This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
The authors have taken reasonable precautions in the preparation of this book and believe the facts presented in the book are accurate as of the date it was written. However, neither the authors nor the publisher assumes any responsibility for any errors or omissions. The authors and publisher disclaim any liability resulting from the use or application of the information contained in this book. The information is not intended to serve as professional advice related to individual situations. In addition, the information in this book is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Before following any suggestions contained in this book, you should consult your health care provider. Neither the authors nor the publisher shall be liable or responsible for any loss or damage or injury allegedly arising as a consequence of your use or application of any information or suggestions in this book. Copyright © 2013 by RunBare LLC Preface copyright © 2013 by The Sakyong Foreword copyright © 2013 by Dr. Mercola All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. www.crownpublishing.com Three Rivers Press and the Tugboat design are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data is available upon request. ISBN 978- 0-307-98591- 0 eISBN 978- 0-307-98592-7
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
For information about RunBare clinics, visit www.RunBare.com. Editor: Sandra Wendel, Write On, Inc. Cover design by Laura Palese 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 First Edition
Barefoot Seniors Turn Back the Clock
My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-three today and we don’t know where the heck she is.
ack Burden is a dear friend of ours who describes himself as more than a
friend—he’s a “pain-in-the-butt” parental figure. At eighty-seven he served as best man at our wedding, and we’ve since found that he lives up to that role in other ways, for often he does in fact know best. We’ve never pushed him to go barefoot. However, he uses a grounding pad, and he gets the benefits of being grounded and of following guidance from the universe. But as he describes in crotchety fashion, “Darn it, with my old sensitive feet I can feel a crumb on the floor! There’s no way you’re gonna get me to walk barefoot.” However, do you know how he keeps in shape? Barefoot exercises and barefoot time spent on a home mini-trampoline. He uses it every day to get the blood flowing and, in his words, “keep the lymphatic fluid pumping and get everything back to the heart.” At least ten to twelve minutes a day, every day. He has great balance and walks with purpose in his step; even at his age, it’s hard to keep up with him. A big part of that is his barefoot tramp time. He’s working on his feet, his core (stabilizing muscles), his balance, and coordination, all by going barefoot.
Do we wish he’d give barefoot walking a try? Sure. But he is, in typical Jack fashion, doing it his way and still reaping the rewards in many ways. He’s also converted to a fairly minimalist shoe that’s flat (no high heel or high toes), has a wide forefoot to give his toes and bunions room to breathe, and has no arch support so his feet can stay strong. And maybe it’s from the trampoline, but boy does he have a bounce in his step! Want the secret to eternal health? Take your shoes off. Whether you’re an avid walker, new to walking as an exercise, or struggling to stay on your feet, taking off your shoes can help. Any time spent barefoot helps regenerate nerves, stimulate bone growth, increase circulation, and lay down new bone. Add the benefits of strengthening your heart and lungs while decreasing blood pressure, and you’ve found the fountain of youth in your feet. Seniors can reap incredible benefits with barefoot living. But age also presents its own set of challenges. That’s why it’s even more essential for this demographic to start slowly, because recovering from overdoing it takes even more time. But no matter your age, no matter how soft your feet, you can and should go barefoot and strive to walk unassisted. You may eventually kick off your shoes for life.
USE IT OR LOSE IT
When it comes to your body, you have to respect that same principle we’ve mentioned before: use it or lose it. If you don’t use your body, well, nature’s not so kind. Whether it’s a bone or joint, a muscle, your cardiovascular strength, or anything else, if you use it, it gets stronger, and if not, it weakens. As Dr. Henry S. Lodge states in Younger Next Year, you can get healthier and fitter at almost any age. Both mind and body can regenerate at any age if properly stimulated. Use your body by going barefoot, and you will feel the ground and wake up your nervous system, vestibular system, vision, and balance; it will stimulate new brain cell growth and create new maps in your mind— all while sharpening your senses in the process. As neuroplastician Dr. Michael Merzenich reminds us, you’re never too old to start, and you can gain back losses, at least when it comes to the mind. No matter what your age, if you start working out or using your body more, it gets
Barefoot Seniors Turn Back the Clock 289
stronger. The human body can wake up. Who cares how many candles are on your next birthday cake. Dr. Lodge and his coauthor Chris Crowley talk about how we must become full-time athletes once we pass the age of sixty. You need to commit to your health in order to stay young, healthy, and fit, or to get back to the fitness you had. Now, Michael’s not past the age of sixty, but having broken his hip, he understands a bit about this philosophy and why you or your grandmother might not be so excited about physical activity. As Michael says: “Doctors told me I couldn’t, shouldn’t, and wouldn’t be able to run again. They advised against exercise, rather than doing more of it. “But this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this warning. Ever since my first serious injury, a broken femur, tibia, and patella (upper and lower leg and knee) at the age of ten, I’ve been told time after time that if I work out, I’ll risk injury and just make things worse. I was also diagnosed with an arthritic knee at the age of twelve and told to back off. And yet by working out, the arthritis, along with every other condition or challenge, has magically gone away. Some people call me a ‘medical miracle.’ But I’m not. I’ve just committed to working out to recover and build my strength.” So the advice for you older readers and for your parents and grandparents is to commit to working out daily, strengthen what you have, challenge yourself, and see yourself get stronger at any age.
