Walking Barefoot: The New Way to Reduce Your Pain?
Updated: Jul 16, 2021
Did you know that walking barefoot for 20 minutes, twice a day can possibly reduce your pain? I found this interesting research article and wanted to share the information. It discussed how grounding or “Earthing” has actually been shown to improve our health and wellness on a variety of levels. The two facets of this improvement that caught my attention were the reduction of inflammation and pain.
Grounding or Earthing is being connected to the Earth. This can be done by walking barefoot on a natural surface (dirt, grass, sand) or sleeping while in contact to a device/pad/sheet that is connected or grounded to the Earth.
The theory is that when we are in contact with the Earth, we absorb electrons given off the Earth’s surface. The negative charge of these electrons neutralizes the free radicals in our system. Free radicals are unstable atoms which contribute to illness, aging, and breakdown in the human body.
It may sound crazy, but there has been a fair amount of research (small studies) done on the subject with some very surprising results.
The following was found across several studies:
Faster wound healing
Improved sleep by normalizing cortisol/sleep rhythms
Reduction of inflammation
Reduction of pain
Enhanced immune response
A study was cited which included a small sample of adults where muscle soreness was induced by exercise. Sleep and meals were kept the same for three days for all subjects. Half of the subjects slept with grounding pads on their calves and bottom of their feet. The other half did the same however the pads were not grounded. After three days pain levels, MRI, spectroscopy, blood cortisol, blood chemistry, and blood cell counts were taken on all subjects.
The grounded group had lower pain levels, lower white cell counts, and lower inflammation levels. In addition, the blood work indicated that the tissues in the grounded subjects were more efficient at dealing with the micro damage that had occurred to the muscle.
We were always meant to be in contact with the Earth, however with the invention of concrete and shoes, we have been removed from it for some time.
The most important thing to remember is that if you choose to “ground” you have to make sure it is on natural surfaces, no sidewalks-they don’t count.
In addition, if you are someone with foot issues or use orthotics, you want to start walking slowly and for short periods of time and work up. Since walking in general can be a fantastic health booster, adding some barefoot time just may pump things up even more!
Finally, if you absolutely cannot walk without shoes, then simply sitting with your feet in the grass or your toes in the sand can do the trick!
This is a great excuse to kick your shoes off and enjoy some fresh air and to get your body moving. Regardless of your feelings on the research of grounding, you cannot go wrong with that.
Stay Well & Feel Good,
Oschman JL, Chevalier G, Brown R. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. J Inflamm Res. 2015;8:83–96. Published 2015 Mar 24. doi:10.2147/JIR.S69656
Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.
Hi! I am Dr. Kim MacDonald. I am a physical therapist who specializes in empowering my patients to optimize how they move their bodies and improve their ability to do the things they love regardless of age, experience, or capabilities.
My experience in the health care field allows me to teach the tools you need to ensure that you are working safely to improve your pain and maximize your physical potential.
If you would like to know more about how you can help yourself be healthier and live a more active lifestyle, join me here.