In a world filled with technological advancements and increasingly artificial environments, sometimes it’s beneficial to go back to our roots. Grounding with the earth, also referred to as earthing, is a therapeutic technique that involves connecting with the Earth’s electrical energy. This practice is as simple as going barefoot in your backyard and can yield some health benefits. This blog post will explore its various aspects of grounding, the benefits of grounding barefoot, how it compliments Functional Patterns (FP), and how you can incorporate it into your daily practice.
What is Grounding?
While grounding and earthing are often used interchangeably, subtle differences exist between the two. Grounding, in the broadest sense, refers to the process of connecting the body to a zero voltage surface that is not necessarily accompanied with a magnetic field the same as Earths. Voltage is the electric pressure or electric potential difference between two points. Grounding can be achieved by grounding with the earth or to a grounding mat that is conductive using an outlet as a ground. A grounding mat may have a significant magnetic field from the electrical wiring.
Earthing, on the other hand, is a more specific practice where direct contact is made with the Earth’s electromagnetic field, including barefoot grounding. This could be walking barefoot on the grass, lying on the beach, or even wading in a natural body of water. It's about making a conscious effort to reconnect with nature. Through this direct contact, it is believed that the body can absorb negative ions or electrons from the Earth's surface, leading to a range of potential health benefits.
The Science Behind Grounding
Our bodies are electromagnetic with every heartbeat, nerve impulse, and cell exchange occurring through bioelectrical processes. When our bare feet connect with the Earth, we gain access to a vast supply of free electrons. These electrons neutralize and balance out the positive charges or free radicals within our body that can cause inflammation and disease.
Robert Becker explored the use of electrical stimulation in healing bone fractures in animals that typically wouldn’t heal normally. Their work suggests that electromagnetic fields have a significant effect on salamanders that can regenerate whole limbs, among other amphibians. One hypothesis made was that bone tissue might act like a semiconductor to work with nerve electrical currents playing a role in bone regeneration.1 This poses the question of what other sources of electromagnetic fields, such as grounding, may have an effect on humans.
Benefits of Grounding Barefoot
Embracing the Earth's electromagnetic field through barefoot grounding can potentially have numerous benefits. Other benefits include improved sleep, reduced pain, decreased stress and inflammation by modulating cortisol, our primary stress hormone.2
Grounding could have intriguing potential benefits for cardiovascular health. A study involved grounding participants with a patch wire to a rod ground to the earth for two hours. It was found that this increased the electrical charge on their red blood cells, reducing blood clumping. The implications of these findings are considerable, especially given that increased surface charge on red blood cells can lower blood thickness. These mechanisms reduce the risk of associated cardiovascular issues. It was found that grounding could enhance heart rate variability, a key marker of heart health and resilience to stress.3
Another study indicated that grounding with the earth might even inhibit the inflammatory response and speed up wound healing in humans.4 While the scientific understanding of the benefits of grounding barefoot is still developing, there is still more research needed to determine under what context the effect of grounding is significant.
Everyday Efficiency: Moving Beyond Grounding
Barefoot grounding is one of the simplest and most enjoyable forms of this practice that can be relatively low risk in some environments. Walking barefoot on the other hand, should always be taken with caution to prevent foot injuries or minor cuts that could lead to infections.
With necessary precautions, this practice alone may not go far enough to heal the body. This is where FP corrective exercises prioritizing the FP “Big 4” - standing, walking, running, and throwing - is complemented well with barefoot grounding. Moving efficiently around these main functions results in efficient movement throughout the whole day that conserves energy and reduces stress that grounding can’t account for.
Incorporating Grounding into Your Daily Practice
Grounding is a versatile practice that can be integrated into your daily practice in various ways. A couple examples are standing or sitting barefoot grounding in the morning sun to grounding with the earth doing Functional Patterns myofascial release or corrective exercises. Even something as simple as standing barefoot on a conductive mat indoors can offer some benefits of grounding, especially if you live in an urban area with limited access to natural spaces.
In the fast-paced, hyperconnected world we live in, grounding with the earth serves as a gentle reminder of our intrinsic connection with nature. Walking or standing barefoot on the ground and harnessing the benefits of grounding barefoot can be a simple yet effective way to improve our health and well-being.
The journey to understanding grounding and its effects is ongoing, with research continuing to explore this practice. The potential benefits may range from improved cardiovascular health to a general sense of well-being. To reduce pain and inflammation, incorporating
Functional Patterns corrective exercises along with grounding can improve results.
If you're interested in Functional Patterns and how it can improve your life, we encourage you to check out the Functional Patterns website.
Learn more about Functional Patterns and grounding in the following resources:
- Becker, Robert O., and Gary Selden. “The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life.” William Morrow and Company, 1985.
- Chevalier, Gaétan, et al. "Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons." Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/.
- Chevalier, Gaétan, et al. "Earthing (Grounding) the Human Body Reduces Blood Viscosity—a Major Factor in Cardiovascular Disease." The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 19, no. 2, 2013, https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/acm.2011.0820.
- “The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378297/.