Remember when you went around barefoot for most of your childhood? Once we grow up, we usually start to cover our feet with socks and shoes the majority of the time – but recent scientific studies suggest that there are many benefits associated with keeping your body in contact with the ground. The practice of going barefoot is known as “earthing”, and it might be beneficial for a variety of reasons. If you’re interested in earthing and going barefoot, this article will hopefully help you get more information on the subject.
Basically, the theory is that since our bodies and the surface of the earth are both electrically conductive, we build up some positive electrical charge during the day. Once your feet get direct contact with the earth, though, we get some of the ground’s negatively charged electrons into our bodies, neutralizing excess positive charge and stabilizing the electrical environment of the body.
Body Benefits: We should never write off earthing as a hippy New Age trend, as explains Jim McFarlane, a physiology professor at the University of New England. According to him, a small body of research that included randomized control studies, has suggested that earthing does produce small yet significant positive effects. It boosts the immune system, reduces blood pressure, and appears to have some anti-inflammatory effects.
Other apparent benefits include reduced stress and pain, and even better sleep. According to a study published in 2015 in the journal Health, even an hour of contact with the earth can improve blood flow, which in turn helps improve tissue repair and skin health. A study in The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, published in 2011, found that the practice of earthing may be a factor in regulating the nervous and endocrine systems.
Getting Charged: Benefits associated with earthing could be particularly important in our contemporary society, since we often wear shoes and artificial fibers, and our indoor spaces are carpeted with synthetic materials. McFarlane explains that we’re very isolated from the earth, which means we inevitably build electrical charge over time. Not all people who try earthing will benefit from it, but it seems like there is some truth in the concept, and that warrants more studies – over time, we’ll know a lot more about the potential positive effects.
Since our nervous system is electrical, even a small alteration to your body’s electrical equilibrium can have an effect on your health over long periods of time. The best way to release that charge is by simply taking your shoes and socks off. According to McFarlane, when you walk barefoot on moist earth, you’ll make better electrical contact with it, and the discharge (earthing), happens. It might feel unusual, initially – we wear shoes so often that our feet are soft, and not very accustomed with pressure.
A study published in The Foot, a podiatry journal, in 2007, compared the feet of 2000-year-old skeletons and modern humans. It concluded that people’s feet were significantly healthier before shoes were invented.
Barefoot forward: Gradually building up is the usual advice to those who want to go barefoot and fancy-free according to the experts from orthopedic footwear store, the Orthotic Shop. If, instead, you’d like to jump in feet first, you can check out barefoot running – a practice endorsed by many professionals.
One of the most significant impacts of running barefoot is the increased ability for people to feel what they’re doing, getting improved neurological feedback and general information on what they do. In order to make sure you’re doing it right, you need to account for proper running technique, and verify that you’re not over-striding and that you have a good cadence – that is, a nice quantity of steps per minute.
Running very quietly is an excellent indicator of good technique, the doctor explains. The type of surface in which you run can be linked to the load on your body and potential for injury, too. It’s best to start on surfaces such as grass oval, allowing your feet to adjust over time. Barefoot running is not going to suit everyone, and many professionals are very cautions not to make sweeping statements. According to all current research, results vary depending on each individual – so it’s more a matter of trying it out and seeing how well it works for you.