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Hi Leah, Thanks for responding. Yes, I do the same thing and take my shoes off as soon as possible when I get home, and the (fairly thin) carpeting feels great. Glad to hear I'm not the only one. I don't have too much heel pain on hard floors barefoot (still not as much as with any shoes or inserts I've tried). But I think I tend to walk differently when I'm barefoot and not strike down on my heel so hard, so that could be why. I can't really go barefoot outside much since I'm in the middle of Los Angeles, and you don't even want to know the kind of stuff that's on the sidewalks and streets here! But I do occasionally go outside to take out the trash and things like that barefoot, and even on the concrete sidewalk it feels better barefoot than with shoes. Can't go barefoot at work, either, although I take my shoes off at my desk when I can. I've been considering trying some "minimalist" shoes that supposedly are more like going barefoot, like the Vibram Five Fingers (which look supremely silly) or the Feelmax. The Feelmax look more like normal shoes and could "pass" in a casual office environment. They have a super-thin sole made out of a very tough material to prevent things from poking through and cutting your foot. I'm thinking of ordering some to try out, but they are from Finland and a little hard to find here in the US. If I end up trying some of these I'll post to let you know how it works out. And please do the same if you find any shoes that work for you. My foot's a little wide also and I think I have one arch that is higher than the other, so I generally end up a size bigger in shoes than I would need just based on length. Maybe that's why it's better going barefoot, maybe shoes just never fit both feet correctly and that causes me to walk "funny" and aggravate the PF.
I did just post at another PF related board where doctor's often respond and I asked about going barefoot and whether it could hurt me worse in the long run. The doctor who responded basically said that if the PF pain was better going barefoot, and no other pain started up, then it shouldn't do any harm and that it would be OK to keep doing that unless the pain started up or got worse again.
Have you tried any of the stretches that are usually recommended for PF? I do find that those seem to help also.
Also, if you haven't already, you might try some men's shoes. In sneakers and hiking/walking type shoes, there's not much difference in the styling for many of them. Not exactly super-stylish or dressy, but fine for casual use or with jeans. The men's shoes tend to run wider for the same length, although you'd have to order a size or two down from your normal size in women's shoes. I sometimes find them to be more comfortable and fit my feet better. For example, I'm typically a 9 in US women's size, but a 7.5 in the same or a similar men's style is often more comfortable due to extra width. Sometimes to get enough width in a women's size, I have to go up to a size that is definitely too long for my foot. Good luck!
Lyle, sorry to hear you got hurt and thank you for the warning. If I may ask, did you get hurt running in the Fivefingers or just wearing them around walking? And what kind of injury did you sustain? Hope you are improving now and feeling better.
First off, because this thread is so old I am not sure if anyone will read it, but anyway. I am a shoe salesman, who loves going barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes as much as possible. Today at work I talked to a woman with PF, tried to figure out what type of shoes felt good for her and what she was looking for. None of the "normal" shoes I showed her were really comfortable (including Asics and New Balance). She really liked here shoes with the rolly ball heel thing, sorry I don't sell these so I don't know exactly what they are called. It turns out the reason she likes these shoes is because they don't have an arch to them, they are just soft. Now from what I have read PF is mostly caused by your plantar fascia tendon and achilles tendon not stretching enough, which is what happens when you wear shoes that elevate your heel and don't allow your arch to compress like it should when you walk. That's why when you get up in the morning and step out of bed your feet just about kill you, you are stretching them for the first time that day. But as your tendons begin to stretch the way they are supposed to, your PF should subside. And like someone posted earlier, you will tend to walk differently when you are barefoot than when your wear shoes. As a result your hit your heel less hard and your plantar fascia tendon flexes more. Just don't jump straight into going barefoot. Going from "normal" shoes to barefoot is EXACTLY like any other workout, you must build up your routine over time. I hope this information will help someone. Just remember, I am a footwear salesman not a podiatrist.
Ryka makes only women's shoes-=sneakers, and they come with larger toe box and are much more comfortable than any other sneaker., and they have good arch support, although I've always worn orthotics in them (as directed by my foot ortho) I"ve been wearing them for about 7 years, replacing old worn out pairs with new ones as required.