More energy, a better mood, and even pain relief…

… what if you could get all that just from walking barefoot on the Earth? Dirt, grass, sand — take your pick!

It might sound silly, but can you remember the last time you even did that? It sure isn’t the norm in our modern society…

  • We live on concrete foundations instead of earthen floors
  • We commute in cars instead of walking across prairies
  • We wear rubber-soled shoes instead of bare feet (or animal hides)
  • We sleep on synthetic raised beds instead of floor-based pads
  • We shop for groceries instead of harvesting produce from the land

In a nutshell: we’ve lost direct contact with the Earth, and its electrical energy.

Are we missing out on these nourishing electrons? Would we even notice if we were? Let’s investigate!

What We Know

Earthing (also called grounding) is the practice of putting your skin in direct contact with the Earth’s surface. Pretty simple, right?

Here’s the cool part: this Earth-body connection generates an electrical charge, which may help with inflammation and the healing and prevention of disease.¹

But how is this possible?

Scientists say that direct skin-to-earth contact allows free electrons to flow from the surface of the Earth to your body. These electrons may have the power to neutralize the free radicals that would otherwise damage cells and cause harm.²

In other words, the act of grounding may have antioxidant effects.¹

Back in the day (and even today in some parts of the world), earthing was the norm. People spent their days walking around barefoot and sleeping on the floor. Today… not so much.

Could this explain our society’s poor health?

Possibly. Some researchers believe our disconnect from the Earth’s electrons is a major contributor to our health problems and general unwellness. And getting back in touch with the Earth’s surface could be the key to feeling better and experiencing a wealth of positive health perks.²

Here are some of the commonly reported benefits of grounding:

  • More energy, less fatigue³
  • Chronic pain relief²
  • A better mood⁴
  • Less stress and irritability¹
  • Less depression¹
  • Improved sleep²
  • Less post-workout soreness¹

Grounding may even help reduce cardiovascular risk! Blood samples taken from participants using earthing patches on their feet showed that red blood cells were less likely to clump together.⁵

Bonus: some of these benefits may last up to a month!³

What We’re Still Learning

The studies shared above are fascinating, but small. So the science on earthing can’t be considered conclusive just yet.

And given that certain benefits are hard to measure (like stress and irritability), some studies used questionnaires, which can be subjective and unreliable.

But it’s worth noting that many traditional cultures place a high value on the Earth’s powerful grounding effects

Native Americans believe in the mothering power residing in the Earth’s soil. They often sit on the ground to soothe, cleanse, heal, and strengthen their bodies and souls.⁶

Australian Aboriginals walk barefoot in the bush to soak up the healing powers of being in harmony with the Earth. They say it nurtures your body, mind, and spirit.⁷

In Chinese culture, Qi is considered the energy or life force that circulates within us and radiates from the Earth. They say you can absorb this powerful energy by walking barefoot.⁶

In Germany, one of the founders of naturopathic medicine emphasized “the great curative effect” of walking barefoot and sleeping on the ground. In his book, Return to Nature, Adolf Just writes that our feet are like the roots of a plant: they draw out the vital energy and strength from the Earth.

The Bottom Line

The truth is, we could all benefit from getting outside in nature more. And physically connecting with the earth might help you feel more vibrant, rested, and recharged.

Even though the science is limited, earthing has been used for its healing properties for thousands of years. So maybe science just hasn’t caught up yet.

Bonus: you have nothing to lose!

Grounding is a super easy, inexpensive (and very enjoyable!) practice to adopt…

How do I get started?

Toes In  

👣 Spend 5-10 minutes walking barefoot outside each day (safely!).

🏖️ Find an appealing patch of grass or sand and lie down. Ahhh.

🤳 Can’t make it outdoors? Try grounding patches on your hands and feet or accessorize with a grounding bracelet. (Yes, these are a thing, you can find them online!)

Waist Deep  

🌎 Add grounding to your morning and/or evening routine: you can sit or stand skin-to-Earth while sipping your morning brew or winding down with a good book.

👩‍💻 If you work at a desk all day, try using a grounding mat.

🤸 Double down on your daily barefoot walks (especially if you’re feeling stressed or tired).

Full Immersion  

🛏️ Go for the full trifecta: walk barefoot daily, use grounding patches and/or a grounding mat during the day, and sleep on grounding sheets, pillows, and/or a mattress cover.

☀️ Move your yoga or meditation practice outdoors.

🏊‍♀️ Take up new outdoor hobbies that allow for skin-to-earth contact, like gardening or ocean swimming.

 

  1. 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.
  2. Chevalier G, Sinatra ST, Oschman JL, Sokal K, Sokal P. Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons. Journal of Environmental and Public Health. 2012.
  3. Chevalier G, Patel S, Weiss L, Chopra D, Mills PJ. The Effects of Grounding (Earthing) on Bodyworkers’ Pain and Overall Quality of Life: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Explore N Y N. 2019.
  4. Chevalier G. The effect of grounding the human body on mood. Psychological Reports. 2015.
  5. Chevalier G, Sinatra ST, Oschman JL, Delany RM. Earthing (Grounding) the Human Body Reduces Blood Viscosity—a Major Factor in Cardiovascular Disease. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2013.
  6. A Brief (and Certainly Incomplete) History of Earthing – Earthing Institute. May 20, 2016.
  7. Robertson C. Discover Australian bush medicines -. WellBeing Magazine. May 9, 2017.
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Jessica Ederer, JD, CPT, FNS, RYT
Pique's Head of Content & Wellness Education, is a Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, RYT, and holds a JD from UC Berkeley. After 10 years as a practicing trial lawyer, she shifted gears and has spent the past 9 years as a health coach, educator and writer. It's her passion to help people learn sustainable, effective ways to unlock their full wellness potential. When she's not teaching or writing, you can find her hiking, mountain biking, cycling, backcountry skiing, camping and drinking anywhere from 5-7 cups of tea per day.
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Jessica Ederer, JD, CPT, FNS, RYT
Jessica Ederer, JD, CPT, FNS, RYT
View author
Pique's Head of Content & Wellness Education, is a Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, RYT, and holds a JD...