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In the past I was only occasionally walking barefoot, on relatively short distances, on the earthy surfaces. But I'd like to train my feet to be able to do much more - including walking on harsh surfaces such as rocks. My inspiration are the documentaries of indigenous peoples walking barefoot in many environment, including rocky ones, and the family tales, that in the past people were walking barefoot to church, even in the winter.

However, I've done today a 20-minutes walk in the city. The pavements were hot because of full sun, and after reaching home I've found out that the skin on my soles is creased and I feel pain even standing. Luckily, it seems that I'm going to get out of it even without blisters.

Obviously my feet are too soft for harsher surfaces. I should walk a lot on earthy surfaces - unfortunately most trails in the surrounding are graveled... But are there any exercises, training programs or treatments to speed up the tempo of hardening foots? From what distances should I begin, and in which tempo to increase them? Does some ointments, cold or hot showers help?

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possible duplicate: outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/767/… –  Justin C Jul 8 '13 at 19:49
Don't think that one really is a dupe - a lot of the information in answers can't be done barefoot. –  Rory Alsop Jul 8 '13 at 19:55
I have done a lot of barefoot running. You can train your feet to do a lot of things. But at some point the temperatures of concrete on a hot summer day will burn your feet. You can't get around that. Humans weren't designed for concrete. You can train for rougher surfaces, but not so much hotter ones. –  theJollySin Mar 20 at 23:02

2 Answers 2

Try running on sand for your morning or evening run - sand is very good at early stages of toughening up your feet as it still spreads the load well.

Once you have toughened the skin a bit, you will be able to walk on forest trails, stone, gravel etc.

But for now, the best thing you can do is moisturise your feet - this helps the cracks smooth out so they don't dig into your foot (which is what causes a lot of the pain). Moisturise, and use a pumice stone to rub down any really hard bits of skin.

Your feet will toughen rapidly if you walk barefoot every day.

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I lifeguarded in a beach for many years where the beach was covered in iron ore pieces, kind of like walking on crushed glass mixed with sand. It wasn't painful but it did hurt and tried to avoid when possible. By the end of the summer my feet were tough enough that I have stepped on glass about 1 inch in size and it does not puncture.

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