5 tips for barefoot friendly flooring
Barefoot and healthy at home – how to create a day-to-day barefoot paradise
From spring to autumn I go outside barefoot. I support my children to walk barefoot and if we are wearing shoes these are barefoot shoes … but when it cools down, my feet are nostalgic. For what? For INTERESTING SURFACES! You may wear shoes everyday, your shoes are probably “trendy” and you simply take them off at home, or change into slippers. Is something wrong with that? Wait for it … YES IT IS!
In this article I will focus on:
why walking barefoot should be part of our daily routine
that barefoot walking does not automatically mean correct walking
that the culture of hard flat floors does not benefit our lazy feet
that the household can be a place where we create a barefoot paradise for ourselves
+ 5 tips for barefoot friendly flooring
+ a bonus: list of stimulating floor elements available on market (categorized together with links and prices)
Why should barefoot walking be part of our daily routine?
It took four million years to develop such unique feet and master bipedal walking. During this time, evolution had enough time to tune all the details of the limbs, which in such a form has no other creature on earth – only human. It’s not surprising that the control of the overall balance and movement of the body is the result of a perfect cooperation of bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments and thousands of nerve endings on the soles of the feet and toes.
However, our feet are locked in shoes all day, which limits their natural functioning and range of motion. This means that we do not involve all the muscles of the feet and body intended for walking and standing. On the contrary, we compensate by involving muscles that are not intended for long-term use while walking. The result is then overloading of certain parts, or poor posture and possible deformities or pain. However, when we take of shoes and give our feet freedom, our body has the opportunity to begin working as evolution intended. But there’s one little catch – it won’t just start by itself! Why?
Have you ever wondered how much time you spend on your feet during the day?
And how much time do you devote to your feet a day – to exercise, relax or stimulate them?
Do you think it’s enough?
Barefoot walking does not automatically mean correct walking
First of all be honest and try to think if we walk the same way as somebody who has walked barefoot his whole life (we = humans who have been wearing shoes since childhood – shoes which restricted our feet and don’t allow them to work properly). There might be a small difference, right?. For example a large meta-study pointed to several differences between the gait of naturally barefoot humans and people who wear shoes: barefoot walkers have anatomically wider and flatter feet, take shorter steps, and do not suffer from such shocks or pressure when walking. All these observations are quite logical, because if they want to walk and not get hurt, they have to walk more carefully, gentler and really attentively / consciously.
The good news is that we can achieve that too, BUT WE NEED STIMULI that motivate us go differently! The easiest way is to go out and walk barefoot. The variety of surfaces and the possibility of “danger” (rocks, bees, glass, prickly branches) keep our feet and senses alert. The feet are forced to balance and adapt to unevenness, avoiding the rocks by contracting or stretching. During a short walk on various stimulating surfaces (grass, rocks, sand, concrete), we will train and engage more muscles than during the whole barefoot evening at home. Physiotherapists also recommend movement on stimulating surfaces outside as part of the prevention of foot problems and to warm up and strengthen the feet.
If you prefer a video to reading, we have prepared a vlog about the differences of walking barefoot vs. real barefoot walking.
The culture of hard flat floors does not benefit our lazy feet
Imagine you would have your hands closed in rigid mittens during the day, and when you get home you would be just clickink at computer or press buttons on the remote control. Limited movement and insufficient stimulation during the “free” time would lead over time in deformities, muscle atrophy and, paradoxically, muscle overload, which compensate for the lack of hand use.
The home interior is for most people the only place where they are willing to take off shoes. However, flat hard floors do not offer us sufficient stimulation that would force us to engage and train all leg muscles. The brain quickly evaluates the surrounding surfaces as safe, and we continue our all-day “shoe style”. However, this is different from conscious barefoot walking (for example on stones). In doing so, we are forced to engage all the muscles of the feet, parts of the legs and also the abdomen. The change to conscious barefoot walking is very important. Tromping is eliminated, which causes that our joints and spine suffer, and what is good more muscles are involved and trained.
Our home can be a place where we create a barefoot paradise for ourselves
Whether you don’t take off shoes outside because you are afraid of injuries, due to cold, fashion, or excrements … most likely you do not feel the same “fears” at home. Maybe walking barefoot at home is natural for you, but maybe you are one of those who have been pushed to wear shoes all the time. And maybe no one has ever forced you, but you just don’t see the point of walking on those flat hard (maybe cold) floors when you can wear comfortable slippers.
First of all it is necessary to realize that if you do not feel comfortable in something (even if you have read somewhere that it is great and beneficial) LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! Standing on the cold tiles in the kitchen, because barefoot is supposed to be nice, it’s not nice at all and you’re maybe going to catch cold! Also, feeling foot pain when you take off your slippers and start practicing barefoot walking is a signal from the body that you should see a physiotherapist rather than pushing yourself through the pain.
