With the arrival of warm weather, many people look forward to sandal season–but others look forward to barefoot season. It used to be customary for children especially to go barefoot in the spring and summer, but our culture has changed and now shoes are the norm.
Going barefoot indoors in the winter is not unheard of, either, in this day and age of centrally heated homes. Taking off the shoes and going barefoot now and then–or regularly if possible–can have some real health benefits.
* Fewer Ingrown Toenails - Going barefoot – or “barefooting” – can decrease your chances of developing ingrown toenails. If you have had them before, going barefoot could prevent them from happening again. Without the confining pressure of shoes on the toes, nails can grow freely and correctly.
* Less Athlete’s Foot and Toenail Fungus – Fungus does not thrive when it is continually exposed to light and air. Going barefoot can reduce toenail fungus or athlete’s foot for this reason.
* Developing Foot Structure – Babies and children who are accustomed to going barefoot or wearing thin-soled footwear tend to have much stronger arches in their feet. Studies have shown that wearing shoes as young children can result in the formation of flat feet.
* Joints – When you wear shoes, especially shoes with heels, your central balance is thrown off. Your back has to compensate, and your joints have to work while being slightly out of alignment. Over time, this wears joints down and causes pain. Going barefoot encourages correct alignment of the hips and knees. There have been cases where people with painful backs, legs, and feet found their pain greatly reduced or eliminated after they started going barefoot regularly and often.
* Back Pain – Going barefoot, as noted above, promotes alignment of the joints. This includes the back, which has to arch uncomfortably to compensate for thick-soled or heeled shoes. Barefooting has even been shown to reduce post-injury back pain.
* Reduced Foot Problems – Proponents of barefoot walking report that corns, hammer toes, joint problems, and other foot discomforts eventually disappeared as they went barefoot.
* Muscle Development - Your legs and feet have muscles that were designed to walk and move. Barefooting taps into this natural toning program, creating stronger foot and leg muscles.
* Circulation – As your feet move naturally and freely in barefoot walking, your circulation is enhanced. Blood gets back to your heart more easily than if you were wearing confining shoes, because – as mentioned above – you are toning your leg muscles. Think of it as massaging your legs each time you walk barefoot, working the blood back to the heart.
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