One of my favorite things about the winter season is snow! When I see snow, it means I can start my daily barefoot runs. I run to my mailbox and back. I don’t really know how it started for me….
When I moved to Cable 14 years ago, I remember going to my garage with a load of firewood while barefoot. I just enjoyed this intense tingling feeling your feet get. The circulation is increased and you can feel the heat in your body afterwards. It makes me feel full of energy, awake, and it also stimulates the release of serotonin and endorphins. I even end up getting a little happy boost from it too!
We are not really used to going barefoot anymore
Many times when we get up, we are feeling for our cozy slippers on the floor with our feet. We are not really used to going barefoot anymore. Russian physiologist Pavlov wrote: “The human body is a self regulating system, it corrects, supports, restores and develops itself”. That self regulation is allowing the body to adapt to a wide range of changes. One of the self-regulatory functions is keeping the inner temperature of the body despite the temperature changes outside; the ability to thermoregulate.
We all have nerve endings all around our bodies, they are called thermoreceptors, they respond to the heat and cold. If we feel cold, the thermoregulatory center in our brain turns on our reserve heat. In the tests of cold trained people they found out that after one foot was placed into cold water, it actually rose the temperature of the other foot. So that is thermoregulation in action.
We have the most cold and heat receptors on the soles of our feet, that is why non cold tempered people get chilled easily and become more susceptible to cold viruses as a result. When we wear shoes full time, our feet are actually in their own comfort microclimate. If thermoregulatory foot sole receptors are not being used, their overall effectiveness can be greatly reduced. Also, our feet, are connected to our upper respiratory membranes, so if the feet of the untrained person get chilled, the upper respiratory membranes’ temperature also drops. So if we have any viruses inside the body at that time, they get activated when the temperature drops. However, if the temperature was constant or rose due to the cold conditioning, viruses would get deactivated and disappear without making us sick.
Increased immunity, active functions, a healthy heart and circulation
By gently and continuously conditioning our feet to cooler temperatures, we turn on the thermoregulation, which in turn allows us to withstand environmental seasonal challenges. Trained people, and I noticed this about myself, the more I do it, the less colds I get. Increased immunity, active functions, healthy heart and circulation, feeling alive, what could be better?
We actually use some of this cold therapy already. Remember the ice packs when you have a bump or strain? There are also specialized cryotherapy centers that use extreme cold temperatures as restorative treatments for the body and mind.
If you feel inspired to throw off your socks and join me outside here are a few important recommendations. If you feel like you need to consult your doctor prior to trying, please do. I can only provide my personal experience, so you would need to try this for yourself to see how it feels to you. If you want to give it a chance, start gently and be consistent. Switch to socks indoors for 10-15-20-30, etc. minutes every day if you are used to wearing slippers. Then introduce bare feet. Then try outside with your bare feet, on the ground, sand, gravel, grass.
Increase gradually. By the time spring, summer and fall pass you are ready for action. Start with 15-30-60 seconds on fluffy snow. Move around, run, and walk in place to keep muscles activated. If the weather is very cold and windy take extra care so you don’t get a frost bite. I like to put a foot towel on the floor, so when I come in I have something to stand on. To protect the feet from freezing in extreme temperature it is a good idea to rub them with some fat-oil-butter prior to running.
You may be amazed at what your body can do
If you are confident that you can skip the gentle conditioning, go ahead, try the snow right away, and remember to keep it very short the first time, and see how your body reacts. If you decide to try it again, then stay consistent. Sometimes after, you might need to clear your nose/throat as it gets rid of things your body is releasing – so don’t be surprised. If you results are great and you are medically sound, you might keep your routine daily, and soon you may be amazed at what your body can do with the most natural effect of cold.