Imagine meandering along the beach, feeling the sand between your toes, the ocean washing over your feet, and the salty water cleansing your soul…
Or meandering through the forest, smelling pine in the air, feeling the soft soil and spongy grass on the soles of your feet, and taking a deep breath of the fresh air…
Or simply walking around your house, enjoying the plush feeling of carpet underfoot, the hardwood floors creaking with every step you take, and the feeling of home.
Now imagine these experiences again, but this time - you’re wearing shoes. It’s just not the same, is it? That’s because our feet are intimately connected to the well-being of our bodies and minds. We are grounded through our bare feet.
As children, we are told to explore without shoes - to get muddy and feel the world. Since toddlers' feet are prone to muscle and bone impairment from restrictive shoes, it’s common for parents to have a strict no-shoe policy as their child first learns to walk. It is extremely important for children to be barefooted for so many reasons, one of which is the development of their proprioception and awareness of their bodies in space. Wearing shoes prevents children from gaining the most basic of sensory experiences - feeling the dirt, rocks, leaves, and twigs beneath their feet.
We have numerous pressure points and nerve endings in our feet that transmit information to the rest of our bodies. Going barefoot stimulates these nerve endings, waking up our entire nervous system.
When looking at it from a more esoteric point of view, we are directly connected to the earth’s energy when we walk barefoot. You can think of energy the same way you think about electricity - there are conductors and insulators. The earth, our bare bodies, the elements, animals, plants…essentially, everything natural is a conductor. We take in energy from the ground, through our feet, and it circulates through our bodies. Items such as clothing, buildings and electronics act as insulators. It is almost as if they form a wall - a blockage through which the energy can’t transcend. Our synthetic shoes are the blockage that stops energy from flowing from the ground into our bodies.
"The earth provides an ideal opportunity for grounding, and walking barefoot connects us to that calm. When we walk barefoot, we walk on a path to peace."
There are amazing health benefits to going barefoot. Remember the time when barefoot-style running shoes were all the rage? It’s still difficult to get the image of the individual toe segments out of my mind, even though it’s been at least 10 years since I last saw them. However, I can assure you - they were not a fashion choice, but rather one made consciously for health reasons.
Barefoot walking is said to be helpful in managing chronic pain and any sort of inflammation. It has also been said to help improve sleep and alleviate insomnia. It boosts the health of our immune system, reduces anxiety, and has even been shown to prevent menstrual pains and hormonal imbalances.
Remember the part about grounding? This therapeutic technique involves performing activities that electrically connect you to the earth. The earth’s electrons stabilise many of our body systems. When we’re grounded, our bodies absorb negative electrons from the earth, which neutralise the mass of positive electrons we absorb every day from simply living in a world surrounded by electrical devices, wi-fi, and mobile phones. For our natural electrical balance to be restored, daily grounding is essential.
Grounding is not as complicated as it sounds – you can ground by walking barefoot in nature, lying on the grass or sand, or submerging yourself completely in water.
We know that walking exercises our muscles and cardiovascular systems, improves our mental health, reduces stress, and supports our overall sense of wellbeing. Walking with our shoes off, however, supercharges these benefits by synchronising us with the earth's magnetic field.
At the end of the day, there is something so freeing about being barefoot. It connects us to our inner child and, in a way, shoes can be seen to symbolise the struggle of our daily commitments and modern lives. Sometimes we feel as if we’re trapped in our routines and schedules, just like our feet are trapped in our shoes. Taking off your shoes, removing the laces and with them, the restraints, is sometimes enough to give you a feeling of freedom - the sense of liberation we all crave.
By Olivia Cammell