You might be astounded to learn about the many evidenced benefits of spending time with bare feet on the earth’s surface. This practice of “earthing” has been shown to increase brain activity, regulate the endocrine and immune systems and provide constructive stimulation for the nervous system. Recent literature is even telling us that red blood cells are positively affected by the electron exchange that takes place between you and the ground when you shake your shoes off.
Why is it so beneficial to bare your feet? There are numerous advantages for the bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles, but I don’t even want to talk about those here. Instead I am going to talk about basic neurology. Your feet are highly sensitive systems of anatomy. They are densely innervated with nerve endings that sense where you are, what angle you’re standing on, what surface you’re on, how fast you’re moving…. Until you go and blunt that physiology with the stiff leather boots or heels you wear all day at work, or the thick midsole of those trainers that “cushion your ride” while you run. That’s right, shoes can be rather injurious to the function of your feet (and the rest of your kinetic chain, for that matter!) Don’t get me wrong; of course shoes have their place in this modern age, and every civilisation since Ötzi have covered their feet at various times. What matters though is that we can, and should spend much more time on natural ground than we currently do!
Dr Kelly Starrett (physical therapist and New York Times bestseller) suggests having one day of the week where you and your family spend the day primarily barefooted. It’s a great way to dramatically increase the hours you spend “earthed”, soaking up those system-wide benefits listed above.
In life you should always practice what you preach, and this is certainly an opportunity for me to provide an example. I have a standing desk in my office, and when I’m working I stand on top of three smooth river stones (4-5kg each). The stones provide an uneven surface upon which my feet are constantly working to balance, flex, grab and ultimately integrate. The ongoing sensory stimulation for my neuromusculoskeletal system is unquestionably beneficial. Sure, this might not be an achievable option for your workspace, but how can you shift your daily practice in this direction? What can you do to spend less time in your shoes and more time strengthening your skeletal, muscular, endocrine, immune, cardiovascular and nervous systems?
If you would like to find out more about integrating the ideas of this article, check out our upcoming events.
Want expert running tips straight to your inbox? Sign up here for my FREE training articles.