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Barefoot kids…. Let’s chat, shall we?
Even though I grew up in the suburbs, I was always barefoot as a kid. Especially when we went to my grandparents house in the “boonies” – gardening, catching frogs, playing in the grass, running around on gravel – only putting on shoes to get on the dirt bikes or 4-wheelers. Little did I know then how much it was benefiting my body and mind.
Now as a mom, I often get comments and questions about why I let my kids run around without shoes all the time. My kids rip off their cleats and socks as soon as sports are over, before we even leave the field. They play in creeks, go on hikes, play, garden, and even run on the same gravel I did, all without shoes.
I didn’t start out intentionally having them barefoot, it just came natural to me. My son even had the nickname “shoeless joe jackson” ( given by his great grandfather) bc he never wore shoes. As the kids grew and I had more of them, I started learning there were actually TONS of benefits to them being barefoot.
Barefoot Kids: The benefits
1. Feet grow properly
When we are born, our feet are widest at the toes. If you look at a newborns feet they are drastically different than most of ours as adults. This is actually not a good thing. Wearing shoes causes our feet to be shaped differently, crunching all the toes together. When they should actually be allowed to spread wide like a newborns.
When shoes were first created, they were made to fit the feet. But somewhere in history people decided fashion was more important and started cramming feet into shoes for looks. Most people don’t realize that wearing shoes is actually reshaping our feet! But they are! The big toe plays an important role in our stability and posture and when it isn’t allowed to splay as it should, it isn’t able to do its job.
Being barefoot as much as possible will help your children’s feet grow properly.
2. It Builds Strength
A strong foot can prevent many other musculoskeletal problems in the body, like hip, knee, and back issues. When barefoot, you are using so many more and different muscles in your entire body versus when you are wearing shoes. Your core, legs, back all work differently (better) without shoes on. Wearing shoes actually trains our bodies to use the WRONG muscles to move!
3. Improved Awareness of Their Surroundings
Being barefoot means you can FEEL what you are stepping on, where you are going, and what your next move should be. When we are wearing shoes, we can’t feel the ground beneath us. We can’t tell if we should move quickly or slowly. We can’t grip onto the rocks we are climbing or tell where we should or shouldn’t step as easily.
I know you might be thinking “but what about stepping on glass etc”. It’s been studied and reported that when barefoot, we step more gently and are just more aware of what we may be stepping on. Which means is way less likely that we will actually step on something like that. The more we go barefoot, the thicker and tougher the skin on our feet becomes as well.
4. Improves Their Health
Being barefoot helps us boost our immune system’s. It relieves stress and inflammation. It can reduce white blood cell count and increase red blood cell count! The earth has a negative ions that our body needs due to all the positive ions/energy we are surrounded with all day. It can help us sleep better as well.
Tips for Barefoot Kids
-If being barefoot isn’t something that you are used to, start slowly. Start by going outside for a short walk or just standing in your yard for a few minutes. Gradually work up to being barefoot most of the time.
-If you’re concerned about sharp objects or other bacteria, know your surroundings and area. If you are in an area that has human feces everywhere or drug paraphernalia then yes, please protect yourself. But the majority of us aren’t living or going into the conditions often. We always have a pair of shoes with us in case we need to use a public restroom or go into an area that we would need shoes.
Barefoot shoes are always an option for those times that you can’t be completely barefoot. My FAVORITE barefoot shoes are EarthRunners. I love that they have a grounding copper plug and threads going through them. I wear mine literally everywhere we go. One of my kiddos loves his Five Fingers.
Whatever barefoot shoe you go with, there are some things you should look for.
Zero Drop – This is where the heel of the foot is NOT elevated so to aid in proper posture.
Flexible Sole – This helps your feet move properly and feel things the way they are supposed to.
Wide Toe Box – Don’t cram those toes into a small and narrow shoe!!
Do you have barefoot kiddos? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below!