Why Walk Bare?

No matter what, we always go back to barefoot walking. 

We call barefoot walking “the greatest exercise on earth” (a term we first heard from Neuroplastician Dr. Merzenich of Brain Matters) for a reason. Because we feel it really is.

Walking barefoot each sunrise and sunset is where we do our best brainstorming for our books. It’s where we swap ideas, feel things out, and have our greatest “ah-ha” moments.

You could call our time barefoot walking our “lab time” or our “creative time” the time we’d go outside, connect with the earth, and then come back with our most innovative ideas.

Perhaps you could call barefoot walking the refreshing deep breath we all need when things get hectic. That deep breath that gives us back our “ahhhhhhh”.

During our barefoot running talks, people always ask, what do I do if I’m not ready to start running, or if I don’t like to run, or if I don’t have the health or strength to run, or if they’re too old (there really is no such thing) or too heavy.

For them, and for nearly everyone, we prescribe barefoot walking. It’s an activity nearly everyone can do, and a much kinder, gentler way to begin exercising and returning to your greatest health than starting with running.

It’s something youth can do to grow their feet and limbs strong; it’s something seniors can do to roll back the clock,  gain balance, strength, flexibility, and even greater bone density. And it’s something all of us can do, even with the most hectic of schedules to get or stay in shape, and quiet our minds in the process.

Below are a few of the many benefits of Barefoot Walking:

1. Walk Lighter - You begin to walk lighter.

When you go barefoot, you get immediate feedback off of the ground. Bye-bye go the days of the heel strike, or the heavily extended leg smacking into the ground. Instead you become light, because you have to. You start to relate to stories of native Americans in the past, moving through the forest without even the sound of a broken branch. You begin to understand why barefoot walking is so much kindler and gentler on the body. And you may begin to startle others, walking up to them without making a sound. 

2. Grow Taller - You stand taller, and with better posture.

When you begin going barefoot, you start standing lighter, and that means taller. You stand more erect, you eliminate your slouch, your shoulders stop rolling forward, you tuck your pelvis underneath you, and you stand more like a ballet dancer. This won’t be just noticeable by you, but by those around you, and your doctor as well at your next physical. Who said you don’t keep growing!

3.  Gain Confidence (along with grace and poise) - You’ll grow more confident.

There’s something empowering about knowing you can walk on any surface, or go anywhere you want with just your two feet, and without even needing shoes. If the end of the world were coming, those who don’t need shoes would probably stand the best chance. Either way, there’s great confidence in knowing you can put one foot in front of the other and get anywhere you want to go.

4.  You feel more relaxed – When you go barefoot, or plug back in to the earth, a natural calming and decrease of stress and anxiety occur.

Barefoot walking is really a mindfulness meditation, and with that meditation come many great affects. Even a simple barefoot walk midday can reduce stress, and done mornings and evenings and you’ll find yourself sleeping like a baby again, while gaining creativity (since your mind’s more relaxed) and decreasing your daily anxieties or worries.

5. You feel more connected to the earth – You can’t help but feel more a part of the Earth or the planet or the world or even neighborhood around you as you begin to go bare.

6. You see the world in a different way – Not only are you more connected to the earth, but see things differently.

Your feet have eyes. You begin to look at the path, at the hillside, even at the trees in a different way. No longer are you a spectator in the world around you, but an active participant. And with your feet unshod, you’re looking at the trail differently and your environment with new eyes. Even that boring park you’ve been through a thousand times looks changed or transformed once you take off your shoes. It’s as if you have a child’s newfound excitement and enthusiasm for the world around you and you may even think “what’s around that next corner” though you’ve been there a hundred times before.

7. Your mind quiets – You may find yourself taking off your headphones or Mp3, shutting off the cell phone, and just listening to your steps. Not only will you find the external world quieting, but the internal chatter of your mind. 

8. You will feel younger – Going barefoot or being bare isn’t just a new experience, it’s an old experience, one you experienced as a child.

Going barefoot taps into the muscle memories and experiences of your youth. You find yourself smiling, giddy, and filled with the laughter we all had as a child. As your body changes, grows stronger, and stands taller, and as the aches and pains subside, you’ll find yourself feeling younger, and by all methods of physical measurement, becoming younger. Think about it, greater strength, better posture, lower body fat, reduced anxiety, stronger cardio-vascular system, better balance, better tone and more. You’ll feel younger because your body’s happier, your mind’s happier, and your spirit is too!

For more on the benefits of going barefoot, check out upcoming book on Barefoot Walking.

Photo credits: Ken Fields Photography