This Simple Biohack Will Make You Want to Take Your Shoes off A.S.A.P.

by ParentCo. September 22, 2017

 Young man walking barefoot across a grassy field

Did you know that there’s a super health booster out there that you’ve probably never thought of? Research has revealed that it helps improve sleep, balance hormones, relieve stress, reduce inflammation, lower pain levels, and prevent or help heal many health conditions. It’s not a special diet, supplement, or some gimmicky gadget. It’s free, it’s deceptively simple, and it’s literally right at your feet. It’s the Earth itself. I’m not some crunchy hippie mama telling you to go hug a tree to take all your worries away. I’m talking about the science-backed practice of “grounding.”

What is grounding?

Grounding, or earthing, refers to contact with the natural surface of the earth, typically by going barefoot. You’ve experienced this if you’ve ever walked barefoot into your front yard or visited a beach and enjoyed squishing your toes in the sand. Feels good, right? But why is it taboo to go barefoot anywhere else? Of course, there’s the possibility of stepping on something sharp, so some kind of foot protection is understandably necessary sometimes. But what’s keeping you from slipping off your shoes to enjoy a nice grass or dirt surface when you can?

Are the best shoes no shoes at all?

You may have never given it a second thought, but wearing shoes isn’t exactly natural. In fact, today’s restrictive shoe design can hinder normal foot development in kids. As for adults, the muscles of our feet, ankles, and lower legs are generally weak and malformed from a lifetime of footwear. Cutting ourselves off from the healing power of direct contact with nature isn’t helping either. The concept of barefoot running, in particular, was made popular by Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run”. Many athletes and enthusiasts have followed this philosophy for optimal training and health. They may get some stares jogging along with dirty naked feet, but maybe they’re not so crazy. According to the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, “Mounting evidence suggests that the Earth’s negative potential can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems. “Through this mechanism, every part of the body could equilibrate with the electrical potential of the Earth, thereby stabilizing the electrical environment of all organs, tissues, and cells.” You don’t have to run to experience grounding, however. Walking on, standing on, or simply touching natural ground carries plenty of benefits.

A few of the many science-backed benefits

Improves circulation

One study shows that just one hour of earthing improves circulation of body fluids, including blood flow. This allows for better nutrient and oxygen delivery and faster clearing of waste materials, which all lead to lower blood pressure, improved heart health, better digestion, clearer thinking, and increased energy.

Improves sleep and relieves stress

This study revealed that eight weeks of sleeping on a conductive mattress pad improved dysfunctional sleep patterns and reduced cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Participants reported better sleep, lower stress levels, and less pain.

Reduces inflammation

More studies associate earthing with a reduction in inflammation. Excessive inflammation is responsible for many ailments, including chronic illnesses, impaired immunity, and cancer. Grounding’s ability to affect multiple inflammatory markers means it is useful to prevent and/or treat many conditions such as digestive issues, arthritis, asthma, hormone imbalances, and more. It has even been shown to reduce redness and pain while helping wounds and injuries heal faster.

Reduces muscle soreness and speeds recovery

You know that annoying soreness you get after an intense workout that can last for days? That’s DOMS – delayed-onset muscle soreness. There are all kinds of methods for speeding recovery, including stretching, icing, massage, and foam rolling. Apparently, simple grounding can help with this, too. A small pilot study showed that subjects who underwent grounding after an intense workout reported less pain, recovered faster, and displayed differences in multiple inflammatory markers as shown by blood tests. Wow. This is all pretty unbelievable, right? How can something so simple and uncomplicated yield such amazing results? How does this work? The Journal of Environmental and Public Health explains further: “It is an established, though not widely appreciated fact that the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. The Earth’s negative charge can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems which may be important for setting the biological clock, regulating circadian rhythms, and balancing cortisol levels.” By being in contact with the ground, we are able to absorb Earth’s ions into our bodies, which balance out the other harmful charges we carry around. In other words: Good energy in, bad energy out.

How much grounding time do you need?

This is an emerging “technique” with no set prescription and varies based on individual needs. Positive effects are instantaneous, but obviously, the more the better. Keep in mind these studies have involved earthing sessions ranging from one hour to overnight, but any time spent connected to nature is going to help. There is no time too short, and certainly no time too long.

Some tips on how to do it

Exercise outside

Sans shoes, of course. Walk or jog in a grassy area or on the beach if you’re lucky. Do a workout on your lawn. Try some yoga or stretching on the ground. Gardening counts, too. Try it without gloves for more skin-to-earth contact.

Just get out!

You don’t have to be active to reap the benefits of grounding. Simply stand or sit on the ground or in a chair with bare feet touching the ground while you read, talk on the phone, watch the kids, do work, etc.

Take a hint from your kids

What kid doesn’t love running around the yard barefoot? Join ’em, or at least take your shoes off while you supervise (making sure the area is clear of hazards, of course).

Connect from inside

It’s not always practical to spend time outside, depending on weather, ground conditions, and your living situation. You can still do this indoors with an earthing system, which transfers energy from the ground outside via a cord connected to a conductive mat, sheet, or band indoors. This makes it easy to ground yourself while you sleep. You can also use it while you do things like work on your computer, read, or watch a movie. All in all, whether you’re going for grounding or not, spending time outdoors is a surefire body and brain booster for your whole family. Simply slip off your socks and shoes when you can, and let nature do its thing! To learn more, check out the book “Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever”. What do you think of this? Share your thoughts below.



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