Generally speaking, I like to go fast. I drive fast, skate fast, eat fast. I live fast. Fast is fun, exhilarating, challenging. The problem is, when you crash, you crash hard. I learned that the hard way, and then I learned it again (and again and again!) because I was too stubborn to slow down. Finally, matters were taken out of my hands and I was forced to slow down. When that happened, I had to go right back to basics: walking.
We were once nomadic creatures, where everything was about moving with the seasons. As we evolved, we learned to only function on 2 settings: all out, or nothing at all. We sit all the time - in meetings, in cars, on the toilet. Then, we go to the gym and give ‘er for an hour. Slow became a waste of time, and walking became redundant.
When I came off three months of bed rest in early 2016, I was dying to walk. I walked everywhere, 15km a day from Hochelaga to downtown and back. That wasn’t enough - I went to the Himalayas and walked another thousand kilometers, give or take. I was eating it up, eating up the slow, meticulous and meditative way about it - but I wanted more from it. So I took my shoes off and kept going. When I did that, two things happened: 1) I lost part of my baby toe, a brave little soldier; 2) I became the strongest and healthiest I’d ever been. Why? Well, the baby toe was a casualty to frostbite. The strength and health, though, was because barefooting has some insane health benefits you could never get from a doctors prescription pad.
The negative charge in the earth counteracts our positive charge from all the electromagnetic frequencies we interact with. Walking barefoot actually draws those electrons from the ground and balances our nervous and endocrine systems. That means increased cognitive function, lower levels of stress and anxiety and a more balanced emotional body.
Heart, Circulation and Immune:
Besides the well-known benefits of walking for our heart, walking barefoot was actually found to increase the surface charge of red blood cells, which decreases blood viscosity. Essentially, doing the work of that daily advil (except better). It also decreases white blood cells, indicating a stronger immune system.
These earthly electrons will neutralize free radicals in the body and reduce pain and inflammation. Improved circulation helps carry waste and toxins out and replenish nutrients throughout the body.
Grounding to the earth stabilizes our circadian rhythms (the biological clock), which can result in relief from insomnia and improved quality of sleep.
Walking on the uneven ground stimulates pressure points, energy and blood flow and works our balance, stabilizers and structural alignment.
In six short months, I went from being totally incapacitated to killing 5’500m mountains with a 60lbs pack. No physio, no weight-lifting. Just walking. Now, while I wouldn’t encourage anyone else to start their barefooting adventures on a glacier at 18’000 feet, you might consider taking your shoes off for a soft pine needle-laden saunter this summer instead.