Hey, why don’t you take your shoes off and stay awhile? Barefoot Walk! You won’t regret it! No, seriously, there’s this new thing going around called “grounding” or “earthing” but in everyday terms, it just means going barefoot on a regular basis. And it apparently has a ton of surprising health benefits – check it out!
1. You’ll have better balance without your shoes
You might feel a little weird and wobbly at first. And that’s because we’re all used to walking on the flattened surface of our soles. But with time, you’ll get accustomed to feeling the little dips and rises in the Earth’s terrain. Your feet will adjust, bringing in help from your brain and inner ear to keep you balanced on this new unfamiliar ground! So go for a barefoot walk.
2. More muscle definition
While your brain and inner ear are working to improve your balance, they’ll recruit your leg muscles to keep you from falling over. So as soon as your foot feels a dip in the ground and you barefoot walk, your muscles will react to keep your center of weight from shifting. If you go on regular barefoot walks, you should see some nice muscle definition.
3. You can lose some weight
Even just getting up off the couch and moving around means you’ll be burning calories. So even if you’re trying the trend to get in on some of these other health benefits, a lower number on the scale may surprise you!
4. You won’t get sick as often
There’s a reason kids are encouraged to go outside and play in the yard barefoot. Going without shoes naturally boosts your immune system. You get exposed to those little microbes and stuff and build immunity to them. Not to mention, if you’re out in the sun for a few minutes a day, you’re getting your daily dose of vitamin D, which is crucial for immune support. Get ready because you could see yourself taking fewer sick days throughout the year!
5. Faster healing
If someone is injured or recovering from surgery, doctors try to get them to walk as much as possible. That’s not without reason: walking helps them heal faster. The long-term benefits are worth the initial discomfort they may experience. This is an added perk of boosting your immune system by taking a daily barefoot walk outside – even if you’re just hoping that pimple on your chin will go away faster!
6. You’ll have better posture
Hey, are you slouching over and looking down at your phone as you’re reading this article right now? Yeah, you, me, and everybody else currently. When people spend so much of their day looking down at their screens, their backs begin to naturally hunch forward. Walking without your sneakers will help troubleshoot this problem, as well as soothe back and shoulder muscles. Doing this once a day means improved posture over time.
7. The perks of stress relief
The next time you’re feeling stressed, take a break and take a hike! The stimulation of the nerve endings on the bottoms of your feet help lower your stress levels, which will then reduce blood pressure. Having regularly controlled blood pressure means you’re less likely to have heart or cardiovascular issues!
8. No more sleep troubles
A study was done with a group of people that had trouble falling and staying asleep. They slept on grounding sheets for a period of 8 weeks. At the end of the trial, 11 of the 12 participants shared that they fell asleep much faster, and they all woke up fewer times throughout the night. Not that you must get those fancy “grounding “sheets for your bed – going for a daily barefoot stroll will be enough. And with better sleep comes.
9. More energy
When athletes cross-train for events especially runners, they often practice running on sand. This challenges their bodies to build their stamina and helps them use distinct muscles. It’s the same when walking barefoot. If you can take your shoe-free stroll on some sand, then go for it! Your body will adjust to the new challenge, so your energy will increase, giving you more productivity throughout the day.
10. Mental clarity
Going barefoot walk makes you more aware of how and where you step. You get more “in tune” with both nature and your body. Advocates of “grounding” explain that the Earth is charged with negative ions that produce positive effects in our bodies, some of which include mental clarity and improved concentration. That, and all the other things on this list!
11. You’ll build resistance and strength
It might seem like a kind of useless perk to get in on, but if you can toughen up your feet, it can come in handy! Ever had your dog dart out the door as you open it for the delivery guy? Unless you’re strolling around your house in your shoes, you must bolt after that fluffy little escapee in your bare feet!
12. It stimulates your whole body
Ok, a lot of these health benefits have one thing in common: nerve stimulation. Going barefoot walk is like free acupressure! You know, acupressure: the practice of massaging certain points on your body for improved overall health. As for the bottom of your feet, they have points that correspond to specific organs. If you walk on them outside, it invigorates different systems throughout your body. This lowers your risk of developing certain diseases, like arthritis, heart problems, and lung issues.
13. Your vision will improve
Certain pressure points in your feet are directly connected to the nerves in your eyes. Morning barefoot walk can help with clarity of vision, figuratively and literally! Studies also show that walks in the early part of the day help get the blood flowing and increase your alertness for hours.
14. No more chronic pain
There are fewer things more difficult to live with than chronic pain. People with these ailments often grow discouraged, wondering if they’ll ever find relief. Electrons in the Earth’s surface help the oxygen levels in our bodies naturally go up, thereby reducing the discomfort. If you’ve tried everything to no avail, it might be time to get up close and personal with your grass.
How to get started:
To begin your new “grounding” lifestyle, pick a setting. In order to feel closer to the Earth, it’s helpful to begin on surfaces like grass, soil, sand, and turf. If you don’t have immediate access to natural surfaces, try looking up trails or stadiums with turf in your area. Parks are a good idea too, but only if they’re clean. You never know if someone broke some glass or forgot to clean up. Once you find a nice clean place, take off your shoes, and enjoy the good stuff nature has to offer!
If you’re a little hesitant about going full-on bare-bottomed (I mean your feet!), you can try “Five Finger” shoes (or “minimalist “shoes). They were originally created for sports like yacht racing and hiking, but they’re gaining popularity even among everyday folks. They’re sort of like gloves for your feet, and people who’ve made the switch swear that they’ll never go back to regular footwear. They also say they’ve seen amazing physical and mental health benefits as well! And probably plenty of curious stares and funny remarks.
But do exercise some caution! You don’t want to go without shoes in places like streets, roads, the gym, public showers, or the pool, because, well, obviously. Those places are crawling with potential sharp pointy hazards, bacteria, fungi, and infections waiting to happen.
Don’t assume that your bathroom floor is okay – it’s also covered in germs! On that note, you also want to avoid walking on flat hard surfaces (like the tile or wood floors in your home), especially first thing in the morning. Your feet thrive on natural and soft surfaces instead. That’s why God made slippers.
If you have specific problems like flat feet, then this movement probably isn’t for you. People who need arch support should stick to specially designed shoes and inserts. Without them, the health risks are real: back and leg pain, fatigue, arthritis, ligament inflammation. Yeah, all things that are best avoided. - Finally, remember to start small with varying increments of time.
Try taking a barefoot walk outside and fully feeling the Earth beneath your feet, beginning with 5- to 15-minute sessions. Like all new practices, it’ll take your feet time to adjust. The last thing you want is to get injured because you were a little overzealous! Did you love playing outside without shoes on when you were a kid, and would you try it again now?