Walk Barefoot on the Earth: Here’s Why

If someone told you to walk outside barefoot to get in touch with the healing energy of the earth and “ground” yourself, you might dismiss them as a bit wacky or even slightly nuts. However, what if this strange, seemingly mystic practice worked? What if simply connecting your bare skin to the ground did provide physical benefits?

Scientifically backed grounding or earthing is more fact than fiction, and it could help you live a more vibrant life and achieve your 100 Year Heart. Read on as we discuss what grounding is and why you should do it every day.

What is grounding?

Grounding is putting yourself in direct contact with the earth to restore a balanced electrical connection and improve health. The earth has a negative electric charge created by thousands of lightning strikes across the globe. Though you can’t feel this charge, its invisible effects emanate from the ground.

The human body is bioelectrical, carrying a positive charge that can build up over time from electronic devices, fluorescent lighting, various electromagnetic fields, and environmental toxins. Just as a safe electrical system is grounded to protect against power surges, your body also needs grounding to neutralize that positive charge. 

Free electrons from the earth flow through your body when your bare skin is in contact with the ground, balancing out your bioelectrical charge and creating a stable environment to support your bodily systems. Grounding or earthing means connecting to Mother Earth and restoring your cellular being to a balanced state.

The history of earthing

In the late 1800s, rubber-soled shoes created a barrier between the electrical energy of the earth and the human body. This distance only grew with the rise of the metropolis and the prevalence of concrete jungles. 

Our ancestors once lived in close communion with the earth, wearing animal hide shoes (or no shoes) and sleeping close to the ground. Today, humans avoid contact with the ground, walking on paved sidewalks, exercising on treadmills, and driving miles in cars with rubber tires. 

Proponents of the grounding movement claim this prevalence towards “earth avoidance” contributes to the rise of inflammatory autoimmune diseases, sleep disorders, and mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. We have lost an essential electrical connection with the very planet that sustains and balances us.

In the late 1990s, former cable TV pioneer Clint Ober started experiencing chronic pain and difficulty sleeping. He used his knowledge of electrical grounding from his time as a cable installer to rig up a rudimentary grounding mat, testing his theory that the Earth’s energy was a powerful source of healing. It worked. Ober experienced reduced pain and restful sleep. He then installed similar systems for his friends, and they all reported positive results. 

This rediscovery of the Earth’s electrical energy healing power set off a new frontier of scientific research. Over two decades later, grounding is no longer just backed by anecdotal evidence and theories. Numerous studies and doctors support this incredible practice, and the breadth of research is only growing. 

Science-backed benefits of grounding

Decreases inflammation

Negatively charged electrons transmit through the body from the ground, neutralizing positively charged free radicals that contribute to disease and inflammation in the body. Essentially, these electrons act in the same manner as antioxidants from various foods. 

Studies have shown that grounding could be a beneficial treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. 

Reduces pain

Besides considerable anecdotal evidence, scientific studies back up grounding for pain reduction and improved muscle repair after exercise. One study found reduced creatine kinase (a marker of muscle damage) in the blood following a grounding session. Study participants also indicated lower pain levels post-grounding. 

Improves sleep

Sleep is critical for health and wellbeing, yet millions struggle with disrupted sleep and insomnia. Grounding may provide an answer. Improved sleep quality is one of the earliest documented benefits of this unique practice. 

In a 2004 study, 12 participants with self-identified sleep dysfunction, pain, and stress slept on a grounded mattress pad for eight weeks. Researchers noted reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol and regulation of the circadian rhythm. Each participant also indicated improvements in perceived sleep quality, pain, and stress. 

Improves mood

Though the benefits of grounding on mood are still being researched, promising studies have shown that self-reported improvements in mental state and happiness are reported in grounded individuals. One double-blinded study from 2015 measured the mood of 40 participants who were either grounded or sham-grounded. After one hour, the grounded group experienced significantly improved moods, much higher than the sham-grounded group. 

Benefits circulation 

Grounding could improve blood viscosity to prevent clumping and improve flow and circulation. This benefits cardiovascular health and could even support the repair of facial tissues, improving skin health and appearance. 

Increases heart rate variability

Data from a study measuring heart rate and grounding showed that this beneficial practice could improve heart rate variability (HRV), boosting the function of the autonomic nervous system. HRV is the time between each heartbeat. People with higher HRV generally have better cardiovascular health and improved stress response. 

Improves energy

One study of 16 massage therapists showed an improved mental state and increased energy following grounding. These therapists reported less fatigue, tiredness, and pain, which are all common occurrences with such a physically demanding profession. 

Grounding could also:

  • Speed wound healing
  • Improve stress response
  • Reduce jet lag
  • Balance hormonal issues
  • Relieve headaches 
  • Boost immune system
  • Reduce cortisol levels

Types of grounding

Outdoors

The best kind of grounding is free, accessible to anyone, and doesn’t require special equipment. Go outside with your bare feet and dig your toes into the soft grass. Take a barefoot stroll in a park, go for a swim in a lake or the ocean, take a nap under a blue sky. Embrace nature and all of the benefits of getting your body in touch with the earth. 

Ten minutes is a great starting place, and pairing this with your morning sunshine helps you get the most bang for your buck. Try to work your way up to 20 minutes daily for maximum benefit. 

Indoors

You can purchase inexpensive sheets, mats, patches, and bands that connect to the earth through an electrical socket in your home. Though not the preferred method of grounding, as you don’t get the vitamin D boost, it is an excellent choice for the winter when the ground is freezing. 

It also works well if you are trying to recover from an injury or improve your sleep. Many people sleep on earthing mats and notice a marked improvement in their rest. 

Practical tips for your most grounded self:

  • Stay engaged and present
  • Listen to the sounds of nature
  • Don’t try to achieve a result — simply enjoy the process
  • Be patient
  • Start your day grounded
  • Take a walk in earthing shoes if you’re worried about rocks and sticks
  • Grounding works through concrete as long as you’re barefoot

Walk barefoot on the earth

Earthing is a powerful component of a healthy lifestyle that includes a whole, organic diet, regular exercise, stretching, sunshine, fresh air, clean water, and toxin-free products. This practice enables you to reconnect to the earth, feel present with yourself and with nature, and enable your body to find balance and healing. 

Though more quality studies are needed to confirm the benefits, enough evidence supports grounding to make it worth trying. It is free, has no side effects, and could help you achieve your 100 Year Heart.

Next steps

You don’t need any special equipment or training to start grounding today. Ditch your shoes, go outside, and give it a try!

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Medical Review 2022: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD

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