“Best Of…” 2016-L

From: KS

Date: 8-06-2016

Subject: Best ways to walk barefoot

Though the term “strike” is usually used to refer to what part of the foot makes first contact with the ground or other surface when walking, that term is somewhat misleading, in that the foot does not “strike” or hit the surface in the same manner as a hammer striking a nail or a fist striking someone’s face.

So keeping that in mind, the natural way humans walk, based on the plantigrade design of the foot, is with an initial heel “strike,” or contact, immediately followed by a gentle roll forward of the weight to the front of the foot as the other foot prepares to “strike” (make contact) with the ground. Again, “strike” here means initial contact, not pounding down forcefully like you might see in some army marching in formation.

Actually, there’s no reason to think much about how to walk barefoot. Just walk, and the heel initial contact will come naturally. People in remote tribes that still exist in the world who have never worn shoes in their lives all walk that way, especially on relatively flat and smooth surfaces, as can be observed in numerous documentaries or personal observation.

That said though, on extremely rough ground or downward sloping terrain, it sometimes may be more comfortable or stable to change the contact point of the foot when stepping, such as making an initial forefoot contact, or a flatfoot step (complete sole contact at the same time). The human foot, not bound up in shoes, is very versatile and is capable of infinite variations in its gait or contact depending on circumstances.

There’s a good discussion of the natural barefoot gait in the SBL website FAQs, here: http://www.barefooters.org/faq-q8/