Earthing or grounding is quite simply the practice of putting the bare soles of your feet on the earth.
Sounds simple, and it is. But earthing has been said to offer a myriad of health benefits to those who practice it.
Popularised by the Earthing book and documentary and since studied by universities and research labs internationally, earthing is a big deal.
In this article we are going to delve into:
- What grounding or earthing is
- The benefits of grounding or earthing
- The science behind the practice
- How earthing or grounding was discovered
Ready to learn about the surprising benefits of touching the earth?
What Is Earthing Or Grounding?
Earthing or grounding is just the practice of putting your bare feet on the earth.
The idea is that Mother Earth is endowed with electrons. These electrons are then absorbed through your feet and into your body.
In our modern society, we live inside an electromagnetic field. Our devices- phones, laptops, wifi signals- are constant. There is growing concern that our bodies absorb an large amount of electromagnetic radiation from these devices.
However, we can restore our electrical balance by being in contact with the earth.
the earth is a battery
We live inside a battery. The surface of the earth is negatively charged, whilst the ionosphere (a layer of the atmosphere about 60 miles up), is ionised by the sun. Ionised by the sun? The sun is so hot that it splits the atoms of the ionosphere in two- one positively charged, and one negatively charged.
Periodically, the charged ionosphere releases lots of electrons in the form of lightning. This means that, through lightning, this negative charge is transferred to the surface of the earth, whilst the positive charge stays in the ionosphere.
The surface of the earth is electrically conductive. This means that if you connect your skin to the earth, you are collecting electrons that came from the sun.
The Benefits Of Earthing Or Grounding
This earth connection supposedly supports the functions of the organs in your body. It supports the body as a whole, but specifically supports organs down to the tissues and cellular function.
The idea is that when you ground, your body works its way back to equilibrium, your bodily processes, once out of balance, return to normal.
How? By reducing inflammation in the body.
Our separation from the earth
Walking around barefoot is nothing new in practice. We humans have done it for thousands of years. But somewhere along the way, we accidentally disconnected from the earth. Shoes, paved roads, pollution… we created barriers between our bodies and the earth.
In 1960’s America, synthetic materials were invented. The first thing they did? Transform the soles of our shoes from leather and wood, to rubber. Sneakers were born, and we are now insulated from the earth.
So much so in fact, that it’s now considered weird if we slip our shoes off and place them on the bare earth.
Earthing or grounding- Indigenous wisdom
So in practice, it’s not technically new, but in theory, it is. Behind the now global movement of earthing is one man: earthing pioneer, Clinton Ober.
Clinton calls the synthetic soled shoe “The most destructive invention that man has ever made.”
Clinton Ober, a white man, grew up in Montana around Native American people. He witnessed how amongst those Native Americans, land ownership did not exist. They didn’t lay claim to the mountains, or the trees, they coexisted with them.
Clinton remembers one incident as a young boy in the 1950’s when a friend of his, a young Native American girl, fell sick with scarlet fever. Her family had taken her to the doctors but there were no signs of her getting any better.
This is when one of the community elders dug a pit in the earth, covered it with straw, lay the young girl in the ground, built a fire beside it, and just sat with her. For days.
The girl recovered, and before long was running around again with all the other children.
He remembers on another occasion, a mother told her child to take their shoes off when they entered their tipi, “they will make you sick”, she said.
Clinton Ober’s discovery
Like most great discoveries, Clinton Ober came across earthing or grounding completely by accident.
Clinton was involved in the cable industry in the early ’60s where he learned the need to ground cables. Before a cable goes into a house to supply electricity, it must first be grounded to the earth to maintain the entire system in a stable and electrical environment. If it’s not grounded, the signal leaks out and can wreak havoc on the local intercom.
Clinton started to wonder, if like cables, humans too needed to be grounded and if rubber soles were interfering with our natural grounding.
That night, Clinton went to the hardware store, bought metal duct tape, and taped it across his bed. He attached it to a wire, which he led out the window and attached it to a metal rod, which he stuck in the earth. That way, when he lay down on the duct tape, he was grounded.
He fell asleep without his typical Advil nightcap, and woke up the next day feeling great.
He set out to research the phenomenon, was laughed at, and came up cold. So he set out to conduct his own study.
The Science behind earthing or grounding
Sounds too simple, or good to be true? Being sceptical is good. Let’s unpack the claims made by earthers and see if earthing or grounding is supported by science.
In his initial study, Clinton Ober grounded 60 people. And to everyone’s disbelief, the results were unbelievable. Pain, inflammation, PMS (premenstrual stress), and TMJ (jaw pain) were all reduced. All of the participants slept better. And the data was quantifiable.
Since Clinton Ober’s initial study, there have been over 20 peer-reviewed studies that have been conducted on the health benefits of grounding, all of which have shown incredibly positive results.
The most striking research comes in the form of thermography imaging. The slides from the studies show a stark visible difference in an increase of circulation and a decrease of inflammation before and after earthing.
Check out these 20 Medical Thermography Case Studies!
The Practicality And Safety Of earthing or grounding
What if you step on something sharp and cut your foot open?
True, if you rush around a city centre barefoot, you will likely hurt yourself sooner or later.
But one of the many amazing things about the human body is its ability to adapt and evolve to its environment. Generally speaking, if we do something over and over, our body changes to suit that practice.
You spend your life hunched in front of a screen? Your spine will become curved and your muscles weak. You practice yoga and pranayama daily? Your body will evolve to become strong and flexible, and you will be able to more easily take deeper, fuller, easier breaths.
The same goes for earthing or grounding. As you walk around barefoot more often, the soles of your feet will become more adept at handling rougher terrain. You might develop callouses, your skin will become thicker, rougher, and more useful.
But that’s not to say you don’t have to be careful, especially when you start earthing or grounding. You still have to slow down…
Having To Slow Down
Going barefoot, earthing or grounding forces you to slow down. You have to look down, look at your surroundings, and go slow.
Too often in our lives, we rush from one thing to another, never really slowing down enough to get out of our heads and take in our physical world. Earthing gives us a chance to place ourselves in the context of our surroundings and be in the moment.
3 earthing products
Not too keen on getting calloused feet? Or no time to slow down your hectic lifestyle? Good news! You can still reap the same benefits of grounding outside by using grounding technology.
Since Clinton Ober strapped metal duct tape to his bed many years ago, there have been vast developments in earthing technology. You can now buy earthing mats for your bed, earthing armbands, earthing mats for underneath your work desk, and many more.
Here are our favourite pics:
This grounding mat makes it easy to earth while you work! Perfect for the busy bee who works from home. Place this grounding or earthing mat either at your feet or on the desk to rest your hands on while you type.
On your chair all day? You can still enjoy all of the benefits of earthing. Just place this on your chair and go about your day as normal.
This one is great. It involves absolutely no effort, and at night is when you’ll be able to experience the most benefits from earthing.
3 ways to learn more about earthing
As with anything, don’t just take our word for it! There are plenty of resources out there about the simple practice of earthing. Here are just a few.
1. Watch The Documentary
2. Read The Book
This book, written by Clinton Ober and medical professionals, goes into great depth on the science of earthing. An interesting read.
3. Dig Into The Scientific Literature
Click here for: 20 Medical Thermography Case Studies
Click here for: Grounding Research Study Summaries
want to know more about how the natural world can heal you?
Check this article out:
Or take your yoga practice into nature with SUP Yoga: