There has been a huge trend towards barefoot training over the last few years. Fuelled in part by the multi-billion dollar shoe industry seeing an opportunity to charge more for less in their minimalist range of shoes.
But should we be spending more time barefoot?
In my opinion, absolutely.
Now I’m not talking about barefoot running, or training, I’m just talking about being barefoot in general. There are strong cases both for and against the higher impact activities like running in barefoot, and I don’t want to get bogged down in those arguments because frankly, I don’t know enough about those activities to make an educated case one way or the other.
What I’m talking about is just spending some time without your shoes on, preferably outdoors on grass or the earth.
Nearly a Quarter of the Bones in the Human Body are in the Feet.
There are 26 bones in each foot and when we’re born they’re mostly made of cartilage. The bones in out feet don’t fully harden until we’re about 21 years old!!
When did humans begin wearing shoes, anyway?
About 40,000 years ago, according to research from Washington University in St. Louis that analyzed foot bones from Neanderthals and early humans. Older specimens had thicker, stronger toes, likely from gripping the ground as they walked barefoot. That’s around the same time that the archaeological record shows a plethora of artistic and technological advancements among early humans, including the first stone tools, which may have aided in the production of shoes. The oldest preserved shoe, incidentally, is 5500 years old and was found in an Armenian cave, buried in sheep dung.
Feet are one of the most ticklish parts in the Human Body
There’s a good reason for that: Humans have nearly 8000 nerves in our feet and a large number of nerve endings near the skin. Having ticklish feet can be a good sign: reduced sensitivity can be an indicator of neuropathy.
The Feet, specifically the toes, are directly adjacent to the genitals in the Somatosensory Cortex.
Areas of the brain that are next to each other, can and do tend to affect each other. This might be part of the reason why some people find feet to be an erogenous zone.
There’s a growing body of research, one that we pay quite a lot of attention to here at AMN that suggests ‘grounding’ or ‘earthing’ is very beneficial for your health.
A review published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health looked at a number of studies that highlight how drawing electrons from the earth improves health. In one, chronic pain patients using grounded carbon fibre mattresses slept better and experienced less pain.
Another study found that earthing changed the electrical activity in the brain, as measured by electroencephalograms. Still other research found that grounding benefitted skin conductivity, moderated heart rate variability, improved glucose regulation, reduced stress and boosted immunity.
One particularly compelling investigation, published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found that earthing increases the surface charge of red blood cells. As a result, the cells avoid clumping, which decreases blood viscosity. High viscosity is a significant factor in heart disease, which is why so many people take blood thinning aspirin each day to improve their heart health. Another study in the same journal found that earthing may help regulate both the endocrine and nervous systems, so as you can see, according to these studies spending some time barefoot and outdoors each day could be key to some dramatic health benefits.