I recently observed that whilst it is my preference to walk around my house barefoot, my partner tends to keep his shoes on whilst at home.
He rarely puts his shoes on in the bedroom at the point of getting dressed and only dons them before leaving the house. However, if I am going out soon after getting dressed, then I will select a pair of shoes to match my outfit and put them on in the bedroom to complete my outfit.
However, more often than not, I don't wear shoes unless I leave the house and once back home, the first thing I usually do is remove my footwear. My partner, on the other hand, rarely removes his shoes until we are settled down on the sofa in the evening watching TV and then only if he wants to put his feet up.
Despite my preference for bare feet in my own home, I rarely remove my shoes if I go to someone else's house, unless they have a strict "no shoes in the house" policy and even then, I resent the fact that I have been forced to remove my footwear - whilst I feel comfortable barefoot in my own home, it somehow feels weird to be barefoot in someone else's home!
I realised that everyone has a different opinion and preference to wearing shoes in the house. So I decided to carry out some research and the findings have been fascinating.
It would appear that the decision as to whether or not to wear shoes at home will normally come down to one of three reasons:
Hygiene and cleanliness
I haven't always been an advocate of bare feet at home. When I was growing up, my family always wore shoes in the house - this may well have stemmed from the fact that our family are not blessed with pretty feet, so it was much less traumatic for everyone concerned for us to keep our feet under wraps. We could have overcome this issue with slippers but we weren't big advocates of them as my mother considered them "common". If nothing else, slippers would have been far more hygienic than wearing outdoor shoes around the house.
So many germs are transferred from the soles of shoes which have been worn outdoors to the flooring in the home. It's slightly better now that many homes sport hard flooring but when I was growing up, it was carpet everywhere - even in the bathroom - and the only room which escaped wall to wall carpet was the kitchen! I dread to think what lurked in the shag pile carpet which was favoured in my childhood home in the 70s!
My research led me to the fact that shoes have on average 421,000 different types of bacteria on them including E. coli, which can cause diarrhoea or intestinal infections. In addition, toxins on lawns and the road can also make their way inside on your shoes.
Many homes have shoe racks in the porch or hallway and whilst I think this looks messy, I can now see that it is so much more hygienic than keeping shoes in the bedroom as I do.
There is also the cleanliness factor to consider. Mud and dirt can be brought into the home and be trodden into carpets, high heels can indent natural wood flooring and rubber soles can mark vinyl flooring.
Comfort, safety and protection
Of course, the decision to wear shoes, slippers or go barefoot at home could simply be a matter of comfort. I definitely feel more comfortable without my feet being restricted within the confines of shoes or boots.
Wearing footwear of some sort in the house will protect your feet from, say, broken glass, as well as cushion the blow should you bang your foot.
Having discovered the level of bacteria found on the soles of shoes worn outdoors, slippers or indoor shoes would be infinitely preferable to protect your feet in the home.
But even slippers come with their own risk factor and without an element of grip, you could slip on hard flooring and fall but bare feet provide the most natural grip on all types of flooring.
Health and fitness
So I have established that barefoot in the home is more hygienic but did you know that it is actually better for your feet to be free of shoes whenever possible. The more time your foot gets to be free from the restrictions of shoes, the more your anatomy gets to learn new signals and create new responses.
Your feet were born free, and they deserve to be reminded daily what life is like on the outside (of a shoe!). While the arch support most shoes sport is key for comfort during the day, your feet shouldn't experience this support all the time. Walking barefoot helps keep feet and arches strong.
Our feet have around 72,000 nerve endings, but they start to die when you wear shoes for too long. So it’s advisable to take off shoes at home and let your feet reconnect with the floor. This connection is very important for your posture, balance and alignment.
Your feet are covered with perioreceptors, which communicate with your brain and give it feedback about your body’s position and alignment. Wearing shoes hampers these receptors and restricts the movement of the muscles and joints in your feet and legs as well.
What about slippers? Slippers can cause damage to your joints as well as setting you up for potential injury if they are flexible or bend too easily.
This has certainly been insightful for me and having discovered the level of bacteria found on the soles of shoes, I am going to be rethinking where I store my shoes in future. I hope it has helped you be "on your toes" and keep "afoot" of the matter!