BRAIN HEALTH | 4.15.2018 | BY SHILO ZELLER, BSc.
Is there anything better than walking barefoot on the beach or in lush grass and feeling the earth beneath you? Recent studies have shown just how important it is to be barefoot from time to time, especially for children!
By going barefoot, you can build accessory muscles that do not get used as much when your feet are in shoes. In children, establishing the muscles of the feet is important when helping them develop their vestibular system. The vestibular system is responsible for our balance and coordination. Similarly, being barefoot can help improve our overall posture, by increasing our proprioception. This is almost like another sense; it is our ability to understand where our body (and all limbs) are in relation to space. Both the vestibular system and proprioception rely heavily on the external input from the nerves in our feet.
More surprisingly, our feet are packed with nerves and play a vital role in creating new neural pathways. By walking on different types of terrain, our brains can gain a platform that will help higher brain centers develop. These include brain structures that are responsible for emotional control, problem-solving, language, social skills, and self-assurance.
While being barefoot is vital for children, there are plenty of benefits for adults too! As we age, our balance and proprioception are some of the first senses that disappear. Thanks to neuroplasticity, it’s not too late to develop these additional senses!