You’ve probably heard of the “no-shoe” movement. You know, when you see people downtown walking around without any shoes. While I don’t recommend going all-out, I do plan on getting across to you the many benefits of grounding – that is, barefoot walking – and how to start doing it in your own luxury, at home.
A Quick Preface
I remember lacing up my thick-soled boots, over tough wool-socks. Missing workouts because my days were long and exhaustive.
And the heat, the thick-humid air in the south really didn’t help much either.
I remember working long and hard, feeling stressed, and restricted in the firm, bulky boots I was wearing.
I was at a volunteer camp working at locations that needed repair. Over the past summer, I spent 5 weeks working down in Mississippi, in the hot, humid air repairing sites that were damaged from prior flooding.
I tired to keep my mind off of how painful it was to walk around in those awkward lace-ups, especially under the warm, beating sun. I was stressed out and felt constricted.
It wasn’t until I finally took those off, that my day felt a lot better. Shoes are restrictive, more so, lace-up military-styled boots are even more restrictive. And with athletes foot, it wasn’t pretty.
Taking my shoes off at the end of the day was what I looked forward to.
Then I had a realization.
If taking the boots off felt so good, I’m sure walking around barefoot would – as well.
So I gave it a try, low and behold, not only did my feet get some air – I felt free. Free from uniform, free from labor. It was truly relieving.
When I got back from the volunteering program, I did some research – that’s what I do. As a biohacker by nature, when something seems to work you want to learn more about it.
After a couple of hours of research, I came across the term “grounding”, or “earthing”. It was simply walking around barefoot which is exactly what I was doing.
After coming across many health resources (both online and real books), I came across a book called “Earthing: the most important health discovery ever!”. I first came across it in the local Whole Foods book section, I quickly scanned it at the grocery store and amazed with the science behind it, I immediately put it on hold at the public library.
As soon as it arrived I read it. In a day, I had finished and I was already walking barefoot outside despite the weather being below 50 degrees. It felt so good walking around without any shoes. I could literally feel my nervous system shifting and my stress levels plummeting.
What is grounding?
Grounding is simply walking around barefoot, without any shoes, on the bare surface of the earth. Grounding is also known as earthing however, I like to call it grounding since it sounds a lot less “zen” and a lot more “manly”. 😉
When the bottom of your foot is exposed the bare surface of the earth, a positive “healing” connection happens. As the earth naturally has a negative ionic charge, our body’s have a positive charge. The two balance out, bringing our body, mind and soul back to homeostasis. That is the normal state, where everything is working at normal and healthy capacity.
The earth is loaded with electrons, and when we connect we even out our charge.
Technically, grounding can be occurring when any part of our bare skin is touched to the surface of the earth.
For example, you decide to lay on your back in the grass for some stargazing – at this moment, your whole body is getting a ionic massage (I made that up) ;).
Grounding is free, it’s easy and can be done at any time (when the weather permits, of course).
I knew that after a nice grounding session (or really just about every time I take my shoes off outside), I feel better. Noticeably better. Things seemed euphoric almost. It would be a day filled with overcast grey-gloominess, and after twenty minutes – the “funeral” like weather seems to have a warm hue to it.
Why Should We Ground?
Primarily for a couple of reasons; I like how the readers of Critical Cactus put it,“We essentially have lost our electrical roots”, we’re disconnected from the earth’s electrical rhythyms and free electrons. This leads to the buildup of positive ions in the body, which can cause health problems in the long term.
Modern day electronics create an ocean of electromagnetic waves radiated by cellphone signals, wi-fi, and laptop screens. This is also known as electro-pollution as Mark Hyman MD, in the UltraMind Solution calls it.
“Generally speaking, negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain; resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy,” says Pierce J. Howard, PhD, author of The Owners Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind Brain Research and director of research at the Center for Applied Cognitive Sciences in Charlotte, N.C.
By reconnecting with the earth, you allow negatively-charged electrons to flow into your body, which returns your body’s charge to its normal, optimal health (what I called homeostasis).
