Tracy Sutphen's picture

The Benefits of Going Barefoot

How long has it been since you've kicked off your shoes and spent time walking barefoot upon the ground? Industrialized regions around the world often host more acres of paved roads an concrete parking lots than acres of green grass or wooded forests and have at least one footwear store at every shopping center within walking distance. Surprisingly, the majority of the Earth's population today continue to live their lives without anything protecting their feet.

When looking back, it is assumed that indigenous peoples, who walked barefoot upon the Earth, had every incentive to find new ways to protect their feet from unknown dangers lingering throughout each unexplored area. Who would have thought that our basic human instinct to protect our feet would lead to the creation of a multi-trillion-dollar market revolving 'sole-ly' around shoes (1)?

A new group of scientists have recently started looking into the health benefits of direct contact with the earth—things like walking barefoot on the grass, sitting against a tree and lying on a warm, sandy beach. This practice of direct contact has been termed “earthing,” and a number of health and wellness gurus are beginning to advocate for it. Several research studies have revealed that direct contact of the human body with the surface of the Earth (grounding orearthing) produces positive effects on physiology and health. "Such effects relate to inflammation, immune responses, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases (2)."Furthermore, "grounding appears to improve sleep, normalize the day–night cortisol rhythm, reduce pain, reduce stress, shift the autonomic nervous system from sympathetic toward parasympathetic activation, increase heart rate variability, speed wound healing, and reduce blood viscosity (2)." It seems we've been neglecting our roots and have forgotten the many health benefits associated with going barefoot and taking time to connect with the negative ionic energy of the Earth. Fortunately, there are a variety of green-spaces located within the Pittsburgh area where residents can enjoy taking a much needed barefoot break (3). So, instead of browsing the interwebs for that new pair of sandals to match your favorite Summer outfit, try taking some time to rejuvenate your soul by connecting the soles of your feet directly to the Earth.





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