Earthing, also called “grounding” or “barefoot walking,” is one of the latest crazes to dominate the health scene. It may sound radical or New Agey, but studies show grounding may have serious merit. With a foundation in scientific research showing the veracity of earthing, it’s a viable option when it comes to improving your overall health.
What is Earthing?
No, earthing does not mean making clay pots out of the dirt like you used to do when you were a kid. Nor does it mean living off the land (although that’s not a bad idea). Earthing is actually something completely different and involves putting your skin into direct contact with the earth.
How does one accomplish this?
Technically, your skin should be touching dirt, rock, water, or a conductive surface that is part of or connected to the earth. Conductive surfaces can be things like leather, metal, some concrete, and cotton to allow the negative ions to interact with your body. Substances like plastic, rubber (like the soles of many of our shoes), wood, and asphalt, on the other hand, block the good energy. So, if you can’t go barefoot, then consider using shoes with leather soles, walking in cotton socks, or getting into contact with concrete or metal (as long as it’s not blocked by insulation).
What is the History of Earthing?
Scientists hypothesize that humans have inadvertently been earthing for centuries. Since our ancestors lived off the land, most likely walked barefoot a good portion of the day, and typically may have slept on the ground, they naturally were able to glean the benefits of the earth’s healing electrons.
However, our modern-day practice of earthing is largely credited to authors Clinton Ober, Stephen Sinatra, and Martin Zucker who released their book Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? in 2010. Mr. Ober initially worked in the television and cable industry grounding and stabilizing installations. He proposed that a grounding system similar to that used in the telecommunications industry could also be a viable option for grounding the atoms in the human body.
Why is Earthing So Important?
In our stressful modern daily lifestyles, we tend to build up positive charges in our bodies due to stress, lack of sleep, chronic illnesses, electromagnetic fields, injury, sickness, and more. This build-up of free radicals may be counteracted by syncing with the earth, which is negatively charged.
To take a deeper dive, our cells are comprised of atoms which have both negative and positive charges. When we encounter stressors in life, injuries, environmental stressors, and such, our atoms can lose some of their negative charge, thus causing them to become what are called “free radicals.” These free radicals can cause a host of health issues and need to be counterbalanced by either a large influx of antioxidants or negative electrons.
And therein lies the magic of getting in touch with the earth. It allows your body to connect to, and absorb, the negative ions on the earth’s surface to help neutralize some of the positive ions you build up during the day and the damaging free radicals produced by your body.
What are the Benefits of Earthing?
During the normal course of your day, your body builds up positive charges. This is not necessarily a good thing—it’s not the same as being positive or having positive thoughts. A positive charge can be harmful (like the dangers of free radicals mentioned above). As discussed, earthing may allow you to take advantage of the negative charge of the earth and neutralize the excessive positive charges within your body. But, how does this translate to tangible benefits you can see, feel, and experience? Grounding may benefit you in myriad ways such as by helping:
- Encourage better sleep
- Lower cortisol levels (the hormone produced by stress)
- Normalize circadian rhythm
- Reduce inflammation
- Minimize chronic and acute pain
- Reduce pain after exercise
- Speed recovery from sports
- Promote healing
- Improve circulation/blood flow
- Manage stress
- Strengthen the immune system
Products to Assist With Earthing
While the best way to ground yourself is to simply step outside and feel the earth directly under your feet (or body), that’s not always possible. The ground may be too hot or too cold, or you may have a difficult time getting out into nature. In that case, some products have recently been introduced that have been suggested to allow you to experience the benefits of earthing, even when indoors. These include:
Grounding mats—these mats typically plug into your household outlet (in the grounded portion of the plug opening) or directly into the ground and thereby connect you with the electrical charges of the earth.
Grounding sheets—with a similar concept to earthing mats, grounding sheets are woven with a conductive material within the fabric. These sheets also contain a wire you would then plug into the grounded portion of the electrical socket to connect your body to the earth’s negative charge.
Grounding shoes—typically made from leather, allowing you to connect to the earth, these shoes claim to be able to help reduce fatigue, lessen your chances of injury, and even recover faster from surgery.
Furthermore, there are mattress pads, arm bands, blankets, and other products (which all must be plugged in and grounded to the earth) to choose from if you decide to go that route in your efforts at earthing.
Or again, you can simply walk barefoot on the beach, lie in the grass, or even meditate on a large rock to get grounded!