For decades I beat up on my feet training for sports, particularly on concrete. It got to the point where the aftermath pain was crippling me.
The primary problem was in my heels with a condition known as plantar fasciitis. This can afflict anyone, not just athletes. The only relief was to lie on my back with my feet suspended over pillows so nothing touched my heels. Stretching, special splints, rehab exercises, and even rest gave no long term relief.
Not wanting to stop what I was doing (too much fun and good exercise), and assuming that the problem was the shoes, I spent years studying foot anatomy and dynamics and developed special insoles that helped—but did not cure. (If you will read the product monograph you will see that I had the idea, but not the whole solution. But I still have to use these if in shoes. See Wysong Ergonomic Insoles
Then I thought about the theme I have been teaching for the past forty years: get back to nature for health. Bare body for vitamin D, bare air and water for purity, bare food as found in nature...so why not bare feet?
After all, we are not born with shoes. They, in fact, entomb the bones of the feet, prevent their prehensile movement, and distort the foot and toes. Sometime trace an outline of your foot on the floor and compare that to the shape of shoes to see at least part of the problem.
Could the very thing we are designed to stand on, our bare feet, be inadequate for bipedal humans? That would make no sense at all. Besides, there are marathon runners who wear no shoes and suffer no problems as a result. So barefoot I went. More than 99.9% of my days are now barefoot. I even went barefoot out in the snow to load the wood burner this past winter. Although my feet were constantly cold during winters buried in socks and shoes, going bare even solved that. It is addicting. I have grown to hate wearing shoes as much as I would hate having to wear a cast covering my hands.
As counterintuitive as this all seems (letting bare feet hit hard surfaces and be exposed to cold), the result has been an amazing testament to the power of nature. No more foot pain. I can play sports and be on my feet working for hours with no problem. It had gotten so that just trying to do yard work, shopping, or whatever on my shoed feet for more than about an hour was too much. Now, provided I can shed the shoes, no problem. I can even work barefoot in the forest harvesting dead wood and have little problem on stones or whatever with my toughened soles. Even the rough skin that was developing on my soles and heels when wearing shoes has essentially disappeared—the opposite of what would be expected.
Yes feet can get dirty. But that is easily solved. First off, keep toenails trimmed short and tight to the quick so no white shows. Then rig up a simple cleaning station by a spigot. Attach a hose with an adjustable nozzle that can create a jet. Put down a small outdoor entry mat with a rough cleaning surface (the cheap plastic ones with lots of little plastic finger spikes work great). Stand on the mat and jet spray your feet while scrubbing them on the mat. Put a little liquid soap on the mat if need be. Turn the jet directly on all corners of the nails to clean them. Doing this regardless of how filthy your feet are, will clean them thoroughly and even give you a cleaner feel than in your previous smelly shoe life. In the shower or tub use a good brush and soap to clean any resistant stains.
Another benefit is the fact that connecting to the ground delivers antioxidant electrons to your body. This is called "earthing," and if you do an Internet search on that you will find good science and evidence for the benefits of connecting to our mother. There are even simple mats to put under your feet and in your bed to ground to the earth. They just plug into the grounding plug in your outlets. You can purchase them or easily make your own. As I write this my bare feet are on a copper mesh mat that is grounded to an outlet with a wire and alligator clip. Details on how to make such things are on the Internet.
Get your feet out of those coffins at every opportunity. If you must wear shoes, find some that are shaped like a real foot. For occasions when style is not important, try the five-finger shoes (Internet search five-finger shoes). But always, at every opportunity, shed the shoes and get your bare feet on the ground.
This is one of those rare things you can do that will make a dramatic difference in your life and health and it costs nothing but a little bravery. Have fun meeting your liberated feet.