It strengthens the feet and lower legs and improves body awareness
While we are not suggesting letting your kids run barefoot on the path full of broken pieces of glass, you should allow them to take off their shoes whenever you come across a safer soft surface. This will strengthen their feet, make them more agile and less prone to injury. It will also help them develop body awareness and enhance their proprioception—awareness of the body’s position and movement. This awareness towards the ground and its unevenness can only be developed in a child when they are barefoot because our feet have over 200,000 nerve endings, and they help us adapt better to the ground beneath us.
It helps them tune in to their surrounding
Though you may feel that going barefoot might harm your kids’ feet, it heightens the awareness of their surroundings. When the little pads of your children’s feet touch and feel the ground, this information is sent to the brain, which, in turn, engages other sensory inputs. All of their five senses are engaged in one activity, and it helps them focus on moving through space. This makes them more aware of their surroundings, which is not possible when they carelessly move with their protective gear on.
It encourages a healthy gait
Keeping kids’ tender feet locked inside shoes can impact their gait—the natural pattern of walking—and alter it. The advent of carelessly-designed shoes has disrupted human’s pure anatomical form of gait, which took approximately 4 million years to develop. And an abnormal gait can strain a foot and deny the ease and grace of movement. On the other hand, going barefoot can help your child maintain a healthy gait and natural posture of feet. So, allow them to run, play, climb, walk, jump, and hop barefoot so that their feet adapt to the natural movement, which remains under-developed when the feet are inside the shoes.
It helps them experience the tactile world around them
Keeping all of this science aside for a moment, let’s accept that the joy of walking and running barefoot is simply liberating. Don’t we feel relieved when we come home after a long, stressful day and remove our shoes and socks? Likewise, when children are allowed to remove their shoes and go barefoot, they receive a sense of relaxation. Moreover, they also get to experience the newness of the tactile world around them. When barefoot, they can feel the warm sand on the beach, the tree’s rough bark, the dewy grass on a morning, and squishy mud in the garden. To let your children experience all these new sensations, you will have to be open to the thought of letting them go barefoot.
These are the unique benefits that your child can receive by walking without shoes on. And while your child is at it, you can also throw your ill-fitted shoes away and let your feet enjoy a breather!