By David Gelfand
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Walking barefoot has always been a pleasure. It’s unfortunate to think that, more often than not, our carefree moments barefoot are isolated to either early childhood or rare moments on a sandy beach. What’s important to note is that, being barefoot isn’t just a momentary pleasure. Yes, you get to feel young again, bend with life’s breeze, and much more, but that’s not all. This sort of connection is critical to sustaining our bodily posture, cell function and health.
For hundreds of years before our existence, humans lived in very close contact with the earth. Societies and people were living highly agrarian lifestyles, walking barefoot and constantly in direct contact with the earth.
This idea of walking and/or running barefoot has long been studied by the medical community but not until recently have the potential benefits been exposed. Doctors and other medical professionals have studied the barefoot movement and helped us understand where it fits into the modern shoe world.
When it comes to walking barefoot, the benefits are both biomechanical and molecular.
Biomechanical Barefoot Movement
From a biomechanics standpoint, our feet were meant to be bare. As newborns, we’re born with a thick cushion on the bottom of our feet. As the years go by, we become conditioned to wearing shoes and, as a result, lose that cushion that originally offered a natural protection. Moreover, a large heel-to-toe drop, added arch support and synthetic cushion all interfere with our natural movement.
Barefoot or minimalist shoes boast features that attempt to bring the wearer back to a biomechanical interaction with the earth’s surface. Their lightweight and thin-soled features are meant to allow you to walk and/or run in a way that’s nearly barefoot.
Nancy Carr is a Certified Pedorthist from West Palm Beach, Fl. She has been involved in the footwear industry for over 20 years and maintains a strong support for the barefoot movement. When asked about the biomechanics of our bare feet, Ms. Carr explains that, “Maintaining a ‘barefoot existence’ is absolutely imperative. By establishing and conditioning your feet to this sort of bare interaction, you’re able to get your bones and muscles in line with the natural surfaces that we walk on.” “This biomechanical positioning,” Ms. Carr goes on to say, “is crucial to the health and strengthening of our feet.”
Molecular Barefoot Movement
A critically important piece of barefoot existence is what we’re able to actually get in turn from the earth’s surface. The contemporary trend of Earthing suggests that when you’re barefoot, your body is able to absorb the earth’s limitless supply of electrons.
Too much oxidative stress within our bodies results in a build-up of free radicals. If free radicals aren’t paired with an electron, they can wreak havoc on the body and destroy healthy cells. As a result, this disruption may lead to health ailments such as heart disease and severe inflammation. Luckily, the earth’s surface offers the electrons that we need to maintain an optimally stable, healthy internal system.
As Dr. Roy Lidke, Podiatrist and Physicist, explains, “The greatest benefits [of going barefoot] lay in the potential for free electrons. Atoms and molecules do not like to be unbalanced (having a single electron in the outer shell of their structure). When this happens we call them ‘free radicals’.” When we are in direct contact with the earth, supplying these free radicals an ample supply of electrons, we allow them to convert to more innocuous structures. “Free radicals are involved in inflammation, cancer, aging and cell death,” explains Lidke.
The benefits of barefoot movement, therefore, are shown to be both external and internal. Aside from the natural movement and strengthening seen in minimalist shoes, recent study and dedication to the grounding and earthing trend has shown that the ample electrons in the earth are immensely valuable in stabilizing our bodies’ natural frequencies.
Earthing shoes have recently entered the realms of medical study and footwear production. Earthing or grounding shoes are designed to help our bodies regain natural balance and stability on a molecular level. Juil is one of the brands to recently enter this arena, designing earthing shoes and sandals by placing copper conductors through the sole of the shoe. By offering this direct, conductive connection, the wearer releases stress and toxins from his/her body in the form of free radicals and oxidative stress. To learn more about grounding shoes, visit www.juil.com.
Previous article by David:
- The Earth’s Surface May Serve as a Giant Source of Antioxidants in the Form of Free Electrons
- The One Connection We All Share
About the author:
David Gelfand, a graduate from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is a dedicated environmentalist with especially strong interest in sustainability and history. David is also an avid writer and traveler, spending much of his time in the capacity of a culinary enthusiast.
Working for an upstart footwear company called Juil, David is a part of a team that spreads the word about grounding and its associated benefits. Through marketing and educational efforts, David is passionate about the health benefits of this new concept in grounding footwear.