The human foot is an impressive work of evolution. All of the bones, as well as the ligaments, muscles, and tendons that work with them, are naturally designed to carry the human body through life.
However, over the last several thousand years, humans have been severely compromising their feet. While ancient people may have used basic foot coverings to protect their feet from cold and injury, modern humans have gone several steps further. Restrictive shoes are now the norm, and those shoes bring with them a host of medical problems, such as hammertoe, directly affecting our sensitive feet.
Many scientists and medical professionals agree that going without shoes as much as possible is best for the foot.
Proper Gait and Foot Development
All new parents delight at their child’s first steps and many have purchased their baby’s first shoes long before the little one can even stand. However, most pediatric podiatry specialists agree that strapping shoes onto a child is quite counterproductive.
As a child’s foot is developing, the bones and muscles need room to expand and contract. This natural growth process of the foot is impeded when shoes are worn. Shoes restrict the natural human gait, which is fundamentally detrimental to young people trying to master the art of walking. Full contact with the ground can also encourage mind development, as functional changes occur within the brain when the child begins the incredibly complex task of body control. Parents are encouraged to allow their children to go barefoot wherever and whenever it is safe to do so.
Strength and Agility
Shoes may look very attractive, but they do little to encourage beautiful feet. As the shape and structure of the shoe restricts the subtle movements of the muscles in the feet, the feet become weak and those muscles can atrophy. This can have a ripple effect, as the muscles in the legs and hips can begin to work improperly, as well.
Walking barefoot immediately begins to tone and strengthen the muscles in the feet and legs, and continued work helps to improve overall posture. The practice also encourages the walker to be more aware of their foot placement and to lengthen the stride, both of which are more natural aspects of human movement that can be hindered by shoes.
When the foot is freed from the confines and restrictions of shoes, the foot can move more naturally. This does wonders for the overall health of the foot.
It Feels Good
As we all know, there is not much that feels as good as walking barefoot on the grass on a warm, spring day. Many people swear by this simple activity as a cure for a host of ailments, from depression to insomnia. In fact, the Chinese medicine practitioners have long been aware of reflexology points in the feet, and they structure tailored massage practices around these sensitive places. Walking barefoot on the ground can stimulate many of the same reflexology points.
As any runner knows, the right shoes can make all of the difference between pleasure and pain. However, what if you were told that the best running shoe is no shoe at all?
A natural human running stride calls for the foot to land on the middle or the ball of the foot. When running in conventional shoes the foot lands primarily on the heel, which can cause a host of painful problems. You can confirm this when you read more about what causes hammertoes.
If you’d like to try barefoot running, experts suggest barefoot walking first, as this helps to get an idea of how your feet and legs will react to the different conditions. Additionally, the barefoot shoes that are currently on the market can be a good investment, especially if you plan to walk or run on rocky surfaces or those that may contain refuse such as glass or metal.
The next time you consider your shoes as you’re dressing for the day, think about the benefits of no shoes at all. Whether you’re just walking around the house or yard, or you’ve decided to take on the challenge of barefoot walking or running for exercise, you’ll be doing yourself and your feet a great service.