The role of the environment on our health can often be negative; we worry about air pollution, water contamination, and even electromagnetic fields. We are constantly being bombarded by toxins and worry that our bodies have to work hard to detoxify. However, there are also positive aspects to the environment that can be beneficial for our health. One of these is grounding or earthing. Grounding or earthing means having direct contact with the Earth’s surface. This can be achieved by walking barefoot on grass, sand, or soil. When our bodies are in direct contact with the Earth, we receive a subtle but important electrical charge. This charge helps reduce inflammation and pain, improve sleep and mood, and speed up healing (10). The benefits of grounding are not just anecdotal. There is scientific evidence to support the claims. Here’s all you need to know about the benefits of walking barefoot on grass and why it is not just a fad.
What Is Earthing And How Does It Work?
The theory behind earthing is that our bodies are electrical systems, hence, we are constantly bombarded by electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from electronic devices, power lines, and other man-made objects.
These EMFs can disrupt the delicate balance of our bodies and lead to negative health effects (9).
However, when we are in contact with the ground, we receive a flow of electrons from the Earth that helps counterbalance the negative effects of EMFs. This is because the Earth’s surface is negatively charged and our bodies are positively charged.
The exchange of electrons is behind the many benefits of walking barefoot on grass.
Clint Ober, a retired cable television executive, first proposed the theory. However, the phenomenon of earthing wasn’t well studied in 1998 yet (10).
The idea came to him as he sat on a park bench observing people walk by. He noticed that many of them were wearing rubber-soled shoes and he wondered what benefits they might get from walking barefoot.
His telecommunications background led him to believe that there might be an electrical connection between the human body and the Earth. This was a radical idea at the time, but Ober’s observations led him to carry out some experiments.
What he found was that earthing does indeed have beneficial effects on the human body. Several studies have been carried out in recent years and they have all upheld and even discovered new earthing benefits (10).
What Are The Benefits Of Walking On Grass Barefoot?
Kicking off your shoes and walking barefoot in the grass may seem like a silly fad, but there is a real science to back up the benefits.
Let’s take a look at some of the most well-researched earthing benefits.
Positive Effect On Zeta Potential
Zeta potential is a measure of the electrical charge on the surface of cells. A negative zeta potential is associated with healthy cells, while a positive zeta potential indicates that cells are more susceptible to damage and disease (11).
One study found that earthing increased negative zeta potential in human red blood cells. Consequently, it significantly improves blood viscosity and flow (7). This is a big deal because poor blood flow is a major factor in heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions (2).
Walking barefoot in the grass can not only improve blood pressure and circulation but can also prevent cardiovascular conditions from developing in the first place.
Inflammation is a normal and necessary response of the immune system to injury or infection. However, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can lead to a host of health problems including heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes (3).
One of the most impressive benefits of earthing is its ability to reduce inflammation.
The anti-inflammatory effects of earthing are due to the flow of electrons from the ground. These electrons help neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress, which are both major drivers of chronic inflammation (19).
De-stressing And Improved Sleep
Chronic stress is a major problem in today’s fast-paced world. It has been linked to a long list of health problems, including heart disease, digestive issues, anxiety, and depression (17).
One of the best ways to combat chronic stress is by spending time in nature. According to a study published in the Frontiers in Psychology, 20 minutes spent in nature can help alleviate chronic stress. The study found that when participants took a nature walk or sat outdoors their levels of the stress hormone cortisol dropped significantly. Furthermore, their self-reported sense of stress also decreased (20).
Disrupted circadian rhythms are a major cause of insomnia and other sleep disorders (4). Earthing promotes better sleep by regulating the body’s circadian rhythms (16). These are the natural sleep-wake cycles that tell our bodies when it is time to sleep and when it is time to wake up.
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Improved Mood And Concentration
Spending time in nature has also been shown to improve mood and cognitive function. One study found that participants who took a 90-minute walk in a park had significantly lower levels of rumination, a type of negative thinking that is associated with depression and anxiety (14).
Another study found that participants who spent time in nature had better working memory and attention span compared to those who did not (13). Walking barefoot on grass is an excellent way to get the benefits of nature while also grounding the body.
In a small study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, massage therapists who practiced grounding while at work and/or at home while sleeping had a significant improvement in their moods (18).
They also had a significant decrease in fatigue and tiredness. This is expected, as spending time in nature has been shown to have a positive effect on mood. It may be partially due to the increased release of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mood regulation (18).
Reduced Pain And Immune Response
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a type of muscle soreness that can occur after exercise. It is caused by inflammation and oxidative stress as the muscles repair themselves (6).
DOMS can be extremely painful, which can lead to difficulty in moving or exercising. However, earthing has been shown to reduce DOMS.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of earthing also help boost the immune system. In one study, eight healthy participants performed toe raises with a barbell for the first time. Afterward, four of them rested and slept on grounding systems, while the other four did not (15).
The participants who were grounded had a significantly lower inflammatory response 24 hours later. They had less pain and recovered faster than those who were not grounded (15).
