How to handle a hot parking lot

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It’s summertime in the northern hemisphere, and the time we get questions about how we handle hot parking lots that have been baking in the sun. Here are a few tips.

First of all, if you go barefoot all the time, you’ll probably build up a much thicker layer of skin on your sole. This acts as a pretty good insulation, so it means that I can just walk across most surfaces without too much problem. It also helps that, while walking, one’s foot is in the air about 50% of the time, so they can having some cooling off time. Running gives even more air-cooling time, but isn’t always as dignified.

Many don’t have the luxury of going barefoot all the time. Jobs can have such restrictive demands. Thus, the soles of many barefooters just don’t have the chance to build up that sort of insulation. So here are two other tricks:

  1. Walk on the lines. The painted lines in a parking lot (or along the side of a road, if that’s where you are walking) are often quite a bit cooler than blacktop. Sure, to walk along them you need to practice your tightrope walking skills, but who knows when you might need them?
  2. Walk on the shady side of any cars. If there are any cars in the parking lot, you can plan your route so that you at least spend part of your time walking in their shade. Just a little bit of this allows your feet to cool off enough to handle, yet again, a longer stretch that has been heated in the sun.

If you overdo it, you can get blisters. If you get close to overdoing it, but without causing problems, the bottoms of your feet will feel just a little bit “loose.” (Don’t let that progress to “blister loose”!) However, just that little bit of looseness won’t hurt you, and it prompts your feet to strengthen up, temperature-wise, just as walking on a rough surface just to the challenge-point prompts your feet to create the extra skin to handle the challenge.

It’s a fine line to walk, challenging the soles enough to strengthen them, temperature-wise, without damaging them. Kind of like the fine line of walking on parking lot lines.

[Update: I’ve added a third trick, at the entry entitled Another hot tip.]

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4 Responses to “How to handle a hot parking lot”

  1. Dan Says:

    I’m a full-time barefooter and can walk on most surfaces without feeling pain. However, last summer I became quite embarrassed because I couldn’t walk on very hot sand at the beach. Temps were in the 90’s and the sand was VERY hot. And I forgot that hot sand gets all over your feet — the arch, the top, and so forth — and my toughened soles were totally useless in this situation. I’m doing the “hot, hot, hot” dance as I make my way across the beach.

    Then I see this guy probably in his 60’s walking barefoot across the hot sand without any apparent problem at all. He looks over at me with an expression like “Yeesh, what a wimp”…

    Thanks for the article. Some good tips in there about walking on hot parking lots. Fortunately, I have no trouble walking on hot pavement, thanks to my tough soles. But watch out for that hot sand!!

  2. Sand Sock Girl Says:

    It’s only recently that I came across the normalacy of walking barefoot, I’m so freaked by the littlest things that I’m paranoid of the underlying microorganisms on various pavements. But it seems so liberating, that I’m excited to try it one of these days.

  3. Elizabeth Says:

    Nothing compared to the microorganisms that live inside most shoes. It’s all warm and moist and dark in there- perfect for growing all kinds of beasties. Skin, on the other hand, is much easier to wipe clean. No worries, Sand Sock Girl, my bare feet have yet to catch anything scary.

    Thanks for the idea of walking on the lines!

  4. StuckOutsideTheBox Says:

    I was at a lake yesterday with the outside temp being 101˚. I managed to walk on the blazing hot sand and be okay, but it took a bit of willpower to trek all the way back to the car like that. The SIDEWALK however – ouch! It was so hot I stopped to put my flip flops on but I couldn’t stop long enough to get them out of my bag so I ran to the pavement which was actually cooler! For the second trip though I just wore my shoes. My feet feel even tougher now, which pleases me! No blisters. Arizona heats up pretty fast so I hope I can go barefoot all summer and not have any bllisters

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