With that said, there are a number of research-backed benefits that grounding, or earthing provides. After reading these, I can guarantee that you’ll find yourself nonchalantly slipping your shoes off whenever you can.
The Many Benefits Of Grounding
- Improved sleep (study)
- Normalizing the day-night cortisol rhythm (study)
- Reduces pain (study)
- Reduces inflammation by reducing excess positive electrons, more information on this can be found here.
- Reduces stress (study)
- Lowers Cortisol and Excess Adrenaline levels
- Increases energy and mental alertness (study)
- Shift the autonomic nervous system from sympathetic to parasympathetic activation
- Promotes calmness
- Increases Testosterone (men), Progesterone in women and thyroid (the “youthful hormones” see note below).
- Increased heart rate variability (the time in between heartbeats)
- Speeds up wound healing (study)
- Reduces blood viscosity
- Improves blood flow and pressure
- Relieves headaches, (study)
- Lessen menstrual and female hormones symptoms (study)
- Supports adrenal health
- Boost the healing process
- Lowers anxiety
- Protects the body from EMF’s (study)
- Shortens recovery time from heavy and intense workouts – also speeds up recovery from injuries, (study)
- Clears skins and eyes (testimonies can be found in the book referenced about Grounding)
- Reduces snoring (Check out Kimberly’s Blog on this topic)
- Eliminate jet leg due to its circadian promoting benefits
*Note: it can also be assumed to increase your body’s naturaly production of the “youthful” hormones Dr. Ray Peat (article from Ray Peat himself) calls such as thyroid hormones, DHEA, testosterone for men & progesterone for women, and of course, pregnanalone. With this, a massive reduction in the “stressed-out” state-inducing-hormones (lowering the secretion of the cortisol, parathyroid, adrenaline, estrogen, and excess serotonin).
People report sleeping better on the first night after grounding during the day for twenty minutes. They notice reductions in muscle or joint pain. And regular travelers for work will find grounding to be very effective in resetting the body’s natural clock.
After scanning over the large list of health benefits that come from grounding, I want to go into three a little further that I have noticed make a tremendous difference in my personal health, and the health of others.
This one is big for me. After all the research, and just from personal experience, sleeping well (enough and of high quality) trumps eating healthy. It really does. You could eat your kale, you could eat sweet potatoes – but if you’re still stressed out and can’t sleep, you’re going to age quicker, get sick more often, and have trouble recovering from your workouts and daily activities.
Sleeping is when we repair. I’ve discussed this a few times (video I did with a sleep expert) so I won’t go too far into detail. I want to express how grounding has helped me sleep. I enjoyed reading this article, it discusses in detail how grounding can improve your sleep.
Due to the ability to regualte circadian rhythym by grounding during the day, it will allow you to fall asleep earlier and stay asleep for longer (study). The natural cycle of our body’s (also, known as the our diurnal or circadian rhythm), is not only impacted by the light of the sun but also from the energy produced from the earth’s surface. Really – It’s not just the sunlight that gives us natural energy, the earth’s surface does as well!
During the day, the earth will produce higher energy to the surface, more electrons than it would during the night. This allows our body to adapt and reprogram to the natural time phase of the day.
Which brings up my next point.
Helps Regulate The Circadian Rhythym
People who travel regularly will find that simply walking around barefoot after a long flight will drastically reduce the chances of jet leg (study).
As stated before, the earth’s surface produces a wide array of energy and output of negatively-charged electrons that can “energize” your body when in connection.
During travel, the time-zone change can make it challenging for some people to sleep well. With that said, exposing your barefeet to the bareground will allow you to get in contact with the earth’s natural energy output and place you on the right rhythym.
The next time you go for a long travel, try walking around outside in the grass for twenty to thirty minutes. This will work far better than just relying on supplemental melatonin. 😉
Promotes Calmness/ Shifts The Nervous System To A Less-Stressed State
People who spend time outdoors barefoot regularly report a shift in their mental state. Too often, we are exposed to stressors, unnecessary turmoils that can cause tension.
