Back in May 2016 wrote a post titled “Were you born with shoes?” in it I discussed the problem with Back in May 2016 wrote a post titled “Were you born with shoes?” in it I discussed the problem with modern shoes and the issues that come about putting footwear on from a young age. I also mentioned how to make a slow transition from “Normal” footwear to more minimalist shoes to full barefoot.
Today I’m going to discuss a couple of ways you can start to “feel” the benefit of going barefoot and get an sence of what the feet can feel and experience.
When our feet are wrapped up in socks shoes the estimated 100,000 - 200,000 exteroceptors (Nerve endings) are disconnected from the ground. This is a problem, as the feet are highly specialized in providing neuro feedback to control your walking gait and posture, the disconnect can lead to a long list of potential issues. So it makes sense that learning to be barefoot more often can only be of benefit right? You don’t try and do small fiddly tasks with gloves on your hands do you? No of course not you need all the feeling from your fingers to help you do the task at hand.
So getting barefoot more often allows your feet to feel and respond to the environment the way they should however it can be painful at first simply because your feet are so use to being protected and not feeling their environment. In essence the brain over responds to the new signals it can now receive and says that is painful stop it!
However there are some simple ways to start to retrain your brain in what it should be feeling and not to over react when you step on a small stone that really is not going to do any harm. As you get used to your feet feeling again your brain will learn to down regulate the pain response, and personally I’ve also found that you are much more responsive when there is a potential danger, I have walked barefoot many times and stood on a sharp edge and be brain quickly reacted by changing the weight distribution and pulling my foot away before any damage was done. Think grabbing a hot pan and you instantly let go, same for your feet when they know what to do.
As I said in my previous post transition SLOWLY! Your feet will have been weakened by the shoes you have been wearing all your life so need to go through a long process of re-strengthening. I gave you some ideas back in May 2016, but today I want to add a couple of other progressions that can help revive your feet.
If you have been walking at in the home on a flat floor for a while you probably have built a good base strength increase and started to get the feeling back in your feet so you’re probably ready to try a little more.
Walking on sand. – Most of us have done this at some point and enjoyed the sensation of sand between your toes (Feelings in your feet anyone?) but usually just enough to walk to the lounger or into the sea for a dip. What I want you to try and do is actually walk, and as you do be mindful of the sensations, squeeze the sand between your toes and in the arch of the foot, try to actively stand on small stones allow them to push slowly into the sole of your foot.
Walk on grass – We can’t all get to a beach so try and do the same on a grassy area, again be mindful of the feeling you get from your feet feeling the blades of grass between your toes, be aware of the coolness too, listen to your feet.
Gravel surface – This is a little more advanced for when you are comfortable barefoot on flat surfaces, grass and sand but it is the next step. Tread slowly at first and as you get more used to it move to more uneven and rough surfaces, you will be surprised what you can step on without injuring yourself but it just takes time to readjust.
But what about the potential of real dangers of glass and other sharp objects? There is of course the real chance of cutting your feet while walking barefoot, however there are two highly specialised pieces of equipment most of us have in our heads……….EYES. Be more aware of where you are stepping, just another sense that we don’t use enough in our safely bubbles.