Going Barefoot on the Bowery Is a Thing Now?

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Bowery Boogie
From our friends at Bowery Boogie comes this photo of a guy casually going about his business, sans shoes, on the sidewalks of New York City. He's got those five-fingered running shoes attached to his belt, so it's clearly a matter of choice. But...why? Bowery Boogie has seen him not once but twice in recent days.

This is shades of the woman who was seen walking topless on the Bowery over the summer except...dirtier. Do you know this man? Have you seen him? Are you him? Please, get in touch and tell us your story.

The only time we've considered going barefoot on the streets of New York was a harrowing incident in which we foolishly attempted to walk many blocks in a new pair of unbroken shoes, and even then, we kept them on. Shoeless Guy: You are brave, indeed.

Walking Barefoot on the Bowery [Bowery Boogie]

[JDoll / @thisisjendoll]

Go to Runnin' Scared for all our latest news coverage.


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28 comments
Shirley Peters
Shirley Peters

I was walking barefoot in NYC just last month.  If you stand right over a subway line, the sidewalk is really warm and you get a foot massage every time a train rumbles by.   Imagine spending your life wearing rubber gloves -- It's the same with shoes. You'd be surprised how much you're missing.

Unshod Ashish
Unshod Ashish

1) Considerable scientific evidence shows that (running or walking) barefoot is healthier.2) Dirtier?! How often do you wash your feet? How often do you wash your shoes?3) Listen to yourself - your expensive shoes hurt, and yet you still wear them!

Kent
Kent

Except for work, I go barefoot. I shop, drive, run errands, visit family and friends and much more all barefooted. Ever since I started going barefoot regularly, my knees and back no longer bother me. I feel better all around. I think more people should go barefoot and they should be able to do this wherever they please. In places like Australia and New Zealand, people go barefoot all the time all over and they are developed countries, not poor ones. They also have lower levels of foot and back problems. I think once people started to experience the benefits it would catch on and the grand view of going barefoot would change for the better because people would begin to feel better and realize there is nothing dirty or unsanitary about it. Feet can washed and cleaned more thoroughly than a shoe can be. There is plenty of research available for review that is now proving just how good for us being barefoot can be.

Barefoot Professor
Barefoot Professor

Popular Science magazine ran an article last year titled, "Is it safe to walk barefoot in NYC?". They interviewed me (author of The Barefoot Book) and Cody Lundun. The answer is Yes. -Daniel Howell, the Barefoot Professor.

unci from Austria
unci from Austria

It reminds me of my visit to NYC back in 1999. The weather was crazy, it changed between sunshine and sleet ... but on the nicer days I walked barefoot, and found that it's perfectly fine to do so on fifth avenue, though the closer one gets to the Hudson River, the dirtier the sidewalks tend to get.Walking barefoot is just the most enjoyable and healthy and least exhausting way to cover any distance!(Hello to the guy in the photo! You're now the subject of worldwide discussion.)

BarefootEarthDay
BarefootEarthDay

Some people may not like walking barefoot, be it in the city or in nature, but walking without shoes is generally healthy for the feet and leads to stronger, more functional feet. Sadly, the comments by ibivi are indicative of the attitudes some habitual shoe-wearers have toward people who like to go barefoot.

 In reality, walking barefoot (even in the city once the feet have been conditioned) provides a great number of benefits. A recent award-winning book "The Barefoot Book" by Daniel Howell, (see http://www.thebarefootbook.com) takes a closer look at why feet need exercise rather than remaining pampered and weak inside the cast-like confines of most shoes. he clearly explains why so many shoe styles inhibit the basic functionality of the feet and can lead to all manner of problems from athlete's foot to bunions to atrophying of underused muscles in the feet.

 It's a great read, and once you read it, you won't find yourself wondering "why" when you see others walking barefoot by choice. You may not choose to join them - and that's fine, personal freedom is a good thing -- but at least you won't feel compelled to criticize them or find yourself flabbergasted at their choice to eschew footwear.

Another good resource is "The Barefoot Hiker" by Richard Frazine, published in 1993, not to mention all the great books on barefoot running that are available now.

ibivi
ibivi

Walking bare-foot in any city is insane.  Streets and roads are filthy.  You could pick up any number of diseases or injure yourself.  It is also bad for foot mechanics.  We're not prehistoric anymore.  Put your shoes on! 

Steven Sashen
Steven Sashen

You should have joined us for the NYC Barefoot Run 6 weeks ago. 400 barefooters. Oh, sure, it was all safe on Governor's Island where the Run was being held... but most of us went out in the streets of Manhattan for some barefoot running before and after the run.

Other than some dirty feet. No problems.

(and a few people added some Invisible Shoes running sandals to deal with the dirt issue)

Firro Seranel
Firro Seranel

 Also... prehistoric?  Going barefoot was common as recently as fifty years ago, and even more wide-spread less than a century ago.  It's still not at all rare in many countries around the world, as the US is almost unique in its extreme foot-phobia.  Prehistoric?  Try current.

Owen McCall
Owen McCall

Insane?  Well, I've been doing it in Chicago for eleven years now, summer and even winter, both walking and fitness running.  Diseases?  None.  And my "foot mechanics" have greatly improved:  no running injuries like I had been plagued with for the previous twenty years running in trainers.  And what is it with you "shoddies" anyway?  Rarely do I hear, "That's just not for me."  It always seems to be, "Put your shoes on!"  Why does my barefootedness scare you so?  

