Seriously. Go Barefoot.
Since I got to Costa Rica I have been thrilled to see so many people walking barefoot everywhere and anywhere. Kids running on rocky roads and grassy fields, people going into the river and walking around their homesteads, and all of them doing it with ease. No cuts, no bruises, no complaints.
[Caution: you definitely need to be aware that Costa Rica has poisonous snakes, spiders, scorpions, fire ants, etc., so be very careful about your surroundings!]
Sadly, I can do none of that yet. I need my sandals to go into the river, and can hardly walk on the grass without wincing. The ground here is rocky and rough, so it is not like taking a walk on a suburban lawn. I am like a baby. I am still a long way from being human again 🙁
I pride myself on spending a lot of time barefoot – living in Japan for decades made it natural for me. I’m always barefoot in the house and in the dojo. But those floors are flat and unnatural, so we cannot reap the benefits that I mention below.
Walk the earth. Put your feet on the grass. Put your feet in the dirt. Put your feet in the sand. Do something to connect your feet to the planet. Humans, like all creatures, have always spent much of their time with a direct physical connection to the earth. Walking barefoot on the earth has so many health benefits for us… When we walk barefoot on the earth…
- we get grounded electrically which helps the body to recharge and keep a proper electrical balance. Your body is like a battery. It stores energy. And when we are getting sunshine we can get even more energy if we are grounded to the earth.
- we change the shape of the foot. Bunions, corns, hammertoes, etc., will be prevented and often self corrected if you spend enough time walking barefoot. The toes go back to their natural positions, as bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments realign under the freedom and load of walking barefoot. Your skin toughens up and becomes more durable, so you are far less prone to cuts, bruises, calluses and such.
- we massage the feet when walking on natural uneven surfaces, which actually helps many other parts of our body by stimulating pressure points.
- we get good bacteria from the world around us which is important to build our immune system, reduce allergies, and fight off bad microbes. This is helpful when traveling too, as it can help you assimilate to new environments and be more comfortable.
- we improve posture and strengthen the feet, ankles, knees, and legs; not only the muscles, but the bones too, because we walk differently when we are barefoot.
- we get more exposure to the sun and air, as our skin is an important organ that performs many critical functions, including detoxing. Being barefoot can provide a large increase in skin function when other parts of your body are covered in clothes
- we reduce/eliminate foul foot odors by letting the feet breathe and discouraging the odor producing bacteria that like warm, dark, humid environments.
Humans have been walking barefoot for millions of years, and we are essentially unchanged for the last several hundred thousand years, so we still need to be connected to the earth, just as we always have been. Do it and you will see the difference. I know I will be doing it more and more as I slowly strengthen my feet and toughen the skin.