BAREFOOT GROUNDING



It’s not something you’d really think about, or believe in for that matter, until you give it a try and feel the benefits for yourself. Earthing has been picking up in popularity recently, and I want to give you some insight into why it works, and how we can incorporate it more into our lives as a method of feeling connected, grounded & vital.


It’s not infrequent that you’ll get a special sense of well-being from walking barefoot in the garden or on the beach. Some teachers of ancient practices such as Yoga and Qigong recommend that all exercises be done while barefoot on the earth. There is no comparison between walking, running, or practicing any form of movement therapy or martial arts indoors and doing the same activities with bare feet in direct contact with the earth. Throughout history, humans mostly walked barefoot or with footwear made of animal skins (moccasins). They slept on the ground or on animal hides. (Oschman, Chevalier & Ober, 2014)


Earthing restores a primordial electric connection to the Earth lost over time because of human lifestyle. It corrects what we call an “electron deficiency syndrome, an overlooked and likely significant cause of multiple health disorders.” (Oschman, Chevalier & Brown, 2015)


THE 5 ELEMENTS


Basically the earth contains all five elements, as do humans. In our bodies, these elements aren't necessarily in manifest forms, but as energetic forms. These are well documented and explained in ancient Eastern healing sciences, such as TCM & Ayurveda.


We don’t just get these 5 elements from food and water - we get them from:

  • The Earth (the ground beneath our feet),

  • Water (moisture in the air),

  • Fire (sun and heat),

  • Air (that moves on our skin and into our lungs), and

  • Space (which separates us from all other things).

These effectively form our forms of nutrition apart from food & drink.


Now what has been happening as our modern way of living has evolved is that these subtle forms of nourishment have been slowly cut-off from us through various means - creating an environment that leads to the degeneration of the body.



ELECTRICAL CHARGES


At the megacosmic level, the entire earth has a lower potential charge than the atmosphere surrounding it. This means that the Earth’s subtle negative electric surface charge equalises the electric potential of the human body with that of the Earth (Oschman, 2007, 2009). The Earth’s negative surface charge is composed of a virtually limitless reservoir of free electrons that is constantly replenished by the global atmospheric electrical circuit (Williams & Heckman, 1993; Anisimov, Mareev, & Bakastov, 1999).



FREE RADICALS


Our innate immune systems use white blood cells (known as neutrophils) to release reactive oxygen molecules (commonly known as free radicals) to oxidise and destroy pathogens & damaged cells. Free radicals have an electron imbalance that makes them electrically charged. So in their mission to find a free electron and neutralise itself, they can attach to or steal an electron from a healthy cell, damaging it in the process. The damaged cell then needs to be removed, and the immune system sends another neutrophil to process it, starting the entire cycle over again.


This is how chronic inflammation (which causes chronic pain and promotes many health disorders) is set in motion. This entire response is compounded by the fact that free radical-generating substances are present all around us: in fried food, alcohol, tobacco smoke, pesticides & air pollutants.


These charges need to be neutralised when the tasks are complete so that no residual currents or free radicals are left.


The easiest way for this to happen is for a part of the human body to come into contact with the earth’s negatively charged surface, so that the static charges are dissipated into the earth, and free electrons move upwards to stabilise free radicals & prevent them from oxidising the body (D’Souza, 2012). The earth has an infinite supply of free electrons, so when a person is grounded, those electrons naturally flow between the earth and the body, reducing free radicals and eliminating any static electrical charge.

BUT this natural process is broken as modern life demands, or expects the use of footwear which insulates the body from any grounding that could otherwise happen.



A MODERN PROBLEM


Footwear, especially trainers, put huge pressure on foot joints & body posture. Studies now show that bare feet runners and walkers show much more endurance than those with footwear because of the swivelling nature of the ankles and the heels as well as the coordinated support and gripping action of the toes during every step. With footwear, all these movements get restricted. This not only brings down the efficiency of our moving joints but also makes us lose more energy due to movement resistance given by the footwear. (D’ Souza, 2012)



No other being on earth wears footwear. Humans have walked barefoot and slept on the ground just like animals for most of their evolution, which is why out daily functions and needs have evolved alongside the presence of the earth element, and the ability to ground ourselves. When we do not ground ourselves regularly, the static charge and free radical build-up interferes with all body signals, body biocurrent flow and electrical processes in the body.



