Why Walking Barefoot on a Cold Floor Causes Sickness

Updated: April 16, 2019 Written By Salvatore Crapanzano C.C.Ir., B.A.Sc., M.A.Sc.

Why Did Grandma say: "Don't Walk Barefoot on the Floor"?

Grandma was right when she said, you should not walk barefoot, and especially on a cold floor.

And this is especially true in the winter months when you want to prevent colds and flu's, feeling lethargic, weak, weak muscles, and just plain feeling sick all the time.

In fact the cold from the floor can still go through your socks and into your foot, and cause you sickness. Read on to find out more about why.

Some people complain of getting a sore throat, or swelling of the throat (lymph nodes) in the winter months, but never really develop any cold or flu. This is a kind of borderline sickness, where the immune system can't really kick in and get rid of the cold or illness, but you don't succumb to it anyways..

While this tendency to sore throat or malaise may not be true for everyone, if a person does not have a hearty constitution they may be more susceptible than others.

It is never advisable to get used to walking barefoot on a cold floor period. Wear good socks. Wear shoes, slippers, but thick slippers, not cloth slippers.

How Cold Energy Enters the Body Via the Foot

Woman walking barefoot on floor.

So, what is the reason for a person walking on a cold floor, even with socks greatly increasing their tendency to get sick.

The reason, a very simple one is answered from the point view of TCM - Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the acupuncture meridians.

Underneath the foot, is a kidney-meridian point, called the bubbling well point of the Kidney meridian (K-1, or Kidney-1). The chinese name is Yong Quan (pronounced Yong Chu-When).

You can search the internet for 'Yong Quan point images' and see where it is exactly.

Because the meridians receive energy through them, when you are walking on a cold floor, barefoot or with socks, the energy goes straight into the meridian. Meridians need warmth to work properly. That warmth is called Yang Qi, and Yang dervies from the Kidney-Yang or lifegate fire. Further more, digestion needs warmth to work properly, because digestion is a cauldron pot with the fire underneath.

If this is happening in the winter time, when you should be keeping yourself warm, you could get sick. If you already have an infection, walking with just socks is a very bad idea.

Once the energy enters your meridians, it cools your body off, cools your kidneys and could cause disease to set in.

In the summer time, it may be more appropriate to walk barefoot, inside and out of the house, but if you can't tolerate the cold going up into the kidneys, you should not do this at all, especially if you have a prolonged cold.

Alternatively, you could be massaging the K-1 point to warm the kidneys, which would increase your Kidney-Yang energy.

To do this, you rub your K-1 point vigourously with your hand, your right hand on your left foot, and vice-versa. To do this correctly you will create warmth and friction.

This technique is also purported to bring down the heat from the head to the feet, allow you to sleep better.

See a Youtube video below for a tracing of the Kidney Meridian:

View video directly in youtube

See this chart here of the Kidney Meridian.

Use Warm Foot Baths to Warm the Kidneys

Chinese medicine practitioners also recommend putting your feet into a warm foot bath with warming herbs. Called Foot Bath therapy or Zu Yu. You could use ginger for this.

Have you ever watched that Fred Flintstone episodes where Fred had his feet in a foot bath, with a cloth over the rest of his body, and was sneezing. He had come in from the cold.

What Fred did to help himself may have been grounded in Traditional Chinese Medicine, since even after exposure to cold, warming the body up, by warming up the feet can have a profound effect. It might even save you from getting a full cold or flu.

By the way, some QiGong Masters suggest that you rub the Yong-Quan point vigorously to increase yang-energy, and warm your kidneys. People in China do this on a regular basis. It is part of QiGong massage.

Warming the kidneys is important because kidney warmth, warms the digestion, by way of the spleen

The one thing I'm not discussing on this web page which is related to how cold enters the body is the whole controversy surrounding what medicine believes about the wind cold entering the body and increasing susceptibility to a cold or flu. Medicine believes it is all about the pathogen, but not about the immunity developed in the body.

Immunity is a Western Concept and model to discuss the anti-pathogen fighting ability of the body.

It does not represent the totality of why some people are more immune than others.

Do you have friends, or family who don't get sick all season and then you do.

They may have a heartier constitution because they were born with stronger kidneys.

What About Wind Entering the Body?

Are you also the type who even when exposed to Wind from fans in the summer develops that ill feeling?

In TCM, Wind is a Pathogenic factor, that requires defensive energy from the body to circumvent. That is called Wei-Chi.

If summer fan wind weakens your body you need help.

If your lungs or spleen are not working well, then your body will be weakened.

Have you ever gotten a cold, and felt like it is neither going in, and is not expelled?

As you get older do you feel like you have to wear a jacket to protect yourself in the spring, because it is Windy?

You used to be able to just wear a long-sleeved shirt, and some light pants?

Sickness just Entering the Body, and Feeling Stuck

In TCM, there is a whole ancient Treatise about how Cold Enters the Body, and the damage it can do:

It is called the Shanghan Lun, Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders or the Treatise on Cold Injury, and it is a Chinese medical treatise that was compiled around 200 A.D.

There are 6 Stages as to how the Cold can enter the body and cause damage.

If you have ever felt like your Cold, or Flu just won't go in, or come out, then it is probably in one of the 6 Stages, and stuck.

This can feel really awful, and you need to go to a Doctor of TCM, who can give you a unique prescription of TCM herbs, to bring it out into the exterior.

