Grounding: A Lesson From My Daughter

A few days ago I walked out on my back deck to find this:

Footprint in Snow

A little human footprint among the puppy prints in the snow.

That would be my daughter. She is the only one in the house who would venture out into the new fallen snow in her bare feet. I couldn’t help smiling after seeing her prints in the snow, which also started a chain of thoughts on my end.

First of all, my daughter is the queen of barefoot walking. I’m sure we have all gone through periods of walking barefoot, with most happening during childhood. I remember the thrill of walking, running, climbing, and jumping barefoot when I was young. Climbing trees was easiest when my little piggies were free. Jumping in cool puddles after a rain was bliss. And, racing through the soft green grass while we played neighborhood games was so much fun. But, these times are gone. My feet have lived in shoes while outside for many years. Now it’s my daughter’s turn to go barefoot while climbing trees, jumping in puddles, and playing neighborhood games. She also goes barefoot while hiking and taking the dogs for long walks. Only wearing shoes while going into public buildings, or boots when temperatures dip too low here in the great state of Minnesota. My daughter is determined to go barefoot, and she’s determined to get others to try it too.

barefeet

The Birthday Party

One month ago, at my daughter’s birthday party, I overheard her talking to her cousin about going barefoot outside. Her cousin hardly steps foot outside without his shoes on, but my daughter convinced him by saying  “Just try it. If you practice a little each day, your feet will get stronger and tougher, and you will feel attached to the Earth.” My nephew got a big smile on his face as he headed out the front door sans shoes with my daughter. As she bounded onto our gravel driveway without missing a beat, I had to laugh a little when my nephew looked, well, he looked how I probably look when I try to walk on that dang driveway. Limping, stepping as light as he could (not that this really helps), and heading straight for the grass. “See?” my daughter said, “It’s not that bad.” Ha! That’s what she thinks. My nephew remained shoe-less for the remainder of the afternoon. He’s stronger than I am.

When my daughter said that my nephew’s feet would feel stronger and tougher after going barefoot, I understood what she was talking about. She convinced me to try going barefoot a few times this past summer on our gravel driveway just for the sake of making my feet tougher. I imagine I looked like an injured fool as I navigated the driveway. Tiptoeing as fast as I could to reach the reprieve of the soft, green grass, but limping each time I stepped on one of those evil, larger, gravel stones. My daughter laughed as she took off running down the driveway. Her feet are tough. This I observed, but her statement “…you will feel attached to the Earth” is what I had questions about.”

After seeing her footprint in the snow, I asked my daughter “Do you remember when you talked your cousin into going barefoot at your birthday party?” “Yes.” she responded. “What did you mean when you told him that soon he would feel attached to the Earth?” I asked. She replied “I don’t know, I just feel connected to the Earth when I go barefoot, and it makes me feel good.” This response reminded me of a comment one of my readers had written on my Get Outside and Get Into Nature: Your Mind and Body Will Thank You post.

Grounding

Dr. Allison Brown wrote: “Have you heard of Grounding? Just putting our feet on the earth causes measurable, physiological changes that impact the health issues you’ve mentioned and more! Humans are wired to require a connection to the Earth!” Grounding is a concept I have never heard or read about. Could grounding be the “connection” my daughter experiences when she walks barefoot outside?

What is Grounding?

Grounding (also known as Earthing) happens when the Earth’s surface electrons are transferred into the human body through direct contact with the ground, such as walking barefoot.

In our body, free radicals are unpaired electrons that scavenge the body to seek our other electrons so they can become a pair. This action causes damage to cells, proteins and DNA. Free radicals are associated with many human diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and many others (Lobo et al., 2010).

When the skin comes in contact with the earth, free electrons are taken up into the body.  These electrons are natural antioxidants and help neutralize damaging free radicals. Antioxidants are molecules which can safely interact with free radicals and terminate any harmful reaction before vital molecules are damaged. Okay, so how does this help our bodies?

Benefits of Grounding

Oschman et al., 2015, wrote:

Electrons from the Earth may in fact be the best antioxidants, with zero negative secondary effects, because our body evolved to use them over eons of physical contact with the ground… The disconnection from the Earth may be an important, insidious, and overlooked contribution to physiological dysfunction and to the alarming global rise in non-communicable, inflammatory-related chronic diseases.

