Last week I had the extraordinary experience of participating in a traditional Sri Lankan Buddhist ritual: the climbing of Adam’s Peak...
It began at 2:00am in order to reach the summit to witness the brilliant sunrise.
This experience, grueling though it was, thrilled me on two levels: firstly, I'm a hiker, so I love the challenge of a hard climb. Secondly, I had the opportunity to observe the movement of the local Sri Lankan pilgrims as they climbed - the most amazing part of which was that a majority of people climbed the 5500 steps to the peaks in bare feet. Old women, young children, mothers carrying babies in their arms. Bare feet or flip flops. Nothing more.
I know it sounds crazy - here I am in beautiful Sri Lanka and I'm looking at people's feet, but I was amazed at something else: the older men and women had good looking, sturdy feet; no bunions, no hammertoes, the toes weren't mashed together as are many of the toes of my clients. Walking barefoot or in flip flops allowed them to use all the muscles of their feet! They had to feel the ground and negotiate their movement in a more efficient manner.
One old woman nimbly ran by me down the mountain, holding her saree up so as not to dirty it. I suddenly became very aware of my sneaker-clad feet that were thunking down the mountain, so I decided to go barefoot myself. What a difference! I observed a lot of barefoot walking in Sri Lanka, and I was impressed not only with the relative beauty of their feet, but by their movement: smooth, and even.
I'm convinced that the more we practice barefoot walking, the more adept our movement will become and the less our feet will hurt.
When you walk barefoot you're more likely to pay attention to your gait; rather than heel-striking first, you will tend to walk with more of the foot, quieter, and more smoothly. This will, in turn, affect the way you hold the rest of your body. Believe it or not, just walking barefoot can begin to help alleviate back and hip pain. Your feet might even look better and you might be able to avoid a trip to the podiatrist! Have a look at the video clips.
Please excuse the fact that this video is sideways! I'm an iPhone beginner, so bear with me.