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Walking & Barefoot

5 reasons why you should walk barefoot

“We are all connected with nature,” said Nixiwaka Yawanawa at TEDxHackney. The tribesman from the Yawanawa tribe of Amazon was referring to the therapeutic bond humans share with nature. Known as ‘The People of the Wild Boar’, Yawanawa tribesmen live in the lush forest of Amazon, and guess what? They walk barefoot just like most of the ancient tribes on the planet. It is one of their ways to connect with nature and reap its healing benefits.

Walking shoeless is an activity that can help city dwellers connect with nature. Unfortunately, many seem to have forgotten this ancient practice of walking barefoot. Toddlers spend a lot of time walking and playing barefoot, but once the childhood is over, the feet seldom remain naked. Referred to as grounding or earthing, the art of walking barefoot has now found backing among health practitioners despite the wedge that has grown between people and nature. Soulveda explores the therapeutic benefits of walking barefoot to revive the forgotten habit and the human’s relationship with nature.

Reduces stress, clears the mind

Turkish author Mehmet Murat ildan says, “Soil is earth’s barefoot and when we walk barefoot, two barefoot touches each other with love (sic)!”. Walking barefoot, especially over grass, refreshes the mind as it increases the endorphin levels to reduce stress and anxiety. When you walk barefoot, make sure you don’t step over rocks, glass, or any other sharp objects. Focusing on what’s in front of you helps clear your mind.

Makes you aware of body movements

According to podiatric surgeon Dr Sanjay Sharma, “Walking without footwear is beneficial. It makes you aware of your body balance.” Not only does it makes you aware of your body movements, but it also improves balance and range of motion. Walking sans footwear also strengthens the muscles and ligaments of the foot and makes them more flexible. Experts also believe that by walking barefoot, children improve their awareness of the body in space as it develops strength and ankle stability. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your feet, ankles and calves are stretched and strengthened when you walk barefoot, especially on grass or sand.

Walking barefoot, especially over grass can considerably reduce stress.

You get a good night’s sleep

A walk amidst nature on grass or a walk on the beach will set your circadian rhythm right. A study published in the US National Library of Medicine says, “…oscillations of the intensity of the Earth’s potential may be important for setting the biological clocks regulating diurnal body rhythms, such as cortisol secretion.” Experts say that those who suffer from a sleeping disorder can rediscover their sleep if they occasionally walk barefoot on grass.

Stimulates the nervous system, good for the body

As walking barefoot over grass and soil is akin to acupuncture, it stimulates the whole nervous system. The study published in the US National Library of Medicine suggests, “Earthing for a single night reduces primary indicators of osteoporosis.” The study further states that, “Contact with the Earth—whether being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounded conductive systems—may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV, hypercoagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease.”

Dr. Sharma says, “Walking barefoot improves microcirculation,” which is the blood flow through the smallest vessels in the circulatory system. A study by the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine shows walking without footwear “reduces blood viscosity” which is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease.

Helps connect with Mother Nature
Walking barefoot in nature doesn’t just stimulate the feet, it stimulates the whole body, mind, and senses as well. A shoeless walk helps you connect with Mother Nature, which in turn, boosts emotional wellbeing and provides clarity of thought.

A walk on the beach will set your circadian rhythm right

While walking barefoot is a soothing experience, it can lead to unwanted infection, if you are not careful. So it’s advisable to avoid public pools, gymnasiums and restrooms if you are without footwear. According to Dr Sharma, “Barefoot walking must be done on soft surfaces such as clay, grass or the beach to avoid foot and ankle injuries. Walking with bare feet must be done on the correct sort of surface.”

Walking barefoot has several benefits that far outweigh the disadvantages. So, indulge in it in nature or at home. It will help you heal, physically and mentally, and help you become one with nature. As author Adele Coombs said, “Going barefoot is the gentlest way of walking and can symbolise a way of living—being authentic, vulnerable, sensitive to our surroundings. It’s the feeling of enjoying warm sand beneath our toes or carefully making our way over sharp rocks in the darkness. It’s a way of living that has the lightest impact, removing the barrier between us and nature.”

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