I have been hearing and reading that walking barefoot is a persons most natural walking posture and is therefore not as harsh on your body (knees and back specifically). There is a company out there that makes shoes that replicate the feeling of walking barefoot; they are called Vibram FiveFingers Footwear. Having knees that ache all the time and my back that gets spasms really easy, I thought I would give them a try. It said on line that a few stores in Austin carried them, so I went looking for a pair. They are apparently very popular even though they are somewhat expensive (starting at $75). No stores in Austin had any in stock in my size and had no idea when they would be getting more. In fact, they had very little inventory of these shoes and are having a hard time getting and keeping them since they are so popular. I could order them online, but if I have the sizing wrong then I have the problem of returning and guessing at the size again. I would prefer to try them on in a store so I am sure to get the right size.
Since that was a bust, at least for now, I decided to do my own experiment to see if walking barefoot really would make a difference. Every day for 2 weeks as soon as I got home I took off my shoes and walked barefoot. I used a pair of socks, but no shoes of any kind including house shoes. I was somewhat skeptical, thinking that I would not be able to tell a difference, but I could definitely tell a difference. At work I wear shoes, if course, and by the end of the work day my knees and back are really bothering me. Within a couple of hours of being at home and walking without shoes, I can feel the pain begin to ease. Taking in to consideration that the pain could also be from the stress of work, I tried this on the weekends as well. We typically go out running errands on Saturday's which usually takes around 3-5 hours. By the time we come home, my back and knees are really hurting. After walking around barefoot for a couple of hours, the pain begins to ease.
Having completed my own very informal and unscientific experiment, I am convinced that walking barefoot is not as harsh on your knees and back. Now I just need to find a pair of size 39 women's "sprint" shoe and I am set.