Free the feet

By December 6, 2017My Blog

The other day I was pulling up my socks before I put on my shoes as I have done just about every day for as long as I can remember. Not once have I ever questioned this practice. Why would I? Everyone does it and I can of course see the sense in it. Especially in winter in Berlin, it’s bloody freezing!!

But on this day something was different. I was looking at it differently. Instead of seeing the benefits of wearing the socks and the shoes. I started to think about what they took away. Flashes of Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run burst into my mind. Memories of growing up barefoot in South Africa. Visions of seeing children walking barefoot to school in the cold Eastern Cape winter and feeling pity.

Wake up!

It became so obvious.

Our feet are the most incredible instruments. Arguably the most technologically advanced of our body parts who are responsible for bearing our weight and locomotion.* As I saw it, with one main function – to be our primary connection with the earth. And yet we cover them? And make the function they are designed for basically impossible to carry out.

A big reason we feel disconnected from the earth and each other. Is because we are! It’s not rocket science!

Shoes separate us (Apartheid means separateness) from the earth. It’s no surprise we can treat it badly if we can’t really feel it.

“What about glass in the streets? You are going to cut yourself!”

It forces you to watch where you are going. And tread lightly. We shouldn’t feel we can just walk over anything in our path and just because it doesn’t harm us or we don’t feel it, it’s ok.

This really hit home when I was playing in Mauer Park with Lukas. And I stepped on a bee. It stung me. It hurt like hell. But I soon realized if I had paid more attention I could’ve avoided stepping on it and killing it. But with barefeet at least we are more aware of our impact and that we share this planet with many other living beings. I’m really sorry about the bee.

I also felt we would be less likely to break glass on the floor in the first place if we knew it could harm us.

“You are going to freeze. Catch a cold. Don’t be an idiot!”

Think about this. Your feet are our number one receptors. They feed information to the brain and the rest of the body. When we are cold they are the first to know and communicate this. And send out a call to action for our bodily systems to kick in to warm us up. If they are covered they can’t do this.

Do you really think that when our feet or body is cold we will catch a cold ? This is an old wive‘s tale. I even remember when I was playing outside as a kid and my mom would shout at me to come inside before I caught a cold. Or put something on before I caught a cold! I think this is total bullshit.

Not only do shoes make our feet stupid but also the rest of our body as we are warming them up from the outside and not allowing our incredible organs to do it from the inside. Lazy, inactive internal organs leads to dis-ease. Healthy, active ones – you do the maths! You choose ?

When we are cold. Bring warmth to your body through your breath. There’s a guy called Wim Hoff who sits from head to toe in ice doing breathing exercises to show how capable the body is of this. When we are warmed by layers and layers of clothing and artificial heating, we do not have the same need to learn how to breathe expertly instead we become lazy and ineffective.

Who’s the weird one now? Someone with shoes or without? Try imagine dogs and cats or cows and sheep rocking around the place with shoes on?! It’s our natural state to be barefoot!!

“Shoes are a multi billion dollar industry that has created other multi billion dollar industries.”

Be aware of probably the most influential reason we wear shoes. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Shoes are the source of most our injuries we experience. We are altering our natural alignment and taking away the benefit/ruining the two built-in geniuses attached to our legs.

Chiropractors, physios, massage therapists, podiatrists etc etc have shoes to thank for a lot of their business. Even pharmaceutical companies. Pain killers, anti-inflammatories blah blah. We are dealing with the symptoms caused by shoes covering our feet. Not wearing shoes anymore wouldn’t be good for business and in any case most people’s bodies and feet are so used to shoes by now that taking them off could be more problematic! What a business model!

“Being barefoot has inspired a new insight for me towards philanthropy and social investment”

I remember cycling through the Eastern Cape doing the Unogwaja Challenge on my expensive bike with Lycra from head to toe to keep me warm, gloves, something covering my ears, closed shoes, shoe covers. You name it! Many layers. It got seriously cold and I wasn’t such a tough guy! It blew my mind to ride past kids walking to school barefeet.

Back then I pitied those kids. But now I pity me. And I am beyond inspired by those kids. And I ask anyone who wants to buy these kids shoes to think twice?

Can you imagine how much more developed and resilient the barefoot kids feet are than the rich privileged kids feet who have been covered in the most expensive equipment all their lives? I reckon the barefoot kids will have super human feet – why on earth would we want to take this away? So the giver can feel better about themselves for “helping“ a kid in need.

I don’t see a need. I see a super power!

What else do you do regularly in your life that you haven’t really ever considered doing it any other way?

It may be worth considering!

A senior citizen from Berlin named Wilhelm was walking with his wife. Dressed warmly from tip to toe. He stopped in absolute disbelief staring at my naked feet. I asked him to take a photo. What was funny was that my iPhone had run out of storage so I had to delete some photos in order to take some. I deleted heaps and heaps of nice photos but still my camera wouldn’t function. Wilhelm had been hanging around for quite a number of minutes and had now run out of patience with my phone (and me!). He was walking away when I managed to find some space and he kindly agreed to take my picture. (He almost cut my feet off which would have been poetic!)

Freiheit für die Füße in Mohrenstraße, Berlin

Finding space for new ideas and ways is not easy when we are so filled with what we know. And letting go of what we know is a really difficult process. Especially if what we know has come from someone we love and respect – our parents, our teachers, our ministers etc. And even more so if what we know has served us quite well.

I will be publishing my first book early in 2018. I hope it will help you let go of what doesn’t really serve you and us anymore, and create space for you to feel your own way towards a more epic existence!

There is one thing more terrifying than letting go of what we know, and that’s holding on to a life not meant for you, a life not as bright as it can be.

Freeing the feet is a good start!

Breathe more. Think less. You are free!


Three simple ideas to help the process:

1. Inversions – get your heart above your head (Your heart is under pressure all day pumping blood around your body. It has its work cut out to pump blood against gravity to our over active brain; so an inversion – simplest form is to put your hips and legs against the wall while lying on your back –  just gives your heart a break as well as giving you a new upside view of the world!)

2. Take a short cold shower in the morning. Consciously experiment with your breathing.

3. Be barefoot. Gradually build up over time and with different surfaces but try be barefoot outside everyday. Take it slow otherwise you will get plenty of blisters!!


Another relevant article I wrote: The Langa Advantage

*The human foot is a strong and complex mechanical structure containing 26 bones, 33 joints (20 of which are actively articulated), and more than a hundred muscles, tendons and ligaments.



About Bodhi

In conventional speak, John McInroy is a South-African born social activist, humanitarian, social entrepreneur, ultra endurance athlete, international field hockey player, actor and vegan yogi. In more authentic terms, Bodhi is a human you may see walking the streets barefoot trying to find new ways to tread as lightly as possible.


  • Dave Duarte says:

    I’m going to go barefoot a little more often now. Still, shoes can be helpful for protection from extreme surfaces and conditions so let’s not be too quick to write the whole thing off.

  • ariel says:

    Free Food* welcomes your Free* Feet..when next in the hood -we buy you lunch!
    stay Merry!

  • Jim Eshelman says:

    “ No shoes (or shirt), no service” is a common reference in restaurants in the US, and the rationale is not decorum alone.
    I believe in connection to the earth, and also safety, hence moccasins are favored.
    Wish You the Best, Brother.

  • Molly says:

    Wow!!!! What a pleasure knowing you!!!! I love your path of thinking!!!! Love Molly

  • Ilze Pio says:

    When u recited one of my favorite passages at Psi – it brought to life all I use to read when I was younger and all I believe of who I am and not caring what ppl think – I ended up dancing and my kid forever embarrassed 😂.

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