Due to Covid-19, with its lockdown periods, quarantines, and the new trend of working from home to avoid exposure to the virus, many have developed new dress habits, including staying in our pajamas for hours only wearing slippers or socks indoors. Many people believe that it is healthier not to wear shoes indoors, but there are some good reasons to counteract this argument.
Podiatrists and some doctors believe that wearing shoes indoors will provide the feet with the necessary support and prevent accidents and injuries. It can also provide relief for people with plantar fasciitis and back issues. The state of our feet can affect our posture and joint health.
Removing the shoes before entering a home is practiced in many countries and cultures worldwide. The reasons for this practice vary from cleanliness and hygiene to respect for the homeowner’s wishes. While the shoes-off argument has some valid points, the sock-lovers’ issues can be easily solved, with the shoe-lovers easily winning the debate.
Good Reasons to Wear Shoes in the House
One of the biggest reasons that people oppose wearing shoes in the house is cleanliness. We don’t want to think about the germs and dirt that come home with us under our shoes, but it’s there in full force. However, this is easily solved by, yes, leaving them at the door and then donning your indoor shoes to take care of your feet.
Wearing Shoes in the House Supports and Protects Our Feet
Many podiatrists are against us walking barefoot in the house or with socks or slippers. It’s not that they are unconcerned about the lurgies attached to our shoes, rather that our feet can develop various structural injuries.
Our feet were designed to walk on sand, soil, and grass, and these surfaces naturally accommodate the foot’s contours. The softer ground allows the outside of the foot to sink into it, supporting the inside of the foot and preventing the arch’s collapsing. Walking on hard interior floors may cause damage to our arches.
Pronation refers to the inward rolling of the foot and allows our feet to bear the weight of our bodies. Walking barefoot means that we will pronate for longer periods, which will change the way weight and pressure are distributed across the foot. This could cause or worsen any of the following foot ailments:
- Arch and heel pain
- Achilles tendonitis
- Posterior tibial tendonitis
- Shin splints
But contrary to popular belief, using any soft and comfy flip-flops or slippers will not help your foot conditions or prevent them. It’s not about shock absorption. Soft-soled shoes can aggravate foot and lower limb ailments because the feet will over-pronate.
Over 50’s Should Wear Shoes in the House
Walking barefoot in the home is also less suitable for women over 50. The fat pad in the ball of the foot disappears and minimizes the cushioning, making their knees, hips and, lower back more vulnerable.
Studies have also shown that many serious injuries in elderly people are caused by walking around barefoot in the house. Such falls often result in fractures, sprains, strained or torn muscles, tendons, ligaments, and dislocations. Due to their higher risk of falling, the elderly should wear shoes indoors to ensure their safety.
Wearing Shoes Protects Your Feet Against Bacteria and Fungi
You may think that your floors are clean, but they are never completely free of germs. Well-known New York podiatrist, Miguel Cunha, states that going without shoes makes us vulnerable to infections caused by fungi and bacteria. They can affect the skin and the nails, causing an unpleasant smell, and are unsightly.
Though warm and cozy, Socks and slippers can also cause the feet to sweat, opening the door again to nail fungus.
The other obvious but less serious effect of walking barefoot too much is the sight of those horrid cracked heels that look permanently dirty. They can crack so deeply that they become sore. Not pretty at all.
Wearing Shoes in the House is Not a Huge Health Risk
In 2008 some Microbiologists from the University of Arizona studied the residues found on the bottom of shoes. They discovered many horrible things on the soles of these shoes, e.g., mold, fecal matter, E.coli, and pollen, amongst other nasties. It is a complete justification for leaving your shoes at the door. Who wants that getting spread through your house?
Although your exposure to germs, dirt, fungi, and bacteria may increase if you trot around your house in shoes that have just been on a germ treasure hunt, you probably won’t get sick. Our immune systems will protect us from contracting serious diseases from germs that we carry in via our shoes.
Guidelines for Shoes to Wear in the House
So the question arises: what type of shoes should we wear in the house? Here are some thoughts:
- They should give support. There is no arch support if you can bend the slipper or shoe in half, so it is no good.
- Your feet must be able to breathe. Moisture allows bacteria and fungus to grow, so choose a shoe that won’t cause your feet to sweat.
- The sole must be firm to prevent slipping and absorb shocks.
- Keep your indoor shoes strictly indoors, even if you use sneakers or running shoes.
- Keep tabs on the smell. The skins cells on our feet also shed constantly. After a while, these accumulated dead skin cells may give off an unpleasant odor, probably caused by fungus. Then it’s time for a new pair.
- Change them regularly, especially if you wear them without socks. If they look shabby, have holes in them, or are smelly, they no longer serve the purpose.
If we review the debate between “Shoes Off” or “Shoes On,” the logical conclusion is that hygienically it is better to leave shoes at the door when you come in but have your indoor shoes ready and waiting. Transferring them straight into these shoes will help keep your tootsies in tiptop condition.
Henry Ford Health System: Wearing Shoes Inside Is A Good Idea After All. Here’s Why
Well+Good: Wearing Your Shoes in the House Is Disgusting…Right?
Wikipedia: Tradition of removing shoes in the home and houses of worship
Southern Living: Should You Wear Shoes Inside the House?
Healthline: What are the benefits of taking off my shoes inside?
*Note: Wikipedia reference is flagged as plagiarism.