You know that feeling of relaxation you get after your first day at the beach in a long while? Maybe you credited the feeling the infusion of salty air, or the sun on your face. The actual reason for your new calm may be down at your feet – and you don’t have to go to the beach or even be outside to get that feeling again.
If proponents of Earthing are right, the secret to blasting inflammation and boosting wellness may be right at your feet.
Also called grounding, the practice is simply touching bare skin to the Earth, however, we’ll see later that companies have created workaround products, so you don’t have walk barefoot on city streets or sleep outside.
The idea is that doing so resets the electrical activity in our conductive bodies by reconnecting with the Earth’s charge. In theory, the Earth’s free electrons neutralize free radicals in the body, known to contribute to damaging healthy tissue.
Wearing synthetic and rubber-soled shoes broke that connection to the Earth humans had enjoyed for centuries.
For years my husband and I have seen a pair that look to be mother and daughter walking in the neighborhood most evenings – both loping on the sidewalk barefoot. When I heard about Earthing, their shoeless walks began to make more sense to me.
Studies are increasingly showing that connection to bare ground can decrease the body’s inflammation response, hasten healing of wounds, and even help with conditions related to chronic inflammation. One study cites reduced impacts and faster healing from COVID-19. Author/biohacker Dave Asprey swears by it as a jet-lag cure after flights.
A 2015 study concluded:
“Grounding appears to improve sleep, normalize the day–night cortisol rhythm, reduce pain, reduce stress, shift the autonomic nervous system from sympathetic toward parasympathetic activation, increase heart rate variability, speed wound healing, and reduce blood viscosity.”
It summed up the report by saying: “The living matrix (or ground regulation or tissue tensegrity-matrix system), the very fabric of the body, appears to serve as one of our primary antioxidant defense systems. As this report explains, it is a system requiring occasional recharging by conductive contact with the Earth’s surface – the “battery” for all planetary life – to be optimally effective.”
Earthing was brought into modern popular culture by Clint Ober, a former cable-television specialist, who began studying the effects of grounding in 1988, and now sells Earthing products at earthing.com.
Recently, TikTok has jumped on the Earthing bandwagon with both feet, to the tune of millions of #earthing posts, and a 2019 documentary The Earthing Movie: The Remarkable Science of Grounding" starring Ober, Deepak Chopra and actress Mariel Hemingway has over six million views at this writing.
It’s said you want to shoot for a minimum of twenty minutes daily, either walking barefoot or in specially constructed “grounded” shoes. You can also sneak in a lot more time by using a wristband, an Earthing mat under your desk, on your bed, or an Earthing blanket on your shoulders in the evening. These may need a special grounder for your outlet.
Or you can just take a shoeless jaunt in your yard or a park – or a swim. Water connected to the Earth counts too. Gravel and rock surfaces are fine, Oder’s site says, as is unsealed concrete or brick.
Gives a new meaning to the term “happy feet.”