Health Benefits of Barefeet

 


I think everyone’s goal in life is to be as healthy as they can be. We try to eat the right foods in the right amounts. We try to exercise. We try to feed our minds and better our perspective. People will do all sorts of crazy things in the name of health, from drinking apple cider vinegar or taking cold showers to having a special squatty stool when to help make stool and buying extravagantly priced copper pads from Gwyneth Paltrow.

Yet one of the simplest ways to get improve health is often overlooked. It’s simply taking off one’s shoes. Going barefoot helps reduce strain on specific muscles and begins to work under active muscles. Going barefoot can also improve our healthy through pressure points and the pores on the feet. But the benefits don’t stop with the physical, bare feet can also help our mental state and mood. Instead of paying for products, bare footers actually save on shoes and works health benefits naturally into life.

People often fear ankle injuries without the support of traditional shoes. I find this odd. Without the “support” of shoe, the feet would be free to move and would get stronger. A stronger, more flexible and limber body wouldn’t need to worry about weak ankles. For years I have been going barefoot and run up and down mountains literally in bare feet or flip flops and have never sustained an injury.

Modern shoes, especially “hikers” basically have a built-in ankle brace. But braces are not meant to be worn everyday. They are designed to help one overcome an injury while they work to strengthen their body. But if one wears ankle braces on their feet all day, they feet will be so weak and the ligaments so tight that even taking the garbage out in your slippers wrong could injury that weak ankle. But if one begins to slowly and carefully work their ankles in low stress environments, they will get stronger to reduce injury.

Injuries will also be reduced because of better responsiveness. Have you ever noticed how an athlete in one sport often seems able to effortlessly pick-up other sports? Because of their practice in one sport, they have a very strong mind body connection and are better able to adapt to new situations. When we go barefoot, it works many different muscles and revives those brain connections. And with a strong, intuitive connection, we are able to respond better when we do step on a stone or slip off the curb.

Most peoples foot pain is less specific though. So many people suffer from poor circulation and cold feet. They fear that their feet would freeze if they took their shoes and socks off, even indoors. This is backwards logic. Feet are cold with poor circulation because of the socks restrictive nature and how shoes prevent feet from actually working. Wearing shoes stop the feet from really moving so the legs take up a larger load in walking. When the foot muscles don’t need to work, there’s really no reason to circulate blood down there. But when walking barefoot and work all those muscles, the body is forced to send blood down for all the muscles. Over time, the body gets used to circulating blood everywhere and this improves circulation, and cold feet.

When people’s feet are warm and healthy, they realize how sensitive their feet actually are; their senses come alive. When the feet are freed from socks, they can actually begin to explore the world; the nerves get used to feeling and get more sensitive. The increased sensations just enhance the connection to the mind because the neural pathways get used more often.

Walking over natural ground, filled with sensory pleasures like grass, twigs, leaves or pebbles helps train the brain to pick up more. It will also strengthen the feet in a low risk way and even massage them, kind of like a foam roller can massage your limbs.

Walking on uneven ground also helps work the pressure points on the feet. The foot is full of pressure points and receptors. When the foot is massaged, it can improve the function of several body operations including the liver, heart and digestion.

Many people get worried about pain when waking barefoot. “But what about rocks? I can’t take my shoes off; my feet are too tender.” If people used that logic everywhere, they would also say “I not going to eat diner tonight, I’m too hungry”.

The only reason someone’s feet are tender is because of shoes! Shoes make feet weak, soft and tender. Going barefoot may be painful at first, just like building muscle is painful. Over time, that pain will lessen.

Because of shoes, most people have gotten used to a very heavy, heel first gait. This sends shock waves up through the body, which is damaging, but doesn’t hurt right away. However, when you’re barefoot, we get immediate, painful feedback. Our brains will do anything to avoid pain. So the brain analyses the gait and adjusts to a more natural mid-foot or toe first gait.  This is better for the mechanics of your walking, strengthens your body and lessens pain. Less pain and stress in our bodies means we can lead active, healthy, unhindered lives.

One of my favorite benefits of barefoot walking is seeing how responsive and agile I have become. Because we are motivated by pain, walking barefoot heightens our awareness. Heightened awareness, coupled with strong feet and a good mind body connection means a great response. If I step on a stone, instead of landing full force-very painfully- I can adjust mid step to shift the weight to other parts of the foot.  

