Looking for a New Experience? Try going outside in your barefeet!
Our feet, like our hands, are made to feel the environment around you. They are set up to be able to adapt to different terrain and at the same time offer a stable base for you to stand on or move from. They have lots of different types of sensory endings in the skin, muscle, tendons, ligaments and fasciae that are giving your brain information that help to determine what muscles will fire, how much effort it will take to move and balance, and what the environment is that you are in contact with.
We have reduced the input enormously by wearing shoes and socks from the time we start to walk. The environment is the same or similar all the time because we are always covering them up. This has greatly reduced our ability to use our toes individually which means the small muscles in your feet are not working as well as they should. These intrinsic muscles of the feet are very important in creating strong and dynamic feet. Wearing socks and shoes has also really limited the amount and variation of sensation that we receive through our feet. This affects how our nervous system reads information from our feet.
So be an adventurer and take a walk on the wild side by going outside and walking in your barefeet. Walk in the park, on the sidewalk, on the beach, in the snow (if we ever get any), in the ocean, in a stream, in your yard if you have one, or anywhere that you feel would give you optimal sensation on your feet. Your feet are likely not used to this so only walk a short distance at first. While you are doing this pay attention to what you feel. What is the temperature? What input are you getting from the surface you are on? What do your feet feel like? Is there any tingling or an increase in awareness of your feet?
Will your feet get ‘dirty’? Probably, but the best thing is that they come washable so will look as good as new with a bit of soap and water! We need strong feet to carry us through all our day to day activities as well as any sports or higher level functions. By creating a better body schema of our feet we have more opportunity to strengthen them and improve their resiliency.