You know the wonderful feeling of walking barefoot in summer on a beautiful beach, maybe when the temperature of the sand is not 120 degrees?
Close your eyes and imagine the beach at sunset: sink your feet down to the tightest and coolest sand, isn’t it magnificent? Alas, you closed your eyes, you can’t read anymore. OPEN THEM AGAIN!
Here you are. So: walking barefoot is not only pleasant but is very good for the mind and body, for a variety of reasons that I will now tell you about.
A note, first of all: I am not talking about “running barefoot” but instead of “walking barefoot.” It is important to emphasize the difference because, although there are also those who run barefoot, doing so requires special training and, above all, a thick sole of the foot that is ready for the roughest and most abrasive surfaces. If you don’t believe it, read what happened to me when I tried.
But how does walking barefoot help you then? Here you are.
1. It reconnects you with nature
By removing any filter between your feet and the earth’s surface, it is undeniable that a direct relationship is established. Now you can literally “feel” everything: asphalt, parquet, grass, sand. When you walk in your shoes, especially running shoes that use highly cushioning midsoles that lift the sole of your foot away from the ground, it is almost impossible to feel the different textures of the surfaces on which you move.
Being in direct contact with nature gives you a different perception of the world and reality. Including the absurd temperature that sidewalks and sand reach in summer!
2. Improves balance and proprioception
Eliminating filters and mediations between the sole of the foot and the ground makes your proprioception and sense of balance more refined. It is no accident that gymnasts and those who practice martial arts do so barefoot: of all the disciplines, these are the ones that most need pinpoint accuracy in their movements, and shoes would make their gestures much less precise.
3. It allows you to assume a natural posture
Shoes, especially in running, have many functions, most notably that of protecting the foot and joints by mitigating the force of compression shocks transmitted from the foot to the rest of the musculoskeletal system.
However, there is also something called the “kinetic chain,” which is the system formed by bones, muscles, and joints that transmits forces through movement. The nodal point of this chain-a kind of its center of gravity-is the big toe. That in the shoe is constricted and squeezed toward the other toes. “Freeing it up” every now and then allows you to regain naturalness in your movements.
4. It strenghtens the muscles of the foot
The protective function of running shoes is blessed but one downside is that it “unloads” the foot too much and makes it less strong. In other words, by feeling protected, the foot does not strenghten certain muscles that make it more able to resist efforts, thus protecting it better. It is a bit as if, by using shoes, we have given up some of the work that the foot would naturally do because of its musculature.
How to walk barefoot and where to do it?
Like any activity to which we are unaccustomed, it is best to proceed step by step, but starting to do it at home is a great start, if only because you know the surfaces on which you are doing it.
Moving then gradually outward is the natural evolution. The world offers so many different surfaces, many of which are safe to walk on without protection: think of doing so on the soft bed of a meadow or in a forest.
Don’t just look for soft surfaces, however: hard surfaces such as concrete and asphalt are more “direct” in reminding the foot what the correct mechanics of natural walking are and will allow you to regain possession of them more quickly.