It seems the more science advances, the more we come to understand how the trapping of modern lifestyles of damaging to our health. 

Apparently, walking barefoot is far better for us than soled footwear. 

Who would have thought? 

Walking barefoot, also known as “earthing,” has been scientifically shown to have numerous health benefits to your feet, joints and other physiological effects. Health advantages include increasing antioxidants, reducing inflammation, improving overall posture and getting a good night’s sleep. 

Walking barefoot

In the book, Earthing, Clinton Ober, Stephen T Sinatra MD and Martin Zucker explain how walking barefoot on grass, sand, dirt or rock absorbs the planet’s negative electrons into the body and can diminish chronic pain, fatigue and other ailments that plague so many people today. 

Earth’s electron’s are important as they help neutralise damaging excess free radicals that can lead to inflammation and disease in the body. Practitioners of alternative medicine affirm that negatively-charged electrons help enrich the immune system in our body stabilises cortisol rhythm and create a balanced internal bioelectrical environment.

Scientific Studies of Walking Barefoot 

A study published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health examined several studies that show how electrons from the earth improve health. The conclusion led researchers to describe Earth as a “global treatment table.

The various studies underpinned walking barefoot has a number of health benefits including skin conductivity, moderated heart rate variability, improved glucose regulation, reduced stress and supported immune function.

A paper published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine revealed that two hours of grounding increased the surface charge of red blood cells in the body which helps to prevent clumping which can help decrease blood viscosity. High viscosity is a significant factor in heart disease.

Researchers noted: “Grounding appears to be one of the simplest and yet most profound interventions for helping reduce cardiovascular risk and cardiovascular events.”

Another study addressed how the problem of “electron deficiency syndrome,” has led to the rise of modern diseases that cause chronic pain.

Barefoot in the water

Electrons are negatively charged and free radicals are positively charged. Free radicals in the body’s tissues thus become electrically neutralised by electrons and subsequently supports the organs at a cellular level which enables the body to function more efficiently.

Walking Barefoot is Better for Your Joints 

Evolutionary biologist Daniel E. Lieberman, a professor of biological sciences at Harvard University sent footwear manufacturers into a panic when he discovered cushioned sneakers are bad for your joints because they make you hit the ground harder. 

When walking, this force is equal to your body’s weight, but when running that forces triples in weight. The resulting impact can have a detrimental effect on ankle and knee joints together with Achilles tendon and fascia 

Shoes, of course, were invented to protect feet from being damaged by sharp objects on the ground. At times, it makes sense to wear shoes. Or so you would think. 

Not according to Lieberman. 

Going barefoot builds up callouses on the soles of your feet which consist of protein keratin, the same material as fingernails and toenails. 

Walking barefoot makes your feet healthier

In a paper published by Nature, Lieberman wrote: 

“Unlike cushioned footwear, callus thickness does not affect how hard the feet strike the ground during walking, as indicated by impact forces. Along with providing protection and comfort at the cost of tactile sensitivity, cushioned footwear also lowers rates of loading at impact but increases force impulses, with unknown effects on the skeleton.”

Lieberman’s conclusion has since been backed by further studies. Researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, published a study titled “Shod Versus Unshod: The Emergence of Forefoot Pathology in Modern Humans?. 

The study examined 180 modern people from Sotho and Zulu culture and compared their feet with Europeans and the feet of 2,000-year-old skeletons. 

The study found that Zulus, who are regularly walk barefoot, had healthier feet than shoe wearing Europeans and the Sotho population that wear boots made from animal skin. What’s more, it was determined that prior to the invention of shoes, people had healthier feet.

Barefoot zulus

Thorsten Sterzing, a footwear scientist who designs high-performance shoes believes people typically buy footwear that corresponds with society’s idea of aesthetic design rather than for the function of promoting healthy walking. 

Cushioned Insoles, You Say..? 

Cushioning in shoes has become the standard selling point for shoe manufacturers. Yet, despite decades of improvement made to “shoe technology”, impact injuries have not decreased

Professor Christine Pollard, director of the Functional Orthopaedic Research Centre of Excellence (FORCE) Lab at Oregon State University agrees. His research found that cushioned shoes may increase the risk of foot injury and leg pain because trainers put stress on bones, muscles and joints, not less.

Walking is a necessity. In urban areas so are shoes. Not all shoes are bad if the footwear is designed for walking.

However, it’s important to wear the right type of shoes. And when you do choose to go barefoot to give your body a healthy boost of electrons, make sure you are walking in a safe area.