September 20, 2021
Benefits of Walking Barefoot
For those wanting to find new ways to connect with nature, there are plenty of new ideas and inspiration out there. One way to take connecting to nature to an entirely new level is through earthing.
What is earthing?
Not sure what earthing is? Well, in a nutshell, earthing is when you walk barefoot. This doesn’t just mean in the safety of your garden and house; earthing means you part from your old faithful shoes as much as possible. Whether that’s hiking in the mountains, walking through your local fields or footpaths, or more day to day living; earthing is practised globally and is seen by those who partake as a completely holistic way to get back to nature, on your terms.
The science behind walking barefoot
Scientific research into ‘earthing’ involves tests that saw participants connect with the earth’s surface through conductive systems. The research found that conducting this energy had a positive impact on participants; from affecting emotional health, to reducing inflammation - pain reduction was recorded, as was less emotional stress. The earth has its own energy, and transferring this energy was found to be not only healthy for our bodies, but also our state of mind.
The five key benefits of walking barefoot:
It helps reduce stress
As we know, walking regularly is a great way to release stress, keep fit, and connect with nature. People often take a walk to emotionally connect with themself, and work through the day’s events, or worries, and work them through. Walking barefoot sees you embrace the elements and the environment around you at an even deeper level. Providing natural release from stress, anxiety and depression, walking barefoot allows you to harness this connection even more.
It improves muscle function
Walking barefoot keeps all your joints, muscles and ligaments working as they should. This can help you maintain the strength, stability, and range of movement as humans were designed to. The muscles in your feet become stronger and reactive as opposed to relying on layers of shock absorption from shoes. Walking barefoot can help our body strengthen; from developing stronger leg muscles and better foot mechanics, to the way we use our hips and knees as we move. Letting your feet work in their natural way aligns your whole body as it is supposed to be.
It can reduce pain
Due to the nature of walking barefoot, you will steadily improve your balance and proprioception (our special awareness of what’s around us). As you are relying on your feet alone when walking barefoot, your body naturally puts it to its limits, without overdoing it or causing unnecessary stress on your body. This prevents long term injuries such as hip replacements, caused by continually pounding your feet more than they can take.
You’ll feel a greater sense of freedom and connection with nature
Our body works as one, meaning everything is intricately connected, and this doesn’t change when we take our shoes off. When our feet come in contact with the ground and the earth beneath us, we connect to nature and our surroundings in a way that’s pretty incomparable. This is because you are in an environment where you rely on your feet to work with the earth’s surface. It can help us to feel connected to the world around us with greater feeling than ever before. The planet has a natural charge, and when we have direct contact with it, it can feel good, connect you to the earth, and allow you to recalibrate and set your own pace, staying within your own boundaries.
It uses our feet in the way they were designed
Walking or running barefoot allows you to use your body in the way it has been designed for thousands of years. Our feet have a great number of nerve endings for a reason; evolution has developed and designed something that can withstand impact, pain, and adapt to its surroundings. Walking barefoot gives you more control of how and where your feet impact the ground and lets us use our body naturally, as it was designed to. After all, our feet have a higher concentration of muscles, ligaments and tendons than many other parts of our body, and when you use them without support, you will find they adapt and strengthen, meaning we can rely on our body to work with the surface below, taking on impact and toughening overtime to cover rougher terrain.
As a brand that encourages people to reconnect with nature and the environment around them, Nick Fletcher, our founder thinks the activity should be encouraged and it becomes more well-known and popular:
“I wouldn’t be encouraging people to take off their socks and shoes around the streets of central London! However, in an outdoors and nature setting, the benefits of this - both physically, mentally, and holistically - are profound. The idea of feeling rooted and connected to the planet around us brings us closer to the earth’s own energy and is something I believe we should all be stopping and doing by hitting pause and slowing down for a moment to re-centre and reconnect.”
How do you start out as a barefoot walker and what do you need to know? Nick shares three tips for beginners:
#1 - Find a friend to do it with you on a safe surface
“When I first tried this myself, there is an element of “looking odd” or knowing this isn’t the norm. Put others’ opinions aside and find a like-minded friend or companion to do this with you. Much like meditation, it requires a certain outlook on life, the world, and the planet around you to get into something like this. Finding a safe, quieter spot with a friend to try barefoot walking would be a good idea for a beginner. Perhaps a park, garden or beach would be a good starting point; you need to allow your foot muscles and body to be used to walking without a structure attached all the time. Start slow in a 15-minute interval, and build it up to longer time outdoors, or even running.”
#2 - Remind yourself of the holistic benefits and why you are doing it
“It’s actually a completely natural thing to do. As humans, when we get to the beach, our first instinct is to remove footwear and walk barefoot across the sand. Why do you think that is? Sure there is an element of liking the feeling of sand between our toes, but think a little deeper into why we even like that sensation... The coast is one of the most nature-rich settings in the world; where land meets sea. Our human instinct to be part of the moment and energy. And when we are at the coast, that is what innately drives the urge to touch the sandy ground. Refreshing your memory of the benefits both mentally and physically is important.”
#3 - Ditch the attitudes on shoes
“I am not anti-shoe, and I wouldn’t suggest we all start going to meetings or occasions without footwear! Barefoot walking is not a realistic, full-time solution, but in planned sessions, is more than enough to gain the physical but nature connected benefits. It might feel bizarre at first as you’ve been walking all your life in shoes and feel like you know what you’re doing. But walking in footwear is a different style to your natural stance, so allow your body to fluidly move over land without too much restriction. There are some great minimalist shoe brands out there that fully believe in the physical benefits of barefoot walking, so it’s worth checking Xero Shoes Vibram and Vivobarefoot out before embarking, if some cover would make you feel more comfortable.”
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