When I started walking barefoot outside over three years ago, it hurt. The scene was reminiscent of the Saturday morning cartoon figure walking over ground glass with oohs, aahs and ouches emanating all around. Prospect Park is my stomping grounds and I try, now that the weather has turned, to hit the pavement unshod at least a couple of times a week.
Three years later, not only does walking shoeless not hurt, it has become a balm to my body—reordering it when things feel off. Not to share too much information, but feeling a little hung-over after poker on Friday, I stopped for a half hour barefoot walk in the park before heading to teach yoga on Saturday morning. I was amazed about how the tingling in my feet cleared the dull dehydrated throbbing in my head.
Searching alternative therapies on the internet is a lot of fun if you don’t mind reading wildly different opinions about the same subject. I am a big fan of anything that I think can be effective and I have written before about my appreciation for network chiropractic, as well as other therapies such as acupuncture and reflexology. Look for information about any of these practices online and you will invariably read how there is no scientific basis for any of the claims that many alternative medicines make.
While I am a healthy skeptic I see little need to discount something that works even though there is no way to provide hard data to corroborate. Reflexology posits that manipulation of the feet can relieve stress and pain; the idea being different points on the soles of the feet correspond with the organs and other systems of the body.
Walking barefoot outside tends to make you to walk better than you usually walk—the odds are you will take shorter strides and pound on your heels a little less—but the greatest benefit might be giving yourself a general reflexology session each and every time you walk barefoot outside.
Putting shoes on guarantees less movement within your feet, so take them off, hit the pavement and feel the massage. It is very sweet to walk on grass and when it is early enough and you can alternate between a dew-stained field and hard pavement, nirvana is close at hand. Shoes simply limit the ability for your feet to help with the rest of your body.