Walking barefoot, also known as earthing or grounding, is a practice many associate with childhood or beach vacations. However, this seemingly simple act has been gaining attention in recent years for its potential health benefits. From boosting mood to improving sleep, research shows taking off your shoes and connecting with the earth may offer more perks than you’d think.
Few people know this better than Chong Xie, founder of Hyperarch Fascia Training, who is a foot expert and works closely with people helping them strengthen their fascia connection from their feet to their glutes. Fascia is the thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds blood vessels, bones, nerve fibers, and muscles in place.
According to Xie, walking barefoot as a child and doing sports with bare feet are critical to developing healthy and robust fascia connections, which helps prevent injuries and improve athlete performance. A growing body of research indicates walking barefoot also has many other health benefits.
Improved Balance and Posture
Walking barefoot helps with balance and posture. Shoes often alter the way people walk, and over time, this can lead to imbalances and postural problems. Walking barefoot, on the other hand, allows us to move in a more natural way and can help correct these issues.
Preliminary research suggests grounding reduces inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is believed to be at the root of many health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. By potentially reducing inflammation, walking barefoot protects against these diseases.
Some studies have found grounding improves sleep. While the exact mechanism is still not fully understood, it’s thought that the natural electrical energies from the earth may help regulate the body’s circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep.
Walking barefoot, especially outdoors, may be a great mood booster. The combination of physical activity, contact with nature, and the sensory experience of feeling the ground beneath your feet all contribute to feelings of wellbeing.
Some people find that walking barefoot helps alleviate chronic pain, particularly in the feet and joints. Again, this may be due to the natural movement patterns that barefoot walking encourages, as well as the potential anti-inflammatory effects of grounding.