A great conversation starter.
Being out of the norm makes for a great conversation starter with people your pass. When someone asks “where are your shoes?”, it creates an opportunity for you to share your reasons and thoughts for supporting this effort. Encourage him or her to do their own research and if interested, join us in spreading the word. You can always give those feet a scrubbing when you get home. Try barefooting when adventuring at the local park, when on a hike, on a walk in the neighborhood, on a shopping trip, a visit to the dentist, or during a picnic – just to name a few ideas. The more often you do, the more conversations you will be able to start.
Be a kid again!
Remember summer as a kid: no more homework, just endless time to play in the yard barefoot? Turns out having those bare feet were not only comfortable but also has major health benefits including: strengthening the feet and lower legs, increasing agility, reducing injury, heightening awareness, and developing good posture. Feet have over 200,000 nerve endings; bettering our ability to climb, pivot, balance, and adjust rapidly to differences in terrain6. Going barefoot is not only beneficial for children, but also for adults. Benefit for all ages include strengthening arches, ankles, feet and lower legs7. It also encourages a natural gait while you’re out exploring.
Enjoy a barefoot hike.
A great activity you can enjoy yourself or with the whole family is barefoot hiking. This is sure to start a conversation with passersby. Contrary to belief your feet will quickly adjust. Because feet are flexible, clingier, and more tactile than shoes, bare feet often provide better stability, increased environmental awareness, heightened proprioception (awareness of the position and movement of the body), and better balance when on the trail. Additionally, it offers a sensory experience that you (and your children) will enjoy. “The sensations from every part of the earth’s surface—leaves, rocks, soil—will leave you with a more full and dynamic hiking experience”8. On the next hike, leave those shoes in your backpack, and leave only footprints along the trail.
Ground yourself and relieve stress.
Believe it or not, scientific research is being conducted on the benefits of grounding. Grounding or earthing is direct skin contact with the surface of the earth9. Evidence shows grounding may be a natural yet effective way to reduce stress, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, and even help with cardiovascular disease10. Grounding works on that basis that the human body is made of atoms containing positively and negatively charged electrons. When an imbalance causes an atom to lose a electron, it becomes charged – the positive charge is capable of damaging cells and contributing to chronic inflammation. Feet on the earth rebalance the atoms in your body, reducing your charge11.Whether grounding is proven or not, one thing is clear – removing those tight socks or shoes does feel good. And since stress has been linked to overuse of electronic devices in children and adults; we think this is a great conversational piece. It’s an easy way to begin explaining why children (and adults) need to get outside and explore their world.
No laws against going barefoot.
Can you do this without getting in trouble? Yes. Contrary to popular belief, state health codes and occupational health and safety codes do not require shoes to be worn. We would recommend starting with outdoor activities – these are the best and easiest option – and support the mission of getting outdoors! When you’re feeling adventurous, expand to other places. As long as the place does not have a specific policy, you will be good to explore.
References to online resources have been included in this article. These sites are not affiliated or endorsed by baresolesexplorer.org; however, we encourage you to investigate the information found on their pages and develop your own conclusions.