Go barefoot! Numerous reasons why you should do it today - a blessing for body and mind
Walking barefoot is a great way to reconnect with the earth and ground oneself. I will show you reasons why barefoot walking is beneficial.
From Martin Gebhardt. Check out my “About me” page.
👉 The key facts from this guide
- Walking barefoot strengthens bones, muscles, and joints and can alleviate pain.
- It lowers blood pressure, improves posture, and relieves chronic pain.
- Barefoot running can improve sleep and strengthen the immune system.
- It sharpens the senses and promotes connection to nature and the earth.
- Walking barefoot can strengthen the nervous system and improve eyesight.
- However, it is not suitable for everyone, especially for certain health problems or foot deformities.
Take off your shoes and go barefoot!
You enjoy the fresh air and the natural sunlight.
There are so many reasons and benefits to walking barefoot, whether it's around the house, the yard, or in your camp.
These benefits are a common thread not only among practitioners of primitive skills, but also within the bushcraft community.
Your feet will thank you!
What triggered barefoot walking for me?
As a child, I ran around in the garden and felt the grass or the mud between my toes.
Nevertheless, even though Mom didn't like it when I went out in the cold without shoes, I sometimes sneaked out when I was playing outside.
At grandma's, I ran barefoot through the garden and climbed up the big oak tree. It was quite common for my grandpa to shout, "Put your shoes back on!"
One day I put them on, but rebelled internally.
As an adult, I don't have to wear shoes, but I have long adapted to societal norms until it happened…
It feels good to walk barefoot
Previously, I used to jog more than I do today and I had specifically bought myself a pair of sneakers for it. Of course, shoes that were specifically for jogging.
The first few weeks went well, but then in the sixth week, I felt a sharp pain above the arch of my foot.
The jogging then gradually turned into walking and then led to limping.
And although I don't like going to the doctor unless it's absolutely necessary, I made a detour to the emergency room.
The doctor couldn't find anything and told me to schedule an appointment with my primary care physician next week. I did that, and over the weekend before the appointment, my feet hurt even more.
I noticed that in the mornings and evenings, when I usually didn't wear shoes, the pain subsided.
When my general practitioner examined my feet and saw the X-rays from my visit to the emergency room, she started to smile. "You're getting old." Although I knew that, I didn't understand the connection to my feet.
When you get older, the bones in your feet deteriorate and cause pain in some people. I was a bit heavier, so it got worse and jogging didn't help at all.
"What do you do to alleviate the pain?" my general practitioner asked. "I walk barefoot," was my response. To which she said, "then keep doing it."
So, my solution to a pain in my foot was simply to walk barefoot.
Reason number one to go barefoot is that it helps your feet by strengthening the smaller bones and muscles as you get older.
I don't like shoes
As you could learn from the previous story, I don't like shoes.
Previously, I probably owned more shoes than an ordinary man, but I didn't like wearing them. Today, I own exactly four pairs of shoes. Two for winter and two for summer.
If I don't walk barefoot, so something in the city, I wear my barefoot shoes.
Sometimes the other shoes are necessary, especially when I have to visit an authority or when I have to deal with customers.
But my second reason for going barefoot is simply that I DON'T like shoes.
Further health benefits of barefoot running
Lowers blood pressure
In addition to the local blessing for feet and joints, walking barefoot can also lower our blood pressure. Because chronic stress in our society is responsible for all sorts of illnesses. Stress leads to the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can narrow our blood vessels and ultimately lead to hypertension (high blood pressure).
With high blood pressure, there is an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, and kidney diseases. According to the RKI, approximately 20 million people in Germany have high blood pressure. Natural healing methods such as walking barefoot can help lower blood pressure.
In a study, ten patients with hypertension were tested, who were able to significantly lower their blood pressure by walking barefoot.
Another study in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine practiced barefoot walking and even slept on the floor. Blood pressure was lowered and patients reported a restored energetic connection to the earth.
