Most of us tend to frown upon people who kick their sandals off to walk barefoot. We automatically start thinking it to be part of some kind of hippie ‘new age’ bohemian philosophy – linked to being irresponsible and reckless.
However, you’ll be surprised to know that walking barefoot, also known as “earthing”, has gone from being an outlandish counter-culture trend to a practice strongly backed by scientific research, one that comes with a series of wonderful health benefits.
Health Benefits Of Walking Barefoot
Here are a few reasons why you should consider walking barefoot – be it on grass, concrete, wood, ceramic tiles, sand, or rounded pebbles.
1. Neutralizes Electrical Charge
Your body emits positive charge regularly, while the earth conducts a healthy amount of negative charge along with free radicals. Since your body and the earth are both conductive to each other, walking barefoot promotes a healthy balance of positive and negative charge, which in turn is responsible for keeping your internal bioelectrical system stable.
We all need a healthy dose of the earth’s negative ions, especially because we live in a world abundant with positive ions. Your laptop, cell phone, tablets, televisions, microwave, and anything else with a power source that gives out bluetooth, wifi – all emit positive ions. Walking around in an environment bombarded with positive electric charge with the soles of our feet covered, keeps us disconnected from the earth’s natural negative charge. Your body, as a result, is getting flooded with pro-inflammatory positive ions, with no negative ions to balance this out.
2. Improves Body Balance
When you bring the soles of your feet in contact with the ground, it stimulates the vestibular system which is responsible for balance and coordination. This way, it remaps the loop of neural circuits and helps improve your balance. This is especially helpful as you grow older, for you may find yourself losing balance and coordination rapidly as the neurons in your brain start degenerating. Walking barefoot will aid in sending signals from the receptors embedded in your soles to the nerves in your brain. So if you’re walking barefoot on the grass, the potential signals sent from the receptors of the soles will spark your neural circuits and help maintain body balance.
3. Helps Provide Blood Circulation To Your Feet
You may not realize it but your feet work very hard to help you move from one place to another. For this reason, it is equally important for your feet to receive a healthy circulation of blood from time to time. Even though it is natural for you to think that there will be enough blood around the soles of your feet because of the principle of gravity, the truth is that the blood in your body faces a lot of resistance when it tries to circulate down to your feet. In order to counter the force, it is advisable to walk on the floor without your shoes whenever possible.
4. Reduces The Risk Of Heart Disease
It is suggested that walking barefoot optimizes the surface charge of the red blood cells in your blood, thus inhibiting the blood from thickening. Highly viscous blood means a higher risk of heart disease, Therefore by walking barefoot, you can keep cardiac emergencies well at bay.
5. Lowers Your Blood Pressure
It has been proven that walking barefoot, especially on cobblestones can significantly help in lowering your blood pressure.
Walking on rocks is akin to a reflexology therapy, which stimulates acupressure points on the soles which are connected to distant, almost seemingly unrelated areas of your body. According to an ancient acupressure/ acupuncture meridian theory, the kidney channel begins at the sole of the foot, where it’s called Kidney 1 or “Gushing Spring”. Stimulation of this area is known to bring the excess energy down from the head. This has the physiological effect of lowering blood pressure.
Why cobblestone walking lowers blood pressure is unclear. One possibility is that it acts like a gravity-based massage that relaxes the body and lowers blood pressure in the process.
6. Strengthens Feet Muscles
This works especially when you’re running on surfaces with loosely packed soil, smooth pebbles, or sand. Have you noticed that it’s a bit of a struggle to take a step forward in sand, because of how your foot tends to sink into it? That’s basically your foot muscles working hard to get you moving forward! By walking on sand, your body consumes 2.1-2.7 times more energy than it does when walking on a hard surface at the same speed, and while running on sand the body spends 1.6 times more energy than it does when running on a hard surface.1 This energy is spent in strengtheFning every single muscle between your feet and back, including your glutes, calves, and quadriceps.
The dryer the sand you’re walking or running on, the harder your muscles have to work… though some runners may prefer the wetter sand that more firm in order to maintain proper form.
Similarly, by walking barefoot on cobblestone pathways, your feet are given the chance to use the full set of muscles designed for natural human stride, starting with a gentle roll of the heel and ending with a push-off at the toes.
7. Helps Burn Calories
Research claims that you can expect to burn roughly 50% more calories by walking or running on sand than you would normally burn on a paved ground.
Since the body requires extra energy to work your foot muscles when you walk barefoot on sand, or on pebbles, it also means that there are more calories being burned in order to supply that additional energy.
8. Naturally Exfoliating
Walking barefoot on rough surfaces, such as fine gravel, concrete, or sand is as good as a foot spa! The wet particles as a natural exfoliant that helps remove dead skin cells from the upper layers of the skin on the soles of your feet. The next time you go walking or running on loose sand or concrete, notice the bottom of your feet – you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find how baby soft and fresh the skin on your soles feel!
9. Improves Sleep
Being exposed to a constant onslaught of electrical radiations can cause serious headaches, migraines, and can hence result in disturbed sleep patterns. Walking barefoot is related with reduction of harmful free radicals in your body which works in favor of fighting headaches and migraines. It also stabilizes the circadian rhythm of our body which helps you get better sleep at night.
10. Enhances Posture
Sitting hunched up for long hours at your work desk leads to a faulty posture which is bound to result in severe back pain. Walking barefoot helps maintain the normal alignment of your body with respect to the center of the gravity so as to ward off a series of functional and structural problems.
11. Prevents Foot Abnormalities
In this present day and age, we tend to walk less and commute more by cars, trains, planes, and buses. Because of this fairly inactive lifestyle, the amount of blood supplied to our feet is automatically compromised on, and this increases risks of various foot abnormalities such as plantar fasciitis, bunion, and hammertoes, which are not only terribly uncomfortable but also adversely affect your mobility. Walking barefoot for a while every day reduces your chances of facing such health problems.
12. Improves Eyesight
The soles of your feet have multiple reflexology zones that are linked to various organs within your body, including your eyes. Walking barefoot applies maximum pressure on your first, second and third toes which form the main reflexology pressure points for your eyes. Stimulating these particular points not only helps to improve your eyesight but also helps in keeping the entire body healthy.
Additionally, the color green helps soothe your eyes. It is also said that walking on fresh morning dew is highly beneficial for eyesight.
Walking barefoot was and still is one of the most primal instincts for mankind. Simply walking on the earth, whatever element that may be is part of human nature. Besides, being out in nature is a great way to start your morning as well as end your evening. Go ahead, kick off your shoes and reestablish your relationship with nature.
|↑1||Lejeune, Thierry M., Patrick A. Willems, and Norman C. Heglund. “Mechanics and energetics of human locomotion on sand.” Journal of Experimental Biology 201, no. 13 (1998): 2071-2080.|