HOW IT'S DONE


If you can, spend at least half an hour each day outdoors, barefoot, being present with yourself and whatever nature surrounds you.


The best mediums for earthing, in hierarchal order are:

  1. Sand,

  2. Wet mud

  3. Dry mud

  4. Gravel

Ocean swimming is equally great as the salt water, a great conductor of electricity, connects you to the earth beneath it. Some people use special earthing devices, like slippers, mats & rugs for sleeping - but none really compare to getting your bare feet or body in-touch with the ground for an extended period.


Walking on grass has a soothing effect that harmonises discordant energies that circulate within the body - the abundant life energy gets transmitted through the feet (D’Souza, 2012). It doesn’t, however, absorb the free radicals like bare earth does.


Published research indicates that such contact may be associated with a broad array of health-related benefits. The benefits include improved sleep, decreased pain, a normalising effect on cortisol, reduced stress, diminished damage to muscles from moderate or intense exercise, reduction of primary indicators of osteoporosis, and improved glucose regulation, immune response, and blood fluidity. (Chevalier, 2014). Earthing also accelerates the recovery from surgery, injury, and athletic overexertion.


One hypothesis to explain the beneficial effects of Earthing is that a direct earth connection enables both diurnal electrical rhythms and free electrons to flow from the Earth to the body and that the Earth’s diurnal electrical rhythms set the biological clocks for hormones that regulate sleep and activity (Oschman, 2007).



GET CARRIED AWAY


If you want to go a step further, it’s worth trying running barefoot. Even on concrete the difference is felt. We have over 200,000 nerve endings in just one sole! So you can think of the activation that gets happening when you’re stepping on different textured surfaces at a fast pace.


You have to be ok with the fact that you’ll develop thicker calluses on the bottom of your feet over time, but the trade-off is that you get stronger feet for running.


Obviously it’s much easier for those who live with ground floor houses to earth themselves - so it’s important that if we live in an apartment for example, we are making an effort to go out and ground ourselves.


Be careful where you decide to run or walk though, and check your environment for nasties that might cause you injury!



REFERENCES


ANISIMOV, S., MAREEV, E., & BAKASTOV, S. (1999) On the generation and evolution of aero- electric structures in the surface layer. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 104, 14,359-14,367


CHEVALIER, G. (2015) The Effect of Grounding the Human Body on Mood. Psychological Reports, 116, 534-542.


CHEVALIER, G., MORI, K., & OSCHMAN, J. L. (2006) The effect of earthing (grounding) on human physiology. European Biology and Bioelectromagnetics, 2, 600-621.


CHEVALIER, G., & SINATRA, S. T. (2011) Emotional stress, heart rate variability, grounding, and improved autonomic tone: clinical applications. Integrative Medicine: A Clini- cian’s Journal, 10, 16-21.


CHEVALIER, G., SINATRA, S. T., OSCHMAN, J. L., SOKAL, K., & SOKAL, P. (2012) Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the human body to the earth’s surface electrons. Jour- nal of Environmental and Public Health, Article ID 291541. DOI: 10.1155/2012/291541


D'SOUZA, D. (2012) Become Healthy…Or Extinct!. D’Souza. India


OBER, C. (2000) Grounding the human body to neutralize bioelectrical stress from static electricity and EMFs. ESD Journal. Retrieved from www.esdjournal.com/articles/ cober/ground.htm .


OSCHMAN, J. L, CHEVALIER, G., & OBER, A. C. (2014) Biophysics of Earthing (Grounding the Human Body. Bioelectromagnetic and Subtle Energy Medicine. 38, 427-448


OSCHMAN, J. L. (2007) Can electrons act as antioxidants? A review and commentary. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13, 955-967.


OSCHMAN, J. L. (2009) Charge transfer in the living matrix. Journal of Bodywork and Move- ment Therapies, 13, 215-228.


OSCHMAN, J. L., CHEVALIER, G., & BROWN, R. (2015) The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treat- ment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Journal of Inflammation Research, 8, 1-14.


WILLIAMS, E., & HECKMAN, S. (1993) The local diurnal variation of cloud electrification and the global diurnal variation of negative charge on the Earth. Journal of Geo-physical Research, 98, 5221-5234.



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