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!
Over the last five years, I’ve done much to most of my non urban recreational walking (hiking, hunting, fishing, sightseeing, etc) either barefoot or in homemade deerskin pucker toe moccasins. My feet, toes & ankles are noticeably stronger & when bare or moc clad, I am capable of moving quietly through the wild, rarely disturbing the landscape or its inhabitants.
My adjustment period was a bit painful at times, most often when I had clearly overworked my “support accustomed” appendages. Once acclimated, however, choosing to wear “normal” shoes/boots is a difficult decision. Bare is Better!
Thanks for writing us and for sharing your experience of the transition into barefoot.
It’s a different and personal process for each of us.
Keep sharing your stories and reflections around the digital campfire (social media) because the planet needs inspiring people.
Shoes are not for me. My bare feet are the best shoes !
Indeed! that’s the better way to go!
Thanks for your comment and regards,
I do have a nine-to-five desk job too and it is very hard on my body. I never had so much back, shoulder and neck pain. I remembered in my childhood how much I liked walking on the grass and I good I feel when I got to the beach and walk barefoot on the sand. One day during my 15 break I went out I was standing on the lawn on the side of the building and decide to take off my shoes. The benefit was immediate. In only few minutes I felt a great relief. I felt my legs lighter. A great sensation in my feet. Since then I try to do it as often as possible.
We are in January in it is cold outside but today is sunny so I decided to try taking off my shoes. The ground was cold and the grass was cold too but what a wonderful sensation! I feel so much better.
I haven’t tried taking off my shoes when the snow is covering the grown but I may do it next time 🙂
Going barefoot is best remedy. I would remove my shoes and walk barefooed in the gymkhana cricket ground
Going barefoot is best remedy. As soon as I go to Gymhana, I would remove my shoes and walk barefoot in the cricket ground. Once I start walking I feel I am getting energised and improving my posture and I feel ther is some elastic movment in my knees which gets straighten up and i feel walking fast .This are all natural movements
I have been practising bear feet walking around garden for a year, yesterday I went to peppely beach and walk on it, it was painful but I was enjoying it. Today morning I felt aching all in my body. It is kind of feeling part of my body that I was not aware, Do you think it is not good to walk bear feet in preppely surface?