Being in connection with nature, with your bareskin can put an end to this, or at least, greatly reduce it.
The part of the nervous system which controls many sub-counscious body actions (such as breathing, the heartbeat, and digestion) is known as the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS likes to switch in-between the sympathetic dominated state and the parasympathetic dominated state.
When under stress, the ANS will be controlled by the sympathetic dominated state. This is normal, at its simplest, its the part which allows us to remain alert. Its also known as the “fight-or-flight” response which activates cortisol, adrenaline and the parathyroid hormones.
Although completely normal, when this state is activated for too long, it is chronically stressful and will cause aging and slow down the body’s regenerative functions.
Grounding allows us to shift into the parasympathetic dominated state. This condition is also known as the “breed and feed” state.
Being in this state is when deep sleep happens, regeneration occurs, and our body can calm down.
Grounding allows us to calm down, it promotes clarity and tranquility.
After learning about the wide-array of benefits that grounding can produce – the anti-aging properties, the youthful hormone activation, and the sleeping benefits – you’re probably interested in how you can start doing it.
Well, its simple. Just take your shoes off when you’re outside!
If the weather is cold, start off small – in Oregon, its rainy, windy and cold most of the winter (which usually entails about 5 months), I go days without grounding and when I do, its not for very long.
Thinking about it, its probably more natural to be outside grounding more during the summer when the days are longer (more daylight, more activity).
I enjoy walking around barefoot inside, my feet don’t get cold. And after a while, it starts to feel more natural, and it is – humans didn’t evolve wearing insulated shoes.
With that said, I have created a guide with how you can start implementing grounding.
By signing up for the newsletter, you can receive a free guide on how to start implementing grounding into your daily regimes.
When to do it (at what times during the day), how to ground (even when you’re wearing shoes or the weather is poor), and for how long – at what times will you get the most benefits will all be covered in this guide. So make sure to sign up!
With that said, if you’re still with me – I’ll give some basic guidelines on how you can start implementing it right now.
How To Start Grounding
- Start with 15-20 minutes with your feet planted in the grounded, you’llusually feel the improved mood and positive energy after about 20 minutes.
- If the weather is nice, aim for 40 minutes. You can do it, trust me – you’ll feel great after it.
- If you live next to a beach, walking on the sand, going in the ocean is the best kind of grounding you can possibly get.
- Taking a dip in ocean is most effective, most natural form of an epsom salt bath, check out this post on the benefits of transdermal magnesium.
- The minerals and salts in the ocean are highly conductive and stress-reducing when exposed transdermally to our skin. The magnesium, sodium, and calcium is highly absorbed into your skin and is truly relieving.
- Walk around barefoot inside, even though the surface isn’t as conductive as it would be in the moist grass outside, it is still freeing and non-restrictive.
- My favorite: playing sports outside barefoot – “a little pigskin, why not!” (wedding crashers reference), barbequeing outside barefoot, barefoot gardening, and even just reading a book with the feet touching the ground.
There ya go, some guidelines to follow. For those who sign up for the newsletter, they will receive the “Grounding Guide”, along with some other grounding hacks (for when the weather is too cold!).
Grounding, or “earthing”, is one of the most efficient and inexpensive ways in reducing your stress. Comparable to meditation, grounding is something you ought to consider working into your daily routine. Quite simply, all you need to do is take off your shoes!
To recap, grounding can be done anywhere at anytime (when the weather permits). After about 20 minutes of reading your favorite book with your feet planted in the soil, look around and notice the warm hue the grey clouds now have. 🙂
P.S. Thank you so much for reading! I really appreciate you stopping by, if you’re interested in learning more about various ways to lower your stress and improve your health – subscribe to the newsletter and visist the YouTube channel where I upload videos similar to these articles regularly. Also, please share this with three friends who expereince any of these signs of thinking.