A Guide to Barefoot Walking

A Guide to Barefoot Walking

Walking barefoot, also known as “earthing”, might be something you carry out unnoticed for a small part of your day. Earthing means walking barefoot on soil, grass, or sand. Basically, any natural surface, so roads and sidewalks don’t quite make the cut. For many, walking barefoot is a practice and ritual they carry daily and reap the benefits it brings, but there are key things you should know before embarking on this sensory connection with Mother Earth. 

VivoBarefoot explains, “the natural foot is wide (fan-shaped), flexible (with three dynamic arches) and sensory (with thousands of nerve endings)”. Much like our hands, our feet also send and receive information from the same part of the brain. Due to modern day shoes, although very aesthetically pleasing, remove this sensory communication resulting in a lack of skill in movement and, possibly, pain. When running, there is a mass amount of impact that needs to be absorbed to remain stable and prevent injury. The arches of the foot and ankle can supply a shield for 52% of this shock. By removing this, which can be defined as ‘heel-striking’, puts pressure on the knees and hips where pains and injuries can begin to develop. The rocking science of healthy walking, as mentioned by VivoBarefoot, the foot has 3 ‘rockers’:

  1. The heel rocker
  2. The ankle rocker
  3. The forefoot (big toe) rocker

Who knew we would have such hard-driving beat lovers down there? The big toe is mighty, the flexibility and strength it holds plays a big role in healthy, natural locomotion. 

Immerse your being in the benefits

“The most straightforward benefit to barefoot walking is that in theory, walking barefoot more closely restores our ‘natural’ walking pattern, also known as our gait,” says Dr. Johnathan Kaplan - foot and ankle specialist, and orthopedic surgeon. Immersing in the ritual of barefoot walking reveals a rewilding experience in nature, grounding through the earth beneath you in your natural form of strides. Early studies show health benefits can be seen in the relationship between our bodies and the electrons from the earth. With this natural charge, we tend to do better when we’re connecting and earthing with it. Needless to say, there are huge mental health benefits from spending time outdoors in green or blue spaces (by forests or by seas), truly embracing nature and releasing those juicy endorphins.

With shoes and trainers, we see on our shelves with comfy cushioning creating a pillow-like dream for your feet, not is all as it seems, Dr. Bruce Pinker explains “they can prevent you from using certain muscle groups that can actually strengthen your body.”

Other benefits include:

  • Increased foot control positioning when connecting with the earth
  • Improvements with balance, proprioception, and body awareness which is said to reduce pain
  • Increases antioxidants
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Relieves stress
  • Increased strength in legs, providing support to other areas of the body
  • Relief of constraining shoes and foot deformities
  • The functioning of the foot improves which positively affects the hips, knees and core
  • Reduces chronic inflammation in the body
  • Improves sleep
  • Beneficial for our well-being, duh!

Our Shoes Heritage

Shoes can be dated back to more than 40,000 years ago, made to protect humans from thorns while hunting and are still seen amongst the bushmen in Kalahari today. The indigenous shoe was simple, wide and flexible that supported the foot in doing its own groovy thing. Today’s shoe can be seen to restrict and manipulate the natural formation and performance of our feet possibly leading to injury. 

“We are more likely to injure ourselves on soft surfaces than hard surfaces - whatever type of shoe you are wearing, soft surfaces reduce elastic recoil and create excessive muscle activity, which is the major source of injuries” - VivoBarefoot.

Where to begin

If you’re ready for some rewilding and connecting to your ancestral roots in the form of nature walking and earthing, there are a few things to guide you along your way. Mastering how to walk and exercise barefoot takes time and patience, so before you decide to throw out all your shoes let this information be absorbed, allowing this to flow freely and without repentance.

Begin slowly - Let your feet and ankles adapt to barefoot walking by starting off with 15-to-20-minute sessions and increase the distance and time when it feels good. 

Knowing when to slow down - If you feel any discomfort or new pain, reduce the time you’re spending barefoot walking. We have spent a long time in shoes that have affected the strength of our feet. Listen to your body if it’s asking you to slow down. 

Indoors still work too - Before you take a hike out into the open road, I advise you to consider walking around your home, garden or area where you know the surface is safe.

A minimalist shoe - While your feet are adjusting to this new sensation a minimalist shoe, one VivoBarefoot can provide, can still give a little structure and protection before going completely barefoot.

Balancing - Practising your balance, (standing on one foot, pressing yourself up onto your toes and lowering down slowly), promotes brain-to-foot connectivity while strengthening the muscles and tendons in your feet. 

Take advantage of barefoot activities - Perform barefoot activities like Yoga, Pilates, or Martial Arts where you can get used to the feeling over moving freely.

Look at your feet - Take a peep at those toes and heels, examine them for injury as a lot of us have a loss of sensation in our feet. 

We exercise our minds and muscles, improve our mental health, reduce stress and support overall wellness by walking. Kicking our shoes off amplifies these benefits, as well as, synchronising with the Earth’s natural electric charge. If you’re unsure whether it’s the path you’d like to walk on, consult your primary doctor or foot doctor. On an evolutionary level, it makes complete sense: we grow and evolve so close to the earth, and only in recent years have we built a barrier between us, removing ourselves from nature. Let’s thrive in a modern world and take a step forward into our ancestral roots, barefoot of course. 



  1. Vivobarefoot.com. 2021. Learn About Barefoot | Barefoot Science | Vivobarefoot UK. [online] Available at: <https://www.VivoBarefoot.com/uk/science> [Accessed 16 September 2021].
  2. Oschman, J. et al., 2012. Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the man body to the Earth’s surface electrons. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, p.1-8. [online] Available at: <https://www.hindawi.com/journals/nephew/2012/291541/> [Accessed 16 September 2021].
  3. Oschman, J., Chevalier, G. And Brown, R., 2015. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Journal of Inflammation Research, p.83-96. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378297/> [Accessed 16 September 2021].
  4. Healthline. 2021. Does Walking Barefoot Have Health Benefits?. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/walking-barefoot#benefits> [Accessed 16 September 2021].
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