Be Barefoot

I’m a great fan of shedding the shoes and wriggling my toes whenever I can. There are a lot of us out there. Some go to greater extremes than others, and it’s interesting to consider why. Back when I was a kid, it wasn’t unusual to see someone walking around a town barefoot – but these days it seems mainly confined to the beach. It seems to me that modern attitudes, at least in Britain, are extremely conservative and this has to play a large part.

But whatever the reason, bare feet are generally a novelty in public. But sandals are now more common than ever – people want to wear as little on their feet as possible once the weather warms up.

So I say shed the shoes more often. I’m no exhibitionist, but I’ve walked out in the woods and fields barefoot a bit now and it’s WONDERFUL! Our feet are mollycoddled in shoes and over-sensitized – every nerve is tuned to the max to get some sort of sensory feedback from within the “leather coffins”. Let them get used to walking on textured surfaces slowly and they will back off a bit, and the soles will get tougher, and you’ll find you can cope easily with many surfaces. Some hardy soles even manage volcanic rocks, snow and ice. And good for them.

For the large percentage of people who feel this is all a bit much, how about taking to a barefoot trail? Trentham Gardens, Greenwood Forest Park in Snowdonia and now Conkers in the Midlands all have little packaged trails for you to try out your feet on. For those who need to do this “where it’s acceptable”, these trails allow you to experience all sorts of textures – soft and harsh – with the knowledge that it’s perfectly OK to do so.

Why is it OK to walk barefoot in mud, across stones, even over coal where someone else has said it’s OK? Search me. But it adds a little bit of credibility to an otherwise slightly screwy pastime. I’m all for it.

We visited Conkers as a family recently and tried the trail – it’s a shame it’s so short, it’s a shame that it is so manufactured, and it’s a shame that the rest of Conkers is so harsh on the feet (except the indoor treetop walk, which was great!). But it’s well worth a try if you’re in the area, and the rest of Conkers is brilliant for children with plenty to fill a day (we took a more leisurely two, as we camped at the site a short walk away which provides a two-days-for-one deal).

Anyhow, for barefooting I heartily recommend woodland – it’s soft and forgiving more often than not, and offers a lovely variety of textures from leaves through to mud. Delicious!

If you can get past the fear of dirt, going barefoot is a fantastic free alternative to reflexology. Google for it, it’s true. Strengthen your feet, improve your posture, feel more in touch with the Earth. It’s all good. OK, step on a sharp thorn or glass and it’s not so good. So look where you walk but, more than anything else, simply enjoy…

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About mikbarne
I'm a writer and freelance communications and collaboration consultant with nearly 20 years experience in UK telecommunications, specialising in VoIP, Unified Communications and Collaboration, and building effective communications architectures. Visit my Google+ Profile

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