For instance, walking barefoot has its own benefits to the skeletal-muscular functioning as well as proprioception of the lower extremity, but this newsletter is about Rest, in other words, putting the shoes on.
Sometimes I marvel at how good it feels to put on supportive comfy shoes after I have walked a few miles barefoot. The feeling is definitely one of protection from things like sharp rocks or freezing puddles, but I know that if I wore the shoes all the time I might never appreciate that feeling. Like so many wonderful comforts in my life, I might just take that feeling for granted.
So, in this scenario putting the shoes on provides me with a great sense of comfort that I am only aware of because I had spent time barefoot. A similar feeling could be found when you take a break from intense focused mental thinking or arriving home after attending a social engagement that you had to talk yourself into attending. There are so many opportunities to challenge ourselves and, yet, if we don’t take them and instead follow the desire to find comfort, then we deny ourselves the ability to adapt. But that is not really true because we are always adapting.
Allostasis is the term that describes our anticipatory ability to prepare for demands before the need arises and is based on experience. And since this governing drive is constant, the only ways to direct the desired adaptation is by controlling the experience and then allowing yourself to rest.
If I want my feet to be stronger and my balance to maintain as I age, then I should challenge myself by walking barefoot. Walking barefoot can also provide me with a challenge of willpower which can improve my resilience. But these things will only happen if I allow the rest necessary for adapting in these specific ways.
Benjamin Franklin said “[r]est is best when earned,” and since I like to think that he was a very smart guy, I believe that he wasn’t just saying that rest feels better when you have done something to feel like you have earned the right to rest. He was also saying that the benefits of adaptation that will happen during your rest will be greater if you have earned them by directing the demands.
As always, let me know how I can help.