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When was the last time you walked barefoot in the grass? Probably when you were a kid right? When kids learn to walk, they walk barefoot and this improves their proprioception (awareness of the movement of the body) as they come in direct contact with the environment  .
Walking barefoot, also known as earthing (grounding), means walking barefoot on the grass, soil or sand. It has remarkable health benefits, such as improving sleep, lowering inflammation and increasing antioxidants.
According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, coming in physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the Earth's surface has a positive impact on health. But, research says modern lifestyle changes has disconnected the human body from the Earth which has led to physical dysfunction and illness  .
Health Benefits Of Walking Barefoot
1. Reduces the risk of heart disease
According to a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, earthing reduces blood viscosity, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The study found that walking barefoot increases the surface charge on red blood cells, this reduces blood viscosity and clumping. Walking barefoot is one of the simplest ways to prevent heart disease  .
An increase in blood viscosity elevates the risk of life-threatening diseases, including cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease.
2. Improves sleep
Earthing the human body during sleep reduces cortisol levels, according to a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. The study was conducted on 12 individuals who complained of pain, sleep dysfunction, and stress. They were grounded to Earth during sleep for 8 weeks in their own beds using a conductive mattress pad. The results showed that earthing the body during sleep reduces night-time cortisol levels, pain and stress  .
It is said that the Earth's diurnal electrical rhythms maintain the circadian rhythm that regulates sleep.
3. Lowers chronic inflammation
The Earth's surface possesses electrical rhythms and free electrons which flow from the Earth to the body, resulting in physiological and clinical benefits. The Earth's free electrons neutralize the positively charged free radicals that cause chronic inflammation. These free electrons work as natural antioxidants which help reduce chronic inflammation  . Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc.
4. Regulates the endocrine and nervous systems
Neuromodulation is a therapy that inhibits, stimulates, modifies, and regulates the alteration of activity, electrically and chemically in the peripheral, central and autonomic nervous systems. Walking barefoot plays a role in regulating the endocrine and nervous systems by restoring the proper functioning of the nervous system  ,  .
5. Delays skin ageing
A researcher named Gaétan Chevalier of the Developmental and Cell Biology Department at the University of California, made a discovery that walking barefoot has antiageing benefits. A study was done on forty subjects and the results showed that earthing improves blood flow and blood circulation in the face. He said that even 1 hour of physical contact with the Earth restores blood flow regulation to the face that encourages skin tissue repair, optimizes facial appearance, and promotes health and vitality  .
Other benefits of walking barefoot are as follows:
- Ability to balance your body and better control of your foot position when walking barefoot on the ground.
- Better foot mechanics, which provides improved mechanics of the knees, hips, and core.
- Increased strength and stability in the muscles and ligaments of the legs.
- Stronger leg muscles which support the lower back area.
How To Start Walking Barefoot
- Start slowly by walking barefoot for 15 minutes as it will give your feet and ankles some time to adapt to the new environment.
- If you have been walking with shoes on and trying to start walking barefoot, you might feel pain in the feet. To reduce the risk of feet injury, start walking in the lawn or near the house premises and then step outdoors.
- Try walking on safer surfaces like sandy beaches, grass or the soil in your garden. Avoid walking on pebbles, small rocks, and uneven rough surfaces.
- After walking barefoot, examine your feet for any kind of injury.
Risks Of Walking Barefoot
- Your feet are more susceptible to injury if there is a rough or wet surface, thorns, glass or other sharp objects on the ground.
- If you are walking outside, your feet are exposed to harmful bacteria and fungus.
Note: If the skin of the feet is dry or cracked, avoid walking barefoot because it increases the chances of infections and injuries. Strenuous activities such as running barefoot or hiking barefoot should be avoided.
-  Hollander, K., van der Zwaard, B. C., de Villiers, J. E., Braumann, K. M., Venter, R., & Zech, A. (2016). The effects of being habitually barefoot on foot mechanics and motor performance in children and adolescents aged 6-18 years: study protocol for a multicenter cross-sectional study (Barefoot LIFE project).Journal of foot and ankle research,9(1), 36.
-  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 Health,2012.
-  Chevalier, G., Sinatra, S. T., Oschman, J. L., & Delany, R. M. (2013). Earthing (grounding) the human body reduces blood viscosity-a major factor in cardiovascular disease.Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.),19(2), 102–110.
-  Ghaly, M., & Teplitz, D. (2004). The biologic effects of grounding the human body during sleep as measured by cortisol levels and subjective reporting of sleep, pain, and stress.Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine,10(5), 767-776.
-  Oschman, J. L. (2007). Can electrons act as antioxidants? A review and commentary.The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,13(9), 955-967.
-  Sokal, P., & Sokal, K. (2011). The neuromodulative role of earthing.Medical hypotheses,77(5), 824-826.
-  Sokal, K., & Sokal, P. (2011). Earthing the human body influences physiologic processes.The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,17(4), 301-308.
-  Chevalier, G. (2014). Grounding the human body improves facial blood flow regulation: results of a randomized, placebo controlled pilot study.Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications,4(05), 293.