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The Bare Truth: Why Going Barefoot is Good for You




Why Try Barefooting

I have always enjoyed being barefoot. I view shoes as accessories more than requirements, and there were a few years of my life when I valiantly refused to wear shoes, even in areas where it was socially unacceptable. While I was pressured out of it, I rediscovered my love for exploring the world with my own two feet while I was a camp host in Maryland.


I have had a weak left ankle ever since twisting it while hiking on Old Rag, and struggle with finding the right shoes to wear hiking. I was on my morning hike and realized that I had worn my Crocs, an unsuitable choice for the rocky winding path. In a moment of clarity, I decided to simply take off my shoes and forge ahead. All at once my love for barefooting came rushing back.





With shoes, the rocky terrain of the forest trail felt imposing. I tripped and stumbled often, and stepping on anything other than flat ground pained my ankle. Without shoes, the trail was beautiful. The ground was soft with morning dew, the stones had varying textures, and stepping on them with bare feet made me wonder: what type of rock is this? How long has this been here? Was this area once underwater? As I began my new daily practice of a barefoot hike each morning, I felt that I enjoyed it more than before, and was able to truly be in the moment.


Yoga Photo

Benefits of Barefooting


Natural Alignment and Posture:

Going barefoot allows your feet to connect with the ground in a way that shoes simply don't permit. Without the constraints of footwear, your feet can naturally align with the contours of the terrain, promoting better posture and balance. This, in turn, can have a positive impact on the alignment of your entire body, reducing the risk of musculoskeletal issues.


Strengthens Foot Muscles:

Modern shoes often provide excessive support, leading to weakened foot muscles over time. Going barefoot challenges your feet to adapt and engage muscles that are typically underutilized. This natural strengthening can contribute to improved stability, agility, and overall foot health.


Enhanced Sensory Perception:

Your feet are equipped with thousands of nerve endings, and going barefoot allows these sensory receptors to engage with the environment. This heightened sensory perception not only connects you more intimately with your surroundings but also improves proprioception—the body's ability to sense its position in space. As a result, you become more aware of your movements and surroundings.


Improved Circulation:

The free movement of your toes and the natural flexing of your foot muscles that come with going barefoot can enhance blood circulation in your feet. Improved circulation is crucial for delivering oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and tissues, promoting overall foot health.


Reduced Impact on Joints:

Traditional footwear often provides a cushioning effect that can dull your awareness of the impact your feet have on the ground. Going barefoot, on the other hand, encourages a more mindful and gentle gait, reducing the impact on your joints and potentially lowering the risk of injuries.


Connection with Nature:

Beyond the physical benefits, going barefoot fosters a deeper connection with nature. Feeling the texture of grass, sand, or soil beneath your feet can be a grounding and meditative experience, allowing you to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of the natural world.





Barefoot hiking photo

How to Practice Safely


With the being world dominated by shoes and paved surfaces, it is not always socially acceptible or safe to be barefoot in public. However, especially when out in nature, it is clear that shunning your shoes can provide more than just the joy of feeling the earth beneath your feet.


While I mostly wear shoes in public places, I still identify as a barefooter and forego shoes as often as possible. This includes activities like hiking, biking, swimming, working out, and lounging around my personal space or in open-minded areas. How to practice barefooting safely:


Choose safe spaces

Be aware of your surroundings. If it is against the rules or there are too many hazards, try again elsewhere.


Take it slow

If you're new to barefooting, start slowly and gradually increase the duration of your sessions. Begin with short walks or standing sessions and observe your physical and mental response.


Stay alert

Keep an eye out for things you probably don't want to step on, such as wildlife, sharp plants, feces, or garbage.


Keep a spare pair of shoes on you

I always keep a spare pair of shoes on me in case of an emergency. If in public, many buildings will not allow you to enter without shoes.


Conclusion

In a world where shoes have become an integral part of daily life, rediscovering the simple practice of going barefoot can offer a plethora of benefits for your physical and mental well-being. From improved posture and foot strength to enhanced sensory awareness and a deeper connection with nature, the simple act of feeling the earth beneath your feet can be a transformative and rejuvenating experience. So, kick off your shoes, embrace the bare truth, and let your feet lead you to a healthier and more grounded way of living.







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Hi, I'm Koi!

I'm an environmental project manager who decided to make a change from office life to to outdoor projects and small business ownership.

My goal is to help promote forward movement in outdoor spaces and live events towards full accessibility and diversity by giving everyone the inspiration and tools to create their own adventure.

I love self expression, hiking, music festivals, and Burning Man, and want to show that celebrating diversity in the outdoors makes it better for everyone.

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A mobile loctician goes to folks' homes or meets them in a neutral location in order to do their hair. I travel far and wide to spread hair love to other dread heads! I do the crochet method, and can work with any hair texture, including straight and curly hair. Check out Dread King to learn more. 

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