Do you remember your grandfather discussing which brand makes the best running shoes? I do not. Probably because it was not a trend back then. You might say foreign sports companies were not present in poor India back then but there is a research which points a lot of difference between the runners in developed and developing countries. It is a noted fact barefoot walking has been appreciated in Indian yoga and Ayurveda. Being a naturopath practitioner I totally agree with this. I gave up wearing thick sole sports shoes and never looked back.
Benefits of barefoot walking
According to a Harvard research
“Humans have engaged in endurance running for millions of years, but the modern running shoe was not invented until the 1970s. For most of human evolutionary history, runners were either barefoot or wore minimal footwear such as sandals or moccasins with smaller heels and little cushioning relative to modern running shoes.”
Our natural gait
- We return to our natural gait. Have you seen kids walking? They land on their ball of foot rather than heels. Since we start wearing cushioned shoes from a young age our gait changes. Landing on heels can break your steps short while running. Another major setback is landing on heels puts pressure on your knees. People with knee pain like me should wear minimal shoes or go barefoot
- Increases the strength of our muscles, tendons, and ligaments. A sports shoe or any footwear for the matter these days come with little heels. This tends to shorten calf muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Barefoot or minimal shoes will help stretch and strengthen the calf muscle which may reduce injuries, such as calf strains or Achilles tendinitis
- It may improve balance and proprioception. Going barefoot activates the smaller muscles in the feet, ankles, legs, and hips that are responsible for better balance and coordination
- Your steps feel more grounded. It helps you stay grounded and connected with your environment. A person can learn to spread their toes and expand the foot while it becomes a more solid and connected base that supports all movements
- A potent antioxidation process. Earth is a negatively charged body. Due to our eating habits and pollution, there are many positively charged ions in our body. These are the free radicals and cause oxidation in our body. If we walk barefoot earth’s negative charge will neutralize the positive ions. This makes barefoot walking, known as earthing, a great antioxidant!
How to start with barefoot walking?
If you have been running or walking in heels/thick sole runners then you might want to start slow. Running barefoot is not a strange phenomenon. Many big university marathon runners practice it. Stanford university’s cross country team run a few miles barefoot every week, to improve flexibility.
- Going straight away barefoot can be scary for running. Especially in India where turf is not available and people treat roads as garbage tin. I wear Vibram Fiver fingers to have thin sole and a barefoot experience
- Start with little walks for a week. Then jog little bit every day for a month
- Be careful on debris or pebble zone. You have to look out constantly
- If you have any type of condition consult a doctor first
Our five fingers by Vibram – My substitute for barefoot walking
For me, barefoot or minimal running has helped a lot. My doctor diagnosed early onset of arthritis to me. This type of practise gives an accupressure massage to my soles and I feel better. Hope it solves little bit of your problems too. Share your experience as well in the comment section
Source: 1, 2, 3
arthiritis prevention, barefoot, barefoot walking, featured, five fingers, naturopath, vibram