Updated: Oct 12, 2018
We swaddle them in cloth.
Slip them into all sorts of contraptions made of numerous materials and often, a rubber sole.
Rubber is an insulator of electricity.
Electricity will always travel "the path of least resistance."
Rubber has a very high resistance, so electricity will go somewhere else to find ground.
And, not into your feet.
Throughout our lives, our bodies build up free radicals. By now you may have heard a thing or two about them.
They accumulate from substances we absorb such as fried foods, alcohol, tobacco smoke, pesticides and air pollutants.
Free radicals are associated with human disease, including cancer, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and many others.
Free radicals can damage DNA's instructional code, causing our new cells to grow incorrectly, leading to aging.
Free Radicals are positively charged atoms.
Despite their bad rap, they play a critical role in our immune system and healing response, attacking nasty things in our bodies such as bacteria and viruses.
Too many free radicals create excess inflammation and cell/tissue damage.
It's this inflammation that contributes to the disease, chronic pain, and aging.
So what does that have to do with my bare feet, already?
Okay, okay, your beautiful feet, toes, webbing, calluses and all, can be a powerful tool in your medicine bag.
The earth carries a negative charge.
When your feet make contact with the earth, particularly wet earth, studies show that there's a reduction in these positively charged free radicals.
Why wet earth?
Water is a great conductor of electricity.
Wet grass, wet sand, wet dirt, creeks, lakes, rivers, and the ocean are excellent habitats to wriggle your toes through.
Even more, the ocean adds Vitamin D in the day from the sun and magnesium infused salty waters, always, mmmmmm-ahhh.
Numerous studies reveal that touching your bare feet to the earth may result in significant pain reduction, improvement of symptoms associated with disease, and slow the aging process!
Walking, skipping, hiking, running, tiptoeing through the tulips barefoot, all support brain fitness.
According to Dr. Michael Merzenich, known by many as the Father of Neuroplasticity (a well earned title), our brains benefit tremendously from exercise. He emphasizes that not just any exercise will do. Exercise that makes our brain work a little harder to accommodate consistently new, novel stimuli such as hiking, is optimal.
Why not a treadmill you ask? The treadmill is great, for sure, but it's predictable, both with motor movement and environmental exposure. Uneven surfaces that are unpredictable and our feet and bodies need to constantly negotiate are remarkably more stimulating for various parts of our brains significant in the aging process. And, with our bare feet, there are a greater amount of variables to negotiate - temperature, texture, fine motor adjustments, etc.
Bare feet are supercharged brain boosters!
When our bare feet touch the earth directly, without the impediment of shoes, our vestibular system is stimulated resulting in a better balance and smoother movements through space.
Typical shoes create a pronounced pelvic tilt preventing a healthy posture. Our brain and body adjusts by forcing us to stick our butts out, bending forward at the waist, straining our hamstrings, lower back, upper back, shoulders, and neck, leading to any number of alignment and health complications.
Our brains work on a use it or lose it system, so toss off those shoes and allow your feet to feel their way about the earthy ground, stimulating various regions of your brain that may otherwise atrophy.
We sleep better when we connect our barefeet with the earth, off loading free radicals and rebalancing our bodies bioelectromagnetic field.
When we walk barefoot, all of those intricate articulations of muscles, bone and tendon increase circulation through our feet and legs and result in a stronger more resilient foot.
Our foot is made up of 26 bones 33 joints, and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, & ligaments.
The bottom of your foot has been identified by many ancient cultures as the gateway to your overall health. Acupressure/Shitzu points, meridians, and reflexology zones stimulate chi or prana movement throughout our bodies which may aid in the healing of any number of health imbalances such as kidney disruption or digestive challenges. Other locations on your foot represent your liver, your hip, your nose, your elbow, your solar plexus - a map of the human body, brain, and all interacting systems is accounted for on your feet. Walking, running, stepping in uneven earth, provides ample exposure to these embodied buttons of healing.
Bioelectricity flows through our bodies and gives energy to all our organs, aiding health & healing.
Massages. Are. Wonderful. 'Nuf said.
But, if you're like me, my schedule and budget don't allow for a regular massage - and, let's be honest, not all massages give your tootsies the attention they deserve.
So between those health inducing touches of heaven, go barefoot.
For extra oomph, give yourself a little massage before you contact the earth to boost blood flow, chi, and awaken your connection with your feet.
~ Massage Tip: Move your thumbs in a circular motion on the bottom of your feet with a firm touch, squeeze & kneed your feet with all your fingers, it's the bee's knees!
Get your whole body into it, slithering & wriggling about, or just let go & let the earth hold you.
We don't need hard research to recognize the natural pleasures of touching the earth with our feet, we just need to go for it and see for ourselves. For most of us, our brains have been conditioned to insulate our feet from the earth. It's not your fault if it feels awkward. The process may even cause stress and discomfort as you reconnect with Mother Earth.
Don't. let. it. slow. your. roll.
Begin with softer surfaces such as grass and sand and if you like, work your way up to gravel and rocks. Play with it. Get your monkey toe game on and pick up sticks or other earth objects. If you stub your toe, so be it! If you get a cut or thorn in your foot, OUCH, wash it off, add a healing suave and cover it with a bandage if necessary. Use precautions around contaminated waters and earth, but, please, don't. let. it. slow. your. roll.
"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet
& the winds long to play with your hair."
~ Kahlil Gilbran
Sending you SO much love. Just the thought of imagining you touch your feet to the earth,
wherever you are, whoever you are, fills me with pure bliss.
In Gratitude & Health,
*I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet is copyright from the legendary singer/songwriter Carole King. Check out the video here:
- Check out this amazing video on The Science of Grounding to learn about the rationale of touching the earth with your feet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qn_YnLudgg
About the author:
Arinn is the Director of Research for Emotional Brain Training and facilitates brain based interventions as a master trainer for individuals & groups, connecting with people from all over the earth. She has a small private practice in Marin County at Gathering Thyme, a health and wellness apothecary & clinic. She's the mother of 3, a believer in love, & a student of life.