It might seem hard to believe, but taking your shoes off and standing, walking or running barefoot could have profound health benefits including more effective self-healing, reduction in pain and inflammation, better sleep and more energy.
This connection of bare feet with the Earth is known as grounding, and the concept itself is quite a simple one. By joining the soles of your feet with the negative surface charge of the Earth, you can connect with this natural energy which helps to stabilise the electric charges that run through our human bodies. Think of it like plugging into the electrons within the Earth’s surface and harnessing that energy to help stabilise the body.
No Need to Wear Shoes
For us in the modern world, ditching our shoes, which we have always been conditioned to wear whenever leaving the house, and walking, or even running, barefoot might seem quite strange and awkward.
But take a moment to ponder that humans wearing shoes is actually a modern concept, with the first running shows only being invented in the 1970’s. As humans, we survived for millions of years without wearing shoes.
The fact is, our feet were designed to do their job without the aid of shoes. The main benefit that shoes bring us is that they protect our feet from injury by stepping on sharp objects. Yet, the benefits of walking barefoot could outweigh any benefits that wearing shoes brings.
Benefits of Walking and Running Barefoot
For example, it is claimed that there is less chance of injuries such as sprained ankles when walking or running barefoot. This is due to the change in the way we walk or run when wearing shoes as opposed to not. The way that shoes cushion the impact also changes the way the foot moves and the speed of the steps we take. Many running shoes have been found to cause runners to strike the ground with the heel first, which can lead to greater risk of injuries.
For runners who go barefoot, they land on their fore foot or flat foot which causes less of a collision force that often is the cause of repetitive injury. Therefore, running barefoot actually protects the feet and legs from impact-related injuries. Does all this sound impossible? Well, think of marathon runners in Africa who run long distances without shoes and without pain or injury.
So, running barefoot not only means you will be less likely to suffer injury but you will also get the benefits from grounding. Wearing shoes with insulating soles means that you are disconnected from the Earth’s powerful electrical rhythms and free electrons that bring with it health benefits. Going shoe free taps you into the free electrons from the ground so that every part of the body can recalibrate with the electrical environment of all the tissues and cells in the body. Taking off your shoes and allowing your skin to touch the ground can aid in tissue repair and ease in muscle pain. Grounding can also lower your risk for cardiovascular disease and other problems, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.
Precautions before Starting Barefoot Running
Before you start running barefoot, there are a few things to be aware of before you go throwing out your running shoes.
It is likely that you are in the habit of running with shoes, but running in the same style while barefoot can mean putting too much weight on the heels, thus resulting in potential injury. Your gait will be naturally different when you go barefoot, because your feet are conditioned to move in a particular way while wearing shoes and this needs to adjust.
It is recommended to start by walking distances barefoot and then progressing into running further distances over time. As you start to walk and run barefoot more frequently, your feet, ankles, knees and hips will naturally change position in response to the terrain. It is also recommended that you start by running on softer surfaces before moving onto harder ones so that the skin on your feet’s soles will harden.
Grounding is not just a gimmick - it is backed by sound scientific reasoning - so give barefoot walking, running or even just standing a go and notice the difference in your health and overall well-being.