Now that summer is in full swing, we all feel free to do so many things we don’t do in winter; school is over and families spend more time outdoors both in town and on holiday.
This also means that our kids can now walk barefoot on the lawn in our garden or along the beach.
Direct and repeated contact with irregular surfaces stimulates and strengthens feet,which like any other part of the body, will only develop properly if stimulated correctly.
The foot structure and how to ensure proper development.
The foot has a fairly complex structure with 26 bones, 33 joints, more than one hundred muscles, tendons and ligaments, and thousands of sensory nerve endings. Feet support our body when we stand, but provide dynamic movement when we move. Feet also have another very important function: they are proprioceptive.
Proprioception is the sense though which we perceive the position and movement of our body, including our sense of equilibrium and balance, even without the support of sight.
Proprioception is generated by the continuous exchange of information that reaches the nervous system from the peripheral organs and the actions that the brain puts in place to make sure that we always maintain the best conditions of balance, comfort, without pain
The foot is the most highly developed proprioceptive organ of our body and sends more information to our brain than do our hands. To develop this capacity, feet need to interact with the environment and receive sensory stimuli.
The parts of the body that an infant uses most to learn about the world are its mouth and feet, and parents quickly realise that infants love having their feet rubbed. Even older children tend to take off their shoes and socks simply for the pleasure of walking barefoot, because this is the best way to learn about the world around them.
Free and bare
Letting your kids walk barefooted and “free” on grass, along the beach, or other surfaces with high perceptive stimulation properties, helps proper development.
Walking barefoot not only gives an enjoyable feeling of freedom, but is the best way for children to learn about the world around them.
Walking barefoot strengthens the leg muscles, acting on tendons that connect them to the feet, so that children pass from being flat-footed when they are very young to having a normal foot arch after the age of six.
I would like to say something about the so-called proprioceptive exercises that you may have read about online. Asking a child to grasp an object with his toes to bring it to his mother, or get him to push a ball back and forth with the soles of his feet, and similar activities, may be pointless because no child is going to do something like that more than a couple of times.
I suggest that you let your children play barefoot as often as you can, and if you cannot do this for various reasons, then choose high quality shoes for your children, making sure that they have soft uppers and light and flexible bottoms that recreate a condition that is as natural as possible for the feet of your children.