Were you the child that loved to run around barefoot? Did you laugh at that funny, cold, squishy feeling when you twisted and turned your toes in the mud? Did you love the feel of the soft dewiness of morning grass? If you smile inside at the memories of being barefoot as a kid, you probably still enjoy it to this day because of how freeing it feels.
For centuries, there have been stories about the benefits of walking “connected to the Earth” or “Earthing,” as it is now called. The idea is that the closer you are to the Earth, the more of Earth’s energy you could pick up through your feet.
It sounds a bit ridiculous initially. After all, haven’t we also heard warnings about running around barefoot? We are told to make sure our feet are dry after stepping out of the shower because of the possibility of getting foot fungus. We hear that we could be walking on parasites and bacteria or skin-penetrating bugs if we walk in the dirt. Finally, we are cautioned about potential shards of glass, nails, or other sharp elements we could step on.
Despite all of the proposed dangers, it turns out there are benefits to walking barefoot, or Earthing, for your overall health. Below, read about what scientists have discovered happens to your body when you walk barefoot.
THE DISCOVERY OF EARTH’S ENERGY
There has been increasing evidence that we and other forms of nature have an energy field around us. Scientists are still discovering what things have positive and negative effects on our energy fields. For example, you might have heard that speaking positively around a plant increases its growth and hardiness. What about our planet Earth?
Earth has its own energy field, or frequency. In 1952, W.O. Shumann, German physicist and professor at the University of Munich, began trying to prove that the Earth had a frequency. He based his hypotheses on the fact that when a sphere lies within another sphere, an electrical tension exists. Since the Earth is a negatively charged sphere located within a positively charged ionosphere, the tension between the two should create a charge. After doing some calculations, he found the frequency was 10hz.
In 1954, Shumann partnered with another scientist, Herbert Konig. Together, they recalculated it to be 7.83 Hz. It is now a scientifically accepted fact known as the Schumann Resonance.
“The Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. The surface of the planet is electrically conductive (except in limited ultra-dry areas such as deserts), and its negative potential is maintained (i.e., its electron supply replenished) by the global atmospheric electrical circuit.”
WHAT IS “EARTHING” OR GROUNDING?
“Earthing (also known as grounding) refers to contact with the Earth’s surface electrons by walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems, some of them patented, that transfer the energy from the ground into the body.”
SPECIFIC OUTCOMES OF TESTING
There are increasing studies that support and prove that Earth’s electrons can create a variety of health benefits on a therapeutic level. These include reducing pain, improving sleep, thinning blood, reducing inflammation, minimizing stress and cortisol levels, improved healing of muscle soreness, and improving parasympathetic systems (blood flow, respiration, oxygenation of the blood, pulse rate).
In the studies, the subjects were either instructed to walk barefoot outdoors or were connected to grounded conductive devices. The majority of the subjects reported major improvements in parasympathetic responses in as little as 30 minutes, and positive results involving inflammation, stress reduction, cortisol levels, etc., in a few weeks’ time.
In addition to these studies, there have been other studies related to osteoporosis, glucose regulation, and thyroid responses. K. Sokal and P. Sokal, cardiologist and neurosurgeon of a medical staff in Poland, did a series of studies utilizing a copper conductor in contact with the Earth and found that this could affect physiological responses.
HERE ARE THEIR FINDINGS:
Double-blind experiments were performed on groups of 12-84 subjects who all maintained a similar diet, exercise routine, and fluid intake during the trial period. The doctors then used a copper plate attached to the leg with a conductive wire attached to a grounding rod outside. In one night of sleep, they reported major changes in the concentration of minerals and electrolytes in the blood. There was also a major reduction of calcium and phosphorus excreted in urine tests and blood tests. A loss of calcium and phosphorous are contributing factors to osteoporosis. This test shows that in one night of grounding sleep, those markers can be reduced.
Earthing was done through rest and outdoor activity for 72 hours for patients who had non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. They had taken an anti-diabetic drug for 6 months but still lacked glycemic control despite a diet and exercise plan. They showed a decreased fasting glucose after the 72 hours.
Patients on thyroid medication reported symptoms related to hyperthyroidism after doing earthing. This generally would not occur without a decrease in medication. After just one night, other subjects not diagnosed with any thyroid issues started showing a decrease in free tri-iodothyronine and an increase in free thyroxin and thyroid stimulating hormone. These tests, though inconclusive, show that earthing can affect our hepatic, hypothalamus, and pituitary interplay with the thyroid system.
Sokal and P. Sokal performed other tests related to stimulating the immune response and increasing blood viscosity, which are issues for diabetics and those who develop cardiovascular disease. While these tests indicate positive results on multiple systems in our bodies, the results are still tentative. Scientists will need to do more testing on a larger number of subjects before it can be completely verified. If the simple act of going for a walk in the grass, at the beach, or in the dirt could help improve your health or prevent health problems, it would well be worth it!
OTHER BENEFITS OF EARTHING
Dr. Jonathan Kaplan, a foot and ankle specialist and surgeon at Hoag Orthopaedic Institute, sheds some light on how Earthing improves the physical health of your feet:
- Better control of your foot position as it lands on the ground.
- Improves balance.
- Improves body awareness in relation to the surroundings. This is one of the reasons it is recommended that toddlers don’t wear shoes when first walking.
- By improving foot mechanics, it also helps in keeping your knees, hips, and the core in proper alignment and movement.
- Prevents your foot and ankle joints from exaggerated movements and range of motion which also allows for proper strength and stability in the muscles and ligaments in your ankle and legs.
- Decreases issues from shoes which don’t fit properly (i.e. bunions, hammer toes).
- Increases leg strength, which helps improve lower back strength.
WITH ALL OF THESE BENEFITS, YOU HAVE TO KEEP IN MIND THESE TIPS WHEN EARTHING AS WELL:
- If you are not accustomed to walking barefoot, then your foot strength may be compromised and susceptible to damage. Here are recommendations to ease into earthing:
- Do it in short increments at first to build up strength.
- Build up your balance through ankle exercises
- Start by using a minimalist shoe
- Try exercises like yoga or pilates which require your feet to be bare
- Try it indoors first
- Be mindful of the terrain. Rocky areas can cut your feet, certain areas can have broken glass or nails, and wet areas could cause you to slip. Also, certain surfaces do not provide grounding benefits: asphalt, wood, rubber, plastic, vinyl, tar, or tarmac. Sand, grass, soil, concrete, or ceramic tile does provide grounding. Basically, any natural surface provides benefits.
- Make sure to thoroughly wash your feet afterward as you can be exposed to a multitude of bacteria.
- If you are diabetic, it is crucial to take extra precautions.
- Be sure the ground is level and clear of potential objects which can puncture or cut your feet.
- Wear a minimalist shoe, such as those that don’t have synthetic rubber soles, which can still allow for contact with the ground while protecting your feet.
- Make sure you wash, inspect thoroughly, and moisturize your feet afterward.
Earthing, or walking barefoot, may be another way to improve our health while staying connected to the nature around us. Preliminary studies have been able to explain what happens to your body when you walk barefoot, and the results have been positive. While there needs to be further studies done before any doctor is going to be “prescribing” earthing as a treatment, earthing is free. You don’t need to wait for a doctor to tell you to try it on your own. Besides, it feels good too!