Just about 40,000 years ago, human beings made an elective decision that changed the course of humanity forever.
They started wearing shoes.
Although scientific theories differ as to why we started wearing shoes, several common ideas prevail.
For example, the time that we started wearing shoes corresponds with certain social changes humans were making.
Labor began to be divided. Agriculture started to replace hunting as the main source of sustenance. More precise tools were invented, such as sewing needles. So it seems as though shoes had less to do with protection being required, and more to do with the fact that we had the time and resources to consider covering our feet.
After all, warming your feet helps to maintain your entire body’s temperature.
And about 40,000 years ago, we were able to think less about where our next meal was coming from, and more about how to make ourselves more comfortable.
In the modern world, there are much better reasons to wear shoes.
Concrete is dirty, litter is everywhere, and most of the world more than half of the world lives in urban environments.
But what have we lost by severing the connection between our feet and the earth? As with most human inventions, shoes have altered our biology significantly since we’ve adapted to a new mechanism that the human body wasn’t designed to use.
There are surprising health benefits to kicking off our shoes and letting our feet commune with the ground.
Let’s explore what some of those health benefits are…
Walking barefoot restores the body to its natural walking position, or gait.
The shoes of the modern world are laced with technology that supports the heels, provides cushioning, and elevates and depresses the step in varying levels.
What that means is…
We’re not regulating our steps ourselves. The muscle groups we would have used to keep our spines erect and our gaits strong and regular aren’t being used, and thus aren’t as strong as they would have been.
When the small muscles in the feet have a barrier between them and the ground they’re walking on, it dilutes the information that they send to the larger muscles in the legs, and the messages that they send to the spine.
Walking barefoot improves our natural posture and balance.
Hitting Reflex Points
The science of reflexology is pretty simple.
There are reflex points on your hands and feet that are able to stimulate nerve functions to help you have more energy, better circulation, fewer headaches, more beneficial sleep, and reduced depressive symptoms.
When you walk barefoot, you’re stimulating the reflex points in your feet that chronic feet-coverers don’t expose to the world.
Walking barefoot allows the muscles in your feet to grow stronger, and the reflex points in your feet to be activated more regularly.
Negative Ion Charge
The earth has a negative ionic charge. Our bodies are made up mostly of water, which is an excellent electrical conductor.
What the means is… walking barefoot is a great way to connect to the earth’s negative ionic charge. What can that charge do for your body?
Research suggests that exposing your body to negative ions, either through the air, sunlight, or the earth, can reduce the symptoms of depression, influence cognitive performance, increase metabolism, regulate circadian rhythms, increase immune function, and promote antimicrobial activity.
Since it isn’t often considered safe to go barefoot in the corporate, urban universe humans have designed, being barefoot when you can is imperative.
Shoes serve the purpose to keep our feet warm and to prevent penetrative injury.
So whenever possible — in the woods, in your home, on bare grass, at the beach — slip off your shoes and stretch your toes.
Take your piggies out for a spin!
For more care-informed education on getting out our own way, head on over to the Urban Monk Academy — all courses designed and taught by me, and free for two weeks.