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Being in contact with the Earth’s surface has surprising advantages. Escape today’s modernised work and connect with Mother Nature herself by going barefoot. Learn about what taking your shoes off will do for your health below.
Better foot mechanics
Having your feet in shoes has similarities to wearing a cast. When you have shoes on, your arches will be supported and your ankles stabilised. However, this will feed complacency and reliance on shoes as support.
Walking barefoot will teach the feet to support themselves. Barefoot walking will stretch the muscles, tendons and ligaments, allowing for a better range of motion in the toe and ankle joints. By going barefoot, you will also activate the correct muscles required for walking, thereby strengthening your feet. This, in turn, will allow for better balance and control of foot positioning.
Your feet support the weight of your entire body. If you have an injury to your feet or ankles, your body mechanics must adapt. You may have to shift to one side to take the weight off the other side, internally rotate your knee or even change your posture. This may prevent the use of quintessential muscle groups that strengthen and stabilise your body.
Injury prevention starts at the level of the feet and ankles. Correct body mechanics, stronger muscles and good posture will support the rest of the body, including the back. This will result in a lower chance of injury.
A part of human nature
Walking on earth is part of human nature. Our ancestors went barefoot to train their balance, proprioception and body awareness.
Connect further with nature by spending a weekend away, barefoot and outdoors. Feel the grass between your toes, sunshine on your face and the wind through your hair.
Photo Credit: Heather Katsoulis via Flickr under License
Earthing or grounding is the process of direct contact with the Earth. The Earth contains a slight negative charge, whereas our bodies build up a positive electrical charge over time. Earthing counteracts this positive charge. Negative ions are absorbed by the Earth, returning our bodies to a neutral, stable state.
Think of earthing as an electrical detox.
Acupressure is used in traditional Chinese medicine. Acupressure involves the stimulation of pressure points in the body. This encourages blood flow to your tired muscles and promotes relief from painful muscles and recovery. It may also help to release endorphins and anti-inflammatory substances. This attenuates the symptoms of pain.
Walking barefoot will simulate a similar process to a foot massage. The different textures and levels in the ground will stimulate these acupressure points.
Clears your mind
There are thousands of receptors in the foot, many of these being located on the underside of the foot. These receptors are capable of sensing movement, pain, touch and pressure.
When you’re not wearing shoes, you have to pay attention to each step you take. Whether it be to avoid a wet surface, sharp area or an object, you will be more aware of your surroundings.
This increased awareness of the present moment will help you focus on what is happening in the present and cherish these moments.
In this fast-paced, technology-centred world, it can be hard to find time to get sufficient sleep or to switch your brain off at night. Earthing has wonderful benefits. It helps to stabilise circadian rhythms so you can get enough good quality sleep each night.
Going barefoot has a multitude of health benefits. From earthing to better foot mechanics and injury prevention, it’s no surprise why many are shifting towards this lifestyle. Follow safety precautions and gradually increase the amount of contact between your feet and the Earth. You will reap the benefits of going barefoot.
Johanna is an outdoors enthusiast based in the windy city of Wellington, New Zealand. Johanna’s love of nature means more often than not you’ll find her exploring the outdoors. Discover more of Johanna’s work on Musings of Johanna.