Review of Daniel Howell’s “The Barefoot Book”


Having discovered the benefits of a barefoot lifestyle myself, only a few months before the books publication, I was excited to read Daniel’s book.

Here was the most comprehensive and detailed analysis and explanation of the dangers of shoes to the health of the foot and lower-limb, & a wonderful exposition of the benefits of a barefoot lifestyle for healthy feet & legs that I have ever read, and I’ve read lots of books, research papers, blogs & websites in my search for information on this subject. And here it is in one place.

Daniel covers a whole gamut of topics surrounding the concept & practice of barefoot walking & running, including taking a refreshingly new perspective on the problems our footwear are causing us because shoes are not ‘natural’! He expounds on the joy of living a barefoot lifestyle, demonstrates a clear & thorough understanding of the functional anatomy of the foot and ankle, whilst writing in terms which make the subject easily accessible by the general public. What I like most, as a Podiatrist, is that Daniel relates structure to natural, barefoot function in a way which was never done by any lecturers whilst I was at Podiatry School!

Daniel demonstrates clearly how modern stiff, heeled shoes adversely affect the natural function of the human foot & relates that dysfunction to pathology, listing some of the more common pathologies treated by podiatrists, which have shoes as a major factor in their aetiology.

High heeled shoes get a specific chapter to explain the particular problems these cause, as does the developing foot, where the potential for damage from shoes is greatest.

I love how Daniel takes the time in the book to focus on & emphasise the benefits of barefoot walking and running on the health of the feet & legs, as well as stressing the enjoyment people gain from discovering the full & natural functionality of this much ignored & maligned body part.

He discusses the pros & cons of a variety of minimalist footwear, for those times when going completely barefoot is not appropriate or advisable.

My patients have found that one of the most helpful chapters of his book are the chapters on how to transition to a barefoot lifestyle, with lots of really helpful tips on how to handle the social, psychological & physical adjustments needed to transition and the chapter on exposing the myths surrounding shoes & barefeet.

Lastly, his book is so well referenced with over 100 research papers to enable interested readers to verify his words & undertake further study on the subject.

I applaud Daniel on such a wonderful book, because it has not only helped me to completely refocus my clinical philosophy from supporting patients with foot orthoses to rehabilitating them, wherever possible, and using orthoses temporarily whilst advising patients to strengthen their feet, ankles, legs & hips, but also to teach them to walk & run barefoot.

My patients read this book in my clinic whilst waiting for their consultation, and some buy the book to read at home.

Daniel has helped change my practice forever. For that both I, & my patients, thank him.

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