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Barefooting: Walking Barefoot In Nature

Discover The Benefits Of Reconnecting With The Earth

When was the last time you walked barefoot in a meadow? Do you remember the sense of relief you feel?

The evolution of man has passed through contact with the living Earth; when they possessed them, our ancestors wore at most animal skin or wooden footwear. Unfortunately, modern life has distanced us from this type of contact, and now we live separated from the surface of the Earth, isolated by the rubber of our shoes or by the layers of insulating materials with which the buildings in which we live and work are made (asphalt, rubber, tar, etc.).

To rediscover the connection with the Earth, barefooting was born, a healthy practice in which practitioners decide not to wear shoes in normal daily activities; many prefer to adopt this practice exclusively for outdoor excursions since the health benefits of walking barefoot in nature are exciting, even if only practicing for 15-20 minutes. Let’s see what they are. 

The Benefits Of Walking Barefoot In Nature

Walking barefoot has several health benefits, some even proven by science. Contact with the Earth and nature manages to counteract various health problems, often facilitated by a life spent indoors and with artificial lights. Here are the main ones.

Sensory Stimulation

Walking barefoot on living Earth is a regenerating and deeply relieving experience; it allows you to slow down, open your senses, instill a profound sense of freedom, and get in touch with tactile sensations. The foot is an essential receptive organ. The plantar surface is covered by many nerve endings (for the same character, there are more than in any other part of the body) precisely because we were created to walk barefoot.

Walking on different terrains allows you to have different sensory experiences and helps us to rediscover that the tactile sensitivity of the foot (unfortunately canceled by shoes) is even greater than that of the hands.

Posture Improvement

For small children, walking barefoot is essential for the development of proprioception and the correct development of the foot and posture in general; in adults, it helps to reactivate the muscles of the arch, ankle, and shins, improving posture and balance.

Foot Reflexology

During the walk, the feet receive a fantastic massage that stimulates numerous acupressure points; on the feet, there are, in fact, the reflex points whose pressure promotes the corresponding parts of the body. Walking barefoot, we exert natural pressure on these points, unblocking the body’s energy channels, reducing stress, and improving health.

Benefits Of The Grounding Effect

One of the main reasons why it is so refreshing to walk barefoot on the Earth is the so-called “earthing” effect or Earthing (from Earth). The Earth represents a sort of battery with a low-intensity natural (negative) electric charge due to biological phenomena; when we touch the Earth with our bare feet, we absorb electrons, rebalancing our body’s (buoyant) electric demand, given by free radicals. This process does not happen when we wear shoes made of insulating material, such as the rubber of the soles (unlike shoes of the past, made of leather, a material that allows us to maintain conductive contact between the ground and the feet).

Among the main benefits of Earthing, we find:

  • reduction of chronic and acute inflammation ;
  • reduction of oxidative stress;
  • blood thinning improved blood flow ;
  • rebalancing of biorhythms ( sleep improvement );
  • reduction of stress hormone (cortisol);
  • increase in the overall energy of the individual;
  • rooting and connection to nature;
  • alleviation of the sense of loneliness.

Our body, having evolved in constant contact with the Earth, needs this continuous exchange of energy to function correctly. Walking barefoot outdoors (especially on damp grass) is one of the most effective, beautiful, and economical ways to allow the “grounding” process in our daily life. Now we understand well that when we refer to a person as “down to earth,” we mean a person well rooted in the world, assertive, aware, who knows where and who he is, as opposed to those who “live in the clouds.”

Practice Tips

Our body structure is made to move without shoes; there are even athletes who have had brilliant results competing with bare feet; however, as with everything, if you are not used to doing it, you need to approach the practice of barefooting gradually and with common sense.

To gradually awaken the feet in contact with the ground, it is advisable to advance slowly, literally “one step at a time,” to probe the environment and carefully choose where to place the foot to avoid obstacles. The best thing, of course, is to walk in the open air directly on the ground, but, if we don’t have the possibility, we can also do it at home, on a wooden or ceramic tile floor.

If we have the opportunity, we experiment with different terrains and elements. We can start from the most familiar component, the sand (walking on the sand is particularly suitable for rebalancing the posture); if we are not close to a beach, the garden or the park under the house will also be fine but, to have a unique sensory experience, one of the most suitable environments is certainly the forest.

In the woods, while immersed in the rustle of the wind among the leaves, the chirping of birds, and the scent of resins, we can savor a multitude of different textures along the path: the grass wet with dew, the soft moss, the soft foliage, cold and angular stones, prickly pine cones, etc., we can also walk on mud, on roots or a fallen trunk while remaining in balance. We pay attention to the sensations that contact with the feet gives us. Let’s experience all the possibilities the place playfully offers us! Once we get used to it, we can walk gradually on more rugged terrain.

Finally, let’s not forget the water element: as soon as we have the opportunity, we experience walking in a stream in the woods; cold water hardens, leads to deeper breathing, and quickly “washes away” stress. We can take advantage of the ever-increasing number of paths in nature specially designed for barefooting or walk in the garden of the house; the important thing is to indulge in the small gesture of rebellion now and then to take off your shoes and walk barefoot in nature, savoring the sense of freedom and reconnecting the lost link with the Earth.

ALSO READ: FITNESS: HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR WALK

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