June 1 is National Barefoot Day in the US. The barefoot movement, thankfully, has been spreading. Going barefoot is natural, not so much in modern day with asphalt and concrete and shoe-wearing since young.
If you want to go barefoot June 1 (or more regularly), here are a few tips from Katy Bowman, a Biomechanics expert and author of Alignment Matters:
Go barefoot More
Go shoeless at home to start building strength.
If you want to run barefoot, start walking barefoot around the block, increasing the distance only if you are foot-strong without any aches or pains. Up your barefoot walking on natural surfaces.
According to the blog post, No Shoes, No Problem! by Katy Bowman, calluses are indicative of robust cellular turnover, when it is happening naturally and all over the foot, and not as a result of friction with footwear.
Stretch and massage your whole foot and toes every day. Lift each toe separately and spread your toes to stretch out the abductors and strengthen the musculature. If you have bunions, be sure to go flat heeled or use negative heel technology and stretch out the big toe in particular.
Work on untightening hips which improves foot function.
A quarter of the body’s bones and muscles lie beneath the ankle. Allowing natural motion (re)builds the foot’s flexibility and strength. Wearing heels has negative implication for alignment and spinal health, which affects overall health and wellbeing.
Shift Your Weight
To have proper alignment, the body’s weight is over the centre of the heel bone. The pelvis is over the ankles and the forefoot is active. Walk heel to toe.
Katy Bowman reminds us that the foot has 33 joints which allow for billions of unique foot motions, each one a different brain-body communication. She cites text books covering only three motions.
The way the foot bends in tiny amounts to form to a surface creates a picture of what is underneath the foot. A healthy foot creates an “image” in the brain (very similar to sonar) that helps the body’s centre of mass position itself perfectly over the surface’s contours for optimal balance.Katy Bowman, Alignment Matters1
Going barefoot has many benefits aside the ones mentioned. Being in contact with the earth, standing on grass, sand, water, wet concrete, connects the body with the earth’s natural and beneficial radiation. Find out the benefits of grounding, also called earthing.
1 Alignment Matters: The First Five Years of Katy Says by Katy Bowman, MS. Propriometrics Press, 2013. p45