Updated: Feb 16
June 1st is National Go Barefoot Day! This holiday is a chance to live barefoot for just one day to honor and raise awareness of people who do so everyday. Worldwide, 1.2 billion people live on less than $1.25 per day, and this extreme poverty forces people to get by without essentials like shoes. Inadequate footwear prevents children from attending school, adults from working, and can lead to debilitating soil-transmitted diseases. So today, for National Go Barefoot Day, Target Training encourages athletes to go barefoot for a day (or even just an hour).
Spending time barefoot has been shown to have some surprising health benefits that can be particularly helpful for Irish dancers! Being barefoot helps strengthen all of the muscles in our feet and lower legs just by walking around—especially by walking around on uneven surfaces like grass or sand. It also enhances our proprioception, or our awareness of our body’s position, which is key to injury prevention for dancers.
While you enjoy some barefoot time today, here are some great Target Training exercises that are done without shoes or socks to help strengthen the muscles in your feet and lower legs. Strengthening these muscles reduces your risk of injury to your feet or ankles, and improves your toe height and pointing!
1: Toe Swap
Stand with your feet flat on the ground, making sure your weight stays between your first and second toes. Lift your big toe up, then switch and lift your little toes up. Work to keep your foot flat the entire exercise; don’t let your foot rock back and forth as you switch toes. Switch 10 times per foot.
2: Toe Scrunches
This can be done with a towel, a sock, or any small items you have around your room. Spread your toes out wide, then squeeze them around the item to pick it up with your feet.
3: Interlacing Toes and Fingers
As dancers, we spend a lot of time with our toes squeezed into tight shoes and pointed, so it’s important to take time and let our toes relax. Put one finger in between each toe and take some deep breaths. Stay here for at least 20 seconds.
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Resources: - http://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/join-thousands-in-going-barefoot-in-support-of-national-go-barefoot-day-soles4souls-encourages-supporters-to-experience-one-day-without-shoes-this-friday-1025725261
- https://tinkergarten.com/activities/go-barefoot-day - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/02/29/why-kids-should-go-barefoot-more-and-probably-adults-too/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.92740d0ee892