end you will likely even save money at the doctor's office. The final tally:

(Feet - Shoes) + Buying Shoes Less Often + Lower Health Care Costs + Lower Fuel Costs = More $$$ In Your Pocket =
A More Financially Sound You

And it all could come from just kicking off your shoes and enjoying the feet the good Lord gave you!

(Image from

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Don't Tread (Shod) on Me!"

I've noticed an interesting thing since I started going barefoot on a regular basis. I really, really don't like walking on grass with footwear. It's really strange, treading through a lawn with anything other than totally bare feet feels wrong. It feels destructive. It feels like I am wronging the earth.

Don't get me wrong: I am no "tree hugging hippie," but I do feel a sense of connection with nature when I go barefoot. As my organic feet touch the organic ground below me, it is as if the grass and I have a happy little exchange of energy. It's not anything I would have ever expected.

I always looked at grass before as, well, grass. It was a sea of greenness that had to be mowed every once and a while. The most elegant description I'd probably be able to muster was to call it "nature's shag carpet." But then what do most people think of shag carpet?

Now I see grass as a living thing. Like the trees, flowers and animals of the earth, grass is God's creation and part of our ecosystem. It is another form of a plant.

I could no sooner walk shod on grass as I could on roses, a dog or my children. It no longer feels okay to do. Any shoes or sandals separate me from a connection with that energy and trample down on a living thing using an inorganic, man-made thing.

So, what is your relationship with grass? (the green, lawn kind) :-)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hey Barefooters: Two Words for You

Be cool.

I'm just as happy about going barefoot as you are. I LOVE the feel of my toes on the ground below me, sensing the differences in texture and temperature, blah blah blah.


I don't flaunt my feet while in public. I might do it on Twitter or Facebook or even here. While I'm in public, however, I realize that most people aren't totally okay with going barefoot or me being barefoot. Many people think bare feet are incredibly gross -- I know, because I read their tweets on Twitter's search EVERY DAY. Therefore, I do try to keep things on the down low.

In public, I don't pick at my toes. I don't smell my feet. I try not to expose my dirty sole too much. I don't put my feet up on furniture next to shod people. I try to avoid behaviors that would make people tweet:

"I hate feet and the strange girl next to me thinks its ok to have her bare feet next to me. She is stratching her toes and smelling them!!!"

Oh boy. Just...take it easy out there, okay?

I'm not ashamed. That's not what this is about. It's about courtesy. And if we barefooters want the shod to be cool with us being unshod, we need to ease them into it.

Be cool. Be unshod. But be kind, too.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bare Your Sole While Driving to Save Gas

I've recently discovered something quite wonderful and amazing about going barefoot. It can save you money and help out the environment. I'm not talking about the benefits of minimized shoe wear and tear by going unshod more often. This blog post is all about driving barefoot.

I'm an active user of the micro-blogging site Twitter. On there I'm known by almost 200 followers as @barefootmichael. Because I'm a fan of going barefoot I'm always interested in what others have to say about the subject, so I use Twitter's search feature to follow the terms "barefoot" and "bare feet." Sometimes it results in very interesting posts, or "tweets."

One tweet caught my eye in May. It was from user @kenman345 and read: "Checked out the fuel consumption on my car and I've been getting better gas mileage driving barefoot...awesome"

Really? Could exposing your bare soles to the brake pedal and accelerator cause your engine to be more fuel efficient?

Then I got to thinking: I have noticed my car being able to drive much farther on a tank of gas lately (Up to 360 miles from around 300 miles per fill-up). I'd never thought very hard about why that was, but then I realized the savings began about the same time I started driving home barefoot from work each day. I did some rough calculations and found that my car now gets about 24 mpg versus the 19 I was getting before. Big difference.

I have no scientific proof that driving barefoot helps you get better gas mileage, but the idea makes sense. Each foot has 26 bones, numerous joints, and dozens of muscles and ligaments. It is attached to a very versatile joint at the ankle. Combine that with the high concentration of nerve endings on the sole of the foot and you get a very sensitive part of the body, capable of subtle, calculated movement.

It would then make sense to presume that driving barefoot gives you a fuel advantage because you have direct contact with that which makes a direct impact on the car's movement. Instead of using your ankle and limited foot movement inside a shoe to feel the pedals and make not-so-subtle changes in acceleration and braking, the bare foot is capable of tiny, precise operations. We tweak one muscle or another to add just a little more or less pressure on the pedals as necessary. In the end, a much more efficient operation of the vehicle is taking place.

For more information on this topic, do a Web search for "driving barefoot gas mileage." You'll find lots of resources for saving fuel and lots of mentions of hypermiling. While it's hard to find true scientific evidence that driving barefoot saves gas mileage, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming.

"But Michael!" you shout. "Driving barefoot is illegal!" Actually, it's not in the U.S. except for motorcyclists in the state of Alabama. So no worries.

Give driving barefoot a chance for a while. The summer is a perfect time to do it since so many people wear flip flops and sandals that are easily removed and stowed on the floorboard near your seat. See what kind of distance you get out of a full tank of gas. Your mileage may vary.

(Photo from Flickr, user angela b.:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why I Flip the Flops

When I've talked with friends about the fact that I go barefoot pretty much everywhere when I'm not at work, one response I often get is, "flip flops are close enough to barefoot for me."

While I often use flip flops as my "backup" footwear if necessary, I feel they have a few fundamental flaws that make me inclined not to wear them on a regular basis.

1. I can't stand the flopping!
You know what I'm talking about. Every time you release a step from the ground the sandal "flops" against your heel, hence the name. Well it really bugs me! I don't know why, but it's probably related to hearing myself walk. I also get annoyed by the clicking of my dress shoe heels on the floor, the sound of pant cuffs rubbing on the ground and even the clicking of the crutches after my knee surgery a few years ago.

Barefoot, my feet are silent.

2. Crazy gait.
If you ever analyze what the foot does when walking in flip flops, you'd be amazed. Those sandals completely change the way we naturally walk in order to keep them on our feet. We land on our heels -- which we really shouldn't do -- and curl our toes with each step to ensure the flops don't go flippin' away. It's completely unnatural and it really bugs me.

Barefoot, my gait is natural and perfect.

3. My own insecurity.
When walking around in them, flip flops make me feel a little nervous. Unlike shoes, flip flops are only secured to our feet by a three-point strap at the front of the sandal. Our heels are free to move from side to side. Walking on anything other than flat, level terrain, I always perceive a sense of insecurity because I know my foot and ankle could go one way and my sandal could go another. Eventually, it could cause toe pain and even a twisted ankle. Not good.

Barefoot, I feel much more secure and safe because I am directly connected to the surface on which I'm walking.

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