I know- this seems like a small, inconsequential thing- going barefoot?? What is the big deal with that?
Well, like most things Paleo or ancestral, the big deal is that we just stopped doing basic things! And have for a long time!
Most non-Paleo folks never, ever make bone broth- taking bones to slow cook in water to make broth, and extract all the nutrients… (and incidentally collagen, and everything else that we haven’t even identified yet that heals our leaky guts, gives us vital, focused nutrition, and, incidentally, doesn’t waste food!) Bone broth also helps with digestion, helps our skin, hair and nails, and helps to prevent osteoarthritis, among other benefits.
The point here is that making bone broth used to be just “common sense”. As was going barefoot- just common sense! Now, if you don’t know it, most podiatrists, or “foot doctors”, recommend never going barefoot. They say it is damaging, and will lead to foot pain- we need that elevated heel, and ample cushioning, or our feet will fall apart in pain!
B.S. Our bodies have functioned very well indeed for millennia before foot doctors tread the earth in their Birkenstocks, and our feet are highly evolved “tension bridges” of elaborate tendons, bones and ligaments that are very sophisticated, and can adapt very well to what our bodies need on their own. They didn’t evolve to need, or want shoes!
Strangely enough, cushioned running shoes did not become available until the 1970’s! This is when the “running boom” started; also the low-fat high carb and sugar diet was recommended.
All of these are unmitigated DISASTERS, and have left us with people of my age (50’s and 60’s), with permanently damaged joints, from their feet to their hips and back, and a leaky gut from all the wheat and carbs and sugar they were encouraged to consume!
NOW, we all KNOW to eat a high fat, low carb, wheatless diet with minimal sugars and maximum nutrition, or nutrient density.
But, have you learned to “walk like a man” and go barefoot? Even just standing barefoot, on the earth or grass, gives you earthing benefits, which means you are grounded with the earth (as we were all throughout history), and it equalizes your electrical energy with the earth. (You are finally GROUNDED to Mother Earth!)
This is not a small thing. Just by being periodically grounded, inflammation in your body is lowered dramatically, leading to vastly improved sleep, less or eliminated snoring, and relief of muscle tension and headache, among many other benefits.
And so, just standing barefoot for brief periods is hugely beneficial. What about walking and running?
I do virtually ALL of my running barefoot, as I do my walking, at least in the warmer months. When you walk barefoot, or with minimalist footwear, the multi-faceted suspension bridge that is your foot, legs, knees, hips and back works in synergy, like a fine-tuned machine. Nothing gets out of “tune”, or stresses the alignment of your body- it all works together, strengthening what is weak, and adding flexibility to what is stiff.
Add in cushioned, squishy, high-heeled shoes? Everything is instantly out of sync, screwed up, you are like a gazelle walking on a thick mattress! You didn’t evolve for this, and you can hardly stand, much less excel in movement.
You don’t need to jump in feet first and barefoot sprint, do back flips, and go crazy doing handstands… Just start going barefoot, for brief periods. In the house, for sure- socks are fine, but do NOT wear shoes in the house. Walk around your back yard, or the park, barefoot! (What a concept!)
The irony is that walking around in our native state has become “strange”! It’s not. It’s as if if your vision is perfect, you really should be wearing glasses! No, and actually wearing glasses makes your vision weaker over time, just as wearing shoes makes your feet weaker over time- but more on this on a future podcast!
So, here is the bottom line, PaleoJay prescription for vastly better health, simply by not wearing shoes:
Spend all of your indoor time, either in socks or simply barefoot- (it’s really the same difference)!
Spend at least a few minutes outdoors totally barefoot, at least when it is warm enough.
Walk barefoot around your yard for amazing strengthening, stretching, and conditioning of your body from the feet to the lower back. Plantar fasciitis will disappear simply from this, as will most knee, hip and lower back pains!
Invest in minimalist footwear. I use the Xero shoes, which are simply a piece of rubber beneath your foot and the ground to protect your foot from glass, rough surfaces, and other damaging objects. Otherwise, your foot performs exactly as it would when barefoot, and preserves the proper alignment of your body from the ground up. And, if you occasionally just grab a tree, or touch the ground with your hand, you will be “grounded”, for that benefit. ( It doesn’t take long)
In colder weather, I wear moccasins, ones that have no elevated heel, and no cushioning. They are kind of like socks for the outdoors! They work wonderfully for walking around, and keep my feet and lower extremities “fit and toned”.
And in WINTER? Well, here is Wisconsin, I give in! I wear Sorel boots, I walk around in my woods with thick pac-boots, or on my cross country skis or snowshoes, and don’t worry about it. But inside the house?
I pad about in stockinged feet, upstairs. When I work out in the living room, I am always barefoot, and this is every single day! And when I do my basement, hard charging, intense workouts, usually once per week, I wear my Xeroshoes! My basement is rough concrete and dirt, so barefoot is not appropriate, and the Xero’s are wonderful in such an environment. Even squatting, and pistol-style squatting is so much more natural and beneficial when done in a barefoot style with no raised heel or cushioning underfoot!
So- GO BAREFOOTIN’!!