Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Barefoot Code of Conduct

Going barefoot goes against the grain of a lot of society's thinking. Having followed a Twitter search on the subject for a number of months now, I can tell you that many people find the idea of going barefoot to be gross, if not repulsive. Seeing someone barefoot in a store or with their bare feet up on the dashboard of a vehicle is enough to make some folks tweet very negative things and use some very harsh language.

Since I began going barefoot, I've developed my own unofficial "Code of Conduct." It's my own guidelines of how I will act and present myself when going barefoot. It helps me to be comfortable going unshod and assists with the "mental comfort" of others. Your own code of conduct may vary:

The Barefoot Code of Conduct: Michael Edition

I Will:
  • Go barefoot on my own property whenever practical and generally safe.
  • Go barefoot to public places whenever comfortable, practical, generally safe and not prohibited by posted policy or signage.
  • Wear minimalist footwear, whenever practical, to places where bare feet are prohibited by policy or signage.
  • Walk barefoot on grass or other natural ground coverings whenever possible.
  • Drive barefoot whenever practical and convenient.
  • Keep "backup" footwear in my vehicle or closer when visiting public places barefoot.
  • Keep "backup" footwear in the immediate area whenever I drive barefoot.
  • Keep baby wipes accessible in case they are needed to clean my feet of significant dirt.
  • Wipe my feet of minor particles on grass, pavement or ground mat prior to entering a home or business.
  • Clean (using baby wipes) my feet of significant dirt before entering a home or business.
  • Kindly and courteously discuss the benefits and dispel the myths of going barefoot if challenged or questioned by other persons.
  • Encourage others to explore the benefits of barefooting.
I Will NOT:
  • Go barefoot into someone's home if they request that I wear footwear.
  • Go barefoot into a public place if posted policy or signage prohibits bare feet or requests footwear.
  • Go barefoot if doing so would put my feet at high risk of injury.
  • Walk shod on grass or ground coverings if other paved or stone walkways are reasonably available to get to my destination.
  • Continue to go barefoot in a public place if law enforcement or other authority demands I put on footwear.
  • Argue the benefits of barefooting to the point of disturbing the public peace or putting myself, family or friends around me at risk of being expelled from a public place or arrested by law enforcement.
  • Go to bed at night prior to wiping or cleaning my feet of minor or significant particles or dirt.

Please note that "public places" refers to any outdoor or indoor area where the general public is invited or accepted to gather and/or do business. This policy is subject to future change as necessary and I welcome your feedback in the comments section below.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Quick Review: Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot Aqua

Author's Note: I've been debating with myself for the past few weeks about how I want to approach reviews on this blog. With such good reviews coming from a site as robust and well-maintained as Living Barefoot, I've been struggling with the idea that any review I write here would be redundant and irrelevant compared to theirs. Additionally, they have achieved a position that they can review products much earlier than myself. Except for my review of the Vivo Barefoot Dharmas (which I won in Living Barefoot's contest), I must pay for any shoes I would review and personally use, so the extent of my reviews is automatically limited. I've decided that I'm going to buy whichever shoes I want to buy and wear whichever shoes I want to wear. My "reviews" will be short and quick, covering what I see are the pros and cons. If a shoe company wishes to have me try out their footwear I'd be more than happy to do so, but I will leave the long reviews to Al and Tina over at Living Barefoot.

I had the opportunity to start wearing my first two pair of “minimalist footwear” shoes nearly simultaneously. The shoes in this review, the Aqua style of Vivo Barefoot shoes from Terra Plana, arrived a few days after my Dharma-style shoes.


The Aquas look like a very wide sneaker, almost hearkening back to the 80s. While not overly stylish, they work with any casual clothing and some "business-casual" attire as well.


Like I said of the Dharmas, it’s easy to tell that greater care went into making these shoes than your run-of-the-mill sneakers. From the sturdy materials, to the hand stitching, to the focus on impacting the environment as little as possible, these shoes are very nice.

Compared to standard shoes, the Aquas and Dharmas are much higher quality.


Like I said with the Dharmas, the price of these shoes is pretty steep. Had I not been given a significant discount code for these shoes (in the box with my Dharmas) I likely wouldn't have bought them. I would expect that these shoes would be more expensive than your average pair of sneakers because of their build quality, however $150 USD seems really high. I put Vivo Barefoot shoes in the same category as other "green" products: The price is prohibitive for encouraging widespread adoption.

I’ve got to think that you could find a high-quality sneaker with a thin sole for less. Granted, they may not have as much of a “barefoot” feel or be as kind to the environment, but your wallet would thank you.


While the Aquas are still incredibly comfortable, I found that I needed to be careful how tightly I tied the laces. If they were too tight my feet didn’t feel as able to flex, move and breathe the way I wanted. In fact, following the first time that I wore them, the top of my right foot in line with the big toe had a very sore spot. After quite a bit of pain and worry over weather I'd given myself some kind of stress fracture somehow, I realized that the first loophole on the Aqua had been tight enough to create a very uncomfortable pressure point for a long period of time. I've since begun keeping the laces more lose to avoid such an issue, which has resolved the problem. Overall, I would say the Dharmas still feel a bit more comfortable than the Aquas because the Aquas are laced up.

Barefoot Sensation/Movement

Going barefoot so much before wearing minimalist shoes spoiled me. Nothing can replace the feeling of bare sole on the ground below, so I have to take a mental step back and review these on their merits: a flexible shoe with an ultra-thin, puncture-resistant sole.

The large toe box on the Aquas was certainly adequate enough to prevent my toes from feeling “confined.” The Aquas have so much space that I could almost make “fists with my toes” wearing them (ala Bruce Willis in the movie Die Hard) while the Dharmas afford much less luxury. For the barefoot enthusiast who wants a shoe with lots of wiggle room for their toes, this shoe is heaven.

