Gone are the days when walking barefoot was considered a kooky counter-culture trend. Walking barefoot outside in nature has innumerable benefits—it’s relaxing and energizing, and it helps clear your mind of depression, reduce inflammation, and increase volume of antioxidants.
One of the more obvious benefits of walking barefoot is that we have a connection to the earth and it’s magnetic field. The practice is also known as “earthing” and it involves walking barefoot on grass, soil, or sand. You have to be on a natural surface, which means walking on that sidewalk doesn’t count. A great book to read to learn more about this is the book Earthing by: Clinton Ober.
1. Balances Energy: Earthing helps balance your energy—more specifically, your ions. The surface of the earth is considered to have a negative ionic charge, while the atmosphere, our bodies, and invisible waves emitted by cell phones and wifi possess mostly positive charges. Too many positive ions can cause irritability, sleeplessness, tension and migraines. Nature aims for balance, so the positive and negative ions transfer from your feet to the ground and vice versa, helping you relieve stress and sleep better at night.
2. Strengthens Feet: Walking barefoot is a simple way to strengthen the stabilizing muscles of the ankle and feet. It will improve the overall mobility and flexibility of your feet. This also gives you a wider range of motion.
3. Relieves Tension, Improves Sleep: By being grounded it relieves tension and removes positive ions to make way for negative ions. Negative ions are relaxing and help you to improve sleep quality. Ever go swimming in the lake or ocean and slept great that night? I also personally believe that walking barefoot helps to balance your circadian rhythm to give you better awake/asleep conscious awareness.
4. Improves Overall Health: Walking is a simple and often overlooked form of exercise, and being barefoot and outside is exponentially more beneficial to your overall health than logging miles on a treadmill. The barefoot component allows all the small muscles and joints in your feet to flex, compress, and stretch in many directions, such that you may feel sore after your first session(s). Most shoes are designed with heel elevation, so removing that factor allows your calves and Achilles tendons to stretch with each stride. Plus, being outside means breathing fresher air and, weather permitting, getting some energy and vitamin D from the sun.
It is never too late to explore the benefits of walking barefoot. It’s not a rocket science either – just slip off your shoes and place your bare feet on the ground for a few minutes. In the beginning, you should look for naturally softer grounds like dirt paths, grass, and sand. Once your muscles and joints in your feet and ankles strengthen a bit, you can then switch to a wider variety of surfaces.