Staying close to our ground has never harmed us in any way. In fact, walking barefoot is one of our primal instincts. Thanks to the civilization, we almost forgot what are natural means of living is. Of course, footwear seems to be much comfortable and fashionable to us. It keeps our feet clean and saves them from any piercing object in the way. But we can’t overlook walking barefoot completely. It has multitude of benefits as well. so it’s time to unwind your clock and go back in the time. Go shoe-less for some time of the day and see the difference.
What is Barefoot Walking?
Barefoot walking is walking on the natural surfaces like mud, sand, grass and soil without footwear. It is also known as earthing according to the spiritual means. If you quick google ‘barefoot walking’ you will see multiple of results of studies and researches carried out on the same. They highlight how we draw electrons from earth and how it improves our health and increases our brain activity. It also surges the level of antioxidants in our body, improves blood circulation, reduce stress and eases inflammation. So giving up on your shoes once in a while to feel the earth can be termed as ‘Barefoot Walking’.
It has also been revealed that walking barefoot also used lesser energy as there is more ground force reaction and lesser pressure. if you want to strengthen your muscles, ligaments and joints then you can go walking barefoot on grass, soil or sand.
It’s no secret that going barefoot on sand has its appeal, but did you know it also has many health benefits? If you think wandering down a beach is time wasted, then guess again. Here are a few reasons why walking and running unclod on sand is a great idea:
1. Strength Training
You know that mild struggle you feel when take a step forward in dry sand and your foot sinks a bit trying to get traction? That’s your muscles at work! Scientists say it takes 2.1–2.7 times more energy to walk or run on sand than it does to move at the same pace on hard surfaces. That energy is used to strengthen all the muscles between your feet and back, especially your calves, quadriceps and glutes. The dryer the sand, the harder the work… though runners may prefer wetter, firmer sand to maintain proper form.
2. Burn Calories
The energy used to strengthen those muscles has to come from somewhere. According to Berkley Wellness, you can expect to burn approximately 50% more calories by walking or running on sand than you would on paved ground.
3. Improved Propriception
Proprioception—a favorite term among barefoot runners and fans of minimal shoes—is defined as the ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium. Basically, good walking proprioception means your mind is in touch with the stimuli coming from your feet, which helps you connect with the world around you. While thickly-padded conventional shoes can numb this ability, walking barefoot on sand is a great way to tap into it. After all, you have between 3,000–7,000 nerve endings in each of your feet. Just think about feeling all those grains under the sensitive part of your arch or between your toes when you walk.
If your feet are confined in tight or constricting shoes all day, then kicking them off and letting your toes move and stretch out naturally is a great way to give yourself some relief. Sand conforms to your feet without restricting them, so it’s almost like a walking foot massage. And if your stroll or run takes you past a body of water then the sound of waves and seagulls will likely help your stress fade away. A study from the University of Exeter suggested that people who spent more time on beaches had less stress and better overall health.
The theory behind grounding, also known as earthing, is that electrical energy from the earth can be absorbed through your feet when you walk barefoot (especially on wet or moist sand) and lead to a multitude of health benefits. Even if you take this theory with a grain of sand—haha—few people would disagree that turning off your cell phone and walking barefoot is a meditative activity that will help you feel mentally grounded and centered. According to a study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, staying constantly plugged into electrical devices has been associated with stress, loss of sleep and depression. Don’t underestimate the benefits of a clear and relaxed mind!
6. Gait Analysis
This will appeal more to runners, but if you’re interested in analyzing your footstrike then you can either go through the trouble of setting up a slow motion camera by a treadmill at the gym or you can just run barefoot down a sandy beach. A simple glance at your footsteps can tell you quite a bit. Wherever you see a deep indentation shows where you’re striking the ground (minimalist runners advocate a midfoot or forefoot strike). If you see a heavy imprint at both the heel and the toe then you may be landing on the heel, rolling to the toe and pushing off too harshly. Strive for a light step that disturbs the sand as little as possible. Hint: slightly wet sand closer to the water will give a cleaner imprint than dry sand.
When Not to Go Barefoot?
If you’re already having a foot problem, then don’t jump immediately to barefoot walking. Your doctor might have prescribed you special shoes which have some corrective roles. Also, don’t want barefoot on uneven surfaces or on treadmill, stones and pebbles. If you’re suffering from weak muscles, ligaments and tendons then don’t show the courage of walking barefoot.
If you’re walking barefoot in your lawn, then make sure that it mowed and cleaned properly. If the ground is too hot, then go back to your slippers immediately.