Quarantining during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created a profound shift in the way we live and work. One major effect is that a huge portion of us have started working from home, either occasionally or almost always.
Working from home offers many comforts, including the freedom to dress however you want. But some people may be wondering: should that outfit include shoes?
While wearing pajamas instead of pantsuits is a matter of comfort, what you put on your feet (or don’t) could be a matter of health. This is especially true for individuals with foot pain, poor circulation, or a chronic condition like diabetes.
Additionally, some style experts urge people to “dress for success,” which can mean that getting too casual could have a negative impact on your productivity.
So while doing business barefoot is entirely your choice, here are a few reasons you might want to slip into some supportive shoes at least a few times a week, if not every day.
The decision of whether or not to wear footwear while quarantining and working from home is largely up to personal preference, with one major exception.
If you have diabetes or another condition related to foot desensitivity or impeded circulation, then you should always work with supportive footwear on. This is especially important if you normally wear diabetic shoes and compression socks during the day.
Your biggest risk of going barefoot is sustaining a minor injury that gets worse before it is detected. Many individuals with diabetes have developed partial neuropathy in their feet, meaning they lack the sensation that others typically do. If someone with neuropathy were to be injured, there is a chance the wound could become infected or result in complications without immediate detection.
Foot injuries can easily occur in the home but are especially common when walking barefoot outside. As such, make shoe wearing the norm, and always put on a sturdy pair of shoes before going outside, to the garage, or anywhere else where it’s not always 100% safe to tread.
Circulation is another factor to consider. While circulation is typically improved by compression socks, many people can tend to sit on their feet or get into positions that impede circulation in the feet. Over time, this can lead to complications, such as chronic pain, desensitivity (neuropathy), tendon weakness, or trouble walking.
Poor circulation can result from any extended bout of sitting, so make sure to take care of your feet with a quick stretching routine at the beginning and end of your day. Reaching down towards your toes and leaning on a counter or bed to stretch your calves can all help sustain circulation while reducing cramps, stiffness, and discomfort.
Yet another reason to shoe up (or at least wear socks) is your skin moisture. Exposed skin tends to dry out more quickly. Walking around barefoot can also sap moisture from your feet while toughening up the skin’s surface.
Take care of your feet by applying lotion and wearing socks for at least a few days of the week. This will restore moisture, freshen up the look of your skin, and help you feel better all around.
The final word on stay-at-home footwear is motivation. Simply put, some people can get into the sluggish mentality if all they wear is a bathrobe on the “commute” from the bed to the home office.
Putting on normal attire, on the other hand, can prime your brain for a productive day, says personal stylist Jude Stevens. “Get dressed into your work outfit, then when your day is done change into your tracksuit or pajamas,” she advised in an interview with Aussie outlet She Defined. “It’s important to have that break and change in outfit. Your environment is not changing as much at the moment so it’s important to change your outfits to signal that shift in your day.”
Overall, going barefoot 3-4 days out of the week is not going to do you any harm unless you have a chronic condition or a specific concern. There are advantages to wearing shoes, but that doesn’t mean you have to do so every day (unless it’s been recommended otherwise for health reasons).
With that said, know that going barefoot can be an adjustment for your body. Some people may begin to notice new pain or a worsening of existing foot pain.
“If prior to working home from home you had a preexisting foot condition causing you pain, such as plantar fasciitis or pain at the ball of your foot, walking barefoot for most of the day could further add to that pain,” cautions Dr. Pedro Cosculluela, an orthopedic surgeon at Houston Methodist Hospital.
Pain can also be a signal that you have developed inflammation or tendon sensitivity in your feet, leading to conditions like fallen arches if left unchecked. Conditions like bunions can also be made worse if you don’t take proactive and preventative measures.
Wear shoes any time you notice pain, discomfort, or excessive dryness, and be sure to pamper your feet periodically as a preventative measure.
If at any point you notice nagging pain, or you have a concern related to a previously diagnosed chronic condition, make an appointment with a podiatrist near you ASAP.
Elizabeth Auger is a podiatrist in the Salt Lake City area, and she’s available for consultations, same-day appointments, and regular check-ups. Call (801) 619-2170 or contact us online to schedule your appointment any time, 24/7.