We are approaching the Easter long weekend, and this has got me thinking about how much I enjoy seeing the difference in people who are refreshed after a break. On holidays like this, many of us kick off our shoes and enjoy the feeling of freedom that being barefoot brings. Are you like me?
You might not expect this to be coming from a podiatrist, but I am an advocate of spending time barefoot. It can have powerful effects on your overall health and wellbeing. Getting your daily dose of barefoot time can have you feeling more grounded and connected to yourself and can be an important part of a healthy balanced lifestyle.
Have a think about it…. How do you feel walking barefoot on the beach? Skipping on the grass in the park or wandering along your garden foot paths in your backyard?
This is known as ‘grounding’ or ‘earthing’. Recent research evidence supports the practice of barefoot time. The concept of grounding is where you spend up to half an hour connecting your gorgeous souls….Oops I mean, SOLES… to the earth. This can be dirt, grass, sand and even cement. It is something our ancestors have done for thousands of years. I know I love the feeling of getting back in touch with nature.
We spend so much time walking on synthetic surfaces in synthetic shoes. This can lead to a build up of harmful static energy in the body that can cause pain and inflammation and may be a factor in the myriad of chronic diseases that can affect the body. Negative charged electrons from the Earth help the body balance out excessive positive charged electrons that build up in the body, which has an antioxidant effect that can protect your body from inflammation and disease.
Potential benefits of grounding:
- Reduce inflammation
- Reduce affects of stress by lowering stress hormones such as cortisol
- Improve heart health
- Increase energy levels
- Reduce and prevent chronic pain
- Improve sleep
- Balance your nervous system
- Improve blood pressure and blood flow in your body
- Relieve muscle tension and headaches
- Shorten recovery time from injury or physical exertion/sporting activities
- Speed healing
If you experience pain in your feet when you’re barefoot, or if you are worried about the potential risks, please see your podiatrist. Podiatrists can help you enjoy your experience of grounding by ensuring your feet are functioning at their best when they don’t have the support of shoes or your orthotics.
People with Diabetes, nerve damage or circulation problems in their feet should check with their podiatrist to discuss the best ways to benefit from earthing without putting their feet at risk of injury.
For everyone else, give it a try and see how your body responds. Walk, stand, jump, or skip on the earth… You may be just a step away from better health and vitality through the power of your feet
Bailey Keatley is a Podiatrist at Posture Podiatry in Adelaide.
People of all ages and walks of life are trying out yoga. From Bikram Hot Yoga styles to the more traditional Hatha yoga, the yoga world is inviting you to summon your inner Yogi or Yogini!
Have you thought of giving it a go? Many people are embarrassed because they are either not flexible enough, they have poor balance, or they worry someone might see their feet.
Remember your first class… Did you feel pain and tension in your calf muscles, shins, arches, big toe joints or ankles while you were inverting yourself in downward dog, summoning your inner warrior, or twisting yourself in knots in eagle pose?
Your feet are the foundation for your posture. This means better feet can mean better balance, strength and posture in your asana poses.
Your body recognises weak or unstable feet, and compensates to prevent injury. This compensation can make it very difficult to use your strength effectively, and can leave you feeling weak and unstable.
Consider a house built on an unstable foundation. It will develop cracks and creaks as it shifts to find the most stable resting position to prevent it from completely collapsing.
A podiatry assessment might be just what you need to find weaknesses before they become a problem.
Podiatrists can assess your foot stability, and improve the function of your foot joints and leg muscles using a range of manual techniques including massage, dry needling, and foot mobilisation techniques.
The result? Better grounding and balance for your yoga poses, better strength through your body, and you get more out of your yoga.
Podiatrists can also show you what you need to do to help yourself. Simple exercises such as stretching, strengthening and self massage can get your feet prepared for the mat, and improve your balance on the mat.
Oh, and for those worried about the appearance of your feet, podiatrists can help by painlessly removing unsightly corns, callus, fungal or thickened toenails, and cracked heels.
So, I ask you please. Consider your feet! Healthy feet will allow you to discover the transformative power of yoga. Yoga helps you move with more freedom, ease your back pain, sleep better, improve vitality and find energy you never knew you had.
You will be back-bending, toe-touching and sun saluting in no time.
Bailey Keatley is a podiatrist at Posture Podiatry in Adelaide, and a Yoga practitioner and instructor.