In addition, the bare foot on the ground supports our endothelium, which is the cell layer of our blood vessels. Grounding leads to the release of nitric oxide, which relaxes our arteries.
We all know that nature has a positive impact on our well-being and energy levels. Through direct contact with the ground, an energy exchange can take place.
Here, the tension in your body can dissipate, and you can absorb energy from nature. This holds great potential for healing and an increased level of energy.
Often nowadays, shoes are worn with a rubber sole. This acts as a barrier between the body and the energy field of nature.
Relieves chronic pain
As mentioned above, barefoot running had significantly helped me get rid of my foot pain.
However, grounding also helps with many other chronic pains.
Now you're probably wondering how walking barefoot, for example, can help with back pain. There was also a study that describes muscle soreness in several test subjects as a starting point.
The individuals are divided into two groups: people who have grounded themselves and people who have only seemingly grounded themselves. Both groups should perform 200 squats and accordingly experienced muscle soreness with pain in their legs the next day.
As an indicator of pain relief and faster recovery, the activity of the enzyme creatine kinase was measured in both groups. Creatine kinase is primarily responsible for the regeneration of muscle cells in the body, and a higher value indicates stronger damage to the muscle cells.
Now for comparison: A reduced creatine kinase activity was detected in the bodies of the grounded test subjects compared to the bodies of the seemingly grounded individuals.
In addition, mild inflammation occurs in the muscles with muscle soreness, which neutrophil cells counteract. Here too, grounding can shine, as the study found an increase in these cells in barefoot running subjects.
Sufficient and healthy sleep is essential, and science collects new insights every year on its relevance to our mental and physical health.
It is all the more alarming that at least 40% of people in Germany do not get enough or sleep poorly.
Fortunately, there is a natural method to remedy this. Sufficient fresh air and forest bathing are already beneficial for our sleep. Do this barefoot, and you will do yourself and your sleep a favor.
There is also an interesting study on this in the "Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine". Test subjects were grounded during sleep. Because the bedsheet was connected to the ground outside the house via a cable. Sleep significantly improved after this measure. The reason for this is the reduction of stress hormones, as mentioned above.
Just because everyone wears shoes doesn't mean it's healthy for us. On the contrary, shoes with strong cushioning negatively impact our posture and body alignment.
Shoes are comfortable, but often just out of habit. This habit and its negative consequences can be reversed by walking barefoot.
Moreover, the balance and function of the leg, pelvis, and lumbar spine are strengthened.
Put an end to ingrown toenails and calluses
Especially tight shoes that prioritize fashion over health shape our feet. So, it is not surprising that our toenails grow inward, and we develop calluses on our feet.
Guess three times what helps against it. Exactly! Walking barefoot and showing your feet that they are not being locked up. Because even the deformations mentioned above can be reversed.
Sharpens the senses
Barefoot walking can also become a natural sensory experience. There are even dedicated barefoot parks that focus on the perception in your feet.
Connect with the Earth and sharpen your senses.
When we walk barefoot, certain points in our feet are stimulated. This results in a mindful and conscious gait. Additionally, the sense of balance is stimulated.
Expand your feet
According to Footwear Science, barefoot runners have wider feet. This may initially seem like a disadvantage for shoes, but wide feet are biomechanically much more efficient.
The pressure is distributed over larger areas in the foot, relieving the joints and muscles.
Better protected joints
Experienced barefoot runners are known for having strong feet that protect them from injuries.
Shoes, on the other hand, do not promote muscle growth and also have a negative point: Because the impact when stepping, which is shot through our body, is three times higher than when running barefoot. Accordingly, there is also a high pressure on our joints with shoes.
Through the built-up muscles in the foot from walking barefoot, joints are better protected. This can help prevent injuries and inflammations such as arthritis.
However, it is important to note that the muscles need to be built up first. Take it slow and don't strain your feet too much. Then you can gradually increase your activity level, even jogging shorter distances or simply taking a walk in the forest.
Strengthens muscles and bones
As you have heard several times before, walking barefoot strengthens our muscles and bones. But how does it happen?