Over time, your feet will develop a thin lay of fat on the soles to create a natural cushion. And even better, the more you walk, the more you wear down the skin on your feet. This makes the body work overtime to develop thicker skin and you’ll soon develop thicker skin over the soles of your feet. It always bothers me to see people using a pumice stone to rub that skin off their feet. It might be pretty, but not healthy. Thankfully, going barefoot also removes all unnatural rubbing in specific places on the feet so bare foot walkers never need to worry about corns, blisters or callouses in weird places.

Over time, the body will get stronger, more resistant to injury and even improve circulation because of going barefoot. Each of those benefits are pretty straightforward. You can see how working the ankle more strengthens it. You can see how the brain avoiding pain makes their gait more natural and healthier. But a few changes are not quite so obvious. It’s these ones I find really interesting.

Everyone knows that stress is bad and can harm not only our minds but our bodies also. Mental stress is when there’s too much to do and not enough time. Physical stress comes from mental stress, but also just being worn out. It makes our bodies tighten up, digestion gets ruined and even makes our cellular function subpar. Going barefoot can actually help with stress levels and even improve the function of our bodies, even down to a cellular level.

Most people know that our body runs on electricity, which is why pacemakers or defibrillators work. Our bodies also have a radio or vibrational frequency. The earth has a similar frequency, but it’s slightly slower than our bodies’. If you remember from physics class about thermodynamics, you’ll know that things always try to even out: temperatures dissipate, momentum returns force and electricity passing through a barrier will reduce.

Just like that, the radio waves in our body and the earth try to match each other. But because the earth is so huge, it’s got the obvious advantage. So our bodies’ frequency slows to match the earth’s. But if we’re wearing shoes, the rubber prevents us from actually connecting with the earth’s current.

When our frequency slows, we can begin healing. Chronic stress makes our hearts race, our brains mull and our cells race to keep up. But when the very frequency of our body slows, it slows all od that down and helps us relax, rest and heal. It’s amazing to think about this crazy connection and benefit.

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow is famous for natural health products and lifestyle. One of her inventions is a copper pad with a wire that travels to a spike you would drive into the ground. Because copper is a great conductor of electricity, it’s meant to bring the earth frequency right into the convenience of you home, so you can stand on the pad and slow down in your living room. I think this is brilliant. But why pay for a thousand dollar pad when you can save that money (and save from buying shoes) by just walking barefoot and getting all those benefits, plus several more?

Going barefoot also helps in another unseen way. Your feet are filled with pores, receptors and nerves. It’s a little known fact that dirt is actually good for you! Seriously, clay is filled with negative ions, which are very healthy for the body. Clay also draws toxins from the body. So when you walk over dirt in bare feet, it’s able to help you detox. Considering all the fun things I share, people often find this the easiest to believe. But they always flip it. Everyone is worried that it is dangerous to go barefoot, that we;’ll pick up disease.  

It is a little. But the chances of catching a disease in everyday life are pretty slim. Just don’t go stepping in sewage or petroleum. People often wonder about picking up disease like athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is named that because it thrives in warm, mist, dark environments, like sweaty shoes. If you don’t have shoes, it will have a hard time surviving.

Tossing our shoes can increase our physical strength, and the intricate physical workings of our body. I think it’s so neat to learn how something like the earth’s frequency can interact with ours. I wouldn’t naturally think that walking barefoot helps our cellular function. They just don’t seem related. It is also strange to think that walking can help our mental state.

Studies have shown that just walking for 15 minutes can improve mood. Walking in nature has the added bonus of allowing the mind to wander freely to help one relax and align thoughts. Some scientists cite evolutionary roots as the cause for why nature is soothing. Others attribute soothing sounds in nature as the reason. And others say it’s the linier movement that helps us arrange thoughts and focus on the thing in front of us as the cause for reduced stress. Whatever the reason, walking, and walking in nature especially, helps us calm down and improves our perspective on life. Walking barefoot increases our connection to the ground and senses, which helps promote mental awareness.

Just getting away from the constant distraction of devices is helpful for reduced stress. But sitting in your living room with the TV starting at you, with your phone on the armrest makes it hard to actually get away. Going for a walk outside makes rest a bit more achievable. And as our brains get used to different sensations on our body and gets better connections, it begins to use more parts of the brain. The more parts of the brain that get used regularly, the better.

Everyone wants to be healthy. There are benefits, physically and mentally to walking out in nature, even with shoes on. But those benefits just increase with the shoes off. Each sensation awakens the brain and helps us focus on the moment. Dirt helps us detox and being in contact with the earth helps us slow down on a cellular level. Even our limbs get stronger, more limber and resistant to injury. If we want to be healthy, I recommend taking those shoes off.

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