As a child, did your mom insist that you wear shoes outside to play claiming that you might step on a rusty nail or sharp object? Perhaps this request also involved protecting her floors from dirty feet since she may have been in charge of vacuuming and mopping. Like many tidbits of information parents impart to protect children, going barefoot is worth reconsidering with the development of a practice called earthing.
What is earthing?
Consider all of the ways the term energy is integrated into the daily vernacular: “I love her energy,” “My energy is low,” “Your energy feels off,” and “He’s full of energy.” Energy can be used to describe a human's mood and behaviors. Additionally, daily living is surrounded by objects that store or provide energy.
For example, count the items in your vicinity that provide energy outside of your own bodily systems, and you might have a list that includes:
desk lamp; Macbook; out-of-ink printer/scanner; outlets in the front, rear and side; airpods; essential oil diffuser; heater; GoPro; iPhone, etc.
There are likely multiple sources of energy in one room. Is there a correlation between personal energy levels and electrical energy? Clint Ober, a pioneer and advocate of earthing, believes so and posits that electromagnetic fields from ungrounded appliances are impediments to optimal health. Through a series of personal and professional life circumstances, he explored the idea of earthing or grounding by utilizing the Earth’s electrons to help restore health and wellbeing. His exploration of grounding begins:
One day in 1998, Clint was sitting on a park bench in Sedona watching a passing parade of tourists go by. Clint looked at their shoes and he realized that people from all over the world were wearing running shoes with thick rubber or plastic soles. He mused that all these people were insulated from the ground (himself included) and the electrical surface charge beneath their feet. He started thinking about static electricity and wondered if being insulated like that could have some effect on health. This was the moment that changed everything (Earthing, “About Clint Ober”).
Every movement or thought is based on frequencies and electric transmissions in the body. The heart, brain, and immune system are obvious examples. The daily rhythm of chemical and hormonal cycling in the human body is regulated and maintained by faint electromagnetic signals generated by the Earth’s electrons. The human body is exquisitely receptive to these signals that set up the rhythm of day-night functions or circadian rhythms (What is Earthing, The Earthing Institute)
Ober further hypothesized that grounding the human body normalizes functioning of all body systems (Earthing, “About Clint Ober”).
Read more on Clint’s fascinating life, including his connection to Denver!
Ober’s childhood connection to nature, professional expertise with electrical grounding in cable systems, and serious health condition guided his curiosity. His journey led to experimenting, developing products, and sharing wisdom to remedy an increasing problem with human’s lessening connection to the Earth, increasing connectivity to technology, and growing health problems.
How do you ground and what are the purported benefits?
It’s uncommon that a health benefit is free, but by placing your body in the natural elements and connecting to the Earth via touch, you are practicing grounding. Laying down to stargaze, swishing through creeks, and pushing your fingers into the soil to plant spring tomatoes are all ways to practice grounding. A 2020 study published in the Science and Healing Journal proposes that, “Earthing or grounding refers to the discovery that bodily contact with the Earth's natural electric charge stabilizes the physiology at the deepest levels, reduces inflammation, pain, and stress, improves blood flow, energy, and sleep, and generates greater well-being (Menigoza, Latz, Ely, et al. “Integrative and lifestyle medicine strategies should include Earthing (grounding): Review of research evidence and clinical observations”).
As a low cost self-care day, utilize your backyard or visit one of the stunning Coloradan landscapes and notice what happens as you try grounding.
Blue Mesa Reservoir - Gunnison, CO
Photo credit: 303Magazine
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve - Mosca, CO
Photo Credit: NPS
Photo credit: Jas
Photo credit: volokhatiuk
What are barriers to earthing?
Americans work more than other industrialized countries, and the workweek has drastically increased over the past 10 years, according to a Business Insider article, 7 ways American work habits have changed in the past 10 years. For instance, “77% of Americans work more than 40 hours a week” which means there is less time available to spend outdoors (John, 2019). One solution is to try earthing products at the office. Earthing products have been developed for inside usage as a way to offer a grounding alternative to being outside. When possible, opt for the outdoor experience as there are robust physical and mental health benefits when spending time in nature.
There is still more to learn since grounding has more traction to gain in future research studies. In an article, “Is there anything to ‘Earthing?” Dr. Andrew Weil, renowned New York Times bestselling author, Harvard M.D., Founder & Director of Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, looks to future studies with a larger number of participants to indicate evidence-based health benefits associated with grounding. Nevertheless, Dr. Weil’s recommendation to kick off your shoes whenever you get the chance is one to follow (Weil, 2022).
How does earthing connect to minimalist footwear?
By offering minimalist footwear, Lisbeth Joe barefoot shoes are related to the practice of earthing. Footwear is designed so that the customers’ feet have a minimal sole and minimal cushion which allows feet to feel some of the ground. When you’re ready to try earthing on your next adventure, minimalist shoes are easy to slip on and off without the hassle of shoestrings. Since the winter cold and snow is approaching Colorado, Chelsea boots can keep you snug as you wait for spring to practice grounding outside. Using your yard, local park, or favorite trail is a quick way to experience earthing. When you can get a parking spot, the Hessie Trailhead near Nederland, Colorado provides water, soil, and grass mediums to dig in your palms and heels. Go solo with your pup for a refresh or take friends and family along as part of your fun. Try barefoot frisbee, and it’ll be hard to stop smiling.
In essence, grounding can be one way to enjoy nature for any age group. If you’re not already, regularly practice earthing to see if you notice any improvements with your vitality. An intention to use on your first earthing adventure or any time you need Mother Nature’s healing powers is…
Photo credit: Dr. Jaclyn Camardo