For ages, the trend in walking shoes was toward more cushioning and more advanced support. But, many people are finding that this model does not work for them and that, when it comes to footwear, less is definitely more. Enter the barefoot walking movement, which focuses on the health benefits of ditching your shoes and getting down on the ground.
Is Walking Barefoot Good For You?
Walking barefoot allows you to use your muscles and bones more naturally. This can mean stronger toes, feet, and ankles, which in turn protects foot, ankle, and leg health.
That said, there are potential dangers of walking barefoot, particularly outdoors. Sharp objects can cause cuts or bruises, and unprotected toes can become injured.
Effects Of Walking Barefoot
Walking barefoot gives you better control of the position of your foot as it strikes the ground. This leads to increased body awareness, which enhances balance and improves your gait. Over time, this also helps stabilize muscles and ligaments, giving you protection from strain and pain.
Walking Barefoot On A Treadmill
When people first start walking barefoot, experts recommend taking it slow. Start by exercising for just a few minutes barefoot as you will want to build up your callouses before going too hard. Walking barefoot on a treadmill is a safer choice than running, although both are acceptable given proper conditioning.
Using a treadmill is a good way to get used to walking without shoes since it’s a smooth, predictable surface.
Walking Barefoot On Grass
Once you have gotten comfortable with longer walking sessions indoors, head outside to practice on safe surfaces. Soft grass makes a great place to start. It cushions your feet and helps prevent impact injuries.
That said, choose the places you walk on grass carefully. Impediments like sticks and rocks can cause bruises or cuts. Stings from ants, bees, or wasps can be painful. Uneven surfaces can cause you to roll your ankle. Stay aware of your surroundings to cut the risk.
Walk Barefoot Comfortably With Barefoot Socks
One option that gives the benefits of barefoot walking while protecting your feet: barefoot walking socks. These are socks designed with little to no padding to separate you from the ground. You will still be able to feel the terrain beneath your feet, which encourages you to use appropriate body mechanics.
At the same time, they will give you a secure covering to keep your feet safer. Small sticks and rocks will not penetrate the surface, keeping you from getting scratched. You’ll be able to avoid dirt and muck on your feet. And, as temperatures get cooler, you can keep your feet warmer while still enjoying the benefits of going barefoot.
Ditch Your Shoes
Ditching your shoes before your walk is a great way to make yourself more aware of your body and get more out of it every time you go out. Over time, you’ll likely find that you experience less fatigue and less pain than you did when walking for exercise with shoes. Listen to your body, take it slow, and learn a different way of handling your health and fitness.