My name is Sue Kenney
I am a barefooter most of the time. I love the feeling of the forest floor on the soles of my feet but I am not as thrilled about being on pavement or concrete.
When I started going barefoot in public, I found that stores and restaurants would often ask me to leave because I was barefoot. There isn’t an official health code in Canada about going into stores barefoot, but they can have individual store policies and I was often asked to leave. I was so embarrassed by this that I posed the question to myself: What if I could design a shoe without a sole? And Barebottom Shoes were born. Because the open sole was hidden, I was no longer being asked to leave.
Then a friend wore them to her yoga class and found they gave her the feeling of having support. They are perfect if you want to focus on rooting and connecting the soles of your feet to the ground during practice.
From this blog you will have the opportunity to learn about the physiological effects barefooting has on your anatomy, including posture, flexibility, balance, core strength and more while doing yoga, dance, walking or running. There will be information about how the 7000 sensory nerve endings on the bottom of our feet help regulate all the systems in our body and how we can help our body to heal itself. We will be exploring ideas about Earthing and grounding our feet in running water, on dirt, rock and grass. We’ll even offer a bit of common sense and dispel some fears so you can understand why anyone today would bother to stop wearing shoes. You’ll see some Footage – videos like this:
We’ll have guest bloggers tell their stories so you’ll get many different perspectives.
Let’s begin with how I got started barefooting. I’ve been an athlete all of my life and have been practicing yoga since 1990, when there were only 3 yoga studios in Toronto. Over 2 years I spent a total of 50 days in an ashram learning Vipassana meditation and I have studied reflexology as well.
In my early years of running to stay in shape, I bought into the notion of wearing expensive high performance shoes and boots. I was convinced by various running shoe experts that I needed the extra support of technically engineered shoes. Over time my feet got bigger too. I wore a size 8 all my life and in my late 30’s started wearing a size 9. I thought it was because I had three babies and the weight had flattened my feet. For many years I had several injuries but always managed to work through them blaming my issues on my training and everything else but the shoes I was wearing. Apparently, I over-pronated and wore my shoes out unevenly.
Once into my 50’s, the soles of my feet were so tender that I had to wear slippers at all times around the house. If I stepped on an electrical cord on the floor, it was as though the pain went all the way through my body. It was excruciating. My feet and body were constantly cold and I had no control over the changes. I noticed that there was more inflammation in my body. My stomach bloated easily, my legs swelled without apparent cause and my face was puffy. With arthritis in my hands, it was painful and debilitating to do my work as a writer. My allergies to dogs and cats would easily flare up, often resulting in asthma followed by a cold that would last 3-4 weeks. My body was breaking down and I wasn’t even 55 years old yet!
In 2001, I walked 800 kilometers across the north of Spain on the pilgrimage route known as the Camino wearing heavy leather hiking boots. I returned to walk the path many times, completing different distances and in various seasons. During the last couple of walks, inside my hiking boots, the bones on the soles of my feet were very tender and felt as if they were being bruised with each step I took. Ten years later I walked 1000 kilometers on the Camino and I had many different problems with my feet and knees, I again blamed it on my boots.
During the following summer, I was at the cottage sitting on a rock by the water. I instinctively took my socks and shoes off and put my feet on the ground. There was a very mild vibration that I felt in the soles of my feet that seemed to resonate throughout my body. I found that I loved walking around in the grass feeling the wonderful tickle of nature’s carpet on the soles of my feet. It reminded me of the freedom I felt as a child playing barefoot in the backyard and I was filled with an overwhelming sense of joy. It felt so natural I decided to go for a short walk down the limestone covered road, even though the bottoms of my feet were tender. After only a few minutes I had to return home discouraged because it was too painful. However, day by day, I walked a little further.
I decided to walk barefoot every day, trying to spend as much time touching the ground, rocks and roots. I walked in streams, in mud, dirt, moss and wet leaves. My inner child felt free there. Over time I noticed that my feet were “seeing” where I was going. Instead of feeling pain when I inadvertently stepped on a sharp stone, my foot actually wrapped over the rock, spreading the weight out perfectly so there was no discomfort, let alone pain. I learned that my feet were in the process of adapting to the barefoot position of landing on the balls with the toes lifted up. Once that became natural for me, I no longer stubbed my toes. My feet, ankles, calves and legs were sore after I had been bare-footing for some time. It didn’t hurt, it was more like a dull ache, but it made me wonder what my body was up to. Was it healing itself? Was my posture shifting over my entire body?
In the next blog post we are going to talk about the importance of proper alignment and how barefooting can help build your core strength not just in the yoga studio, but all the time. Just think, if you walk barefoot, you might never have to do a sit-up again.
Soul to sole,