Does earthing really work and can it improve your health?

Caroline Allen
Sales of earthing footwear is on the up, but what is earthing and how can it alleviate stress? [Photo: Getty]

It’s no secret that spending time outside is good for you.

Research has proven time and time again that people who spend time outside benefit both physically and mentally.

Now, people are taking it one step further.

Research suggests that walking barefoot on grass - or ‘earthing’ - can improve your mental and physical health.

With sales of earthing shoes on the rise, now might be a good time to see if the new trend works for you.

What is earthing?

Earthing can sometimes be called ‘grounding’ and it refers to walking barefoot outside for a short time each day.

Human’s evolved in close proximity to earth’s subtle electric charge. However, now that there are buildings, pavements and insulated shoes everywhere, advocates suggest we’ve lost that connection.

Researchers have revealed that this disconnect to earth might be contributing to psychological and physical problems.

It found that earthing every day could improve inflammation, immune responses and wound healing.

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It also found that earthing could improve the quality of sleep, reduce pain, decrease muscle tension and lower stress.

The science behind it

It might be a long time since you’ve sat through a science class, but you may remember learning about electrons and protons.

Everything - including us - is made up of atoms. These particles contain equal numbers of negatively charged electrons and positively charged protons.

An atom is neutral unless it loses an electron. That’s when it becomes known as a free radical with a positive charge.

At this point, it can become capable of causing inflammation, cancer and a host of other diseases.

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Research suggests that when we have unencumbered contact with the earth (which is negatively charged) we can help neutralise our free radicals.

Barefoot running has even become a ‘thing’.

Earthing shoes

Earthing shoes have gained popularity this year, with people buying them in order to be closer to earth at all times.

Alternative health advocates have been touting the benefits of earthing mats and blankets for years, and now, you can get shoes.

Earthing shoes have a copper - a very conductive metal - button at the bottom of the shoe.

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This button ‘plugs’ you into the ground so you can get as much earth-to-body contact as possible as you go about your day.

Does it work?

There have been a lot of research studies which suggest that it does work.

Some of the studies are pretty small, though, and are done in laboratories which connect to ground outlets. This is to stop the participants from knowing whether they’re grounded or not - to stop any placebo-based results.

Since it’s proven that being outside is good for you, though, there’s no harm in trying to see whether you notice an impact.

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To give it a go, you can walk on the grass, soil, sand or concrete (no other types of pavement, though), sit against a tree or swim in a lake or the ocean.

If you don’t fancy putting your bare feet on the ground, a wool or cotton blanket won’t effect the earth’s charge.