Your feet contain 20,000 neurons that talk directly to the brain. This makes your feet the most highly populated sensory area of your body, so it is no wonder why being barefoot not only feels amazing but has a number of benefits for your health that you may be surprised to read about – we will start with the obvious first.
Improved arch support
Your arches are formed by intrinsic muscles in the foot. Just as any other muscle in the body these can be strengthened over time to improve the natural support your foot – and a great way to improve arch support is to get barefoot when you can!!
Improved spinal posture
Remember that wearing shoes pitches your body forward and being barefoot allows you to distribute weight evenly through your feet. By having your ankles in a neutral position it allows for your knees, hips, shoulders and ears to fall back into alignment by taking pressure off of your lower back and knees. Check out Shoe: Friend or Foe blog to find out how your shoes can affect your posture.
Improved Pelvic Floor Control
Our pelvic floor is the basis for support around the urethra that keeps you continent. Your pelvic floor muscles can change based on your position whether you’re sitting, standing or doing pelvic tilts. What you wear on your feet has the potential to alter your pelvic position. Studies have shown that being barefoot with the ankle in neutral creates significantly more pelvic floor activity than a foot that is pointed – think position in a heeled shoe. So if you’re someone who is working on strengthening their pelvic floor, it might be time to swap the high heels and go barefoot or wearing flatter shoes. The shoes that we love are Vivo Barefoot which you can check out here https://www.vivobarefoot.com/
Stress relief, improved sleep, reduced pain and inflammation
Did you know that being barefoot can help you reconnect to the Earth? It is a practice called earthing which re-balances our bodies internal electrical system to promote balance in our cells and tissues. Increasing evidence shows that the Earth’s negative energy potential can improve normal functioning of all body systems including regulating cortisol (our stress hormone) secretions and neutralizing the free radicals involved in the bodies immune and inflammatory responses. There have also been studies showing rapid shifts in the nervous systems ability to switch from fight or flight to rest, digest, repair reproduce – so being barefoot can actually help support your Chiropractic adjustment! Luckily for us, summer has arrived, which means lots of time spent outside in nature. The ideal time spent earthing to reap the benefits is 30-40 mins of a day.
Your big toe is vital in your ability to balance. Balance is vital in your ability to move upright on two feet. There have been a number of studies showing the link between heel height and balance – the higher the heel the worse the balance AND the less efficient we walk. But it’s not just high heels that affect our balance. When we grow up wearing normal shoes our big toe may become restricted, its position altered (bunions) and can become lazy which can create an uncoordinated movement pattern.
Our feet contain 20,000 nerve endings which makes them power houses for sensory input into the brain. Your brain works on an input and output loop. Information needs to go up to the brain for the appropriate response to come down and out to every muscle cell organ in the body. This is the same thing that happens in your body when you get a Chiropractic adjustment – you are allowing for proper communication to your brain from your body and out again. As infants and children, it is this input that builds and grows neurological pathways particularly in the first 2 years of life. As adults, input from being barefoot helps to maintain proper balance and proprioception which is extremely important as we get older.
Summer is finally here so it is the perfect time to free up those fancy feet and get barefoot!
- Halski, T. Ptaszkowski, K. Slupska, L. Dmarek, R. Paprocka-Borowicz, M. Relationship between lower limb position and pelvic floor muscle surface electromyography activity in menopausal women: a prospective observational study, Clin Interventions in Aging, 2017; 12: 75-83
- Priya Kannan, Stanley Winser, Ravindra Goonetilleke & Gladys Cheing (2018) Ankle positions potentially facilitating greater maximal contraction of pelvic floor muscles: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Disability and Rehabilitation, DOI: 10.1080/09638288.2018.1468934
- Weon, J. Cha, H. The influence of high heeled shoes on balance ability and walking in healthy women, Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 2018 Jul; 30(7): 910-912
- Chevalier, G. Sinatra, S. Oschman, J. Sokal, K. Sokal, P. Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons, Journal of Environental and Public Health, 2012; 20102: 291541
- Pells, R.(2016) “Children with no shoes on ‘do better in clasroom’, major study finds” Independent
- (2018) ‘We love the big toe’ vivobarefoot, 01/05/2018, available at: https://www.vivobarefoot.com/uk/blog/may-2018/we-love-the-big-toe