What if simply kicking off your shoes could offer some relief from pain and stress? Going barefoot feels like childhood...playing in the backyard, running through sprinklers, catching fireflies. As adults, going barefoot may feel counterintuitive and maybe even silly at first. But a solution, or at least help, to reduce some of our modern health concerns can be found for free in nature! Grounding, also known as “earthing,” is a therapeutic technique using our bare feet or hands to electrically reconnect our body with the earth by “grounding,” just like we provide grounding wire for the buildup of electrical charges in our homes.
Chances are high that at one point you’ve experienced back pain, a headache, acne, fatigue, swelling, or possibly chronic pain. A staggering 66% of Americans report experiencing some level of pain,1 and in 2020, 20.4% of Americans reported experiencing chronic pain (pain every day for at least 3 months). There is an increased prevalence in women, with nearly 22% of women in the United States suffering from inescapable pain.2 Pain inhibits our ability to live the lives we desire. What is creating so much pain, illness and discomfort?
The answers can be complicated, but one culprit is inflammation.
You may be surprised to learn that the inflammatory response is NORMAL. The immune system is designed to respond to variants in our environment and fend off illness with a rush of white blood cells, stirring up brief cellular inflammation. This necessary inflammatory process produces free radicals, which are then neutralized by free electrons. Free electrons are emitted in abundance by the earth and can be absorbed by contact with its surface.3 The advent of modern footwear and the concrete nature of our world insulates us from that natural flow of electrons. Without a neutralizing force, inflammation continues to build until it runs rampant.
The earth is naturally negatively charged and offers an abundance of free electrons that can be absorbed through our skin when in direct contact with, you guessed it, the ground! Our modern disconnection from nature may be affecting our well-being and scientific research suggests grounding as a simple fix.3
Americans experienced an uptick in chronic pain in 2020, no doubt due to sacrifices made in our stay at home orders through COVID.4 Each day, hours and hours are spent sitting in a conference room, car, or at your desk. Pain and inflammation have the capacity to syphon energy and diminish our drive to do the things we love and enjoy. And just like you might take a multivitamin as a power pack of vitamins and minerals, squishing your toes in the grass is actually a powerhouse against inflammation.
Grounding can have a number of surprisingly beneficial impacts on health:
- Reduced inflammation and decreased pain through the absorptions of free electrons.3
- Improved circadian rhythm and sleep by decreasing cortisol and tuning into the earth’s natural cadence.3 Better sleep is the number one recommendation for improved health.
- Foster a strong immune system. Contact with the ground and organic microorganisms is vital in the integrity of our gut-lining and immune system.
- Relieves stress. One study showed grounding to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and shift the nervous system from sympathetic (fight or flight) toward parasympathetic (balanced), evoking a distinct and nearly instantaneous calming effect.3
- Promote general well-being by exposing the body not only to new organisms but also a breath of fresh air. Subjects who were grounded experienced astounding shifts in the body.3
- The best part: IT’S FREE! Not only is the act of grounding free, it could actually help save on medical expenses and time away from those you love.
One more thing you can do to help relieve your body of inflammation is simply stepping into your own backyard, without your shoes! All it takes is a couple minutes, or as long as you like!
- Walk or stand barefoot in the grass
- Move your workout to your lawn
- Read a book against a tree
- Go camping and sleep on the ground-no need to go further than your own yard!
- Have a picnic lunch
- Garden – get your hands dirty
- Lay down and watch the stars
Think grounding or earthing seems too good to be true? Have fun and feel better? Studies have shown positive impacts. When you think about the freedom from illness and how quickly you bounced back as a kid, it all makes sense. Our ancestors walked everywhere either barefoot or wearing animal skins. We spend little to no time outdoors and when we do, our shoes allow no contact with nature.
Slip off your shoes and reclaim your health from inflammation and pain. Live your life to the fullest and remember the joy you felt as a child, utilizing the playground called earth!