If the temperatures rise, it makes you want to take off your shoes, socks and go barefoot. We tell you in this note how healthy it is to walk barefoot and when it is better to put on shoes.
When walking barefoot, you not only experience a cooling sensation, but also train your foot muscles and massage them. But we’re so used to the protection of shoes that many people wonder if it’s really healthy to bury your toes in the sand or walk across the meadow without shoes. Aren’t we in danger of catching a cold or ending up with an injury?
How often should you go barefoot?
Walking barefoot is the most natural way to move. It’s always good to take your shoes off and go barefoot. It has several advantages:
- Foot muscles are trained and strengthened.
- Blood circulation is stimulated.
- The feet receive a massage that stimulates the reflex points on the sole of the foot, according to the principles of foot reflexology.
- If the floor is made of conductive material, static electricity is discharged, which has a number of health benefits.
In this way, the consequences of wearing shoes are neutralized. Many shoes restrict your freedom of movement too much, which can atrophy your foot and leg muscles.
It is even beneficial to run barefoot as it strengthens your muscles even more. When running barefoot, we do it with more caution in each case, which favors proprioception and body self-knowledge.
If you rarely or never walked barefoot, then it is better to walk barefoot only half an hour a day. The same goes for running. In this way, little by little you will get your feet used to the new way of moving and you will be able to increase the time.
If you don’t have weather-beaten feet, hard, stony surfaces aren’t a good place to start. it’s better to start walking on soft floors (such as grass or the beach sand) and gradually increase soil hardness.
Walking barefoot reduces sensitivity
The more you walk barefoot, the less sensitive your feet become. The unevenness of the ground, such as stones, sticks or other small obstacles, harden the soles of the feet and form protective calluses.
Children are often told that the ground is too cold to walk around barefoot. In order not to run the risk of a cold, parents put them in slippers instead of letting them walk barefoot. This precaution is not necessary because walking barefoot generally strengthens the immune system.
Known Kneipp cures also take advantage of cold stimulation and rely on walking barefoot to stimulate circulation, for example, stepping in dew or taking mini-walks through freshly fallen snow.
Fungus is not a problem if your feet are dry.
In addition to the fear of catching a cold, many fear athlete’s foot or nail fungus when walking barefoot. However, this fear is largely unfounded, because walking barefoot protects against infections rather than causing them.
Nail or foot fungus likes to spread inside hot, humid shoes. If, on the other hand, the feet go barefoot, they get fresh air and stay dry because sweat can quickly evaporate. Feet with good blood circulation are also more resistant against a fungal infection.
Problems appear when we walk barefoot in humid and crowded places and then the feet do not dry well.
Walking and running barefoot gradually
Do not overload the feet at first: the tendons, muscles and joints must get used to the movements, which are completely different from when we put on shoes.
You should also go barefoot first on terrain such as grass or sand and dare step by step to step on harder and more irregular surfaces such as dirt roads, gravel or stones.
Running or jogging barefoot is only for “advanced users” because the feet take much more stress when running than when walking. At first, it is advisable not to run for more than a quarter of an hour without shoes.
An intermediate step between shoes and going barefoot is wearing “barefoot” running shoes, also called “minimum shoes”. These shoes have a very thin and flexible sole and some models have space for each toe, like gloves.
The feeling of walking or running barefoot or with minimal footwear comes close to running barefoot, at the same time, your feet are more protected from accidental injuries thanks to the soles.
But even barefoot you shouldn’t run as much as you do in shoes; you must also respect the adaptation period and gradually increase the time and pace of the race, following your intuition.