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Why Walking Barefoot is Good for You

Walking barefoot
Walking barefoot on rocks in the Summertime. Credit: Lorenz Kerscher/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Orthopedists argue that walking barefoot makes for stronger and more flexible feet, and fewer deformities, while the practice enhances mobility as well.

Anthropologists concur, saying that several studies show that prehistoric humans had wider feet, more splayed out toes and more robust skin on the soles than modern humans do.

Anthropological research indicates that humans had used footwear as long ago as 40,000 years. Strikingly, the feet of those people already showed differences from those of humans who lived 200,000 years ago.

Specifically, before early humans started using footwear, their feet had thicker, bigger toe and leg bones. Once they started wearing shoes 40,000 ago, their toe bones began to shrink in size.

However, there are more reasons for going barefoot, because this particular activity contributes to a much healthier life overall as well.

Walking is grounding oneself

Walking barefoot on the earth is now being called “grounding;” the idea behind this is that the earth is essentially a huge body which is negatively charged.

This charge theoretically comes from electrons and is a provider of antioxidants that contribute to the proper functioning of the human body.

Exposing oneself to the soil on the ground can benefit us as well, as the powerful microbes found in soils help build immunity naturally.

Microbes enter our body through the skin, from under our nails, and feed the good bacteria in our stomach microflora, making us stronger and healthier, thereby boosting our immune system.

According to Dr. James Oschman, who wrote the book “Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis,” the person who walks barefoot on the ground for some time directly enhances the health of their body.

At the same time, that individual will also have feelings of well-being that is generated by and associated with this energy.

It is no coincidence that many cultures around the world refer to the process of grounding as a sacred and beneficial act for man.

According to Oschman, the process of grounding can prevent the occurrence of degenerative diseases as well as enhance many of the body’s functions.

Also, through daily walking barefoot on the surface of the earth, chronic stress, back pain and even insomnia can be cured, he believes.

He states that research indicates that walking barefoot on the ground is as important for good health as having access to clean water, fresh air and sun during the day.

Walking barefoot
Left (B) a foot that has never worn a shoe. Right (A) a foot that wore a shoe for just a few weeks. From Phil Hoffmann, “Conclusions Drawn From a Comparative Study of Barefoot and Shoe-Wearing Peoples”, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. 1905. Public Domain

Studies concur on the importance of walking barefoot

Another study by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command found that subjects who walked barefoot for 20 minutes on the ground showed lower levels of urea in their blood.

The activity also increased protein metabolism, creating a better nitrogen balance in the body. Based on the same research, scientists report that it is no coincidence that many athletes choose to run barefoot for some part of their training.

This is in order to indirectly and directly enjoy this positive effect on the results and performance of their sports.

An even more recent study in the UK linked the flow of blood in the face to barefoot walking on earth.

People who walked on the ground for 30 minutes continuously showed better blood flow to the face and other body parts. This shows the importance of grounding in improving the human cardiovascular and nervous systems, the researchers say.

According to the Journal of Inflammation Research, grounding can even cure the symptoms of an infection from injury such as redness, swelling, pain, loss of muscular function and more.

This is because we allow the earth’s electrons to enter our body, thus creating an  antioxidant environment which simultaneously enhances many of the body’s internal functions.

our natural walking pattern

According to Dr. Jonathan Kaplan, an orthopedic surgeon “The most straightforward benefit to barefoot walking is that in theory, walking barefoot more closely restores our ‘natural’ walking pattern, also known as our gait.”

Certain orthopedists insist that many shoes for hiking and running, or for simply walking, have excessive cushioning and support that can prevent the use of certain muscle groups that can actually strengthen your body.

Also, walking on the ground without shoes offers better foot mechanics, which can lead to improved mechanics of the hips, knees, and core, leading to stronger leg muscles, which support the lower back region.

Did the ancient Greeks walk barefoot?

Ancient Greek statues and paintings often have barefoot subjects, even though many appear wearing sandals.

The Peleies (plural of Peleia) were female priests of Zeus, while Dion’s priests were Selloi (plural of Sellos).

In the Iliad, Homer says that the Selloi slept on the ground, walked barefoot and never washed their feet, indicating their identification with the earth and nature, the annual cycle of which is a key theme of the mysteries of antiquity.

The Selloi were an ancient Greek tribe inhabiting Epirus, in a region between Dodona — site of the oldest reported oracle — and the Achelous river. Aristotle named the area “ancient Hellas.”

Sources: Healthline.com, Wikipedia 

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