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Dr. Tracy Latz, M.D., M.S. is a respected, board-certified, practicing integrative psychiatrist who has worked “in the trenches” in a regional state psychiatric hospital and in local county mental health center systems in North Carolina as well as in community hospital settings. Dr. Latz received her bachelor degree in Biology from Wake Forest University, a masters degree in Immunobiology from Georgetown University, and her medical degree from Wake Forest University Medical School/Bowman Gray School of Medicine. She is now in solo private integrative psychiatric practice in a suburb of Charlotte, NC. She has written a landmark article on PTSD/Dissociative Disorders in a peer-reviewed journal, co-authored 3 books on personal transformation, recorded 2 meditation CDs to assist others with creating inner peace, filmed self-help integrative medicine videos and DVDs, and has contributed to or been interviewed by many mainstream media outlets including CNN, Good Housekeeping, SELF, Glamour, AOL Health, Woman’s Day, Fitness, Whole Living, and Health – to name a few. You can find out more about Dr. Latz at www.shiftyourlife.com
Barefoot: Natural Stress Relief and Health Booster
I love digging in the dirt and feeling my connection to the Earth. I find walking barefoot in the grass to be a great stress reducer. I had a journalist ask me about this back in 2008 – he wanted to know why walking barefoot might be a “good” thing to do since it seemed to be “beat out of us” as we grew into adulthood. The following is what I told him over the phone… as I was walking barefoot in my backyard… and fussing at my boys who were playing basketball on the concrete driveway barefoot and stubbing their toes. Well, there IS a time for wearing shoes, right? Grin. (The story ran in The Raleigh News and Observer May 29, 2008 and was picked up by other news media around the U.S.)
“I recall when all my friends and I would run barefoot outside in the new spring grass… how soft the carpet of cool green felt under my tender feet. I recall how sensitive my feet were in the spring and then how they would toughen up over the summer months; and it was a badge of honor to be able to walk calmly over small pebbles or areas of gravel without making a face by the end of the summer. I recall the warmth of the sun on the summer grass as we ran around and played freeze tag, leap frog and roll the bat.
I also have memories of my father Dr. John Thompson, the only physician in two rural counties, chastising all of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade children in our small town ‘gang‘ running barefoot and squealing with laughter with me, my brother and two sisters in my backyard as we chased fireflies in the early evening. He would yell that we “should know better than to go barefoot“. He would remind me often that a person “should wear shoes all the time as soon as they weighed enough to make a nail on the ground puncture their foot if they accidentally walked on it“. He would recount stories of tetanus contracted by stepping on rusty nails while walking barefoot; he’d say: “You won’t be able to open your mouth to even eat when you have lockjaw, and then you will wish you had listened to me!” We would run away screaming in glee and terror… still barefoot.
During my medical school training, I recall a certain microbiology instructor, from Maryland, informing the class that “all sorts of parasites could be contracted by walking around barefoot“. He used as proof the ‘fact’ that “all southerners were naturally lethargic and slow” due to having contracted so many parasites by going barefoot from childhood to young adulthood. He even went so far as to say that that was “the likely cause of the South losing to the North during the Civil War“. (It was all I could do not to scream out loud at his statements and accusations….sheesh.)
After I had become licensed to practice medicine, board-certified in psychiatry and had been in practice for 5 years, I began to pursue additional training in complementary and integrative medicine. I began to learn about acupressure points, reflexology, meditation, traditional Chinese medicine, color and sound therapy, qigong, energy medicine and other ancient techniques for well-being and improving health. I became aware of different points on the bottom of the feet that correspond to every organ system of the body, and how stimulating them is believed to promote health and wellness. It appears that walking barefoot may actually massage and stimulate some of the key areas on the bottom of the feet better than walking with feet trapped on a flat surface of the insole of a shoe.”
Not only that but now we know that having our body in contact with Earth (also known as “Earthing”) is a very health-boosting activity because it can help re-charge and re-balance our body’s natural internal ‘electrical systems’ (energy meridians, chakras, and even electrical discharges from neurons that affect how we perceive pain) and even promote ionic balance within our cells and tissues.
It all kinda makes sense doesn’t it? After all, we are spiritual beings animating these physical bodies. Our physical body is made up of organic matter and ultimately comes from the Earth. No wonder we do best when our body reconnects with its origin; just as meditation is beneficial with allowing our ego to reconnect with our True Essence and “all that IS“.
Who knew that perhaps everything we needed to know about promoting wellness we instinctively knew when we were in kindergarten? Grin. What would our parents say? 🙂
Hope you have a joy-filled spring – and that you get a chance to walk barefoot on a lush bed of soft green spring grass. It just might Shift Your Life!
Tracy T. Latz, M.D., M.S. – one of the “The Shift Doctors”
**The Shift Doctors (Tracy Latz, M.D. & Marion Ross, Ph.D.) are available for keynote talks, classes, events or for seminars (1/2 day or up to 5 day) on personal transformation, team-building, motivation, anger management, intuitive development, intuitive art, alternative medicine approaches, or collaboration for private groups, conferences, corporations or corporate events. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or find out more about them at www.shiftyourlife.com .
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Awesome article, Tracy. Thankfully, more and more people are coming to understand the benefits of going barefoot outdoors. Sad to hear about all the negative misinformation about bare feet you received when you were younger, but with articles like this one, people who enjoy barefoot walking will have “ammunition” against those who are preoccupied with how bare feet *might* get hurt.
Keep up the good work 🙂
What a wonderful read…and great reminder! I’m partial to the barefoot in the sand, but thinking about it now, barefoot in the grass seems so delightfully indulgent – almost like indulging spa day (but a lot cheaper and more readily available)!
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