Footloose and Fancy Free
One of the best things about nature is that it is there for us to engage with however and whenever we want. So sure, today is National Go Barefoot Day, but the forest floor, the grass, and the stream don’t know that. We can go barefoot any day and have the same experience of being one with the ground on which we walk. Though, once you try it, you may get hooked.
The benefits of going barefoot are many and people from marathon runners to grandmas use barefoot walking to:
- Reduce pain and inflammation - as you can read in this study, barefoot walking can give a cathartic release.
- Strengthen your feet - and this study corroborates a lot of people’s experience that being barefoot can make your entire feet, legs, and sometimes core stronger.
- Reduce stress - research also shows that by grounding our feet in the earth, we can decrease our levels of stress, and that can help with all sorts of things including sleep.
Sound interesting to you? Wanna try it? Start with short walks on soft surfaces. So don’t run your normal 5K without shoes. Walk in the closest grass you can find for a few minutes. If you love it, extend your time. If you really love it, you may want to find some barefoot shoes and learn a few tricks from the experts.
Anyone, anywhere can dig their toes into the ground and do what the scientists call “grounding.” This means getting hooked up to the surface of the earth for a few minutes or longer to get back into connection with the natural world.
I learned about barefoot walking from Pilates instructor and general body alignment expert Lara London. She taught me to walk, and then to run, barefoot. It sounds intuitive but really, when we go from shoes to barefoot life, there are some skills to re-learn. So find someone to talk to about it. There are more barefoot advocates out there than you can possibly imagine once you start looking. You can also look for barefoot tips on YouTube or on some barefoot running websites.
Finally, if you want to get really into it, read the book I read when I started walking and running barefoot - Born to Run by Christopher MacDougall. I was mesmerized by the book, and it helped me get really jazzed up to try giving a more barefoot lifestyle a try.