Foot development and physical performance: walking barefoot is so healthy
In western countries you can see only a few people who go barefoot. Even small children usually have to wear shoes even in warm temperatures. There would be enough reasons for frequent barefoot walking, as a comparative study of sports doctors in Germany and South Africa has now shown.
Walking barefoot strengthens muscles and tissues
Health experts keep pointing out how healthy barefoot walking is. Not only do you train the resistance of your feet, you also strengthen your muscles and tissues. According to experts, some foot misalignment and later foot pain could also be prevented by walking barefoot. It also ensures fewer back problems and it is also recommended to walk around with bare feet against sweaty feet. Various health benefits have now been proven in a scientific study.
Comparative study in Germany and South Africa
A new comparative study by sports doctors in Germany and South Africa showed that walking barefoot is healthy.
For the study, the researchers examined and measured the feet of a total of 1,015 children and adolescents between the ages of six and 18 in both countries.
As the doctor of sports medicine from Hamburg Karsten Hollander, who led the research project together with his Jena colleague Prof. Astrid Zech, said according to a message from the dpa news agency, walking barefoot among children and adolescents in the South African province around the city of Stellenbosch is independent of this social status, very common. "The students also go to the university barefoot."
The subjects from Germany were students from Hamburg and the neighboring Schleswig-Holstein districts of Pinneberg, Segeberg, Stormarn and the Duchy of Lauenburg. Of course, they wore shoes for most of the year.
The students in both countries were observed by the scientists between March 2015 and June 2016 while walking, running, long jumping and balancing. The differences in weight, gender, ethnic background and physical activity were taken into account.
Long-term health consequences in later life
The study was recently published in the "Nature" magazine.
"The results indicate that habitual shoe use influences the development of the feet of children and adolescents," write the study authors.
"Whether you grow up barefoot or with shoes on can play an important role in the development of children's feet."
According to the researchers, this has "long-term consequences for motor learning and health in later life".
Tendency to flat feet
A 20-meter run showed that the participants, who normally walk barefoot, were 75 percent more likely to touch their heels at the age of six.
However, only three percent of the children from northern Germany, who normally wear shoes, did so, so they preferred to appear with the forefoot.
According to Hollander, the difference between the two groups does not decrease until puberty.
The researchers also found that shoe children are more prone to flat feet. Their foot arch was on average eight to twelve percent flatter than that of the barefoot children.
In addition, the South African students were able to jump three centimeters further from a standing position and made fewer mistakes when balancing on a thin bar.
Interrupt shoe times for a certain time
"Whether you grow up barefoot has a major impact on foot development, gait and physical performance," says Hollander, according to the German press agency.
He recommends parents to let their children go barefoot. "It is enough to interrupt your shoe time for a while, for example when playing in the garden or on the sand in the playground," says the sports doctor.
The doctor, who also sees the dangers of walking barefoot, "think that the benefits of walking barefoot outweigh".
People who are afraid of injuries could also wear minimalist shoes with thin, flexible soles that give the feeling of walking barefoot.
Children enjoy moving without shoes because feet are also a tactile organ. Feet originally had as many nerve cells as hands - but they were partially atrophied. (ad)