Benefits of Being Barefoot
Grounding, also called Earthing, is a therapeutic technique most closely aligned with the modality of Ecotherapy. Grounding seeks to harness, and reconnect to the earth’s natural healing properties through the simple practice of walking barefoot outside.
The rise and normality of non-conductive shoes (think: rubber soles) has created a barrier between our skin and the electrical charge of the earth. Compounding this with the fact that we are frequently walking on minimally conductive or nonconductive materials (i.e. concrete, hardwood floors, etc.), it is quite clear how little the average person is actually grounding in their day to day lives.
The guiding principle behind grounding is that walking barefoot on the earth exposes our bodies to an abundance of negatively charged ions, which comes with a host of benefits. These benefits are not solely based on an intuitive assumption, but rather, a growing body of scientific literature that points to an array of physiological and psychological benefits. Just as vitamin D in our body is produced by the energy and frequencies generated by the sun, the earth provides its own stream of beneficial frequencies that benefit our body. We’ve broken down the benefits for you below.
Neutralize Free Radicals
Free radicals are electrically charged molecules that our body releases to destroy harmful pathogens and bacteria. We are exposed to free radical-generating substances throughout our day-to-day lives from processed foods, alcohol consumption, environmental pollutants, and pesticides. Naturally, free radicals seek out other electrons to neutralize themselves. This unfortunately, often involves stealing an electron from a healthy cell, which creates inflammation within the body.
Grounding supplies the body with an abundance of electrons, which reduces free radicals within the body and subsequently, the body’s inflammation levels. Studies have found that long term grounding helps to prevent inflammation-related disorders and restore the body to homeostasis.
Enhance Sleep Quality
The connection between inflammation and sleep quality is strong, and inflammation is highly circadian rhythmic. In layman terms, this means that inflammation is strongest at night time. Elevated inflammation levels have the ability to impact your quality of sleep. Long term grounding has been shown to considerably enhance sleep quality through its inflammation reducing effects.
Elevated cortisol levels are another factor that is related to sleep quality. Chronic stress (i.e. elevated cortisol levels) have been shown to cause insomnia and other sleep disturbances. Studies have found that grounding helps to decrease cortisol levels, and consequently, improve one’s quality of sleep.
Earthing’s anti-inflammatory effects and its ability to alter immune system function have been shown to considerably reduce pain levels.
We can all attest to the calming and emotionally enhancing effects of spending time out in nature. But, up until recently, the science was lacking to back up these claims. Multiple studies have found that grounding is able to enhance one’s mood and reduce stress levels. Studies have found that grounding for extended periods of time helps our body to shift out of its activated, “fight or flight” mode, into its relaxed, parasympathetic state.
Multiple studies have shown that grounding can reduce blood viscosity. In other words, earthing can promote circulation and cardiovascular health. Grounding is a simple, yet effective practice to reduce cardiovascular risk.
The Ins & Outs of Grounding
Grounding may seem self-explanatory, however, there are a few tips and tricks to enhance the practice.
- The physiological and psychological benefits of grounding have been studied on individuals who expose themselves to the earth for thirty plus minutes. If you’re looking to hone in on the benefits of grounding, we recommend practicing for a minimum of thirty minutes at a time.
- Although the most natural method of grounding is to go out in nature and place your bare skin on the earth, it’s not always possible. There are an array of grounding products on the market such as mats you can sleep on, do yoga on, or place your feet on. This way, you can still reap the benefits of grounding for hours at your desk or throughout the night.
- The more enjoyable you make the practice of grounding, the more likely you will stick to it, and the more likely you will reap the long term benefits. Grounding can be done in various ways and times, such as while you are exercising, socializing, meditating, or reading outside.
As science continues to unravel the profound benefits of walking barefoot on the earth, you can’t help but notice that the nutrients our bodies need can be found all around us. All you have to do is look down.
When we think of being immersed in nature, we personally think of the holidays. Holidays offer us the ability to disconnect from our busy, digitized world and reconnect to Nature’s medicine. Bounts of grounding, the sun’s rays, the ionic charge of the beach, and the abundance of trace minerals in the ocean effortlessly fill us up throughout the holidays. This is one of the reasons why we see holidays as an essential form of self-care - to rest and reset amidst the fast paced culture of our day-to-day lives.