Remember your granny always suggesting that you go barefoot every time you pulled on your running shoes for your morning run, because it was good for your health? And do you remember dismissing it as any other old wives tale! But going according to recent research, Granny dearest was quite right; walking barefoot is indeed quite healthy for us.
How is wearing shoes all the time, not healthy for us?
Industrialization saw the world that we know being concretized; concrete brought on gravel which hurt our feet and as a means of protection we invented the shoe. But today in many rural parts of India, we still find the villagers trudging along barefoot, while this explains the fewer number of varicose vein cases in rural India as compared to the urban India, it still does not explain how shoes can be unhealthy for us.
While shoes may protect our feet from the hard concrete, they do cause considerable harm in the process! Shoe-making companies make thousands of statements stating that wearing shoes will be beneficial for our feet, but the fact remains that no shoe can be the exact fit for the size of our feet. Shoes are made to provide comfort to our feet, but while providing this comfort they end up deforming our feet, the toes to be precise.
Pointed and tight shoes are known to cause injuries such as Achilles tendons, calluses and corns to our feet. Research has also shown that wearing over protective shoes for longer periods of time leads to certain sections of the foot becoming lazy and thereby defunct!
But why should I go barefoot?
As opposed to the cushioning effect provided by Shoes, going barefoot serves to stimulate the 200,000 plus nerve endings present on the soles and tips of our toes. This cluster of nerve endings is the densest in our feet as compared to any other part of our body, and help us by giving a sensory feedback which in turn helps us maintain our equilibrium i.e. balance. Walking barefoot ensures that atleast 80% of your foot stays in contact with ground, thereby improving your bodily equilibrium.
Some other health benefits of walking barefoot:
Strengthens legs: Walking barefoot serves as an excellent means to strengthen our leg muscles, tendons and joints, as the body’s weight gets equally distributed on both the legs.
Improves circulation: Walking barefoot helps to improve our blood circulation, as barefoot walking exercises various muscles in the legs and the feet, which in turn help to better the pumping back of blood to the heart! A better circulation of blood in your body ensures that blood doesn’t collect in your legs, thereby reducing your chances of developing Varicose Veins. The improved blood circulation also eases the pressure of the circulatory system helping immensely in reducing blood pressure.
Eases Back ache: Shoes disturb our sense of equilibrium along with promoting a faulty weight distribution which puts unnecessary strain on our spine which leads to back ache. Walking barefoot helps correct our posture and equilibrium along with promoting an equal weight distribution, which eases the strain off the spine and reduces the back ache in the process.
Enhance your Chi: According to ancient Asian philosophies, walking barefoot helps one’s body to absorb Chi- life force energy, through the soles of their feet which are in contact with the ground. Absorbing more of this Chi, helps one to calm down and improves their concentration, helping them to focus better on the tasks at hand.
Straightens Toes and helps avoid injuries: Kenyan Athletes are often found practicing their running skills barefoot! This is because running barefoot helps to avoid injuries to the feet as with 80% of the foot being in touch with the ground, the body’s equilibrium is maintained and weight is distributed equally which ensures that there is proportionate pressure on both legs, which in turn reduces the chances of any leg or foot injury in the athletes.
Going barefoot is also known to help people with flat feet with their problem as it helps to improve their balance, it is also known to help straightens an individual’s toes (which is needed for maintaining the body’s equilibrium)
Other popular benefits of walking barefoot are it helps cool down the body in summer and also helps the rest of the body be healthy due to the stimulation of the 200,000 odd nerve endings which spread out in the body!