Walking barefoot is something we rarely do. We are used since our young age to put shoes even when we are at home. Many may be unaware that walking without shoes offers many benefits to our health. For example, when a baby learns to walk, parents are usually asked to let the process go naturally without shoes. The reason is simple: shoes can affect how the child uses the muscles and bones of his feet. Indeed, the small child receives information from the ground when walking barefoot, which improves the proprioception that is to say its ability to become aware of his body in space.
Growing up, we lose the benefits of walking because we wear our shoes at all times. If you want to know more about the benefits of walking without shoes, I’ll give you an update on this article.
Walking barefoot: what are the benefits?
The most obvious benefit of barefoot walking is that, in theory, walking restores closer to our “natural” walking pattern, also called gait. Wearing shoes even though it feels like having your feet protected does not allow us to use certain muscle groups that can actually strengthen your body. Most shoes have cushion padding that provides cushioning and excessive support. Walking barefoot allows you to better control the position of your foot when it touches the ground. It also improves balance, proprioception and body awareness, which can help relieve pain. Among other things, walking without shoes can:
- improve foot mechanics, which can lead to improved hips, knees and trunk mechanics
- maintain proper range of motion in the joints of the foot and ankle and sufficient strength and stability in the muscles and ligaments
- relieve feet of poorly fitting shoes, which can cause bunions, hammer feet or other foot deformities …
Walking barefoot: other health benefits
Without context, barefoot walking is good for the very foot. In addition to the many benefits of walking barefoot on the foot, joints, gait, there are a number of other benefits. Indeed, many nerve endings are under the foot. They are solicited during direct contact with the ground, be it earth, grass, wood, or concrete. So walking without wearing shoes, allows you to:
- to charge in energy. We are talking here about the energy system widely promoted in traditional Chinese medicine and which irrigates our organs through the meridians (or energy channels).
- Promote the entry and circulation of energies in the body and thus reduce the blockages due to stress, anxiety, daily tensions.
- Stimulate the blood circulation, fortify the venous system, and thus facilitate oxygenation and the supply of nutrients to our organs.
Walking barefoot provides the benefits of reflexology namely: to dispel tensions; release accumulated energies that do not circulate in a natural way and restore the balance of the body.
What are the potential dangers of walking and exercising barefoot?
Walking without shoes in your home is relatively safer. But when you go out, you expose yourself to potential risks that could be dangerous. Without proper foot force, you may have poor walking mechanics, increasing your risk of injury. This is especially important when you start to incorporate barefoot walking after spending a good part of your life in the shoe.
It is also important to consider the surface you are walking on. While it is more natural to walk or work barefoot, without additional padding of shoes, you can hurt yourself on the ground (rough or wet surfaces, temperature problems, glass or sharp objects on the ground, for example).
You also risk exposing your feet to harmful bacteria or infections when walking barefoot, especially outdoors.
People with diabetes should always consult their primary care physician before walking barefoot. If they suffer from peripheral neuropathy, they may be injured at the bottom of their feet without realizing it.
Walking barefoot: what to do to make the most of it?
Knowing how to walk and exercise barefoot takes time, patience and good information. Before giving up your shoes for a more natural approach to walking and exercising, there are a few things to consider.
You must be patient and start with short sessions of 15 to 20 minutes of barefoot walking. It is essential to allow your feet and ankles to adapt to the new environment. As your feet get used to walking without shoes, you can increase distance and time.
Relieve yourself if you feel new pain or discomfort. Although walking barefoot seems to be the ideal option, there are dangers to consider. Without proper foot force, you may have poor walking mechanics, increasing your risk of injury. This is especially important to consider if you are starting to incorporate barefoot walking after spending a good part of your life in the shoe.
Walk barefoot: Try it first indoors
Before you walk on the sidewalk, it may be wise to let your bare feet get used to the safe surfaces of your home. The best thing to do would be to use a surface that you know is free of anything you could accidentally walk on. Once you have mastered the interior, try walking on less dangerous exterior surfaces, such as grass, rubber tracks, sandy beaches and grass.
Think about using a minimalist shoe
While your feet are less adaptable to the structure and padding of your shoes, you may want to consider using a minimalist shoe before walking completely barefoot.
Experiment with balance exercises
If you learn to walk barefoot, you can start with simple balancing exercises, such as standing on one foot or hugging the toes and lowering slowly. Try an activity that requires being barefoot. Take advantage of activities that are already practiced barefoot, such as yoga, pilates or martial arts.
Pay attention to your feet
Examine your feet for injuries. Each day, examine the bottom of your feet to detect any possible injury, as many have less sensations in the feet. The most strenuous activities such as running barefoot or hiking should not be incorporated until you have spent enough time preparing your feet for this type of activity. If you have pain in your heels after resting or walking, you may need to return to support shoes and start again slowly when your feet are healed.
The act of walking barefoot while walking and playing sports has certain advantages, provided you follow the safety precautions and to participate in moderation. If you have concerns about your own safety or the health of your feet, talk to your doctor before exposing your bare feet to nature for an extended period.