BAREFOOT PARADISE IS A PLACE …
- which will motivate you to take off shoes
- where your feet (after being locked in shoes the whole day) will be happy to move and explore the stimuli around
- which will positively affect the proper development of the feet of the most beloved in your area
- in which you train and activate your feet and you may not even notice when you did it
- which gets your home closer to a “meaningful” space that really affects your senses and makes sense
5 tips for barefoot friendly flooring or the way to your barefoot paradise
1.) Understand what and how you want to stimulate
Before you decide on a specific barefoot accessory, it’s a good idea to sort out what can be the effects of stimulation:
» The foot is forced to adjust its position and other muscles of the leg and center of the body are involved to maintain balance and smooth movement. The information about the unevenness of the surface reminds the user to tread carefully and concentrate on his gait.
» It is used for massaging, improving blood circulation and activation of the feet. During the treading or standing, individual points on the sole are stimulated and any discomfort can be filtered out by adjusting the foot without significantly involving other muscles in the body. Other important aspect is the mental relaxation and enjoying the present moment.
» To maintain balance, it is necessary to involve not only the muscles of the feet but also the rest of the body. In addition to the overall training of the musculoskeletal system, the psyche is also involved in this process, and thus the need to concentrate.
2.) Realize which form of installation you prefer
Maybe you live in rented apartment, or you are just about to make a major renovation, maybe you have just renovated it. It is your current situation that will help you decide which type of installation is best for you
»Without the possibility of moving or changing (planed or sanded floor, stones in shower)
» Stimulating elements applied to one compact unit with the possibility of moving the entire product (grate, rug)
» Individual stimulation elements are firmly applied to the floor but it’s possible to remove them (DOTS barefoot)
» Stimulating elements freely applied to the floor separately with the possibility of individual spatial adjustment of each element (balance aids, orthopedic aids)
3.) Understand your living space
First, you need to do an analysis of your living space which will show you the path of movement in your home:
» Draw a floor plan of your apartment / house on paper (doesn’t need to be perfect).
» Imagine and draw the trajectory of movement in space in the following activities (3 is enough)::
- morning ritual
- playing with children or animals
(This exercise can be done by all roommates. Tip: draw each trajectory in a different color)
» Frequented intersection of movement
» Possible use of a fixed or individually fixed element (for safety in poor lighting conditions, it is DANGEROUS to leave rugs or free stimulating objects in the transit areas!).
» Part of the interior with minimal movement or a rest area
» Possible use of a partly fixed or individually fixed / free element.
» Outside the transition lanes, a safe place to exercise with the possibility of removing the element when not in use
» Possible use of a individually free element
4.) Decide what is your approach – active or passive
There are 2 types of people – those who do things preventively and are willing to find time during the day to exercise and those who prefer the movement or “exercise” naturally during the day without extra effort. If you have a stationary bicycle at home, which will serve as a dumb servant, your condition will not improve. Therefore, it is good to think about how you want to exercise your feet.
» During the day it is necessary to find time for training on balance mats or carpets, or at least bring the “tool” if you want to train on it in addition during another activity
» During the regular activities of the household, you stimulate your feet without any extra time and effort. This approach is also suitable if you want to influence members of the household who are not willing to actively excercise their feet.
5.) Pick your favorite
The important fact is that no matter how you train your foot and walk barefoot on stimulating surfaces – it’s great! And although we would like everyone to buy our products, maybe the product from our competition will interest you more. One of our values is to spread awareness of the benefits of barefoot walking, so we decided to throw away our EGO and tell you what’s on the market … Why? So you can pick your favorite!
list of stimulating floor elements available on market (categorized, with links and prices)
For someone the price is important, for some design-details and functionality, for others ecology or company values. I believe that if you have decided to create your barefoot paradise at home, this list will help you orientate in the market and save you the time of searching 🙂
(The above images are photos of DOTS active, DOTS static, LOGS and DOTS play. As we do not have our own photos of all the products mentioned below and at the same time we do not want to violate the rights of individual companies for downloaded photos from the Internet, please look at the individual products by clicking on the product name – all orange texts contain links)
Price starts at
If we want our feet (and joints, muscles, or spine – the body is a connected complex) to serve us for many years, we should not forget to train them and keep them in good physical condition!
Our personal barefoot home is the perfect way to achieve this!
What is the goal of barefu?
The aim of barefu is to be a guide in the exciting exploring of conscious and careful movement. Offer advice, products and services that will lead you to a conscious and responsible transition to barefoot. This is the key how successfuly start to use our feet more and learn how to move it properly.
About the author:
Hi, I’m Mgr.art. Eva Mazancova, ArtD. It may seem from all those academic degrees that I paint whole days or even heal paintings but the truth is elsewhere. The translation of my degrees is an interior designer who has done her doctoral research in the field of design. In my research, I combined my passion for barefoot walking and design with respect to humans. Thanks to the support of people from my surrounding, I decided that this barefoot journey does not end with graduation – and so barefu was created, through which we try to raise awareness of the need for a gradual transition to barefoot and the importance of barefoot walking in everyday life. We try to show people that this change can be creative, interesting, stylish, but especially not demanding any extrra time or energy!
(Apart from the barefoot, I’m also the mother of 3 little boys, the wife of a great guy, a cyclist and a community activist – so if you find that the articles are growing slowly, you’re right – I can’t keep up :D)