Do you struggle with foot pain? Did you know that suffering from chronic foot pain increases your risk of developing chronic pain in other areas of the body? Yikes!
There are plenty of holistic strategies you can use to address foot pain and improve your foot health, including walking barefoot. Read on to learn everything you need to know about this unconventional, but effective, tactic.
What Are the Benefits of Walking Barefoot?
Is walking barefoot good for you? In short, yes. Here are some of the top reasons why you might want to walk barefoot more often, especially if you struggle with foot pain:
If you always wear shoes, especially cushioned shoes, chances are you don’t have much control over the way your feet move as you walk. You might not know where they’re landing or how much pressure is being placed on certain areas.
Spending more time walking barefoot helps you to learn more about the way you walk. This, in turn, gives you an opportunity to correct your walking patterns and gain more control over your feet.
What happens when you have more control over your feet and start to correct your walking mechanics? For starters, you will likely reduce pain in your feet, as well as in other parts of the body.
By learning to distribute your weight evenly and walk in the proper way, you can avoid putting too much stress on certain parts of the foot. You can also avoid moving in a way that strains your ankles, knees, or hips.
People who walk barefoot tend to have better balance and body awareness compared to those who are always wearing shoes.
One reason for this is that barefoot walking allows you to have a better connection to the ground below you. You’ll be less likely to let your weight shift from one side to the other, which can increase your chances of rolling your ankles or losing your balance and falling.
Relief from Chronic Foot Conditions
Barefoot walking protects your feet from a lot of chronic foot conditions associated with poorly fitting shoes. For example, if you struggle with bunions or hammertoes, walking barefoot will provide you with some much-needed relief.
Walking barefoot strengthens the muscles in your feet. It also strengthens the muscles in the ankles, legs, glutes, and core.
Everything starts in the feet. When you give them a chance to get stronger, all areas of the body benefit. As an added bonus, don’t forget that stronger feet, legs, glutes, and core can minimize back pain, too.
If you walk barefoot outside on a regular basis, you might find that your sleep quality improves. Outdoor walking is often referred to as “earthing” or “grounding.” This type of walking promotes relaxation and may help to stabilize your circadian rhythms.
The likelihood of more stable circadian rhythms and better sleep increases, specifically, when you walk barefoot outdoors first thing in the morning. Exposure to natural light at the beginning of the day helps you to feel more alert. As a result, you’ll feel sleepier and be more ready to rest when nighttime rolls around.
Stronger Immune System
Outdoor barefoot walking is great for your immune system, too. If you spend some time outdoors every day with your feet in the grass or dirt, you can experience changes in blood cell counts that are associated with reduced inflammation and a stronger immune system.
Reduced Stress and Anxiety
Remember, outdoor barefoot walking is linked to greater relaxation and stress relief. Practicing this on a regular basis can help you to feel calmer and less anxious throughout the day. If you’ve been dealing with a lot of stress lately and want to relax in a more natural way, going for a barefoot walk outdoors is a free and effective option to try.
Tips for Walking Barefoot Safely
Walking barefoot can help with heel pain, foot pain, and pain in other parts of the body. Is it safe to walk around outside barefoot, though?
It is safe to walk outside barefoot. However, you’ll need to take a few steps (no pun intended) before doing so to protect yourself.
Practice Inside First
You don’t have to kick off your shoes and run straight out into the grass. On the contrary, it’s better to start practicing barefoot walking inside. This gives you a chance to “wake up” your feet and toes and make sure you’re comfortable being barefoot before you venture into the great outdoors.
Focus on Your Foundation
When you’re practicing barefoot walking, start by focusing on your foundation. Stand up straight with your feet flat on the floor. Try to distribute your weight evenly between the heel, the big toe side of the foot, and the little toe side of the foot.
From here, take a step forward. Land gently with your heel first, then roll your foot down into place. When your whole foot is flat on the floor, apply weight, focusing on keeping the weight evenly distributed (don’t let your foot roll to one side or the other).
Look Before You Walk
Once you feel ready to walk barefoot outside, make sure you’re walking in a safe place. Look around your yard or the sidewalk in front of your house and check for anything that could possibly hurt your feet. Pick it up or brush it out of the way before you start to walk.
If you’re new to barefoot walking, don’t throw away your shoes for good. Start by spending just a few minutes walking barefoot each day. Slowly, over time, you can increase the amount of time you spend living a shoe-free life.
Start Walking Barefoot Today
Whether you’re walking barefoot outside or inside, adding this strategy into your routine can have a big impact on your foot health and your ability to manage pain. Follow the tips outlined above so you can start feeling better today.
Want to learn some additional tips for pain management? Check out the Health section of our site today to continue your research.