While I usually don’t comment on the antics of Justin Bieber, his recent activity in Boston gave me reason to pause: he was spotted out in the Boston Public Garden, the Four Seasons and through city streets and sidewalks WITHOUT SHOES OR SOCKS!
Aside from the yuck factor of this decision (walking barefoot puts you at risk of picking up plantar warts on the bottom of your feet) there are other risks associated with walking barefoot.First of all, if you have diabetes, going barefoot is always a no-no. Advanced diabetes can cause a progressive numbing of the feet, called peripheral neuropathy, that can prevent you from feeling something you stepped on, like a splinter or even a nail. This can lead to a limb-threatening infection faster than you might think, which is why diabetics should always protect their feet with a shoe or firm-soled slipper, even in their own homes.
For people without diabetes, there are some moments when it’s safe to go barefoot—like in your own home, on soft carpeting. When we stand or walk on a hard surface like, say, a city street, however, there are two types of forces involved. One is the force of the impact of your foot on the ground surface. There is then an equal and opposite force known as the "ground reactive force" sent from the ground back in to your limb. Given that understanding, taking barefoot steps on a hard surface like concrete, or even rocky grass in a public garden, doubles the impact force on your feet. Without the added protection of shoes, that force can lead to foot pain and other problems, especially for a performer like Justin, who spends half his professional life on his feet, dancing up a storm on his Purpose World Tour.