Walking barefoot is the most natural way of moving people – the feeling of sun-warmed stones, soft sand or damp grass underfoot: most children love it and like to walk barefoot. They probably know instinctively what’s good for their little feet.
Barefoot running – learning to walk without shoes
Walking barefoot is the most natural way of getting around people. That’s why running is best started with bare feet. The baby’s feet have to perform at their best: they not only support the body but, over time, acquire ever finer structures and inclination of the ground and ensure the right posture.
The constant adjustment to bumps strengthens and trains the foot muscles, the ligaments, and joints. Well, developed foot muscles stabilize the arched foot base. Lack of these muscles can cause flat, spread or drooping feet. Two-thirds of all children grow up with “unhealthy” feet, which can later lead to joint and postural complaints. The foot muscles develop only in the course of childhood and their development must be actively promoted. Lack of exercise and inappropriate footwear interfere with this development.
But not only the foot muscles benefit from barefoot running. Walking barefoot stimulates the blood circulation and the immune system via the foot reflex zones. If the approx. 200,000 nerve endings on the soles of the feet are excited, the sensory perception improves. Scientific research also shows that barefoot running can support all body coordination. For the children’s feet to be able to develop their function as fully as possible, babies should ideally make their first steps without shoes.
Firm shoes too tight fit baby feet
Solid shoes with a good insole may seem like a good solution for the sensitive baby’s feet. But experts agree that especially with babies and toddlers solid shoes do more harm than good. Because the shoe narrows the range of motion of the children’s feet.
The child must learn how to feel the ground, recognize and compensate for any unevenness. Here, the foot muscles and spine are tight together. The sequences of movements get in harmony during the learning phase until they work automatically.
Especially thicker soles, but even thin and lightweight running shoes, can affect the baby’s feet during the learning process and even cause malpositions. Of course, children can not go barefoot everywhere, not all year round. But they should have the opportunity to run as often as possible without shoes to allow their feet to pause and promote the development of strong foot muscles.
Socks as an alternative?
When the floor in the apartment is cold, socks warm the baby ‘s feet.
It is important that there is no risk of slipping. Socks with rubber knobs – the so-called non-slip socks, stopper socks or ABS socks – ensure safety.
When children prefer not to walk barefoot
Even if barefoot running is healthy: children’s feet must, of course, be protected from cold, heat and injury. For safety, shoes should be worn where there could be broken glass, metal parts or thorns.
Caution is advised on meadows that are not mowed short or where lots of clovers and other flowering plants grow. Here bees feel very well. Also cold and wet, as well as the sun strongly heated asphalt or sand is not for baby feet.
Sensitive soles must first get used to pricking grass, stones and rough ground in both children and adults during the first outdoor barefoot walk. Barefoot paths or barefoot parks are a great way to discover different terrain barefoot.
Barefoot running as an adventure: The most beautiful barefoot paths in Germany
Walking barefoot is not only healthy, but it can also be an adventure. Simple barefoot paths can be easily designed at home – for example as part of a children’s birthday party. Various surfaces such as sand, gravel, flat stones, puddles of water, grass, and moss can be felt. Objects can be felt with their feet.
There are also numerous public barefoot parks throughout Germany. We have put together five of the most beautiful barefoot experiences:
- Barefoot Park Dornstetten (Baden-Württemberg). Imaginatively designed 2.4 km long circular route.
- Barefoot path Bad Orb (Hesse). Germany’s longest barefoot path, east of Frankfurt am Main.
- Barefoot Park Egestorf (Lower Saxony). 70 lovingly designed barefoot stations in the huge barefoot park in the Lüneburg Heath.
- Barefoot path Bad Sobernheim (Rhineland-Palatinate). Paths, bridges, clay ponds and water stations at 3500 meters.
- Barefoot path Ribbeck (Brandenburg). Part of the children’s farm Marienhof and optimally suited for animal-loving barefoot hikers.
- Barefoot running trains the foot muscles and prevents bad positions
- Walking barefoot stimulates the foot reflex zones and stimulates the blood circulation and immune system
- Firm shoes restrict the range of motion of children’s feet too much
- Adventure tip: Barefoot parks. Here you can explore different stations with bare feet