What Being Barefoot Does to Your Brain
There are two types of moms in this world–those who let you run around in the yard without any shoes on and those who forced you to pull on tube socks and strap on closed-toed shoes before you could even let your feet hit the grass. Though we love our momma, sadly, she was firmly part of the latter group and she wouldn’t ever let her shoe rules slip, even in the summertime.
Suffice it to say, now that we’re adults we take any opportunity that we can to go barefoot–and, as it turns out, our inclinations might not be completely senseless.
In an insightful article penned by legendary education consultant and child development expert, Rae Pica, the educator and keynote speaker points to the very first edition of her textbook, Active Learning Across the Curriculum: Teaching the Way They Learn!, in which she writes about why parents should consider letting their kiddos go barefoot more often.
Children have been moving in sneakers for physical activity for so long we seem to have forgotten that feet do have sentient qualities. They can be used to grip the floor for strength and balance, and their different parts (toes, ball, sole, heel) can be more easily felt and used when bare. Furthermore, there is evidence indicating that going barefoot strengthens feet and improves body alignment. Young children feel a natural affinity for the ground that can be enhanced by removing all the barriers between it and the feet.
See! Skipping out on shoes isn’t so bad after all. According to Pica’s research, the occasional eschewing of sneakers can really do a body good–especially the one of a child, which is developing at a rapid pace.
Now, if you know anything about movement or kinesiology, then perhaps the information from the above paragraph isn’t much of a revelation to you. Of course, skipping shoes can help promote balance. Duh!
Ok, let’s try this fact on for size–skipping shoes can also increase healthy brain function. Yep, we’re not kidding…
In a post published by Natural Child Magazine, Dr. Kacie Flegal, D.C., a vitalistic chiropractor and member of the International Chiropractic Pediatrics Association (ICPA) says that, when children go barefoot, they can gain a platform that allows the development of higher brain centers, like the ones responsible for emotional control, problem-solving, language, social skills, and self-assurance.
And, the benefits aren’t just felt by little ones, as it turns out, barefoot adults also reap a ton of brain-healthy rewards. Dr. Flegal writes:
It is never too late to encourage the proprioceptive and vestibular systems in our own bodies as we continue to grow new neural connections, even as we age. Often, it is the proprioceptive and vestibular systems that become inhibited as adults. We lose balance and focus in our bodies and our lives and, as a result, may lose profound connections to our environment, ourselves, and other people.
What the good doctor is getting at, is that going barefoot forces the body to connect with its natural alignment, as well as its natural environment. And, by simply shedding this clothing item, you will promote your own personal mind-body awareness, no matter what age you may be.
This just goes to show you that one simple–and free–act can do more for your mental and physical health than you ever could have imagined. So, kick those shoes off and get ready to feel better!
We’d love to hear your thoughts on all things bare feet! Do you like to go barefoot? Do you let your kids do it? Do you wear your shoes in the house–or do you take them off?