The barefoot running stimulates our blood circulation through direct exertion and leads to the strengthening of muscles (especially the foot muscles) in our feet.
In addition, the bands and tendons in the feet are strengthened - injuries occur less frequently.
Furthermore: your feet are more in contact with direct sunlight. This forms vitamin D, which is also said to stimulate muscle growth.
We are confronted with many triggers of inflammation in our bodies these days. Inflammation itself is initially necessary for healing and regeneration.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, leads to diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's. It is more important than ever to prevent chronic inflammation to stay healthy in the long run.
The grounding is supposed to counteract inflammation by exchanging mobile electrons from the earth. They act as natural antioxidants and protect your cells from oxidative stress (ultimately from inflammation).
Strengthens our immune system
In our foot there are incredibly many nerve endings and sensory receptors. These run throughout our body.
The barefoot running changes our physiology and biochemistry. In a study, this was sufficiently tested and an increased immune response was observed.
Strengthens the nervous system
As mentioned above, running barefoot reduces stress. This in turn has a beneficial effect on our nervous system. However, there is another factor that affects our nervous system.
Let's consider the electrical charge of a human body, it is positively charged. On the other hand, the Earth is negatively charged. If we now stand barefoot in direct contact with the Earth, excess energy can be released to the Earth. Through the exchange of electrons between the body and the Earth, our nervous system is relaxed.
That may sound like esotericism at first, but it is pure physics.
This point is controversial, but it makes sense if you delve a little into the subject of reflex zones in the foot. Because our feet contain many pressure points that are connected to the rest of the body through nerve pathways.
There are also points that come into contact with our eyes. If these points are stimulated through the ground, this could also have positive effects on your eyesight.
If you're interested, you should look into traditional Chinese medicine or, more specifically, acupressure deals with these pressure points as well.
Strengthens our internal clock
Our internal clock is our daily rhythm and influences our physique, our mind, and our behavior.
In a study, it was found that walking barefoot stabilizes our internal clock. This counteracts sleep disorders and insomnia.
Strengthened Heart Function
In addition to the benefits for blood circulation, the health of the heart is also strengthened.
A study focused on the formation of clots in the blood, which can block blood flow and also damage the heart. After some grounding exercises for the participants, significantly fewer clots were detected in the blood.
Acts balancing on a hormonal basis
A hormonal imbalance often brings with it a number of mental and physiological symptoms.
As mentioned above, grounding has a particularly positive effect on stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
Furthermore, the connection to the earth also supports the woman's cycle and maintains hormonal balance.
Are you grounded?
The last and most commonly claimed reason why people walk barefoot is called grounding.
Basically, it is the feeling of getting closer to the Earth, Mother Nature.
The feeling of mud, soil, sand, or forest soil between my toes gives me a sense of what I'm walking on and how I'm connected to nature through direct contact with the earth.
Only years later did I realize why this is and why I enjoy walking barefoot.
In many indigenous cultures, walking barefoot brings you closer to Mother Earth. Mother Earth is the substance from which all things grow. Mother Earth is connected to everything!
The touch of the earth brings me to a point where I immediately feel the surrounding life.
The heartbeat of the ground.
The feeling of the earth moving beneath my feet feels as if I can draw strength and energy from the earth.
It may sound strange at first, what I'm telling you here, especially if you've never heard of it before - but I ask you to give it a try.
Wandering: Why being aimless connects you more with nature - It is possible to learn twice as much and sharpen your senses at the same time through unplanned time. With the core routine of wandering from wilderness education, this is possible.
My invitation to you: a little exercise in barefoot walking
This leads me to invite you to take on a little challenge.
Go outside, to your garden, your backyard, or a forest. A quiet place in nature is ideal. Then take off your shoes and socks if you are wearing any.
Go where your bare skin can touch the earth. Close your eyes and stand there as if you were a tree planted many years ago.
Close your eyes and take three deep breaths.
Imagine that your feet grow little roots and connect with the earth. They continue to grow deeper into the soil. You are firmly connected to the earth.
