The Barefoot Book – a Review

January 8, 2011 by
Filed under: Books, Footwear, Health 

My library includes most of the books about feet and foot care. Many are old and are no longer in print. Every so often a new one is released.

The Barefoot Book

The Barefoot Book

I was recently sent a copy of The Barefoot Book: 50 Great Reasons to Kick Off Your Shoes by L. Daniel Howell. Mr. Howell, PhD, has a doctoral degree in biochemistry and teaches human anatomy and physiology at Liberty University in Virginia. His bio states that he is an avid barefoot runner with more than 2000 shoeless miles on his feet, and leads a barefoot hiking group. All this gives him credibility to write the book.  Hunter House Publishers published the book in 2010.

The premise of The Barefoot Book is that feet and shoes are at odds with each other. The author promotes a barefoot lifestyle and the subtitle, 50 Great Reasons to Kick Off Your Shoes, supports his cause – to get readers to shed their shoes.

The book starts with a chapter that covers a short history of how shoes came to be.  Chapter 2, “Living Barefoot,” shares the stories of 10 people who have to live a life barefoot. I liked how chapter 3 went into detail about the foot and how it works. It was very informative and helpful, especially if the reader has little knowledge of the structure, form, and function of the foot.

The title, of chapter 4, What Your Shoes are Doing to You, carries forward the author’s premise that shoes are bad for you. Readers learn a bit about the history of shoes and their construction and purpose; a lot about how shoes change the way stand, walk, run and feel the ground; followed by a discussion of negative conditions and injuries common to feet.

I found it interesting that the Howell would devote almost all of chapter 5 to the effects of high-heeled shoes, and a short bit of dress and work shoes. Chapter 6 is informative as we learn about the ways shoes affect children. All parents should read this chapter.

I loved chapter 7 where time was spent on walking, running, and hiking barefoot. This is a worthwhile subject given today’s interest in going minimalist or shoeless. People wanting to try running and hiking barefoot, especially, need information on how to start out (slowly) and what to pay attention to. Howell does a good job of imparting this important information. Too many people want to try barefoot and do too much too soon, and become injured – so this is an important chapter.

Chapter 9 offers alternatives in footwear for the times when one cannot go barefoot but want to be as minimalist as possible.

Chapter 10, Getting Out There, starts with 11 ways you can start towards a barefoot lifestyle. The second half of the chapter deals with common hurdles, working barefoot, businesses, cold conditions, and social pressure. All helpful information.

I loved chapter 11, Mythbusters, where Howell debunks seven common myths about going barefoot. A few include driving barefoot, OSHA and the “bare feet prohibited” warnings, barefoot dangers, and barefoot liability. It was fun reading.

For those interested in liabilities, the appendix lists five pages of a sampling of lawsuits where shoes were essential to the cause of the lawsuit.

So, were there actually 50 reasons to kick off your shoes and go barefoot? Yes. For a while, I kept paging through the book looking for an organized list. There was none. Then I discovered that throuought the book, on the outside of the page, there was an outline of a barefoot. In the big toe outline was a number, 1 -50, and then inside the foot was a reason. Very cleverly done.

At 156 pages, this is a fairly quick read. Listed at $12.95, the book is inexpensive. Amazon has it even cheaper.

I recommend The Barefoot Book for those interested in trying the barefoot lifestyle. One could argue that we all need to try it – and Howell does just that – and does it well. My only reservation is that there is an obvious bias that shoes are bad for your feet. That said, Howell backs up his statements with facts that are hard to argue with. Read the book in the context of your lifestyle and make your own choices. Me? I love going barefoot – at times. In fact, I think I’ll try hiking barefoot this summer.

Here is a link to buy the book through Amazon. Amazon also has a “Click to Look Inside” the book feature so you can take a peak.

The book also has its own website, The Barefoot Book.

Disclosure, buying through the above link will credit me a few pennies.

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