Epac
Epac

Barefooting is for hobbits, not humans. Put on your damn shoes.

ibivi
ibivi

Yes, they go without footwear-I believe it is due to poverty not preference.    Foot doctors do not recommend going without appropriate shoes.   Barefooting is a fad.

darex
darex

Even worse, the author is simultaneously denigrating it and this guy's behavior, while also asking if it's a trend and if so, should she join in.  What are you?  A lemming?

There's no mystery here.  The guy in question enjoys going barefooted -- mystery solved!  That being the case, why shouldn't he?  It's legal, it's pleasant, it's harmless and he isn't bothering anyone else in doing so, other than to perplex and confuse the author.  More power to him.  Life is short, and the author is an idiot.  Leave him be!

OwenMcCall
OwenMcCall

If Epac finds he is wrong about such a fundamental thing as shoes, what other things might he be wrong about?  A minority of people find such revelations fascinating and exhilarating.  Most, like Epac, are simply frightened.  

Sam D. Maloney
Sam D. Maloney

Angry and judgmental, much? Your life might be more fulfilling if you expended your energy on your own behaviors instead of over investing in other peoples, especially when what they do has absolutely no impact on your life.

OwenMcCall
OwenMcCall

I live north of Chicago and run barefoot every month of the year.  You are not as delicate as you may imagine.  

OwenMcCall
OwenMcCall

Yes, I had flat feet for most of my life.  Then, eleven years ago, I started running barefoot.  Since that time I have developed a prominent arch.  I also have had plantar fasciitis, plus just about every other type of "runner's injury" at one time or another.  Like most runners I found myself injured once or twice every year.  That all ended when I got rid of the shoes.  Shoes do not prevent these types of injuries, they CAUSE them.  Your repeatedly talk about "support".  What about your arms, for instance?  Do you go around wearing two slings all day to support them?  Why not?  If you were worried that your arms were becoming weak and injury-prone you would go to a gym, not buy two slings.  If your feet are weak and injury-prone, get those shoes off so they can move through their natural range of motion, work those foot and calf muscles and get stronger SO THAT THEY CAN SUPPORT THEMSELVES.  

Kriss
Kriss

We always do, ibivi (take care of our tootsies). That's why we go barefoot. Thanks. :)

ibivi
ibivi

OK all you barefooters, we'll have to agree to disagree.  Take care of your tootsies!

Kriss
Kriss

Why do feet need to be "supported"? Feet are perfectly capable of supporting themselves. The idea that feet are weak and unable to function without some sort of "crutch" like shoes is ridiculous. And indeed shoes and other footwear are what keep foot doctors in business. You speak of "inappropriate footwear." It's all inappropriate. I can speak from experience. I've had significant damage to my feet causing the need for several surgeries. All the problems were caused by wearing shoes for many years. Since becoming a 24/7 barefooter, I have NO foot problems and am healthier and feel better than I ever did as a shoe wearer.

Sam D. Maloney
Sam D. Maloney

I go barefoot in the snow all the time-- including the hike from my car to the ski lodge, several times a week. It improves your circulation and makes cold feet very rare.

ibivi
ibivi

It snows where I live.  Unless I want my toes to freeze off I wear boots.  No social pressure involved.

Johan
Johan

You believe very wrong - I grew up in Africa and there shoes are a social nuisance, just like here - the weather there allows people to go barefoot all the time.  I was eleven before I attended school in shoes - I played barefoot rugby all my years pre-high school.

Wearing shoes is not a sign of wealth - it shows that you succumb to social pressure in stead of thinking for yourself.

unci from Austria
unci from Austria

No, I have never had foot problems and it looks like regularly walking barefoot is a good part of the reason why. Keeping active by walking barefoot on varied ground (not just in the city) sounds like a better idea than keeping doctors busy trying to correct the damage with orthotics later on.

ibivi
ibivi

Foot doctors help repair the damage that wearing inappropriate footwear causes because many people buy shoes that are bad for their feet (too small, high heels, lack of support and cushioning, artificial fabrics which don't breathe, etc,). Orthotics and other interventions are not useless.  Have you ever had foot problems like flat feet, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs?  If you haven't then you don't really understand the need for good footwear which protects and supports feet.   

BFpanda
BFpanda

You believe wrong - in many cases. An Indian friend informs me that barefooting is regarded as the most noble mode, putting shoes on is something you do because you have to to do some menial task, like working in an office. Foot doctors make their money selling 'orthotic insoles' and other useless, unproven interventions designed to solve problems probably caused by wearing shoes. Wearing shoes when you don't need to is a fad. Walking on their feet is what people do. 

darex
darex

Yes, she is expressing great skepticism (bordering on the offensive, to be honest), but my take was that the "question" is quite implicit in the headline.  Anyhow, one guy does not a "thing" make.  Still, it is rather amusing how barefoot lifestylers are perceived as being odd-balls, but suddenly when there's this new momentum amongst the runners towards minimalist shoes and/or barefoot running, the subject is treated with great respect and awe even.  It's a sad testament to what dictates "proper mores" of society.  If a thing picks up traction, then it becomes "acceptable", otherwise, it ought to be featured in a blog and cited for its "weirdness"?

Reading Is Fundamental
Reading Is Fundamental

Where does she ask if she should join in? She merely asks in the headline if it's a thing and given what she writes in the post and the fact that two of the categories she tagged it with are Ew and Why Would You Do This?, she's expressing skepticism by doing so.

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