For the shoe-wearing adult who has healthy feet and no concomitant medical problems (i.e. diabetes or poor circulation), to stop wearing shoes suddenly, would likely cause foot pain and problems.
These adults should start by SLOWLY transitioning to less supportive, more barefoot-like shoes. They should look for shoes with a wide toe-box (wide around the toes) and less stiff, more flexible shoes. Some shoes that help simulate barefoot activity while providing some degree of protection include, Vibram Five Fingers, Nike Free and Terra Plana’s Vivo Barefoot.
In addition, adults transitioning out of stiff, supportive shoes should do foot strengthening and stretching exercises. Years of wearing supportive shoes will have weakened many of the small muscles in the arch, ball and toes of the feet, and these muscles need to get strong again. Gradually, these adults should begin barefoot activity.
Lastly, persons with foot problems, such as impaired sensation (i.e. diabetics), poor circulation or other problems or deformities should not go barefoot or try barefoot-like shoes without first checking with their podiatrist.
Where Do Podiatrists Stand on Shoes?
The American Podiatrist Medical Association (APMA) has issued a statement on going barefoot, entitled “Podiatrists Urge Americans to Think Twice Before Going Barefoot.” You can read the APMA’s statement by clicking HERE.
Final Thoughts on Shoes and Foot Problems
Podiatrists are quick to point out that there are people who have never worn shoes and suffer from foot pain and problems, including flatfeet, bunions, hammertoes and other problems. This is true.
Foot deformities and problems are not always due to wearing shoes, and can occur due to a myriad of reasons: congenital, ligamentous laxity, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, structural factors within the foot (metatarsal head shape, first ray hypermobility), over-pronation, trauma, diabetes, polio, vascular problems and the list goes on.
When it comes to foot deformities and foot problems, shoes are one possible factor. Shoes may be part of the problem for a particular person or the whole problem
See the following link for article references and live links http://tinyurl.com/2vrd3ys
Dr. Nirenberg's website http://www.americaspodiatrist.com/
Soft sheepskin innersoles. Keeps feet warm in winter and the natural wicking properties of sheepskin keeps feet cool in summer and shoes stay odor free.It's the next best thing to being barefoot. There are a few other brands of barefoot shoes but so far Soft Star Shoes are the only ones I have tried . I bought my first pair a couple of months ago and I like them so much I have already ordered another pair http://www.softstarshoes.com/index.cfm?aff=53391 They have different styles and sizes for adults, toddlers and older children.