Wearing the Aquas without the removable insole does help the foot feel as if it’s walking on the ground with bare feet. Vivo Barefoot shoes certainly remove the problem that many other shoes cause for our feet. There is no thick heel sole. There is no cushioning. They force the wearer to adjust his/her gait in order to avoid a hard heel strike, which can only relieve the amount of pressure going up through a person’s legs and into the rest of the body.

Interestingly enough, the removable insole in the Aquas feels softer and "squishier". While the Dharmas feel pretty firm with or without the insole, the Aquas feel much softer while using the “cushiony” insole. This might all be best explained with equations:


  • Shoe – Insole = Firm
  • Shoe + Insole = Less Firm


  • Shoe – Insole = Firmer
  • Shoe + Insole = Least Firm

What I like best about both the Aquas and Dharmas is that my arches always felt much more free to flex compared to normal shoes. I was impressed at how much more movement the Vivo Barefoot shoes gave my feet overall. That makes me believe that these shoes are far healthier for my feet.

The Final Words

When shoes are necessary, I like the Terra Plana line of Vivo Barefoot shoes very much. The certainly feel better on the feet than a "normal" pair of shoes so long as the laces aren't too tight. The sticking point about them, however, is their price. In the end, if you are not concerned about the cost and/or you find that the high quality of materials and workmanship warrant it, the Aqua line of Vivo Barefoot shoes from Terra Plana is certainly worth a look and feel.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Footwear Required at CVS Pharmacies

CVS, a leading national pharmacy and retailer in the United States, apparently has a policy prohibiting bare feet in their stores. A portion of small signage at store entrances indicates that "footwear" is required inside. This sign also indicates that shirts are required and that smoking and non-service animals are prohibited.

What I found interesting is that I had to look pretty closely to find this sign because it is so small. The entire
sign that contains all of these policies can't be more than
one foot tall and a eight inches wide. I don't know if this same sign is used company wide, but this one surely was easy to miss. I had to look among all of CVS' various signs about their money-saving programs, sales, etc. to find it. It even became more difficult to read when the sliding glass door in this store opened and the door's frame blocked the sign.

No claims regarding health or safety concerns are made in requesting that shoppers wear shoes or shirts. It is worth noting, however, that any business has the right to make limitations and requests regarding the conduct or appearance of its patrons.

For the sake of fully informing Barefoot and Grounded readers, I have been barefoot into Walgreen's stores, a CVS competitor. Neither of the two Walgreen's that I've visited barefoot have signage at entrances indicating that shoes are required and/or bare feet are prohibited. Incidentally, I also have never been approached by a Walgreen's associate about my bare feet.

This information is shared for the sole purpose of assisting Barefoot and Grounded readers in making their own decisions about where to take their business. The author makes no claim to the quality of products or services of CVS or Walgreen's and neither encourages nor discourages the reader to shop at these establishments. For more information about CVS or Walgreen's policies, the author recommends the reader contact their local store and/or corporate headquarters.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

They Said It Should Not Be Done

This Labor Day weekend was an opportunity to quiet the barefooting naysayers -- or at least turn down the volume a little bit. I twice went barefoot to our city's street festival, a large event with numerous vendors, craft tents, performance stages and a full carnival. This thing, at it's peak, can have tens of thousands of people crowding the city square.

And I went barefoot the whole time.

I let my friends know that I'd be there with bells on, but without shoes. I heard some interesting replies:

"(That) is one place I would not be barefoot - you don't know what you're gonna find out there ;)"

"While I 100% agree with the whole barefoot thing...doing so downtown...I don't think that would ever happen..."

And from a friend who's a doctor:
"If anyone goes barefoot at (the festival) this weekend, my office is back open on tuesday am! Tetanus booster recommended every 10 yrs."

So how did everything turn out? Just fine. None of the thousands of people stepped on my toes. There were no pricks, no cuts, no pokes or slices. About the worst thing that happened was that my son stepped on my feet a couple of times when he wasn't paying attention. No big deal.

So I can attest that a street festival is even fair game for barefooting. You will build a little bit more confidence and your feet will thank you.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Essay: What I Did (Barefoot) This Summer

Dear Class:

Now that Labor Day weekend is here and school is back in session, we've been assigned an essay to say what we did barefoot this summer. Well, this summer I did all kinds of stuff barefoot. In this essay I plan to inform you of those things. Here I go:

I went totally barefoot to lots of places. Some of those places were stores. Those stores were Kohl's, Old Navy, Sears, Wal-mart, Target, Dick's Sporting Goods, Best Buy, Babies 'R' Us, Costco, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Fazoli's and Children's Orchard. It was cool. Their floors are all usually smooth and cool (but some have carpet) and pretty much nobody thought it was weird for me to not wear shoes. By the way, Children's Orchard isn't an orchard of children. They sell children's stuff. I didn't want you to be weirded out or anything.

I did other stuff barefoot, too. Really fun stuff! Over Memorial Day weekend I was barefoot for 86 hours straight! During that time I attended "Celebration at the Station," an outdoor concert that lots of people came to. Not once did I ever wear shoes. I did the same thing at a Kansas City Royals game. From the van into the stadium, all the way through the game and all the way out to the van I never wore any footwear. That was REALLY cool! I also went barefoot to various family events and picnics. I started a blog about going barefoot and lots of people have liked it.

My favorite part of my barefoot summer was meeting so many great people on Twitter. It turns out that there are lots of other people out there that like to bare their feet, too! One day it would be neat if we could all "tweet" up with each other. He he.

So that was what I did barefoot this summer. The End.

(We now return you to our regular level of blogging maturity.)

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