many years ago, my partner and i lived on a “ranch” in the hills of norcal, not far from the napa county vineyards. it was technically meant to be a vacation place, but a few of us were bucking the system and living there rather permanently.
one of the other rebel dwellers was a man by the name of jim – a self-proclaimed “hill jack” from upstate new york.
jim was pretty cool for a variety of reasons, but one of the most memorable things about him was that he was always barefoot.
yeah, i though it was a little weird at the time, but i also couldn’t help but marvel at how someone could walk around the hills – on prickly fallen oak leaves, pine needs, sticky weeds, and the rest – without any shoes on. ‘dude must have some serious callouses on those feet’, we used to muse.
but recently, i’ve embraced this barefooted lifestyle for myself.
granted, i don’t go out in public this way, and i have no interest in walking around on sidewalks or in stores without shoes on, but i have to say – walking around barefoot on the soil feels fucking amazing.
i was so juiced about this experience that i urged my partner to get on board with it.
he is now equally juiced. possibly more.
and, being the science studies junky / jack-of-all-trades / renaissance man that he is, he’s convinced that there are serious scientifically-based reasons why being barefoot feels so good. “we run on electricity”, says he. “when you ground an electrical wire, what you’re doing is literally sticking it into the ground in order for the earth to absorb the charge. it makes perfect sense that having our feet in contact with the earth is grounding.”
a quick google search brought up this article, in which a doctor is quoted as saying; “walking with your feet directly touching the soil allows your body to absorb negative electrons through the Earth, which helps to stabilize daily cortisol rhythm and create a balanced internal bioelectrical environment.”
in my own observations, i’ve noticed that being barefoot not only makes me feel more grounded, but it also makes me a bit playful and child-like. (remember being a kid? playing outside barefoot was a regular thing! and it was awesome.)
additionally, walking barefoot seems to have a stabilizing effect on my whole body. my back pains and other body aches seem to dissipate, and even my body temperature responds. if it’s hot out, the ground cools me, and more surprisingly – if it’s cold, being barefoot has actually made me feel warmer.
now i’m not advocating for walking around without any shoes on in the snow, but on many-a-chilly bay area night i’ve gone outside all bundled up, then thought ‘naw it’s too cold to relax outside’. but then – counter to what seems like a good idea – i take off my shoes & socks, and put my feet on the earth. it’s chilly right at first, but then almost immediately my body starts to warms up. as if my feet are signaling this reality of “cold” to the rest of my body, and my body temperature adjust accordingly.
it actually makes sense if you think about it.
to quote my partner again – “how can our bodies warm themselves in cold weather if our feet are always encased in ‘shoe environment’? shoe environment is always hot and sweaty!”
aside from being hilarious, he makes really great points.
there’s another factor that may explain this – something called fascia.
you may have heard about the “new” organ recently discovered in the human body… which they’re calling interstitium. well, it’s actually fascia (according to a friend of mine, who is a physical therapist and jokingly calls herself a “fascia-ist”.)
she was excitedly telling us all about it in yoga class recently.
we’ve known about fascia for a long time – it’s the connective tissue that gives you that sensation of “stretching” when you stretch your body, she explained.
according to her, the interstitium is basically a layer of fascia that sits right underneath the skin and covers the entire body, from the bottom of our feet to the tops of our heads.
but more interestingly – this fascia isn’t just there to hold stuff together – it communicates information.
so now we know that we have this big amazing organ existing right there, under our skin, sending information through our entire body. which may help explain why my barefoot walks have had such positive effects on my whole being.
i love this so much i could go on about it all day.
i won’t do that, but i will invite you to go for a barefoot walk sometime, on the lovely dirt nearest you. i think you’ll be glad you did.
and, please do share your experiences with me if you do it! i’d love to hear 🙂