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Feel the earth beneath your feet – the benefits of Barefoot Walking

Feel the earth beneath your feet – the benefits of Barefoot Walking

Barefoot walking, distinctly different to walking barefoot, has grown from a playful trend to a well-researched practice with recognised health benefits.

Barefoot Walking - Barefoot on the grass

According to orthopaedic professionals, walking barefoot restores our natural gait, and the padding and structure of shoes can, over time, prevent us from using certain muscle groups that can strengthen the body.  Walking without shoes can improve balance, help with pain relief and lead to improved mechanics of hips, knees and core.

Barefoot walking on the other hand, also known as grounding, or earthing, has evolved from a pursuit of the open-minded to a scientifically-researched practice with a number of recognised health advantages. 

Our ancestors evolved in close connection with the earth’s energy.  We walked barefoot. We slept on the ground. We benefitted from the Earth’s healing natural healing energy or Earth Qi . Today, so much of our time is spent insulated from this grounding energy, in shoes, in our cars and indoors.

The Science of Barefoot Walking

There is simple science behind barefoot walking. We are bioelectrical beings and the human body carries a slight positive charge. Our cells are specialised to conduct electrical impulses.  Electricity is required for the nervous system to send signals throughout the body and to the brain, in order that we can think, move and feel.  While resting cells are negatively charged internally, the outside cell environment is positively charged, due to the slight imbalance between positive and negative ions, resulting in net positive charge overall.  Electricity can build up in the human body.

Earth carries a negative charge and when we make a physical connection with the earth, through earthing, we discharge that excess energy, which in turn is said to have a healing effect at a cellular level.  The simplest form of earthing involves barefoot walking on the grass, in dirt or on sand.  

Why Barefoot Walk

More recently, inflammation has been widely recognised as the leading trigger of chronic pain and many major health disorders from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis to some forms of cancer.  It has been mooted that all paths to chronic disease lead through inflammation and an informative Forbes article begs the question ‘If all roads lead to inflammation, how do we get healthy?”

In short, inflammation is a reaction of our immune system to intruders – bacteria, viruses and foreign bodies such as pollen and air pollutants.  An inflammatory response is required to fight off common colds and allergies, but chronic inflammation that can occur in the aftermath of inflammation can take its toll on our healthy cells as white blood cells flood to the area ‘leaving healthy cells stressed and overwrought’ (Forbes).  Many diseases can be traced back to chronic inflammation.

When we make a connection with the Earth, when we ground through barefoot walking, there has been found to be a reduction in white blood cells and an increase in red blood cells, which hints to better immunity.  Barefoot walking has been shown to help increase antioxidants, reduce inflammation and improve sleep.  

Alternative ways of Earthing or Grounding 

Aside from barefoot walking, there are a number of ways to ground and each focuses on reconnecting yourself to the earth either through direct or indirect contact.   

Lying on the ground

Increasing body to earth contact by lying in the grass or on the sand is an easy way to ground.  

Nine benefits of Barefoot Walking

Reduces inflammation

Reduces cortisol

Increases energy

Reduces fatigue

Increases healing speed

Decreases pain

Improves mood

Reduces blood pressure

Restores balance in the body

While many of the studies associated with these benefits require further research, health professionals believe the benefits of barefoot walking at the very least come from feeling connected with nature and there is absolutely no harm in that. 

Barefoot Walking is not a seasonal exercise, but rather a year-round therapeutic technique that reconnects us electrically to the earth in order to ground. So we invite you to join the Metabolic Health Retreat at Combe Grove where you can learn about the healing potential of boundless nature and healthful food, throw off your shoes and enjoy the grounding effect of the grass beneath your feet as rest, restore and reset.