You know that feeling after a walk in the park, a stroll on the beach or a long swim—you’re calm, content and just feel “better”? Well, there might just be a scientific explanation behind it. Beyond the fact that spending time outdoors is massively beneficial for our mental and physical health, there could be specific benefits to connecting barefoot with the earth. This practice is commonly known as “earthing” or “grounding.” We’re breaking down exactly what it means and whether you should be kicking your shoes off right now!
What is earthing?
Earthing is a therapeutic practice involving activities that connect your body with the earth. Examples include walking barefoot on grass, soil or sand, or even submerging yourself in water without touching the ground. Fans of the practice say that just 30 minutes per day of earthing can have profound effects on a variety of conditions, including inflammation, muscle damage, chronic pain and mood disorders.
What’s the science behind earthing?
While earthing hasn’t been studied extensively, the principle behind it is reconnecting the energetic and electrical exchange between our bodies and the earth. The earth has an endless supply of electrons, so when are bodies are earthed, these electrons flow freely between the two. These electrons work to reduce free radicals, lessen inflammation and eliminate static electrical charge.¹ In essence, this electrical conductivity acts as an immune system defense in the same way as antioxidants. Proponents believe that earthing can restore the body’s natural balance. Unfortunately, walking on indoor surfaces like wood, carpet or concrete will not have the same effects.
How can you get started?
Earthing is easy; all you need to do is spend 30 minutes per day connecting your body with the earth. A few examples are:
- Walking barefoot in the park or at the beach²
- Lying on the ground
- Wading or swimming in a natural body of water
If you’re unable to get outside, there’s an abundance of indoor grounding products available—from mats to blankets—but the outdoor option is believed to be more effective. Plus, you’ll get all the other added benefits of being in nature.
What does earthing help with?
According to the few small studies on earthing, it has been shown to anecdotally have a positive effect on:
- Chronic fatigue
- Anxiety and depression
- Chronic pain
- Sleep disorders³
- Cardiovascular disease
Although not yet studied, earthing proponents also believe that it can slow the physical ageing process by increasing facial blood flow.
Are there any risks with earthing?
Other than taking obvious precautions to ensure that you’re walking, laying or swimming in a safe area, there are very few negative effects reported. Individuals with Lyme disease should proceed with caution as earthing can temporarily have negative effects (bacteria die-off can cause an inflammatory response with flu-like symptoms in Lyme patients). It’s also important to note that walking barefoot for extended periods is not recommended as it can put additional stress on the structures of your feet.
Should you try earthing?
As long as you practice safely and don’t have underlying health conditions that could be negatively impacted, we say go for it. Especially right now when we’re all spending more time indoors, a little earth time can go a long way! Why not?
Have you tried earthing? Tell us all about it @barefootscientist.