- