Her furrowed, dusty indigenous feet had never seen the inside of modern day ‘civilized’ footwear, and as we pressed through the crowded concrete thoroughfare to reach our nautical departure I’m reminded of an excerpt from the journals of Cabeza de Vaca, an early American colonizer for the Spanish Crown. An excerpt that would dramatically alter the course of my life, for the better.
Of the Indians located near present day Texas, Cabeza wrote, “The men could run after a deer for an entire day without resting and without apparent fatigue… one man near seven feet in stature… runs down a buffalo on foot and slays it with his knife or lance, as he runs by its side.” And of the Karakawas, a tribe located near the Gulf Coast he wrote, “The men went stark naked, the lower lip and nipple pierced, covered in alligator grease [to ward off mosquitoes], happy and generous, with amazing physical prowess… they go naked in the most burning sun, in winter they go out in early dawn to take a bath, breaking the ice with their body.”
During my coming of age I struggled with the unpleasant side effects of the powerful nervous system stimulants used in the treatment of ADHD until 9th grade when I chose ‘The Natural Way.’ Later, as I would come face to face with chronic and debilitating gastrointestinal upset, and a disbelieving family physician ‘The Natural Way’ was again the obvious choice for me.
As I grew to trust the healing powers of the human body in alignment with the natural world, the resonance of Cabeza’s accounts of indigenous physical prowess lifted the veil of modernist superiority prevalent in our culture. Among the many naturalist practices I would come to eagerly engage in over the following decade, the image of Olivia Arevalo’s dusty indigenous feet represent what is perhaps the most potent yet subtle, and often overlooked manner of healthy human development.
I first became aware of the occasional, sudden and excruciating waves of pain radiating throughout my sciatic nerve sometime in my early twenties. I was young. I was highly active. I basically ignored the problem until my late twenties when it started causing me trouble at work. However, my solution was simple. Spend more time barefoot, or as close to barefoot as possible, and see what happens.
I haven’t heard a peep from my sciatic nerve since, and not only that, I saw significant improvement in other areas of life as well. Here are some of the benefits you can expect from spending more time barefoot, indoors and out.
1. Healthy Foot Function: Contributes to healthy posture and healthy movement that can help alleviate the causes of chronic pain. Much like a hand in a boxing glove, our feet are well protected inside modern constrictive footwear but are greatly restricted in terms of doing what they do best.
2. Energy and Electricity: The health benefits of stimulating the various pressure points in our feet have origins dating back at least 5,000 years. What’s more, there’s plenty of scientific studies connecting barefoot contact with the Earth’s electric current to a range of potential health benefits. From improved sleep, to reduced stress, and eliminating chronic pain and inflammation.
3. Awakening Neural Pathways: Simple biology supports the obvious link between movement and cognitive function. Going barefoot helps to stimulate over 200,000 sensory receptors in our feet which build and maintain important neural pathways in the brain for our overall cognitive health. From focus, to dopamine production, to problem solving and creativity, our feet have us covered.
In our modern day world of flat, predictable surfaces and 90° angles it can be tough to give our feet the dynamic and variable movement that keeps them and our bodies functioning at their best.
Check out my Free Your Feet Mobility Guide – by clicking the button below – for a simple and subtle daily practice to keep your body, your mind, and your spirit functioning at their best.