When a fad is trending in fitness, it's not surprising to hear that it will do everything from burning fat to correcting the cowlick on the back of your head. Walking barefoot is a practice that has its roots in ancient Chinese tradition and it's one that makes a comeback every now and then. Walking in general will help aid digestion, regardless of footwear.
Barefeet Don't Matter
Walking, whether you choose to don footwear or not, helps promote good digestion. The gentle movement of your body as you rhythmically take steps gets your blood circulating, a requirement for effective digestion. Additionally, Simon Brown's 2011 book "Macrobiotics for Life" notes that as you walk, the ascending and descending parts of your colon are massaged, which helps move food through your digestive system. Removing your shoes won't increase the effectiveness of walking, although it might make you more comfortable.
Stretching Helps, Too
Though moving about after eating helps with digestion, strenuous exercise will draw blood away from your stomach where it's needed for proper digestion. That's why it isn't advisable to engage in a challenging workout right after a meal. Gentle movements that encourage blood flow throughout your body are a better option. In addition to walking, stretching is another way to aid digestion. Stand or sit and stretch from side to side, backward and forward. You can even stretch while lying down. Yoga can also be especially beneficial. In "Yoga Journal," Barbara Kaplan Herring recommended a lie over belly roll along with Seated Forward Bend and Head to Knee poses for a client who was experiencing digestion problems.
Benefits of Walking Barefoot
While digestion isn't affected by the shoes you don't wear while walking, there are benefits to be had from strolling with your tootsies bared. For instance, a study done on barefoot walking at the Rush Medical College in Chicago concluded that walking barefoot decreases the stress on hips and joints. Those with hypertension can shun the shoes and enjoy an after-dinner walk to lower their blood pressure. A study published in the "Journal of American Geriatrics" showed that a group of people who had taken regular barefoot strolls on cobblestones showed a greater decrease in their blood pressure compared to those who did conventional walking.
If you want to indulge in a barefoot walk to garner all the benefits, do it wisely. Even though you won't be engaging in strenuous exercise, you should still wait about 30 minutes after you finish eating before you go walking. Only walk on safe surfaces, too, like your lawn or a clean beach. Barefoot walking on grass or sand can be therapeutic, but if you walk barefoot in public places, you'll run the risk of stepping on dangerous objects that are not easily noticed, for example, nails or broken glass.
- PubMed.gov: Walking Barefoot Decreases Loading on the Lower Extremity Joints in Knee Osteoarthritis
- IDEA Health and Fitness Association: Barefoot Cobblestone Walking Lowers Blood Pressure
- Guide to Healing Chronic Pain: A Holistic Approach; Karen Kan
- Macrobiotics for Life: A Practical Guide to Healing for Body, Mind, and Heart; Simon Brown
- The Lemon Juice Diet; Theresa Cheung
- Yoga Journal: Gut Feelings
- Wiley Online Library: Improving Physical Function and Blood Pressure in Older Adults Through Cobblestone Mat Walking: A Randomized Trial
- MedlinePlus: Short Strolls After Meals May Lower Diabetes Risk
- Complimentary Therapies in Rehabilitation; Edited by Carol M. Davis
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.