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Walking barefoot outdoors is a popular and effective method of grounding oneself. But just how long should you walk barefoot outdoors to truly receive the benefits? While there’s no precise answer to how long to walk barefoot for grounding, many experts agree you should try to walk barefoot outdoors for at least 20 minutes.
This post delves more into what exactly grounding is, what the benefits are and why you should walk barefoot for a minimum of 20 minutes.
What is grounding?
Grounding, or earthing as it’s also commonly referred to, involves creating an electrical connection with the ground.
You may have heard the term ‘electrical grounding’ used when it comes to electrical engineering in buildings. All structures that have electricity flowing through them have to be grounded. This usually involves connecting a grounding wire to the earth – this grounding wire helps to remove excess electricity caused by power surges, directing it into the earth where it can be safely released.
When people practice grounding it similarly involves creating a connection with the earth. Historically, human beings would walk barefoot and sleep outside – we were constantly connected to the earth. It believed that this helped to form an important electrical connection necessary for our body that we now lack.
What are the health benefits?
Our bodies are full of electricity. In fact, our nervous system and immune system both rely on electrical signals. A healthy balance of positive and negatively charged electrons needs to be maintained to keep these systems healthy. Grounding is believed to help maintain this balance.
How can grounding help us maintain a healthy electrical balance? It is believed that physical contact with the earth can help us discharge excess electrical current that we may pick up from using electrical appliances and other day to day activities. Grounding may also help flood our body with free electrons if we are experiencing a deficiency – the earth is full of negatively charged electrons that can be passed back into the body by making physical contact.
This can have many individual health benefits. Some of these individual health benefits include:
- Increased energy levels: Lack of physical contact with the earth may cause us to become more fatigued. Studies involving earthing techniques found that participants felt less fatigued after four weeks of regularly grounding themselves.
- Chronic pain relief: It is believed that grounding can reduce pain signals and prevent inflammation in order to relieve chronic pain symptoms. Many people with chronic pain find that earthing can help.
- Improved mental health: Grounding may also help to improve our overall mood. One study found that participants felt significantly more relaxed after grounding themselves compared to a separate group of participants who were not grounded.
- Calmed immune system: Grounding may help to neutralise free radicals in our body, helping to calm our immune system. If you have an overactive immune system and experience various allergies, grounding may have benefits.
- Improved heart health: Research also shows that grounding may help improve cardiovascular health. Results found that participants experienced reduced levels of blood viscosity when regularly grounding themselves. Those with less viscous blood typically have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and heart problems.
How does walking barefoot help?
There are several ways to ground oneself – the simplest being to walk barefoot outdoors. Making direct skin contact with the earth can allow electrical charges to freely pass between you and the earth.
This does not happen when you have shoes or socks on. Many shoes contain rubber or synthetic substitutes that create a barrier between you and the earth. Socks can also create a barrier, while also trapping moisture in and making you more conductive (wearing earthing socks may prevent this).
The earth is rich with ions (negatively charged electrons) absorbed from lightning strikes, power surges and seismic activity. If our bodies have a deficiency of ions, walking barefoot can help us to absorb the necessary amount of ions from the earth.
This electron transfer also works the other way around. Just as the earth is able to pull excess electricity from a building when grounded, it can also remove excess ions from our body – our body naturally repels this excess electric current as we make contact with the earth.
Why walk barefoot for a minimum of 20 minutes?
The transfer of electrons between your feet and the earth is not immediate. While some people experience a feeling of immediate relief when sinking the toes into grass or sand, this is more to do with the stimulation of an unusual texture. There may be some instant absorption or expulsion of electrons, but generally for a sufficient transfer of electrons you generally need to be touching the ground for at least 20 minutes (to answer the question of ‘how long to walk barefoot for grounding’).
A simple way to do this could be to spend 20 minutes barefoot in your garden. This could include simply relaxing in a deck chair on your lawn with the soles of your feet touching the earth. Certain gardening tasks barefoot may also be possible, although you should avoid anything potentially dangerous like mowing or strimming.
Another option could be to go to your local park, forest or beach for 20 minutes and slip off your shoes. Whether you’re sitting down and having a picnic or playing with the kids, you’ll soon ground yourself sufficiently providing that you’re barefoot.
Try to choose natural ground when walking outdoors barefoot. Artificial surfaces like tarmac are often electrically insulating and so you may not get any benefits from walking barefoot on these surfaces. Instead, you’re better off sticking to grass, dirt and sand.
Grounding by walking barefoot outdoors is clearly much harder in the colder winter months when you may not want to be walking around in muddy puddles or on freezing ground. During these months it may be better to try out other grounding solutions such as using a grounding mat – this is a mat that connects to your electrical outlets, helping to ground you via your home’s grounding wire. There are bedsheets and pillows that work in a similar fashion. You can explore such grounding equipment here on this site.