Try to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, the coolness of the ground as it begins to warm beneath your feet.
If a gentle breeze is blowing, you may feel the grass tickling the sides of your feet. And if a beetle crawls over your foot while you're standing, just let it happen. Enjoy the experience.
Your arms are now the branches of the tree, and you can move them very gently in the wind.
You are now firmly standing on the ground, your roots connecting with the roots of the other trees and plants, and you feel the energies of the other beings flowing into you.
You feel strong and connected to the plant people.
Imagine then - depending on how long you want to enjoy this situation - that the roots are now loosening again, and your feet are no longer connected. But you still carry the energy within you.
Then slowly open your eyes.
More extended meditation exercises can be found here:
- Breathing Exercise - Bringing Positivity to Yourself, Letting Go of Negativity
- Breathing Exercise - Feel Your Roots
- Breathing Exercise - Snail's Pace
Comment below on how it went. Please let me know how you truly felt while conducting this experiment.
I think you'll find that you tend to go barefoot a little more often, don't you?
Who is barefoot walking less suitable for?
If you suffer from a severe foot misalignment or arthritis (for example in the toe joints), you should start barefoot walking slowly. It is best to consult your doctor, orthopedist, or sports medicine specialist.
Be particularly careful if you have circulatory disorders, as is typically the case with diabetics. The sensation of pain is often less pronounced and injuries are not perceived. If dirt then enters the wound, infections can occur.
Some people are so allergic to bee or wasp stings that walking barefoot can be dangerous. One way to remedy this is by wearing barefoot shoes, which simulate walking without shoes.
Questions and Answers
Is walking barefoot healthy?
Barefoot walking is a healthy thing. The reason there are so many health benefits has to do with the fact that our feet are not made for shoes. In most shoes, the toes are squeezed together, and the soles are flat. This prevents our feet from functioning properly. If we don't use our feet properly, problems can develop.
Is walking barefoot on concrete unhealthy?
Walking barefoot on concrete is not unhealthy. However, it can cause an uncomfortable sensation if the concrete is cold or rough.
Barefoot walking: Can it also be harmful?
Barefoot running can also be harmful if you don't do it correctly. The danger lies in the fact that you can injure yourself if you run too fast or too far. It can also be dangerous to run barefoot on uneven ground.
Who is barefoot walking less suitable for?
For people with heart failure or diabetes, walking barefoot is less suitable. It may also be uncomfortable or even harmful for people with foot deformities to walk barefoot.
How often should one run barefoot?
For most people, it is advisable to walk barefoot at least once a week. Once you have become accustomed to walking barefoot, you can increase it according to your needs.
Is walking barefoot in the apartment healthy?
Generally, it is safe to walk barefoot in the house. However, foot fungus and other skin conditions on the feet should be treated beforehand to avoid complications. People with sensitive skin may also experience irritations or itching. Is walking barefoot good for the back?
Is running barefoot the same as wearing socks?
Barefoot running is not the same as running with socks. Socks provide a soft layer between the foot and the ground, while barefoot running allows for direct contact with the ground. This direct contact can help strengthen the muscles in the feet and improve mobility and coordination.
Conclusion: Barefoot running brings many benefits and is healthy
However, you should always also look specifically at yourself: What feels good and what doesn't? In general, it is advisable to start slowly. Especially when jogging, caution is advised. The feet are not yet accustomed to it and need their time.
After some time, however, more calluses form on the soles of your feet and your muscles are strengthened. This allows you to gradually increase the load and take full advantage of the benefits for yourself.
I would rather not demonize shoes here by itself, but especially conventional fashion brands prioritize appearance over health.
In some situations, shoes are useful. Then you should make sure to find the right shoe for you. Barefoot shoes are the first point of contact here.
Generally, it is important to ensure that your foot has enough space and is not constricted. Similarly, shoes with high heels are unnatural and promote misalignment or even injuries in the foot and leg.
Now I wish you a lot of fun trying and grounding.
Sources for the guide
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