Some of you probably walk barefoot around at home. But did you know people walk and run barefoot outdoors as well? It may have you wonder about the walking barefoot benefits nobody’s talking about.
Think about it: When a toddler learns to walk, experts suggest to have them practice when barefoot over using shoes. Why?
Because the shoes may affect how toddlers use their feet’s bones and muscles. They will also get more feedback from the surface they walk on, improving proprioception or the awareness of their bodies.
The same goes for us walking barefoot, which is why more people are practicing it. But before you head outside without shoes, read on to see how this is good for you.
Is It Better to Walk Barefoot or With Shoes?
Daniel E. Lieberman, an evolutionary biologist, showed how running in cushioned sneakers would encourage people to hit the surface even harder than running barefoot.
That is why, in some ways, walking barefoot on concrete (or other surfaces) is more beneficial compared to using cushioned shoes. Besides toddlers walking barefoot, gymnasts and martial artists perform barefoot, as this increases their connection with the surface. Racecar drivers would also wear hard-soled shoes boosting sensitivity.
While cushioned shoes add comfort, they reduce functionality and balance as we lose touch with the ground.
That said, we can’t deny that walking with shoes also has its benefits. For instance, it acts as a protective barrier against sharp objects on the ground.
If you are a healthy adult without any severe medical conditions, then walking barefoot may be a great exercise you should try. We’ll get into the exact walking barefoot benefits in the next section!
Walking Barefoot Benefits
Here are walking barefoot benefits one can experience:
Walking Barefoot Increases Proprioception
Proprioception, as mentioned above, is the sense perceived through how we move our body, which includes our sense of balance and equilibrium. When walking barefoot on treadmill, concrete, grass, or other surfaces, we get to feel the ground directly. It allows us to work on our posture, which improves our core strength and allows our body to move efficiently.
Furthermore, it allows us to increase our spatial awareness, and it would also ground us, feeling more connected to Earth. Through barefoot walking, we develop even better senses and become even more alert and present. In fact, barefoot walkers may be less likely to step on any sharp objects compared to shoe wearers because of this!
Speaking of being connected to Earth, there are also spiritual benefits to walking barefoot. It is considered therapeutic, and when combined with a calming walk, the entire activity reduces stress and uplifts our spirits.
Prevent Varicose Veins
While those with varicose veins shouldn’t go barefoot too often, walking barefoot can prevent varicose veins in those who aren’t at risk. It will increase blood flow to our veins, which allows our leg muscles to circulate blood flow to our heart better. That’s why walking barefoot is very beneficial to women who wear high heels daily!
Reduce Joint Inflammation
Body pain, particularly in the back, knees, and hips, may be rooted in the way we walk. Often, heeled shoes would negatively affect our gait, causing that pain.
Walking barefoot is grounding and will train our bodies to walk more naturally. As a result, some of the pain we feel around our feet, back, hips, and neck will lessen.
Strengthen Your Feet
Experts believe that walking or running with shoes would weaken our ankles and feet because we depend on them for strength and stability. When walking barefoot, we engage all muscles of the legs, feet, and toes to make them stronger. That way, you are less prone to injuries with more balance, agility, and strength.
Our bodies also become more robust as we burn calories and walk in different inclines. So if you’re wondering about the barefoot walking benefits for weight loss, rejoice! You can shed weight as you walk barefoot, just like when performing other exercises, provided you maintain a healthy diet, too.
Does Walking Barefoot Boost Your Immune System?
One added benefit of walking barefoot is how it can increase our immune system.
A comprehensive report published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health showed how walking barefoot may help in strengthening our immune systems. The white blood cells decreased while red blood cells increased, which hinted at improved immunity.
Another study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that earthing or walking barefoot wounds increase red blood cells’ surface charge. It reduces cell clumping, decreasing blood thickness. As a result, it can reduce our risk of heart disease.
In another recent study, medical practitioners confirmed that electrons present from the Earth could help improve our body’s immune system. Besides that, earthing will increase our body’s oxygen levels, reducing acute or chronic pain in our bodies. That means walking barefoot on grass helps keep us healthy!
What Happens to Your Feet If You Never Wear Shoes?
When you wean off wearing shoes and start walking barefoot, or at least use barefoot walking shoes then your feet will end up being way healthier. As time goes by, you grow accustomed to doing this, to the point you start to reap the walking barefoot benefits offered.
However, if you were accustomed to wearing shoes, you will want to start walking barefoot slowly to avoid injuring your feet.
Try minimalist shoes first, (you can find suggestions and compare prices of minimalist shoes here), and feel the way your body adjusts. When there is no pain or discomfort felt after a few weeks of walking, then you can start walking barefoot for short periods, then work your way up. Furthermore, practice an excellent walking technique and opt to start in safe, outdoor spaces.
Wrapping It Up
If you would like to start walking barefoot yourself, make sure you start off slowly and see how it goes from there.