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Going back to his (caveman) roots

In our blogs, we wax lyrical about the importance of taking care of your feet—of ensuring they have adequate support and that you wear appropriate footwear that will not only cushion them, but which will make sure you won’t slip or become unsteady as you move from A to B.

The human body is a wonderful thing, and whilst the following story isn’t the type of approach we’d recommend, it is amazing how Yoshua Greenfield’s feet have adapted to his new lifestyle.

Over the course of a year, Yoshua has traversed every kind of surface and made every journey barefoot. Why he did this isn’t clear. What is apparent, however, is that his feet have naturally adapted, to accommodate his commitment to being barefoot.

Yoshua describes his appendages as ‘caveman feet’. In the early days of the Homo sapiens, they would have permanently been barefoot until they learned how to fashion a sole from animal hide. After a year of walking everywhere without shoes, Yoshua found that his feet naturally became wider, and his toes splayed out. His feet became stronger and callous; however, rather than the latter causing sores or pain, this roughness allows him to traverse different landscapes and surfaces without slipping. His caveman feet enable him to run over uneven, stony ground and they give him enough grip to climb over rocks.

When he first began his barefoot journey, it was painful for him to stand on gravel. A year on and he could happily dance on the same surface, the skin of his soles being many times thicker. You would imagine that the underside of his feet would be rough and gnarled to the touch, but his videos show his soles are smooth.

bare feet walking in the rain on a stone floor.

Yoshua runs half-marathons barefoot through mountain ranges, such is the strength versatility of his feet today. Going without footwear for a year doesn’t mean he hasn’t taken care of his feet… he regularly soaks them in hot water infused with herbs, like yarrow. He doesn’t use conventional soap to clean them and has instead developed his own foot rub that moisturises the skin, and which is also infused with healing herbs. He massages his feet as he applies the rub and works the emollient into his pores.

If you feel that harking back to prehistoric times and walking barefoot is something you’d like to try, Yoshua has some tips:

  • Start small. He suggests slowly building up resilience and strength in your feet. Go barefoot for short bursts at first, then increase the distance you walk barefoot as your feet adapt.

  • Choose the right surface. Yoshua doesn’t recommend traversing stony ground from the off, but instead, walking over soft ground and grass at the beginning. As mentioned, build up to rougher terrains; don’t subject your feet to surfaces that will hurt you before they’ve had chance to develop some resistance.

  • Be mindful of every step. Assess the ground on which you’re about to place your bare feet. Eventually, walking over different terrains will become natural to you, but at the outset, you will need to judge each surface you step onto and place your feet accordingly.

  • Take extra care of your feet. Yoshua, a veteran at walking barefoot, has a care routine for his feet; however, he will probably not need to massage and moisturise them every day. As you practise going barefoot, we’d recommend soaking your feet on each occasion. Gently rub them with a pumice stone to remove any mud or grit and to remove dead skin. Your ultimate aim is for new layers of skin to come through a little thicker than before as your feet change over time.

As we see so many things that can cause pain in your feet, we don’t recommend that everyone does away with their shoes and socks. That said, it’s clear that Yoshua has trained his body to accommodate walking barefoot, and that this has taken a long period of time. In fairness to him, we’re not born with shoes on our feet, so there’s no reason why the human body couldn’t support such an action. Modern landscapes are much easier to negotiate than those in cavemen times; however, we also have societal influences to contend with—if you were to attend a job interview barefoot, for example, you will probably ruin your chances of getting the role.

There are benefits to walking barefoot across your lawn in good weather every now and again; doing so will allow your feet to breathe and expand, and the act itself will boost your mental health. Everything in moderation, that’s all—that’s what we say!


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