Why do modern people need a new standard of a walking surface at home?
The true cost of civilization
Modern people try to ‘protect’ their feet by putting them in ‘normal’ shoes, without realising that most shoes, a flat surface underfoot, physical inactivity slowly but surely deform and weaken feet, compromising foot health and natural movement ability. In particular, while walking, toes are pressed together from footwear that doesn’t allow toes spread, feet begin to turn outwards to try and get stability. Since childhood, people learn to walk uncomfortably using their arches to push off with, instead of their toes. Shoes also weaken the hundreds of muscles and tendons in the foot. More than 70% of our brains information comes from these 200,000 nerve endings in the soles of the feet. Cushioned soles, that supposedly keep human feet safe, actually result in removing the important sensory link between the feet and the brain and therefore, less skilful movement and brain activation. Try to imagine your daily life if your hands were constantly wearing thick gloves...From the point of view of evolutionary biomechanics, our feet is programmed to regular walk barefoot on an uneven surface.“Natural gait is biomechanically impossible for any shoe-wearing person,” wrote Dr. William A. Rossi in a 1999 article in Podiatry Management. “It took 4 million years to develop our unique human foot and our consequent distinctive form of gait, a remarkable feat of bioengineering. Yet, in only a few thousand years, and with one carelessly designed instrument, our shoes, we have warped the pure anatomical form of human gait, obstructing its engineering efficiency, afflicting it with strains and stresses and denying it its natural grace of form and ease of movement head to foot.” Podiatric researchers admit that even the well promoted state-of-the-art shoes are unnatural for the body. They are rather a necessity that will never substitute going barefoot on an relief surface. How to compensate for the shortage of natural walking?To compensate for the negative impact of shoes a our feet need to exercise through the natural acts of twisting, turning, gripping, flexing and rolling. Scientists, podiatrists and movement experts agree that walking barefoot on uneven surfaces, with expressed level difference helps duly develop muscular-ligamentous system of foot.
Balance training for older people
A 2003-2004 completed study on the health benefits of "stone stepping", an exercise method popular in China, indicated that older adults experienced significant improvements in mental and physical well-being, including reductions in blood pressure and pain levels. An article published in a recent issue of the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity summarizes results from a pilot study, which was conducted in Portland by Oregon Research Institute (ORI) scientists. Elderly participants in the study experienced considerable improvements in their ability to perform "activities of daily living", increased psychosocial well-being, and significantly reduced daytime sleepiness and pain. Participants also reported greatly improved perceptions of control over falls. The role of the developed vestibular apparatus and fit muscles is very important. For seniors this is critical, because one fall or hip fracture can lead to a gradual decline in health. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of Americans aged 65 + fall down each year. Falling down is the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. Falls result in more than 2.3 million fall injuries treated in emergency departments, including over 650,000 hospitalizations and more than 20,000 deaths. Balance disorders and weakness are common causes of falls in the elderly. However, if you have problems with your feet, it would be wise to consult a doctor before using this method.
The role of foot in human intellectual activity
1) Running barefoot is better than running with shoes for your working memory, according to a new study published by researchers at the University of North Florida. Source: “An Exploratory Study Investigating the Effects of Barefoot Running on Working Memory” by Ross G. Alloway, Tracy Packiam Alloway, Peter M. Magyari, and Shelley Floyd in Perceptual and Motor Skills.
2) Children who learn with no shoes on are more likely to behave better and obtain good grades than peers with footwear, a decade-long study has revealed. The research was led by Professor Stephen Heppell with the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice at Bournemouth University.
3) Sociobiologist Rebecca D. Costa in her book The Watchman's Rattle, which has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, and Larry King Live, wrote: "Even today, the benefits we receive from walking on an uneven terrain are astonishing: improvements in equilibrium, spatial orientation, memory, focus, reaction time, and overall cognitive fitness. Real time sensory input from our feet and eyes force the brain to make billions of calculations in milliseconds, and this turns out to be similar to exercising every area of the brain all at once. So, one of the best workouts we can give our brains is walking rapidly on uneven surfaces. It's the equivalent of taking our brains to the gym to lift weights all day long."
Back to the roots
In the city, especially in wintertime, you won't go barefoot far :) What's more, for the most part, there is no time to look for safe rough surface without broken glass or even disposed syringes around. From a practical point of view, it is hardly possible to create an area for regular natural walking barefoot on relief surfaces anywhere but home. Barefoot Isles will be a useful tool in this process.
Barefoot Isles have become the new standard of walking in my home. They combine a unique design with healthy lifestyles for all family members: children, parents, and grandparents. This is the result of many months of designing, experimentation and testing with molding, painting, varnishing, walking, constantly thinking about giving my family, friends, the best version of creativity and originality. When creating the Barefoot Isles, I am inspired by nature, people and movement, but I am guided, at every step of the journey, by Science and facts.
It's easy and funny to walk and trample on the isle surface. Your feet can even dance a little bit ;) Watch 🎥 the video of the process of walking along the isles (Do not forget to turn on the sound in the gadget:) : Look closely at the toes movements in the video and assess the potential for the development of motor skills of small muscles of your feet and proprioception! The method may seem non-conventional to some people. But, if you analyze the facts below, you will realize that the modern culture of urban walking requires revision, just as it happened recently with "conventional" cultures of excessive consumption of fatty fried foods, sweets, flour products, etc.
To sum up:
Bas-relief Isles have unique features: (a) they have blunt pebbles, with expressed level difference to better train foot muscles, toe muscles and legs in general. In contrast to the stones on a beach, the "pebbles" are fixed to the surface of the mat, so they are motionless. The foot will not roll on them.(b) they are equipped with cushion base that can sufficiently absorb some pressure on the joints and makes your walking feel like stepping on the ground;(c) they ensure regular impact that works in all seasons, in all weathers, and in busy schedules; (d) they improve your coordination due to three-dimensional perception. In addition to visual and vestibular information, bulges help the brain get more diverse signals from proprioceptive sensors, rather than in shoes, or barefoot on flat surface. (e) they are more natural and accessible in use as compared to special training devices. They are an integral part of exercises. It saves time and parents' temper. (f) they contain important elements of art therapy - play of imagination, captivation, and color therapy. (g) eco-friendly, base cover is made of natural jute or flax, artisic pebbles are made of gypsum painted with water based paint and varnish(h) they are handmade - sewing, molding, painting, etc.The mats are not a magic pill for all diseases. But they can surely help prevent problems.
The relief area for regular walking in one's house shall be a standard of healthy surfaces for all of the family. It shall be part of the culture of healthy lifestyles, the same as brushing your teeth every day. The World Health Organization did their calculations and concluded that human health is defined by genetic factors by 20%. 25% is determined by environment, 15% depends on the level of health care. The other 40% depends on the conditions and lifestyles of people. Walking on a relief surface is not a magic pill for all diseases. But it can surely help prevent problems.