The type of shoes you wear and how often you wear them matters to the health of your feet. This article shares 8 health benefits of going barefoot including sensory stimulation, proper development, and foot strength.
There are many reasons I allow my child to go barefoot.
Yup… I’m that mom. The mom that lets her little scallywag of a child storm the playground in her bare feet. The mom who happily proclaims, “sure” when her daughter asks if she can take her shoes off while on a hike or to jump in a puddle.
When you see us at the park, please don’t look at me like I’m a terrible mother that should make her daughter put her shoes on. I’m not giving you sideways glances about the fact that your child has their shoes on am I?
Yes… I make her wear shoes when it’s necessary. We are not barbarians.
Barefoot Health Benefits
There are many reasons I allow my child to go barefoot. Well researched barefoot health benefits that you may want to consider before you tell your little one “no” when they ask to take their shoes off.
As a kinesiologist, I spent an entire year learning about the structure of the foot. The foot is the foundation of the body. A poorly constructed foot will result in a poorly constructed body. Your body needs a strong foundation just as much as your house does.
I was fortunate enough to work for the Los Angeles Fire Department as an ocean lifeguard for 20 years. Running around barefoot all day saving lives saved the life of my feet.
My grandmother suffered from terrible foot problems and had many surgeries. I inherited her foot structure but have not suffered like she did. She made the mistake of wearing pointed high-heeled shoes, where I ran around in the sand barefoot all day lifeguarding.
Because of my grandmother’s choice in footwear, she was not able to walk for the last 6 years of her life. I was able to strengthen my feet while she tore her foundation apart.
8 Reasons I Allow My Child to go Barefoot
1.When the foot is bound in a shoe all the time it can not develop properly.
Forcing children’s feet to conform to the shape of a shoe will most likely result in permanent changes to the shape or construction of their foot. A poorly constructed foot can alter one’s gait and lead to a malformed knee, hip, or pelvis.
In most cases, it will be a domino effect through the knee, hip and pelvis and can even affect the spine and lung cavity as the child grows. In the past, the prescription for flat feet was to go barefoot. When allowed to go barefoot a child’s feet and gait can have the opportunity to develop properly.
2. Going barefoot helps strengthen the feet and body.
The shape and density of the bones in your feet is a direct result of the loads placed on the body. This means that the way a child’s foot is loaded affects the way the bones in the entire body develop.
Many of the functions of our feet are altered when wearing shoes. The last thing your feet need is a big bad shoe making them conform all the time. Set your feet free! Going barefoot is the best way to maintain the full function of your feet.
3. Overprotective footwear can interfere with movement patterns.
Stabilizing modern footwear can interfere with the development of a child’s foot strength, ankle stability, and movement patterns for the rest of their life. If a child wears shoes that help them stabilize their foot how will the child ever learn to stabilize their foot without the shoe?
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4. Children become more adept at using their feet when they are allowed to roam barefoot.
When allowed to go free the feet become sensitive instruments and tools. Otherwise, they become the forgotten appendage forever bound within a shoe.
Could you imagine if we wore shoes on our hands? How would we develop our fine motor muscles in our hands if they were constantly bound? The feet have fine motor muscles that need to develop too!
5. Going barefoot helps children develop kinesthetic awareness and the sensory systems of the body.
When we place shoes on our children’s feet we reduce the amount and quality of sensory information the child is getting about their environment and body.
Feeling the earth beneath their feet allows children to develop their somatosensory, proprioceptive, and vestibular sensory systems in ways that are not possible with shoes on.
6. Going barefoot stimulates the reflexology points on the bottom of the feet.
When children are allowed to walk around without shoes the reflexology points on the bottom of the feet stimulate every major organ in the body. This is good for the healthy development of the whole body.
7. Being barefoot helps children connect with nature and literally grounds them.
When bare feet touch the earth they come in contact with negative ions. These negative ions have been researched to have a healing anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
When we wear shoes we are creating a shield from the earth and restricting our exposure to the greatest antioxidant source in the world. It’s no wonder inflammation and disease states are on the rise!
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8. Having bare feet can help kids stay safe.
I know what you’re thinking… Going barefoot will make my child safe!? But what about glass, bees, dog feces and other hazards?
Being barefoot keeps kids safe because they have more control when climbing, running, playing on the playground, etc. They will have more control because their feet will be in direct contact with whatever surface they are on.
You’re right… They will have to be on the lookout for glass and other hazards, but their feet will be tough and able to handle most everything else.
I don’t know about you, but I feel safer knowing that my child is able to feel the tree or rope she has her foot on instead of struggling to keep her sole from slipping off of it.
The type of shoes you wear and how often you wear them matters to the health of your feet. Give your child’s feet and sensory systems the opportunity to develop properly. Allow your children to set their feet free and go barefoot when it’s appropriate wherever they can.
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