There is a lot of controversy surrounding the barefoot walking trend, with some claiming it’s a practice that improves overall health and others arguing that the benefits of “earthing” or “grounding,” as it’s sometimes called, are nothing but baloney. However, no matter what side of the earthing line you fall on, spending a few minutes per day walking on natural surfaces with bare feet is an easy practice that takes little effort and really could lead to amazing health benefits. After all, the research in support of earthing — which is the act of walking barefoot in order for your feet to make direct contact with the ground and the electrons present on the Earth’s surface — is quite convincing. Take these purported health benefits, for example:
1. Walking Barefoot Can Improve Your Sleeping Habits
Several major studies have been conducted about the relationship between earthing and a person’s sleeping habits, including this one that found that letting the soles of your feet touch the Earth’s surface for just a few minutes each day can lead to improved sleep and even reduce bodily pain. The reason? Earthing has been shown to change the electrical activity in the brain, leading to psychological changes that increase the feelings of overall wellbeing and relaxation.
2. Earthing Can Reduce Stress
In addition to leading to better sleep, earthing may also have the ability to reduce stress — an important health benefit in today’s hectic, exhausting world. The same electrical brain activity that leads to better sleep also helps a person feel less stressed. The improved sleep, relaxation and “time out” with nature that also come along with walking barefoot all help contribute to reduced levels of stress and anxiety.
3. Barefoot Walking Helps Reduce Bodily Pain
Many studies have shown that back pain, knee pain and hip pain can all stem from the way a person walks, and oftentimes, shoes impact a person’s gait in a negative way that can lead to bodily pain. Shoes create a situation in which you do not walk properly or as the way nature intended without the support of footwear, which can impact your posture and balance. Allowing your soles to go bare can help retrain your body to walk in its natural way, thereby reducing some of the pain in your feet, legs, hips, back and neck.
Furthermore, recent studies have shown that shoes are actually to blame for many of the foot ailments that leave up to 75% of Americans with foot pain each year. Problems like bunions, corns, calluses, fissures, hammertoes and more can be reduced or completely avoided with less shoe wear.
4. Earthing Influences The Brain and Develops Better Senses
Many people who don’t frequently walk barefoot fear that kicking off their shoes and letting their feet touch the ground will be painful and possibly dangerous. However, studies have shown that people who regularly walk barefoot have stronger feet and are actually more in tune with their surroundings and less likely to step on broken glass and other sharp objects than people who are used to wearing shoes. This is because people who walk barefoot tend to be more alert, aware and present in the moment than their shoe-wearing counterparts.
5. Earthing Improves Blood Cell Function And Can Help Reduce Heart Disease
A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that earthing helps increase the surface charge of red blood cells, a change that leads to decreased blood viscosity. Considering high blood viscosity is a significant factor in heart disease, earthing may have the ability to dramatically impact diagnoses rates of the health condition.
Additionally, earthing has been said to help regulate hormones and lessen menstral symptoms.
6. Walking Barefoot Gives You A Free Foot Massage
There are so many health benefits of foot massage, and earthing actually gives you a free foot rub. Small pebbles, stones and rifts on the Earth’s surface gently massage the soles of the feet and help vital energy flow freely throughout the body. The experience feels so good, barefoot walking parks that offer stimulating walking paths are popping up all over the world.
7. Earthing Tones And Strengthens Foot And Leg Muscles
Many experts believe that wearing shoes weakens a person’s feet and ankles because footwear creates a situation in which your legs and feet are completely dependent on the shoes for stability and strength. Walking barefoot engages all of the muscles in your feet, toes and legs — which not only creates stronger extremities, but also helps those extremities appear more toned and attractive. You’ll also be less prone to injuries because you’ll be stronger, more agile and better balanced after you begin frequently earthing.