Bare Feet in Medicine


  • Samuel B. Shulman. "Survey in China and India of Feet That Have Never Worn Shoes," The Journal of the National Association of Chiropodists, 49, 1949, pp. 26-30.

    The low incidence of dermatomycotic infection here noted might be attributed to the fact that most foot fungi require dark, warm and damp interdigital spaces for growth such as that provided by shoes and stockings on a foot that has no free outlet for its perspiration. In addition, these bare feet get the beneficial fungicidal effects of the sun's ultra-violet rays.
    ...
    No instances among the barefoot feet were found of: Onychrocryptosis, Hyperidrosis, Bromidrosis, Hallux Valgus, Hallux Varus, Bursitis at the first or fifth metatarso-phalangeal articulations.
    ...
    Almost everyone surveyed showed a marked spacing between the first and second toes such as that found on young babies. The great toe was either pointing straight ahead or slightly abducted to provide a greater weight-bearing base or, possibly, to compensate for a shortened first metatarsal segment.
    ...
    One hundred and eighteen of those interviewed were rickshaw coolies. Because these men spend very long hours each day on cobblestone or other hard roads pulling their passengers at a run it was of particular interest to survey them. If anything, their feet were more perfect than the others. All of them, however, gave a history of much pain and swelling of the foot and ankle during the first few days of work as a rickshaw puller. But after either a rest of two days or a week's more work on their feet, the pain and swelling passed away and never returned again. There is no occupation more strenuous for the feet than trotting a rickshaw on hard pavement for many hours each day yet these men do it without pain or pathology.

    These figures prove that restrictive footgear, particularly ill-fitting footgear, cause most of the ailments of the human foot.

    ...
    Baby shoes cause great harm to growing, formative feet. The so-called "sentimental" value of baby's shoes might well be dispensed with.
    ...
    People who have never worn shoes acquire very few foot defects, most of which are painless and non-debilitating. The range of their foot motions are remarkably great, allowing for full foot activity. Shoes are not necessary for healthy feet and are the cause of most foot troubles. Children should not be encouraged to walk prematurely and should not wear any footwear until absolutely necessary. Footgear is the greatest enemy of the human foot.