As far as clichés go, reading in a singles ad that someone enjoys “long walks on the beach” likely ranks among the top. But it turns out, there appears to be evidence of why placing our bare feet on the earth is such a calming, peaceful exercise.
Walking barefoot—also known as earthing or grounding—has gone from being considered hippy-dippy hogwash to a scientifically-researched practice with several remarkable health advantages.
More on the perks of the practice in a second. First, let’s define earthing/grounding because it really is a thing.
One of the most easily-understood descriptions of grounding comes from MindBodyGreen.com: “Our bodies are made up of about 60 percent water, which is great for conducting electricity. The earth has a negative ionic charge. Going barefoot grounds our bodies to that charge. Negative ions have been proven to detoxify, calm, reduce inflammation, synchronize your internal clocks, hormonal cycles and physiological rhythms.”
According to Gaia, a health and wellness network, walking barefoot on either moist grass or the beach immediately produces a warm, tingling sensation or a sense of well-being that can trigger a multitude of health benefits, often within minutes. These benefits include relieving muscle tension, headaches and menstrual symptoms, a boost in immunity, and improved blood pressure.
Grounding/earthing is pretty self-explanatory, but here are some additional tips:
• DO walk on grass that is slightly moist, as the water helps conduct the electrons; dry grass won’t be as effective.
• DON’T walk on grass or soil that is littered with dog/bird droppings. Because the soles of our feet are very effective at absorbing the earth’s energy, they can also absorb toxins. Clean grass, pristine forest, or beach soil is ideal.
• DO engage in grounding after flying, as our bodies bioelectrical rhythms are thrown out of balance in flight and grounding restores that electrical equilibrium.
• DO wash your feet with soap and water, after grounding, to get rid of soil detritus that you may have picked up.
• DON’T go barefoot if you have any open cuts/sores on your soles, as that can be an entry point for parasites/fungi.
• DO make it mindful. Before grounding, make note of any aches or pains you may feel, as well as any stress, anxiety, anger, or tension in your body. Then compare how you feel after grounding.
Still not convinced?
Well, here’s something that’s hard to deny: Walking barefoot can evoke a particular sense of happiness—kind of like the foot version of finding a crumpled dollar bill in the pocket of a long-forgotten sweater—or hearing a Jimmy Buffet song during happy hour.
At the very least, an attempt at grounding will lead you to slow down for a minute, experience the great outdoors, and just be.
And what could be the harm in that?
If you’re wondering whether walking barefoot is the right move for you, it’s always best to consult your primary doctor before hitting the grass.