Is barefoot best for kids? By David Tensen

Me and my 6 year old and 3 year old kids. On a Barefoot Walk Me and my 6 year old and 3 year old kids. On a Barefoot Walk

Is barefoot best for kids?  6 months ago I would have said No.  Now I encourage my family to go barefoot as much as possible.

5 months ago I happened across a series of books and studies on barefoot running and living. I made the switch,  ditched my arch supports and decided to go barefoot as much as possible. My feet and posture have never been better.  I’m running an average of 20km per week barefoot on pavement, road and a little grass.

“So what about kids? Why encourage your three kids to go barefoot as much as possible? ”

The clincher for me was reading of foot health studies done across children and teens in developing countries and those in developed countries.  Basically looking at the affect of shoes on kids.  No one could argue the results.  Kids in places like India,  Africa and Haiti who didn’t wear shoes showed nearly no signs of bad foot health like fallen arches, fungal infection, ingrown toenails etc.

Contrast that against children in countries where shoes are encouraged and often mandatory and you find cases like me. Before age 14 I had three ingrown toenails surgically operated on, several pairs of orthodics (custom arch supports) and the inability to run without pain in my legs or lower back as a result of fallen arches (due to weak feet.) In my adult years I’ve suffered with much back and leg pain not to mention all the fungal stuff that breeds in warm moist socks wrapped in shoes 12 hours per day.

Without going into to much detail, I had a innate feeling that I wanted to go running. I stumbled across a book called Born to Run and just read the glowing Amazon reviews. A few weeks and barefoot running books later and I was running (slowly) albeit 1km a few days per week. Slowly and surely I improved on this, working on my posture and spending as much time barefoot as possible. I can’t tell you how much enjoyment and physical good it’s brought me already.

Back to the kids.  Anyone I share my story with that’s over 30 or 40 and grew up outside the city say “Yeah, I remember spending years without shoes and loving it. I hated shoes!”  Yet, they insist on their kids wearing clunky rubber shoes that seriously affects their gait and ability to walk with good proprioception.

My advice? Do the study for yourself.  Keep in mind that kids footwear is a multi-billion-dollar per year industry so you’re not going to hear Nike or Adidas tell you otherwise but…

Save yourself HOURS of TIME.

Save yourself HUNDREDS of DOLLARS on shoes.

Save yourself HEADACHES and STRESS of choosing and remembering shoes and…


My kids go to the shops, church, park, everywhere  – barefoot. Yes, there are school uniform criteria and places like a job site or hot cement that require footware, but outside of this, allowing them to go barefoot has so many benefits and their feet will thank you for it.

Published with the kind permission of David Tensen.

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