No one has to tell Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients of the great health benefits of walking. Most know that regular walking can help improve health outcomes including weight management, heart health, and maintain patient overall health to remain eligible for a kidney transplant. However, patients may be surprised to learn of the enhanced health benefits that can be achieved from simply walking barefoot. Yes, there is a difference between walking with shoes and walking barefoot. According to the tradition of reflexology, different places on your feet correspond to various areas of the body, including major organs and muscles. "Stimulating those areas on your feet is believed to be beneficial to the corresponding areas on other parts of your body, and likewise, restricting or ignoring them can have negative effects on the body," reported Littlethings.com. Many of the health benefits offered by reflexology directly combat common difficulties and challenges which are experienced by Chronic Kidney Disease patients, especially those conducting Dialysis.
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Walking around indoors can be great, but patients should not limit themselves. If a Chronic Kidney Disease patient has enough time and energy, then s/he may consider walking barefoot on other safe and familiar terrain such as the backyard or on the beach which can stimulate different reflexology points.
However, be sure that the area that you are walking without shoes is clean, well known, and contains no objects which may hurt your feet. Also, if you have any serious back or foot issues, be sure to talk with your Nephrologist before going barefoot. Specific benefits of walking in safe environments without shoes include:
1. Lessens Aches And Pains: There are occasions when a Dialysis patient may have side effects from his/her treatment such as cramping, soreness, gout, headaches, backaches, and temporary raspy voice. While these side effects can be mild or severe, the last thing patients need is to add "aching feet" to their long list of discomforts. Hence, by simply stepping out of their shoes, patients may find that any aches their feet might have felt seem to melt away as they come in contact with the ground.
2. Strengthens Joints, Muscles, And Tendons: According to Littlethings.com, "Walking barefoot has been shown to give people stronger, more flexible feet that are less prone to damage, and can also improve balance." Some Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients, especially those with Diabetes, suffer from damaged feet, joint pain, and poor balance. Consider trying to walk barefoot in order to improve these outcomes.
3. Improves Sleep: People with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) often have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Physical and mental health can contribute to sleep problems. Yet, when the feet are relaxed, it leads the way for the rest of the body to relax and release tension. With less tension and anxiety, the chances of getting a good night’s rest increase.
4. Improves Circulation: Diabetes.org noted that, "Studies have also shown that the chance of getting foot ulcers (open sore on the foot that is prone to infection, which may become severe) increases as kidney function worsens." This may be a result of nerve damage or poor circulation in the feet which is common among Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients. When walking barefoot, the feet get more stimulation and the blood begins to move through the body faster. This increased circulation may help to decrease harmful foot ulcers and the risk of heart disease.
5. Replenishes Vitamin D: Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease have a high incidence of deficiency of nutritional Vitamin D which can lead to depression, uncontrollable sweating, weight gain, darker skin, and bone complications (aches, breaks, etc.). Yet, walking barefoot outside for short periods of the day means getting some sun, and while you have to be careful not to get too much, the sun provides much-needed vitamin D. Even if you are resting in the shade after a nice walk, stick your toes out for a bit into the sun for a warming vitamin boost.
6. Lowers Stress By Providing Physical And Emotional Grounding: Chronic Kidney Disease patients have to deal with the stress and anxiety of daily challenges associated with kidney complications and/or Dialysis. At times, it can become overwhelming. Going barefoot doesn’t just have physical benefits, but psychological ones, as well. Some people believe that having direct contact with the Earth is a way to balance out our magnetic charge and “ground” ourselves. What's more, walking barefoot can offer patients an enjoyable reflexology massage with each step!
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Do you walk barefoot? If not, would you consider doing so to gain the above-listed health benefits? Share your response with the nearly 40,000 KidneyBuzz.com Facebook Fan Page Friends (click here). Also, follow the over 115,000 monthly viewers and visit KidneyBuzz.com every day for the latest breaking news and information which teaches those with Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, Diabetes and High Blood Pressure how to better manage and improve their lives.