The researchers hypothesized that mobile electrons from the Earth enter the body and act as natural antioxidants. These electrons help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
Anti-Aging Benefits For Skin
As we age, our skin becomes drier, thinner, and less elastic. This process is known as skin aging (5).
Many different factors contribute to skin aging, including exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, smoking, and poor diet. However, one of the most important factors is inflammation (5).
Chronic inflammation speeds up the aging process by damaging collagen and elastin, the proteins that give skin its elasticity and strength (8).
Earthing has been shown to reduce inflammation and promote healing, both of which are important for maintaining youthful skin. It delivers antioxidant electrons to the body that help neutralize free radicals and prevent cell damage (1).
Read More: Is Walking Cardio? Here’s What Experts Say
How To Get Started With Earthing?
If you’re interested in trying earthing, there are a few different ways to get started:
The simplest and most effective way to get the benefits of earthing is to spend time outside barefoot. Walk on the grass, sit in the park, or lie on the ground. You can also go for a barefoot walk on the beach or in the woods.
Go To Your Basement
On days when the weather is bad or you can’t get outside, head to your basement. Concrete is an excellent conductor of electricity, so spending time in your basement will still allow you to ground yourself.
Note that sealed or painted concrete floors don’t work. Neither do carpeted vinyl or wood floors. The concrete must be able to conduct electricity for earthing to be effective.
Swim In The Ocean
Saltwater is a great conductor of electricity, so swimming in the ocean is an excellent way to do earthing. You can also walk on the wet sand or lie on your towel on the beach.
Use An Earthing Mat
If you want to earth while indoors, you can purchase an earthing mat. These mats are made of conductive materials that allow you to ground yourself without having to make direct contact with the Earth. There are also earthing sheets, socks, and other clothing items available.
Use An Earthing Device
If you want the convenience of earthing while on the go, there are earthing devices that you can purchase. These devices plug into a standard outlet and provide a continuous flow of grounding electrons. You can use them while working at your desk, watching TV, or when sleeping.
How Much Time Do I Need To See The Benefits Of Walking Barefoot On Grass
You don’t need to earth for long periods to see the benefits. Even just 20 to 30 minutes a day can make a difference. You’ll notice an almost immediate sense of relaxation and calmness when you first start earthing.
Over time, you may notice other benefits, such as improved sleep, reduced pain, reduced inflammation, and faster recovery from exercise as well. Long-term health benefits of earthing include reduced risk of chronic diseases (12).
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How Do I Know If Earthing Is Working For Me?
The best way to know if earthing is working for you is to keep a journal. Record how you feel before and after earthing. You may also want to measure things like pain levels, inflammation, stress levels, sleep quality, energy levels, and recovery from exercise.
If you don’t have time to keep a journal, just pay attention to how you feel. Do you feel more relaxed and grounded after earthing? Do you sleep better? Do you have more energy? Are your aches and pains gone?
If you notice even small changes, earthing is working for you. Just keep doing it and the benefits will continue to accumulate.
The Bottom Line
The surface of the Earth has unlimited electrons that are available for us to use. Wearing shoes daily deprives us of a major source of these vital electrons.
Conversely, spending time barefoot on the Earth allows us to reconnect with this natural source of energy and reap many health benefits that come with it. Walking barefoot on grass is an excellent way to acquire these benefits while also enjoying the fresh air and beauty of nature.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Can electrons act as antioxidants? A review and commentary (2007, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Cardiovascular risk factors for acute stroke: Risk profiles in the different subtypes of ischemic stroke (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Chronic Inflammation (2022, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Defining skin aging and its risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis | Scientific Reports (2021, nature.com)
- Delayed muscle soreness. The inflammatory response to muscle injury and its clinical implications (1995, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Earthing (Grounding) the Human Body Reduces Blood Viscosity—a Major Factor in Cardiovascular Disease (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Fighting against Skin Aging: The Way from Bench to Bedside (2018, journals.sagepub.com)
- Health Implications of Electromagnetic Fields, Mechanisms of Action, and Research Needs (2014, hindawi.com)
- Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons (2012, hindawi.com)
- Independent effect of polymeric nanoparticle zeta potential/surface charge, on their cytotoxicity and affinity to cells (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Integrative and lifestyle medicine strategies should include Earthing (grounding): Review of research evidence and clinical observations (2020, sciencedirect.com)
- Interacting with Nature Improves Cognition and Affect for Individuals with Depression (2012, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation (2015, pnas.org)
- Pilot Study on the Effect of Grounding on Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The biologic effects of grounding the human body during sleep as measured by cortisol levels and subjective reporting of sleep, pain, and stress (2004, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The effects of chronic stress on health: new insights into the molecular mechanisms of brain–body communication (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Effects of Grounding (Earthing) on Bodyworkers’ Pain and Overall Quality of Life: A Randomized Controlled Trial (2019, sciencedirect.com)
- The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Urban Nature Experiences Reduce Stress in the Context of Daily Life Based on Salivary Biomarkers (2019, frontiersin.org)