Don’t Stop Now

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As winter approaches, it is so tempting for the new barefooter to think, “Oh, it’s gotten way too cold to go barefoot any more.” My message to you is

“Don’t Stop Now.”

Yesterday I wrote about the hike I did. The temperatures ranged from about 45° when I started to about 53° when I ended (that’s 7° and 12° for non-usans). My feet were perfectly comfortable the whole time.

Now is a very good time to start acclimating your feet to cooler temperatures. Believe me when I tell you that they will respond. Not only that, but a fall hike is probably one of the best ways to start to get them used to colder temperatures. First of all, while the air temperature may be cooler, the ground itself is still quite warm, so you won’t be overstressing your bare feet. Secondly, when you are hiking, all the muscles and tendons and ligaments in your feet will be helping to pump plenty of warm blood down there. And finally, exposing your feet to the slightly cooler temperatures will slowly accustom them to those temperatures, and you will very quickly discover that you can go out barefooted and comfortable in temperatures you never dreamed possible.

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7 Responses to “Don’t Stop Now”

  1. Frances aka "Barefoot Fresca" Says:

    All I can say is “I will try.”

    Every day I say to myself, “At least I can try. If I can’t do it, I can’t do it.”

    But so far so good. I’ve gone out three or four times on colder days and, except for the first fifteen minutes or so, its’ been great.

  2. Bob Neinast Says:

    Hey, trying is all you can do. And remember, this is supposed to be fun and comfortable. If it isn’t,

    Do Stop Now.

    But a hike on varied terrain gives you your best shot. It will definitely keep you warmer than just standing there, or even walking on a smooth surface.

  3. olololwtfomg Says:

    I wonder how I’ll cope with the arctic freezing weeks (-20C ,-30C) that are very common during the winter in east-central Europe. Some brutal fun this is gonna be :D.

  4. Bob Neinast Says:

    Heh. -20C, -30C? I may be crazy but I’m not stupid.

    As a general rule, if you don’t need gloves, you don’t need shoes.

    (Actually, you can often go slightly colder barefoot than gloveless, since your feet are getting more exercise than your hands.)

  5. Anonymous Says:

    You have an interesting point. I’d always had it hammered into my head that you NEED boots, thick socks, etc. in the winter, or else you’ll wind up with frostbite, your feet will fall off, you’ll get pneumonia and die, etc. etc. etc. But thinking about it, what always seems to end up happening when I go out in the snow with a pair of boots is I’ll step into a big pile of snow or slush or whatever, then my socks will get wet and I will end up with wet, cold feet that aren’t moving around at all inside my rigid boots. So then I go inside, take off my stupid soaking-wet socks, flex my feet out a bit to warm them up, and what? Put on new socks, and then put my feet right into those already wet boots again, and go back outside in the cold so that my feet can get cold again! The worst part is that boots are meant to keep water out — which ALSO means that they are generally quite effective at keeping water IN.

    Bare feet are much easier to keep dry, and you definitely do move your toes around and use all the muscles more when you’re walking barefoot versus in a stiff pair of boots. I wonder if there have been any studies on the prominence of frostbite and other cold-related problems between the shod and consistently unshod.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    All right, I just did a few minutes’ research and came up with this interesting study:

    http://www.humanergology.com/old/jhe2004p/p61~67-Park.pdf

    > While leg skin temperature tended to be lower in barefoot group than in socks group during Experiment I, foot skin temperature was not significantly different between the two groups. Fall of leg skin temperature during 30 min measurement tended to be smaller in barefoot group than in socks group. […] Considering that most of the findings shown above were in the proximity of the established level of statistical significance, it was provisionally concluded that young children with barefoot habituation might show more effective cold adaptation of metabolic type than those without the habituation do, by keeping their skin temperatures higher even in the cold and enhancing the metabolic rate.

  7. Bob Neinast Says:

    Anonymous,

    Thanks for the pointer to the study. And for anybody who hasn’t seen some of the earlier posts on the blog, you might want to take a look at I’ve Got CIVD from last winter.

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