The Surprising Effects Of Not Wearing Shoes At Home

Whether you're a homebody by nature or you've found yourself stuck at home more than usual lately, there's a good chance that you've ditched your shoes. Not entirely, of course. Just when you're at home. And that's generally not a bad thing. Back in 2018, Dr. Charles Gerba, Ph. D, a professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona, gave Today a very good reason to take off your shoes as soon as you get home.

"If you wear shoes for more than a month, 93 percent will have fecal bacteria on the bottom of them."

That means you are almost guaranteed to track poop bacteria through your house when you walk through in your outdoor shoes. The best way to avoid this, of course, is to take your shoes off before coming inside or as soon as you step into your house.

But that doesn't mean you want to go barefoot as soon as you get home, either. While nixing your shoes reduces the amount of bacteria crawling around your home — and can have some surprising benefits —  it can also cause some pretty nasty issues. And now that more people are spending time at home, podiatrists are raising the alarm.

The hard truth

Dr. Miguel Cunha, D.P.M., is a licensed podiatrist and CEO of Gotham Footcare in Manhattan. He sat down with PureWow in 2020 to break down the effect of going barefoot too often. He explained that going barefoot most of the time — whether on hard floors or carpets — causes the muscles in the foot to shift. Over time they "fall", as Dr. Cunha put it. The end result is a whole lot of stress on the foot, which translates into stress on the rest of the body.

If you already have issues, like bunions, the stress and shifting muscles will make them worse. And if you don't have any issues yet, you're likely to see some develop. Marion Parke, a former podiatric surgeon who now designs foot-friendly designer shoes, outlined a few potential issues when speaking with Marie Claire. New stress on your feet can cause swelling in the Achilles tendon, otherwise known as tendonitis, as well as plantar fasciitis. It can also cause an issue known as metatarsalgia, which the Mayo Clinic explains as pain and swelling in the ball of your foot. The condition is usually associated with people who run and jump a lot, but the regular pressure of bare feet on hard floors can cause the same issue after a while.

Instead of skipping shoes entirely, find a pair of slip-on shoes or sandals with good arch support. Fuzzy slippers won't really cut, it but a solid pair of easy-on sandals that never step past the front door will support your foot health while cutting down on the bacteria tracked through your home.