By Andrew Sartory, Functional Health and Wellness Advisor
Every species on this planet evolved within close proximity to the ground. Now, we humans have disconnected ourselves 99% of the time by remaining indoors and wearing rubber soled shoes when we venture outside. What can be gained by reconnecting our bare feet to the earth's surface? Quite a lot.
When was the last time you touched your bare feet to the ground?
Imagine yourself, sitting barefoot, either on the beach or in a lush grassy park. How do you feel? Odds are, pretty relaxed.
Yes, part of this is relaxation comes from the fact that beach and park times are associated with vacations and weekends, but there's also a physiological explanation as to why we feel more relaxed when we are grounded!
When it comes to being healthy, we all know that exercise, diet, sleep and stress all play a huge role. However, almost no one thinks about how often they connect their feet to the earth. This could be problematic, considering that all living systems evolved in a much closer relationship to the earth’s surface than humans do today.
The earth’s surface serves as a virtually unlimited source of electrons that are absorbed through direct contact. In modern society, we are almost always wearing shoes with rubber soles that insulate us from receiving the earth’s negative charges, making it a rare occurrence that we come in direct contact with the earth. In normal atmospheric conditions, we accumulate positive charges and we're not allowing ourselves to equilibrate with the earth to reduce these unnatural, positive electric states.
This can cause immense problems as our body’s systems are all tied to electric currents that need balance.
And yes, real research has demonstrated its importance! (It's not a bunch of hocus pocus woo-woo stuff.)
In fact, directly connecting yourself to the ground (this can be concrete, dirt, grass or sand), has been shown to reduce muscle pain and tension, boost immune system function, improve sleep, reduce stress and improve cognitive function!
But don’t take my word for it; let’s look at some recent research studies…
· Blind study* of 60 adults with self-described disruptive sleep and chronic joint pain
· Two groups, both slept on same conductive mattress for 30 days.
· One group’s mattresses were connected to the ground outside of the window
· Control group’s mattresses were “sham” connected to the ground.
· The group that was truly connected to the ground showed improvements in joint pain, muscle pain, general well-being, sleep quality and time it took to fall asleep.
Conclusion: Long periods of grounding can result in exceptional health benefits in the area of sleep quality, muscle and joint pain.
· Double blind** study of 8 men
· Men performed difficult calf workouts designed to create great soreness
· All 8 men slept with conductive sheets and patches on the bottom of their feet for 4 nights
· 4 men’s patches were connected to the ground, the other 4 were not
· The “grounded” group had slighter decreases in their white blood cell count
· The grounded group showed smaller signs of inflammation and less muscle soreness
Conclusion: Being grounded can have beneficial effects on our immune system and improve the body’s recovery rate! Also, grounding can help ease muscle soreness after challenging workouts.
“Grounding appears to be the first intervention with the potential to reduce the time of recovery and improve muscle function from DOMS”
· Double blind study* in 58 healthy adults
· All adults in a chair for 56 minutes with patches connecting their feet to the ground via a chord
· The chord’s connection could be turned on and off
· One group was grounded for 28 minutes and ungrounded for 28 minutes
· Other group was ungrounded the entire time
· Effects in grounded individuals were immediate and significant
· Less muscle tension and decreased overall stress
· Shift of brain function to left-hemisphere, going toward calm relaxed state and away from “fight or flight”
Conclusion: You don’t have to be touching the ground for hours just to reap the benefits. Even touching the ground for 10 minutes will help to relax your mind and ease tension in your body. This brain shift even allows us to think more clearly and logically!
(Even 1 minute is beneficial for some quick stress relief!)
· Double Blind study** of 14 men and 14 women
· Each participant went through a 2 hour grounding session on a grounded chair and a sham grounded session on the same chair
· Skin conductance immediately decreased while grounded, and immediately increased again when ungrounded
· Respiratory rate (RR) increased during grounding, and continued to last a little bit when ungrounded
· Blood oxygen variance decreased during grounding
· Pulse rate increased toward the end of grounding session
Conclusion: The immediate decrease in skin conductance indicates a rapid deactivation of the sympathetic nervous system (stress, “fight or flight”) with an activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (tranquil functioning).
Furthermore, the changes in respiratory rate, blood oxygen variance, and pulse rate hint towards the start of a metabolic healing response!
“Grounding may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, nervous system dysfunction, pain, inflammation, poor sleep and cardiovascular disease.”
So, if you weren’t already, I hope I’ve made a believer out of you, at least a little bit. I definitely am and try to make a point to connect with the ground for at least a little bit everyday. If I ever find myself sitting at a table outdoors, I now take my shoes off without even thinking and soak in the benefits. I'm a big advocate of others taking barefoot breaks when they can. Also, I understand that you probably have a full schedule and finding the time to go frolic outdoors everyday may not be in your cards. Even the 60-second walks through parking lots can add up and give your body the balance it needs.
Want to learn more about connecting to nature for it's health benefits? Let our experts at SHAW Center for Healing help you grow in your physical intelligence today.
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