I can still hear the voice of my mother and my dear grandmother imploring us to put on our shoes or slippers.
“Girl, you’re going catch a cold!”
Because of these ever-repeated messages engraved in my brain, it took quite a while after reading about the benefits of walking barefoot before I felt comfortable taking off my shoes.
One of your first rewilding steps should be to take off your shoes … now! Walking barefoot has become popular since the publication of the 2009 best-selling ethnography, Born to Run, written by American author, adventurist and journalist, Christopher McDougall. He inspires his readers to get off of their treadmills, take off their shoes and get outside in nature for fitness.
But even back in 19th century, the Austrian physician, Sebastian Kneipp, believed that walking barefoot through wet grass or shallow water strengthened the immune system and helped the body to heal. He also advised his patients to walk barefoot to relieve fatigue.
What happens when you walk barefoot?
- Many good things happen! For example, your feet get stronger by increasing the strength of the arch and its supporting muscles (the intrinsic foot muscles). These muscles provide stability to the foot and ankle. Wearing shoes provides support for the arch, but those muscles can become lazy. Human feet are designed to walk barefoot on a natural surface, not something artificial like asphalt, concrete or some other surface man has invented.
But what we want to talk about today is another less-known benefit of walking barefoot.
- We are all made up of energy. The Earth has a negative charge on its surface, and when you walk barefoot, electrons enter your body through the soles of the feet. These free electrons are powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. Studies demonstrate how these electrons provide positive health changes, from improving the quality of sleep to relieving various types of pain with its anti-inflammatory properties, relieving conditions such as rheumatism or arthritis.
What are your shoe soles made of?
For a million years, humans have walked barefoot or at least with “shoes” made from animal skins. Wearing shoes, especially ones with rubber and plastic soles, is a relatively new phenomenon. With the use of these non-conductive materials, the flow of electrons, beneficial for the body, has been considerably blocked, because contact with the Earth is reduced or non-existent.
The benefits of earthing or grounding
Grounding is a term that is derived from electrical jargon. But grounding (earthing) is now used to express the reconnection of the human body with the Earth – with its natural energy through contact with the ground (walking barefoot) or water (bathing or walking in sea water or a river).
Walking barefoot has been shown to have therapeutic benefits that are demonstrated in studies such as this one:
Earthing has become a brand that offers different grounding devices for connecting to the Earth’s natural energy from carpets, pillows and sheets to the mouse pad. Testimony on the use of earthing is as much positive as it is negative, and the products are quite expensive. Rewilding Drum suggests two very inexpensive and effective ways to benefit from this reconnection with the land:
- Walking barefoot on sand, dirt, grass (preferably wet)
- Swimming in natural waters (beaches, lakes and rivers)
Our experience with grounding
Kiki: When I had a nine-to-five desk job, I paid a price for those days spent sitting in an office chair: pain and discomfort in my back, neck, arms, wrists and many other areas for years! Between sessions of physiotherapy and osteotherapy, I found that going barefoot was actually the best remedy. As soon as I got home, I would remove my shoes and walk barefoot in the garden, forest or whatever natural surface was available. In many cases the relief was almost immediate! I promise you that in a few hours, the improvement will be more than evident.
Bert, meanwhile, had to wear special orthotic insoles in his shoes for years because of knee problems and pain in his right Achilles tendon. When racing in the Atacama ultra-marathon in 2010, his shoes quickly filled with sand and his feet became swollen. He watched as some people cut up their shoes to give their feet more space, something that seemed a poor idea to him at the time. Nevertheless, he created a bit more room in his own shoes by just removing the insoles — something he had not done in years. The result? He made it to the finish line without suffering any physical problems. This experience made him realize that not only did he not need those insoles, but that barefoot running gave him back a powerful feeling of strength and freedom.
Therefore, our e-message is clear: take off your shoes now, and walk barefoot at least 30 minutes a day. Since not all of us have the privilege of living in the countryside, you can use parks and gardens to allow the beneficial electrons to enter your body and recharge your natural energy.
We would love to hear about your experiences on this subject. Feel free to share your comments with us below.
And in the meantime, take your shoes off, now!