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The Science Behind Going Barefoot: How It Can Benefit Your Whole Body

Updated: Apr 13, 2023


Have you ever walked barefoot on the grass or sand and felt an instant connection to the earth? It feels liberating and refreshing. But there's more to going barefoot than the simple joy of feeling the ground beneath your feet. Research shows that walking barefoot can have remarkable benefits for your whole body, from improving your balance and strength to boosting your immune system. This article will explore the science behind going barefoot and how it can benefit our physical and mental health. We'll also give you some healthy living tips to make the most of this simple and effective practice.

So kick off those shoes and join us on a journey of barefoot discovery!


Stabilizes and strengthen


Walking barefoot not only improves your balance and strength, but it can also help brain development. Studies show that your brain sends improved signals to your muscle groups, improving your balance. The arch of the foot is similar to the lumbopelvic core, which contains local stabilizers and global movers. This means that intrinsic and extrinsic muscles control the stability and movement of our feet. The problem is that clinicians usually ignore the intrinsic muscles. They tend to work on the support of the foot instead of training those muscles to function at their full potential. If they where strengthened, the arch muscles could prevent many injuries, including Plantar fasciitis.


Grounding benefit


Studies show that walking barefoot can provide an immune-boosting effect. Compared to other body parts, our feet have the most nerve endings and sweat glands, which can release toxins from our bodies when stimulated. Walking barefoot on different surfaces can also expose our bodies to natural microorganisms and bacteria, strengthening our immune system. While some may worry about the potential harm these microorganisms can cause, they are harmless and can help build our immunity.

While we've discussed how walking barefoot can benefit our immune system, there are additional perks to ditching our shoes. Research shows that walking barefoot can positively impact our mental health. Walking barefoot allows us to connect with nature and feel grounded, promoting a sense of calm and reducing stress levels. It can also increase our awareness of our surroundings, allowing us to be more mindful and present in the moment.


In addition, walking barefoot can stimulate nerve endings in our feet and promote better circulation, which can aid in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms. Walking barefoot stimulates pressure points on our feet corresponding to various body parts, promoting relaxation and well-being.


This mind-body connection is essential to our overall health,

and walking barefoot is a simple yet effective way to promote physical and mental wellness.


A study found that the vast supply of electrons and microorganisms our bodies come into contact with when barefoot could be why it works. The clinical studies reported that patients had reduced stress levels, reduced chronic pains, including migraines, and better sleep. More research needs to be conducted, but they also noted that travelers found it helpful when changing time zones and their immune systems, helping them to adapt to their new local diets. Another study mentioned that integrative and lifestyle medicine should include grounding in their plans. During a decade-long study involving 25 schools, going barefoot resulted in improved behavior and reduced anxiety of the children.


Healthy Living Tips on going barefoot


To make the most out of the benefits of going barefoot, there are a few healthy living tips that you can incorporate into your daily routine. First and foremost, it's essential to maintain proper hygiene to prevent infections or foot problems. Make sure to wash your feet regularly and keep them dry, especially if you walk barefoot in public places.

Another important tip is to start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you spend walking barefoot. Going from wearing shoes all the time to walking barefoot for extended periods can strain your feet, leading to discomfort or injuries. Start with short walks on a soft surface and work your way up to longer walks on rougher terrain.


Stretching is also crucial to keep your feet healthy and prevent injuries. Before and after your barefoot walks, take some time to stretch your feet and toes to improve circulation and flexibility. You can find many simple foot stretches online that you can do at home, such as toe curls or ankle rotations.


Lastly, it's important to be aware of any foot problems or pain and seek medical attention if needed. If you experience discomfort while walking barefoot or notice any unusual changes in your feet, don't hesitate to consult a healthcare professional.


Incorporating these healthy living tips into your routine can enhance the benefits of going barefoot and promote overall wellness. So go ahead, kick off your shoes, and enjoy the benefits that walking barefoot can bring to your body and mind.


In conclusion, the benefits of going barefoot go far beyond the feeling of grass between your toes. Not only does it improve stability and strength, boost your immune system, and provide mental health benefits, but reflexology and pressure points can also offer many advantages. As we strive towards a healthier lifestyle, incorporating barefoot walking into our daily routine is a simple and effective way to do so. So shed your shoes, connect with nature, and experience the difference it can make for your whole body.

As the great philosopher Plato once said,

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea."

Let's add barefoot to that list.


References

  1. Children with no shoes on 'do better in classroom', major study finds, Independent (2016) https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/schools-encouraged-to-adopt-noshoes-policy-to-improve-pupils-learning-and-behaviour-a7044576.html

  2. Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the human body to the Earth's surface electrons, PubMed (2012) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22291721/

  3. Integrative and lifestyle medicine strategies should include Earthing (grounding): Review of research evidence and clinical observations, PubMed (2019) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31831261/

  4. The foot core system: a new paradigm for understanding intrinsic foot muscle function, British Journal of Sports Medicine https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/49/5/290.full

  5. Grounding the Body Improves Sleep Quality in Patients with Mild Alzheimer's Disease: A Pilot Study, PubMed (2022) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35327058/

  6. The Effect of Earthing Mat on Stress-Induced Anxiety-like Behavior and Neuroendocrine Changes in the Rat, PubMed (2022) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36672565/


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