3 Surprising Health Benefits Of Walking Barefoot
Walking is so natural that we end up not thinking much about the way we walk.
Researched, written by Amber & The Team
Updated on December 30, 2022
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Are there any benefits of walking barefoot? Can it improve our health?
Undoubtedly, walking is one of the most natural actions in our daily lives. In fact, it is so natural that we end up not thinking much about the way we walk.
But the shoes we wear and our posture when walking can have a profound impact on our mental and physical health. There are several health-related advantages, even if you do it for just a few minutes each day.
In this quick research, we are exploring 3 main benefits of walking barefoot. And, if you’re not sure how to get started, check the second part of this article. We will give you a few tips to help you take the first steps.
3 Health Benefits of Going Barefoot
Walking barefoot on safe surfaces supports mindfulness, grounding, and the strengthening of your foot’s muscles and ligaments. Because of this, walking without shoes can yield many health benefits – let’s look at the most important ones.
1. Walking Barefoot Restores Your Natural Walking Pattern
Your walking pattern can say a lot about your overall well-being, and it is a factor often used by doctors as a measure of human health. Your walking pattern – which is also referred to as gait – can be either natural or unnatural (if it is due to continued use of a certain type of shoes or because of improper posture).
Looking at your gait, it is possible to determine whether there are underlying issues with the mechanics of the hips, ankles, knees, or spine. Thus, one of the most important benefits of going barefoot is that it can help you restore your natural gait which. In turn, it supports the health of your spine, boosts mobility, and improves posture.
2. Walking Barefoot Can Reduce Pain and Discomfort
Walking barefoot can help you improve your foot mechanics. Better foot mechanics can reduce the pain and discomfort deriving from chronic conditions, including arthritis. Additionally, if you have been struggling with issues deriving from ill-fitting shoes (or deformities such as hammertoes and bunions), walking barefoot can help you find relief from the discomfort.
Going barefoot or choosing minimalist running shoes can also help you enjoy your workout more. This is one of the most welcomed benefits of walking barefoot by people whose gym sessions, jogs, or games are often interrupted by foot, ankle, or leg pain.
3. Spending More Time Barefoot Can Improve Balance, Strength, and Flexibility
Wearing highly supportive shoes can be beneficial in the short term. However, over time, they can weaken your foot structure, muscle, and ligaments, thus making you more prone to injuries and chronic conditions.
According to a study published by Nature, choosing minimal footwear or choosing shoes that mimic the feeling of walking barefoot can strengthen the feet, toes, and legs, while also increasing stability and balance.
Even more important benefits of walking barefoot are related to proprioception (also known as kinaesthesia, or the sense of self-movement and body preposition). Having a better sense of your body’s position in the space around you can help you improve your sports performance and avoid injuries while walking or exercising.
3 Tips to Reap All Of The Benefits of Walking Barefoot
If the benefits above have convinced you to give walking barefoot a try, be sure to keep in mind the tips below. They will help you to avoid injuries and discomfort as your feet get used to it.
1. Invest in Special Footwear That Emulates the Feeling of Being Barefoot
Going barefoot isn’t always possible, especially outdoors or during the winter months. Luckily, you don’t need to give up on your project.
With a pair of best barefoot running shoes, you can enjoy all the advantages of going barefoot while adding a layer of protection and warmth to your feet.
This kind of minimalist footwear is also a great stepping stone in your journey toward walking barefoot outdoors.
2. Start Slowly and Be Mindful of How You Walk
Once you have decided to go barefoot, you’ll need to give your feet time to adapt. That is why, to avoid injuries, you should follow a few best practices.
- Keep barefoot walking sessions 15- or 20-minute long.
- Take a break if you start to feel discomfort.
- Start indoors and on safe surfaces.
- Check your feet for scratches and cuts before and after each session.
One key strategy to avoid injuries is to take advantage of mindfulness practices:
- When walking barefoot, your skin will come into contact with the surface of the earth – notice that and explore how it feels.
- You can also practice grounding techniques, which have been seen to help with anxiety, depression, and inflammation. Keep your focus on how you walk while you are barefoot. Notice the weight of your body that keeps you on the ground.
- Think of ways to make walking barefoot more pleasant, so you can enjoy a more intense and safer experience.
3. Strengthen Your Feet With Regular Exercise
Your feet will need to get used to coming into contact with hard, rough, or uneven surfaces without the support that closed shoes often provide! So, take your time to get used to this feeling and spend a few minutes each day exercising the muscles of your feet and toes.
As you can see, there are several great health benefits of walking barefoot. If you want to reap them, start slowly, gradually, and mindfully. Be curious about the experience. Enjoy the growing abilities of your feet muscles. If possible, walk barefoot on grass or sea sand in the summer – your feet and soul will love it.
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