According to Chevalier et al., 2012, emerging scientific research supports the concept that the Earth’s electrons induce several physiological changes in the human body such as reduced pain, better sleep, a shift from sympathetic (fight or flight) to parasympathetic (rest and digest) tone in the autonomic nervous system (ANS), and a blood-thinning effect.

Further exploring the effects of grounding, Oschman et al., 2015, conducted a study where they repeatedly observed that grounding increases the speed of healing and decreases or completely eliminates inflammation. They discuss that grounding is a simple, natural, free, and accessible health strategy that can be used against chronic inflammation. Pain and inflammation was reduced in all patients with lupus and other autoimmune disorders within this study.

 

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Going Barefoot

Today, our modern lifestyle prevents many chances for direct contact with the Earth’s surface. Our footwear is insulated, high-rise buildings dominate our cities, we sleep on elevated beds that lift us off of the ground, and people spend very little time outside.  Is this really why we are seeing an increase in global non-communicable, inflammatory-related chronic diseases (Oschman et al., 2015). Are our bodies not getting the electrons they need to speed healing, decrease inflammation, aid in better sleeping patterns, and reduce stress? Is it possible that my daughter could feel the effects of grounding?

After researching the effects of grounding or earthing, I think that it is entirely possible that this is what my daughter experiences to make her feel “good” and “connected to the Earth” when she walks barefoot. Next spring I may take my daughter up on her challenge to go barefoot more often. In the words of my daughter, if I practice a little each day, my feet will get stronger and tougher, and I will feel attached to the Earth. And, I bet I will feel healthier because of it.

 

References

Chevalier, G., Sinatra, S. T., Oschman, J. L., Sokal, K., & Sokal, P. (2012). Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons. Journal of Environmental and Public Health2012, 291541. http://doi.org/10.1155/2012/291541

Lobo, V., Patil, A., Phatak, A., & Chandra, N. (2010). Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacognosy Reviews4(8), 118–126. http://doi.org/10.4103/0973-7847.70902

Oschman, J. L., Chevalier, G., & Brown, R. (2015). The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Journal of Inflammation Research8, 83–96. http://doi.org/10.2147/JIR.S69656

30 Replies to “Grounding: A Lesson From My Daughter”

  1. drallisonbrown says: Reply

    Wow! Out of the mouths of babes! How cool that your daughter could experience (and articulate) this feeling.…if only adults were so in touch with this energy that is all around us. Thank you for a wonderful and thorough post!

    1. Thank YOU for your lovely comment on my old post that led me to this fun discovery. I agree, kids seem to be much more in tune with their surroundings. As adults, our minds are constantly going. We can learn a little something from kids in regards to ‘living in the moment’. Thank you for your kind words, and for your contribution to this post, Dr. Allison. 🙂

  2. Wow, that was great to read. I miss those care-free days of running around the yard as a child.

    1. Thank you for your kind comment! Yes, I miss those days too. Hoping to bring a little bit of it back when the temperatures warm again. 🙂

  3. I like to go out to the garden barefoot in the summer – on the path and the lawn at least. There’s broken glass and pottery in the vegetable garden, so it would be dangerous to do it there. I don’t even mind walking on small stones.

    1. Going barefoot in the garden sounds lovely, April! I’m going to make it a point to toughen up my feet to reap the benefits. Your feet must be pretty ‘healthy’ if you can walk on stones with ease. 🙂

      1. I didn’t say it was ‘with ease’, just that I could do it.

        1. Ha! Well, you’re ahead of me. 🙂

  4. I love this so much. I love how your daughter expressed her connection and how you took it seriously. I love how you found a connection from Allison’s comments and your daughters actions. This is all a web of goodness and it makes me happy.
    Grounding explains why I have almost a physical need to walk in fresh-cut grass. Or why I want to put my face so close to trees and moss that I can smell or taste it. (I will admit to breathing deeply to imbimbe the scent of bark or leaf, but if you caught me licking that tree that one time it wasn’t me, I swear.)
    Thank you for the beautiful post, Erin. It made my day.

