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Feet on the Ground

Harness powerful physical and mental benefits by going barefoot.

Practice
Michael Sandler was in-line skating when a child stepped into his path. Swerving to miss the toddler, he crashed into the concrete—breaking his hip and arm, and shattering his left femur.“Coming back from that injury, I was told I might lose my leg and wouldn’t be able to run again,” he says.  He ended up with a titanium femur and a significant leg-length discrepancy.  When nothing else in his rehab worked, he tried something radical in its simplicity: he took off his shoes. Today, Sandler credits going barefoot with reducing his inflammation and swelling, and helping him to regain a sense of balance.Sandler, the author of Barefoot Walking and Barefoot Running, says the experience changed how he thinks about his feet—not as weak things we need to coddle, fit with orthotics and inject with steroids. Instead, he suggests we should all let our feet do what they are physiologically designed to do.Dr. Michael Zyzda, a podiatrist and podiatric surgeon, agrees that taking off shoes can be beneficial. “When barefoot, your feet move three-dimensionally,” he says, “stretching the muscles, tendons, and l …

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