Barefoot for your health
The warmer spring weather is upon us. Fishing season is open, gardening is a go, everything is blooming. Life is good! This is my favorite time of year--- where I can walk around in my backyard without shoes on and just enjoy the weather. Did you know that there are actual physical benefits to walking outdoors barefoot? This is called grounding or earthing- where you electrically reconnect with the earth and draw health benefits while doing so. The easiest way to explain it is that humans are bioelectrical and we carry a positive charge that can build up in our bodies. Earth’s surface on the other hand has a negative charge. When we make contact with earth through grounding, we discharge our excess energy which helps heal us at a cellular level. There are several ways to experience grounding. You can walk outside barefoot--- in the grass, sand, water, or even mud. You can lay in the grass or even the sand at a beach. You can go swimming in a lake. It is possible to have grounding equipment such as grounding mats, sheets or socks that you can purchase online and use inside. I personally just stick to the traditional options mentioned earlier.
Let’s talk about some of the benefits to grounding. Studies have shown that grounding has both physical and mental benefits. Grounding can improve chronic fatigue, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and can even lower blood pressure. If you choose the walking barefoot technique for grounding-- this actually allows you to use certain muscle groups that aren’t often used when wearing cushiony shoes. Walking barefoot can help improve balance, proprioception, and body awareness. It impacts your range of motion in your feet and ankles and helps to strengthen certain leg muscles and ligaments which can help support the lower back too. There are some risks to walking without shoes. When walking outdoors, always be careful not to step on hazardous things like broken glass. If you’re someone with diabetes or peripheral neuropathy this may not be a good idea because if you step on something and have a wound, you may not feel it. This can lead to infection. To be honest, if your main focus is grounding you can sit outside, slip your shoes off, and place your feet on the ground and just relax in nature for a half hour. This also gives you some time to soak up some vitamin D from the sun! If you’re wanting to be more active while grounding take it easy at first-- starting with just 15-20 minutes of walking barefoot. Your feet and ankles need time to adapt. If looking for an extra challenge, try some balance exercises of standing on one foot or slowly raising up on your tippy toes and coming back down. You can try some gentle yoga as well. When you’re done with your outside barefoot activities make sure to examine the bottom of your feet to make sure that you don’t have any cuts or wounds. As you walk outside more, your feet will build up stronger skin and you may not have pain even though you have a little cut.
Grounding doesn’t have to take up your whole day. Studies have found that spending a half hour grounding has positive impacts on people’s bodies both physically and emotionally. So go walk in your backyard, chill in a chair without your shoes on, swim in a lake, or find a sandy shore to walk on. Get out there and enjoy that spring weather and give grounding a try!
Dr. Doug and Jeanette love teaching people about health and wellness. If we haven't covered a topic that you're interested in, feel free to leave a comment and we'd be happy to give you our thoughts!