Being Grounded and walking barefoot

We often describe someone who is not grounded as being unfocused and all over the place. The description is both literal and metaphorical.  We know that electricity does not flow without an Earth connection.  

In alternative medicine, there is always much talk about “energy.”  I understand that to some it might sound a little flakey and has done little to persuade those inclined to more scientific thinking.  I am not sure whether acceptance of the word “Qi” in the Scrabble dictionary is a step in the right direction.  Does it help us towards a greater understanding of alternative medicine as a valid compliment to the allopathic model?

There has been interesting research done by Dr. James Oschman and Clinton Ober on how Earth Energy can help someone towards a healthier life.  It is described in a book entitled “Earthing”  (by Clinton Ober, Basic Health Publications, 2010). Although not universally accepted by all scientists, the idea is very interesting.

“Earthing” is the practice of walking barefoot or grounding your body to the Earth.  We all know how good it feels to walk without shoes, whether that be on grass or on sand. I tend to feel trapped and uncomfortable when I am obliged to wear any kind of a formal shoe.  I am not sure whether this discomfort for me started when I moved from the corporate world to a healing profession. Perhaps at that time I developed a greater awareness of my own body.

As many of you know, I am an avid walker and, in 2010, walked 800 kilometers of the Camino in Spain. This journey was for me a walking meditation and therefore already an exercise in grounding. I can now only imagine the benefits of making this journey barefoot the next time I walk the Camino.

The feet connect us with the ground and this is perhaps why they are so important to look after. As reflexologists are aware, the stimulation of the feet affects the whole body.  Similarly, in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Kidney 1 in the middle of the ball of the foot is highly significant.

According to Dr. Oschman, when we are connected to the ground there is a free flow of electrons to the body, and these free electrons provide us with a powerful source of antioxidants. Most diseases are examples of chronic inflammation and lead to cancer, diabetes and many other systemic problems. With grounding there is a transfer of free electrons from the earth into the body.  This will reduce levels of inflammation.

With any bump or scrape to the body, the immune system response is to send white blood cells (neutrophils) to the site of injury. These white blood cells secrete free radicals in what is called an oxidative burst.  This inflammatory response has five characteristics: pain, redness, heat, reduced range of motion and swelling.  Initially inflammation is beneficial and is an important part of the healing process.  However, longstanding, or chronic inflammation, is not. It feeds on itself and is self perpetuating.

Inflammation is caused by a lack of electrons in the body tissue. Free radicals (positive particles) can leak into and damage healthy tissue. Research conducted by Oschman might suggest that by placing your feet on the ground after an injury, electrons (negative particles) might migrate into the body and spread through the tissues.  Any free radicals therefore that have leaked into healthy tissue will immediately be neutralized.

When we insulate ourselves from the earth by putting rubber and plastic on the bottom of our shoes, are we not doing ourselves an immense disservice and causing a big disconnect?