Do you remember what it’s like to run around barefoot on the soft grass, or on the sand at the beach? When was the last time you went without shoes and really felt the ground beneath your toes? Many people haven’t enjoyed this sensation since they were a kid, although some have discovered the pleasures of what’s known as grounding, or earthing.
Grounding is a concept based on the idea that if you walk around barefoot on any natural surface you’ll reap healing benefits. While it may sound like some sort of New Age, hippie idea, those benefits are based on scientific research. Studies have found the health benefits derived from grounding are based on the relationship between the body and electrons in the earth. Our modern lifestyles tend to separate most of us from direct contact with our planet, but this research suggests that the disconnect with the earth may be significantly contributing to unwellness and physiological dysfunction.
The Journal of Environmental and Public Health reports:
“It is an established, though not widely appreciated the fact, that the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. Mounting evidence suggests that the Earth’s negative potential can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems. Moreover, oscillations of the intensity of the Earth’s potential may be important for setting the biological clocks regulating diurnal body rhythms, such as cortisol secretion.”
While grounding has been sweeping the holistic health scene in recent years, it’s a practice that’s long been used. In fact, Native Americans and other indigenous people instinctively knew for centuries to walk barefoot, or in leather shoes, and to sleep on the ground in order to recharge their bodies’ batteries. While this vital connection seems to have been forgotten, it’s making a big comeback.
Here’s Why You Really Need to Start Grounding
It is believed that the connection to the Earth’s surface plays an important role in the prevention of disease and also offers a number of health benefits, including reducing chronic pain, lowering stress, improving sleep, increasing energy, and even supporting good cardiovascular health. The influx of free electrons that come from the surface of the earth helps to neutralize free radicals and reduce chronic as well as acute inflammation, known to be the root of a wide range of health conditions and accelerated aging.
Let’s take a closer look at those benefits.
Decreasing inflammation and battling free radicals
Inflammation is a necessary part of the body’s immune response, as its attempt to heal itself after an injury, a battle against foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses, and repair damaged tissue when it becomes chronic, can lead to a wide range of health issues, many of which are serious. It’s been associated with diabetes, obesity, arthritis, celiac disease and a long list of other ailments. A report published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine explains: “Inflammation is now recognized as an overwhelming burden to the healthcare status of our population and the underlying basis of a significant number of diseases. The elderly generally bear the burden of morbidity and mortality, which may be reflective of elevated markers of inflammation resulting from decades of lifestyle choices.”
Thanks to the electrons from the Earth’s surface, grounding helps to reduce chronic inflammation, as well as neutralize free radicals, to prevent premature aging and help heal or decrease symptoms of disease and illness, as some free radicals can leak into surrounding tissue, damaging otherwise healthy body parts, increasing pain and swelling.
For the very same reason, it’s important to eat lots of antioxidant-rich foods, we should practice grounding, with those electrons from our planet serving as a natural antioxidant to battle free radicals and resolve chronic inflammation.
Reducing stress hormones
Chronic stress is well-known to lead to many health problems, and it can severely affect one’s quality of life, but by practicing grounding, it can help reduce stress. Research into the effects of grounding found that about half of the volunteers who took part in it demonstrated “an abrupt, almost instantaneous change in root mean square (rms) values of electroencephalograms (EEGs) from the left hemisphere of the brain.” Those changes are considered to by experts to indicate both reduced stress reactions and positive changes. The majority were also found to have decreased blood volume pulses, which suggested a dramatically higher reduction in overall stress levels.
Supporting cardiovascular health
Both the reduction of stress and lower inflammation also contributes to better cardiovascular health. Dr. Stephen Sinatra of the HeartMD Institute notes that one study he was involved in, published in Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, showed how grounding can contribute to a de-stressing and balancing effect on the nervous system, and as a result, on heart function.
Yet another study, this one from 2007, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine showed that connecting the human body to the earth while sleeping (such as camping under the stars), can normalize daily cortisol rhythm and improve sleep. It makes sense as stress hormones like cortisol impact the natural circadian rhythm, energy and the ability to enjoy a good night’s rest.
How To Practice Grounding
As regular physical activity is a must, you can enhance its benefits by exercising outdoors as often as you can, such as going for a walk in nature. That will help you reap the even greater benefits that come from connecting with our planet and synchronizing with its natural charge. Exercising barefoot outside is an ideal way to incorporate grounding into your life.
Of course, going barefoot can be something that you do just as often as you feel comfortable, but you might find that over time you enjoy it so much that you naturally kick off your shoes as often as you can. Initially, aim to practice grounding, or going barefoot, for 20 to 40 minutes at a time in grass, sand or dirt. If you can’t easily go barefoot, there are alternatives, including grounded footwear such as minimalist earthing or grounding shoes. By staying connected either barefoot or wearing earthing shoes, unwanted positive ions are absorbed which helps to neutralize and release harmful free radicals in the body.