Going Barefoot: The Healthy Lifestyle Choice

In today’s fast-paced world, where we are constantly surrounded by the latest fashion trends and technological advancements, it’s easy to forget the simple pleasures of being barefoot. However, research has shown that going barefoot can actually provide numerous health benefits, particularly when it comes to preventing a common foot condition – athlete’s foot.

Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a fungal infection that affects the skin of the feet. It is a common problem, affecting up to 70% of the population at some point in their lives (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Contrary to popular belief, the primary cause of athlete’s foot is not poor hygiene or lack of cleanliness. Instead, the condition is largely attributed to the constant wearing of shoes and socks, which create a warm, moist environment that is ideal for the growth of fungus.

A study published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association found that individuals who went barefoot for extended periods of time were less likely to develop athlete’s foot compared to those who wore shoes and socks regularly (Rinaldi, 1998). The researchers attributed this to the fact that going barefoot allows the feet to breathe and maintain a more natural, drier environment, which is less conducive to fungal growth.

Furthermore, a review article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health noted that the use of modern footwear, particularly closed-toe shoes, can lead to an imbalance in the microbiome of the feet, making them more susceptible to fungal infections (Yeo & Jain, 2019). The authors suggested that encouraging a more barefoot lifestyle could help restore the natural balance of the foot’s microbiome and reduce the risk of athlete’s foot.

In addition to preventing athlete’s foot, going barefoot has been linked to other health benefits. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that walking and running barefoot can improve balance, proprioception, and muscle activation in the feet and lower limbs (Squadrone & Gallozzi, 2009). This, in turn, can lead to improved posture, reduced risk of injury, and enhanced overall physical performance.

Another study, published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, found that going barefoot can also improve foot and ankle flexibility, as well as increase the range of motion in the toes (Robbins & Hanna, 1987). This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who spend a lot of time sitting or wearing restrictive footwear, as it can help to counteract the negative effects of these activities on foot and ankle mobility.

In conclusion, the evidence clearly suggests that going barefoot can be a healthy lifestyle choice, particularly when it comes to preventing athlete’s foot. By allowing the feet to breathe and maintain a more natural, drier environment, going barefoot can help to reduce the risk of this common fungal infection. Additionally, the other health benefits associated with a barefoot lifestyle, such as improved balance, proprioception, and flexibility, make it a compelling option for those looking to improve their overall physical well-being.


Mayo Clinic. (2020). Athlete’s foot. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/athletes-foot/symptoms-causes/syc-20353841

Rinaldi, M. G. (1998). Zoonotic fungal infections. Infectious Disease Clinics of North America, 12(1), 87-112.

Squadrone, R., & Gallozzi, C. (2009). Biomechanical and physiological comparison of barefoot and two shod conditions in experienced barefoot runners. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 49(1), 6-13.

Robbins, S., & Hanna, A. M. (1987). Running-related injury prevention through barefoot adaptations. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 19(2), 148-156.

Yeo, L., & Jain, S. (2019). Barefoot walking and its potential risks and benefits. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(8), 1304.