The Barefooted Life

Barefoot running is all the rage, especially around our camp community. Peg and Sequana introduced Common Ground to the toe shoes two summers ago, and since then we’ve started to read about the benefits of wearing them (and running in them) everywhere (check out Jason Robillards’ blog). Lynne Lisa runs outside and on her treadmill without shoes and Jane McGurty’s sister Eileen announced that she hasn’t worn shoes in six months. You see people everywhere these days, maybe not barefooted, but trying out these new “shoeless” shoes.

This may be a new mainstream phenomenon, but we’ve had a barefoot aficionado in our midst for years—camper and staffer David Kano. As long as we’ve known David (going on 10 years now), he’s hardly ever worn shoes while at Common Ground Center. He walks on grass, in the stream, up to the pond, in Kidville, and even up to the Beaver Pond all without shoes!

When asked about the recent popularity of barefoot running, David humbly suggests that he’s never followed the fad. He merely disliked wearing shoes and the threat of injury was less compelling than the burden and discomfort of wearing them. He always had an instinctive feeling that it was more natural to go shoeless in the summer. And why not? He’s lucky enough to be running around with a bunch of 3-5 year olds in Kidville.

Since recent hype, David has put more thought and research into why he has this inclination to go barefoot. One notion is that man (in the large sense) has the most stamina for running of any other animal. Yes, some animals may be faster, but, as a hunter, man could outrun any animal since animals tire quicker. According to David, humans could easily run 100 miles and this is playing out in the extreme marathon running that is happening these days. In fact if you watch the NYC marathon, the elite runners are easily doing the 26 miles. In fact it should be interesting to see if any begin running these marathons without shoes in the next decade. (Pretty sure Nike wont like that!)

This brings up another theory that David has been exploring. It seems that many folks are running barefoot because it makes sense physiologically for our feet. David has found research and support that it makes sense electrically and physiologically for our entire body.

David subscribes to the science of earthing or grounding (www.earthinginstitute.net). The theory is that since we began wearing rubber-soled shoes we have lost our grounding—as in electrician’s terms. According to the Earthing Institute:

“Throughout time, we humans have strolled, sat, stood, and slept on the ground—the skin of our bodies touching the skin of the Earth—oblivious to the fact that such physical contact transfers natural electrical energy to the body. Modern lifestyle has disconnected us from the Earth’s energy, making us more vulnerable to stress and illness.

Earthing is the landmark discovery that this energy upholds the electrical stability of our bodies and serves as a foundation for vitality and health. In an age of rampant chronic disease, reconnecting with the Earth’s energy beneath our very feet provides a way back to better health. We are bioelectrical beings living on an electrical planet. Reconnect to the Earth!”

Interesting…there’s that word connection! Common Ground is all about connection. Connecting to your family, to new and old friends, to yourself, to nature. What better way to feel grounded and centered than reconnecting with the earth in a truly tangible way like running around barefoot?

Unpolluted air around ocean waves, mountains, and waterfalls is chock full of negative ions that enter our bloodstream as we breath producing biochemical reactions that lighten our moods. This is partly why we feel so refreshed after a beach vacation or time spent in nature. David believes—while it’s not proven—that this is also the reason why so many people feel refreshed and renewed after vacations spent running around barefoot. Your skin gets more of the negative ions from the earth with every step.

Whether you think barefoot running is the best health development in years or just another passing fad, Common Ground provides a safe and non-judgmental spot for you to do as you please. In fact, we have 700 acres for barefoot runners, walkers, and hikers to explore. Come get grounded at Common Ground Center. :)