Being barefoot is not only good for you it is essential for brain development as the soles of our feet transmit important messages about our surroundings to our brains.
We have 5 basic senses – sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste – that send important information from our environment to our brains however, there are 2 more senses that as less well known, the proprioceptive system and the vestibular system.
The proprioception gives us the ability to perceive the motion and position of our bodies in space, while the vestibular system is responsible for balance and coordination. Both of these senses rely deeply on the information we receive through our feet which shoes block. This is why it is essential to go barefoot, especially in young children.
When activated through pressure and movement nerve endings in our feet, send signals to our brain telling it how the body is oriented, called proprioceptors this information is then used to protect the foot from injury but also to make subtle adjustments to the way we walk to protect bones and joints all over our bodies.
Parents often put shoes on their babies as soon as they can walk, sometimes even before, however this prevents the stimulation of the proprioceptors hindering the development of strong neurological pathways. Therefore limiting the child’s movement and impairing balance and coordination.
There are many other physical health benefits of being barefoot, these are to do with posture, the muscles in the foot, blood circulation in the lower body along with some mental health benefits too.
Walking barefoot has some similar affects as reflexology and affects the way the muscles in our feet develop. This affects the natural position of our feet and in the long run our posture. It also reactivates blood circulation and in turn reduces swelling and heaviness in the lower legs.
Being barefoot also allows your feet to heal from any foot blemishes, which can be due to the restrictive nature of the shoes we wear as well as the high levels of bacteria that can be found in shoes. Of course one of the best benefits of walking barefoot it that it that the relaxation of the muscles and circulatory systems throughout the body create a soothing effect.
Of course it is highly important to take care when deciding to go barefoot, being aware of the risks in the areas you decide to be barefoot in and checking foot health is essential. However, as long as you take care, ensuring you and your child go barefoot on a variety of terrains can improve your overall health in the long run.