Put on your hat…but leave your boots for later? Here are the pros and cons of bare footing in winter.
I know someone who likes to walk around barefoot once he’s home from work. He takes his socks off and heads out the door, up the street and straight to the mailbox. Did I mention it’s snowing? July, August, September or February, it’s the same thing. It’s refreshing, he says with a grin.
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OK, so, a few things. Obviously you shouldn’t go walking around in the snow like this without any shoes, on a regular basis for long periods of time. The risk of frostbite is too strong, and the neighbors will think you’ve gone nuts. There really is a reason boots were invented.
But walking in a bit of cold snow for a few minutes could do you some good. Here’s why.
(photo credit: www.pixabay.com)
Just as people take polar bear dips in icy water in the middle of winter, and spas often have a cold water pool for guests to dip in for therapeutic reasons, exposing your feet to the cold in small doses is stimulating.
Your circulation takes off like a race car driver once you hit the cold, pushing oxygen and nutrients around like never before.
In addition to this, the rush of adrenaline and stress hormones that you might experience once you connect with the snow, if it’s not altogether healthy, will give you a feeling of exhilaration. It’s like jumping off a cliff into lake or pushing yourself to ride that insanely fast roller coaster: it’s the rush that makes it worthwhile.
Of course, make sure you stay safe: do warm up before you head out. This doesn’t mean you should put on all three scarves that your aunt knit for you in your teens, but we’re talking about doing a bit of preventive stretching.
Malcolm Kogut is someone who claims to have now gone barefoot for about twenty years, 24/7, and he points out that when you walk in the cold, your muscles contract in response. Moving too fast over snow in bare feet could cause you to tear a tendon, so take care.
This is the real deal. If you start to feel any numbness, get yourself back inside where it’s warm. You might be getting frostbitten by this time if you’re losing feeling in your feet.
Frostbite is serious business and can cause permanent nerve damage, as well as the loss of layers of skin, painful blistering and even the loss of entire toes or feet, depending on the severity, so please, don’t go walking for hours on end in the snow. It’s not worth it.
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Still want to try? For inspiration, check out Grant Curle’s story of running barefoot in the snow, to beat the winter blues in Toronto and Sierra Larson who shovels snow in her bare feet, all the way up in Edmonton.
You might get a few shivers…but you won’t be let down.