The herbs are boiled carefully and then you drink the liquid. Alternatively, you can have the herbs ground, as they would be cheaper, and then mix with hot water and ingest them.

Usually you go back after seeing them, the first time, and they check your pulse, and tongue, and visual.

A lot of people who are weak, or are not aware of the impact of a cold, or flue on their vitality, and the vitality of their organs, and get a cold, can get even more weakened after it, just barely coming out of it with much energy.

These are people who have weak lungs, or weak spleen.

One of the things that people who get sick easily must do is be in bed by 9:00pm, and no later than 9:30pm to allow their spleen to recharge more, and not over-use it.

Thinking or over-thinking uses up energy, and after 9pm your Spleen is not at it's optimum point, and this is when things can get worse rather than better with your health if you don't go to bed early.

Some people will also have created weakness in their body because of staying up late, many times in their "party" life, and later paying for it with poorer health.

Even though you slept off the sleep deficit as soon as possible, you worked against nature, and your body.

You could even be someone who goes to sleep on time, but does not regularly exercise, but studies too much, and depletes the Spleen Energy too much, by over-thinking, and studying too late.

So, Remember to listen to grandma. She knows a lot of little things to keep you healthy!

The following books below are related to my reply to the facebook comment below about incorrectly using the term "cold energy entering the body". It is about "cold" energy affecting the body and learning more about how TCM, Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture can help you live a more healthy and longer life.

The facebook comment is repeated here for your convenience in learning, and also because facebook has a bug in showing comments which still has not been resolved:

A very, very late reply from me, but hopefully one that is very useful.

I just recently put my comments back on the web pages.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has a foundation of observing the way the human body gets sick for thousands of years.

Its theories are sound.

The Chinese have investigated the way colds and cases of flu enter the body. It is not just a matter of being exposed to viruses.

The cold enters meridians behind the neck, at the bladder points, and can cause weakness, and a tendency to illness. A cold virus might not take hold. It may not happen, but I believe if there is a cold virus in the body, and the body is weakened, that is the way the cold virus takes hold. Some people have weaker bodies. More below about meridians.

This may not be entirely comprehensive, because people have different constitutions, different energy imbalances, and may certainly not be acceptable to medical experts who think people get infected with colds and flu's just because there is exposure to droplets.

Perhaps this is a different mechanism than I am writing about, but I believe TCM is much more correct.

I wrote this webpage based on my own experience with understanding my body and being able to replicate the way cold enters the body. i.e. having a tendency to get sick, feel sick, or stay sick when the "cold" energy entered my body through the feet. About 5 years back, I also came back from a run, (and although I had run frequently, about 1X a week), I got sick with a pretty powerful cold that took hold. I usually change my shirt right away once I'm finished too. I had a lot of mucous and was sick for 2 weeks.

Experts in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Acupuncturists, Doctor's of TCM, O.M.D. (Oriental Medical Doctor) in the USA think of COLD entering the body the way I have written it. I.e. they don't say that heat leaves the body. But of course, you are probably correct, it is physical heat energy leaving the body.

In all respects, I believe it is all relative anyway.

Ever heard of people coming from warmer, very hot countries to North America and feeling cold in the summertime. Yes. Summertime. This is because of the food they were regularly eating in that climate.

While I am aware of people who can go out into the cold weather, be in their undies, and not catch anything they are probably a different type of constitution than other people.

Yes. Some people can walk on bare feet in winter too.

I personally would not do it, and I would not let a baby walk barefoot on a cold floor in the winter, or even summer for that matter.

I believe that People who have strong organs, and a strong Spleen, and strong Kidneys, strong Lungs and perhaps also, a strong constitution will not get so sick easily.

Notice I am putting these in capital letters because these are the TCM versions of the western medical organ system.

In TCM the immunity is called the Wei-Qi, but it is not exactly the same. It is more complex arising from Qi Energy flowing.

But this kind of situation does not take into account the fact that people do get sick when exposed to cold. And in many, many forms, and ways, some subtle taking a long time to manifest!

See the book: "88 Chinese Medicine Secrets" by Angela Hicks".

Acupuncturists often perform moxibustion to warm up the meridians.

[Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy in which dried plant materials called "moxa" are burned on or very near the surface of the skin. The intention is to warm and invigorate the flow of Qi in the body and dispel certain pathogenic influences].

There are more reasons why.

It is because people have eaten too many "cooling" foods, or "cold foods", probably have a spleen-yang deficiency, and maybe cold energy coming into their meridians, and much more.

An example of a "cooling" or "cold" food would be bananas. Some people it affects and others it does not.

It depends on the entirety of your diet, maybe too many cold foods.

When people have difficulty with their Spleen or Kidneys, (deficiency) they can have cold energy in the Meridians, dampness in the body, which increases their propensity to illness.

As well, people who have had mercury in their mouths for a long time may also have difficulty with digestion, and the meridians Qi energy even when they remove them. This detriment is because the mercury is a very "cold" medicine being released into the body.

Please note that this web site IS about HELPING people prevent illness, and heal illness. This is written by me, a Natural Health Practitioner who is an expert in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

If you wish to find out further information about TCM, and the practical cases involved in cold diseases, please pick up a copy of "88 Chinese Medicine Secrets" by Angela Hicks": How the wisdom of China can help you stay healthy and live longer. It's a paperback book. 331 pages. See clickable link above.

The Canadian link can be found below both:


Canadian Link to Angela Hicks Books