    1. Well, now if I ever see you licking trees I won’t be surprised. 🙂 When I was growing up, there as a lady down the street who would always take walks in her bare feet. I wonder now if she knew about grounding. I do agree with you though. I crave being out in nature. I love taking my shoes off on a beach, in the water, and in the grass. Now, I just need to toughen my feet up and join my daughter. Thanks so much for all of your kind words, Angela! It was a lot of fun to make the connections between Allison and my daughter. It’s crazy how ‘things’ just end up connecting in different ways.

      1. So crazy– Like one of my very favorite quotes, “Beauty is Everywhere. Be the one to see it.” That’s our gift–not necessarily even creating the beauty, but just being there to receive.

        1. I love that quote. It goes along with “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I do believe that if we look long enough we can find beauty in almost anything. Thanks for sharing your wonderful thoughts, Angela!

  5. I love going barefoot!!!

    1. I’m hoping I’ll love it more once my feet toughen a bit. 🙂

  6. Oh I absolutely LOVE this post. There’s so much greatness in it. First of all, your daughter sounds awesome (how old is she by the way). Also, I found it very interesting hearing about electrons & free radicals. Lastly & mainly, I found it very inspiring. As someone that suffers from chronic pain, I’m totally going to try walking bare footed outside more. Please can you repost this in spring to remind me ha.

    1. Hayley, thanks so very much for your thoughtful comment! My daughter is 7 and she seems to very in-tune with everything around her. I think this is why I learn so much from her just by being with her. Last, I hope you do try some barefoot therapy. I’d love to hear how it goes. In one of the articles I referenced, they discussed how much time a person needs to have contact with the surface of the Earth to reap the benefits. I’ll have to look and get back to you. In the spring, I will be happy to re-post this article. Thanks again, Hayley! 🙂

      1. Wow, I’d say she’s definitely in tune with everything around her. My daughter is 7 & can’t inagine her being that shrewd ha. Though she does also prefer bare feet, so maybe it’s intuitive for some children. Thanks so much Erin. I was also wondering how long one should “ground” for, so I’d really appreciate that. Thank you x

  7. I could never do this, my feet are too wimpy. I’d be oh, oh, ohing or ow, ow owing at every pebble or grain of dust.

    1. Ha! I completely understand where you are coming from. My daughter laughs when I attempt her tricks. I’m determined to make it down the driveway and back without jumping into the grass next summer. We shall see. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  8. Celeste Burton says: Reply

    I enjoyed this one a lot
    I to remember always being bare foot when I was young and even older just not as much🙂 I like to wake up in the morning and step out side on the cool grass or my stepping stone path and take deep breaths of the wonderful morning air 😊 it starts my lungs and brain
    Up with a clear and peaceful feeling ☺️
    Keep writing ! it brings so many memories of past and present to all of us ! we all need to stop and reconnect with earth 🌎👣

    1. Thank you for your kind words 🙂 I agree, there’s nothing better than getting out into the fresh air. I need to do the barefoot thing more often to reap the total benefits. It’s a goal for next summer. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment!

  9. I am so with your daughter I love barefeet and the feel of the earth. First thing I do when I get home. Plus have been know to take my footwear off if I have to run for it.

    1. You and my daughter are well-ahead of me! I’m determined to improve my foot endurance this year so I can reap the benefits just as you and my daughter are doing. 🙂 Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!

  10. Grounding – never heard of it before. It’s a lot like what grounding in God’s word does for ones spiritual life. Thanks so much for that post.

  11. This is really interesting! I would like to try it out, but I’d have to take a hack saw to my calloused feet if I walked around outside barefoot! Maybe I could just start by walking out into the front lawn 😂👍🏻

    1. But, I hear calloused feet are perfect for going barefoot. 😀 You may have an advantage over the rest of us whose feet don’t leave our shoes. The front lawn is a good start though. That’s where I’m at.😊

  12. Your daughter is brilliant. You should check out Michael Franti of Spearhead. He still goes barefoot.

    1. Going to Google him right now, Jennifer. Thanks so much! 😊

      1. I think you’ll like their music too!

        1. That’s why the name sounded so familiar! I’m horrible with remember names, but I know their music. It’s great! I believe my husband pointed Michael out while he was performing on TV because he doesn’t wear shoes. It’s all coming back to me now, ha! 🙂

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