BAREFOOT BENEFITS FOR SENIORS
I walk for four hours per day while many other elderly people remain seated for this time. Their legs are tired and my legs also are getting tired by walking. By nightfall, my legs have gotten healthier whilst their legs have actually got weaker.
—Fauja Singh, who took up running at the age of eighty-one and at the age of one hundred set nine records, from the 100 meters to the marathon
In the PBS special The Art of Aging: The Limitless Potential of the Brain, Ryohei Omiya demonstrates you can reverse the effects of aging on the brain starting at any age.
In 2004, Ryohei set the national record in Japan for the 100+ age group in the 60-meter dash (28 seconds). The record still holds today. He joked, “It was more like walking than running.” However, at a younger age, Ryohei had struggled to be mobile. At eighty-five, he suffered a stroke. Four years later, when his wife died, he stopped being active and began to show signs of mild dementia. “He stayed in his room all day. He sort of drowsed with his mouth open. We [Ryohei’s family] all just got the feeling that his health was failing. At the time he leaned on me to walk and he didn’t walk far, not even a hundred meters. We were afraid he might slip too,” shared Hiroki Omiya, Ryohei’s daughter-in-law. In an effort to improve Ryohei’s health, Ryohei’s family began taking him out walking to get some exercise. Remarkably, as his activity levels increased, his interest in life returned, and at ninety-nine, Ryohei began running again!
Exercise for Your Brain
Until 1998, there was no hard evidence that the brain cells known as neurons could regenerate. The accepted assumption was that nerve cells regenerate in all parts of the body except for the brain and spinal cord. We also thought 100,000 neurons (out of 100 billion) died on a daily basis and could never be restored. Thanks to the work of Dr. Peter Eriksson, a researcher in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden, we now know that neurons regenerate even in the brains of the elderly. New brain cells are formed whenever you stimulate the brain, and challenging and different stimuli help the most. Hundreds of studies point to the rejuvenating benefits of exercise. Just think—your brain doesn’t have to get weaker, but instead can grow stronger. Going barefoot literally wakes up your mind. In The Brain That Changes Itself, Dr. Norman Doidge writes:
If we went barefoot, our brains would receive many different kinds of input as we went over uneven surfaces. Shoes are a relatively flat platform that spreads out the stimuli, and the surfaces we walk on are increasingly artificial and perfectly flat. This leads us to de-differentiate the [brain] maps for the soles of our feet and limit how touch guides our foot control.
Barefoot Seniors Turn Back the Clock
Then we may start to use canes, walkers, or crutches or rely on other senses to steady ourselves. By resorting to these compensations instead of exercising our failing brain systems, we hasten their decline.
By learning how to coordinate your body and gain balance by going barefoot, you’re creating additional neural pathways in your brain and throughout the nervous system. In essence, going barefoot is helping grow stronger minds, wake up the mind-body connection, and rewire our brains. Feeling the ground for the first time is like learning a foreign language or playing a new musical instrument. It requires the brain to process information in a novel way, with new dimensions and sensations never perceived before. This dramatically helps stimulate the mind, forcing it to relearn how to learn. Just standing on a cobblestone mat (more on this soon) helps begin to rewire the mind. However, imagine walking on uneven surfaces and how much that would stimulate your mind. A good barefoot walk on a trail would be like reading a Braille novel with your feet, giving incredible stimulus to help wake up the brain.
“[People with diabetes] should be closer to the ground and exercising their feet to increase blood flow and muscle development,” Dr. Ray McClanahan of the Northwest Foot and Ankle Clinic observes. “The problem is,” he says, “some of these folks not only have a circulation issue, but the bigger issue of neuropathy, where they can’t feel anything. If the diabetic person has lost what we call protective threshold, their nerves will not alert them to possible skin and bone damage. We test this with a monofilament wire in the clinic. If they can’t feel it, they won’t feel sensory warnings, and will damage their own tissues.” Diabetics with foot neuropathy are challenged because they can’t feel their feet and won’t know when enough is enough. Instead of building skin thickness, they may instead be wearing the skin thin, creating sores that can be deadly for diabetics. “There is no question in my mind that all diabetic people would benefit
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.