Health Benefits of Walking Barefoot

By Larraine Roulston:

Walking barefoot is pleasant indoors, lovely on lawns, and especially invigorating along sandy beaches. You should not, however, limit yourself to just those areas. Weather permitting, walking and exercising in bare feet should be done with regularity.

To obtain proper balance, toddlers take their first steps barefoot. Those early months without shoes allow young muscles and bones in the feet to develop naturally. As we mature, the same principles apply. Walking barefoot allows better control of the foot’s position when it touches the ground, whichcan lead to the improvement of hips, knees, balance and core, as well as better strength of leg muscles.

There are many benefits of walking barefoot. As Dr. Jonathan Kaplan, orthopaedic surgeon with the Hoag Orthopaedic Institute, explains, “The most straightforward benefit to barefoot walking is that in theory, walking barefoot more closely restores our ‘natural’ walking pattern, also known as our gait.”

The enjoyment of walking barefoot is also known as “earthing” or “grounding.”  By leaving your shoes behind, your feet are in direct contact with the soil. This allows you to absorb negative electrons through Earth. Try spending more time in nature, and let your feet feel free to discover these other benefits:

  • One pilot studyrevealed that earthing will help loosen tense muscles. Test yourself after engaging in a sport, exercise, or after sitting for a lengthy period.
  • Going barefoot helps alleviate migraines.
  • Electromagnetic waves now enter our daily lives; therefore, we need to connect with nature to restore physical and emotional health. By also going barefoot, any anxiety and stress will be decreased
  • The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study that shows walking barefoot decreases the thickening of red blood cells, which reduces the risk of heart disease.
  • In this comprehensive report,researchers report an indication of the immune system’s strengtheningfromwalking barefoot.
  • Grounding induces relaxation, and is believed to stabilize our internal body clock that regulates our approximately 24-hour cycle, thus providing a better night’s sleep.
  • Walking barefoot can lessen pain that includes menstrual discomfort as well as inflammation. It was also proven to boost energy levels.

If you have spent all your waking hours in shoes, you may not have the appropriate strength in your feet to engage in a lengthy trek in bare feet. Without the additional support of shoes, be aware of weather conditions and terrain before going outdoors. Be cautious to avoid the risk of injury. Those with diabetes should consult with their doctor beforehand.

Dr. Kaplan advises that you need to be patient and begin with short 15- to 20-minute sessions of walking barefoot to allow your feet and ankles to adapt to the new environment. Try a few balance exercises such as standing on one foot, or engage in yoga barefoot. As you may have reduced sensation in your feet, examine your soles regularly for any injuries. Do not incorporate barefoot running or hiking until you have spent sufficient time preparing your feet for vigorous activities. If any pain in your heels occurs, you may require supportive shoes until your feet have healed before you begin again.

Take care of your feet by rubbing them often. Experience the feeling of going barefoot while being connected to the Earth.

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Larraine writes illustrated children’s books on composting and pollinating. Visit, www.castlecompost.com

Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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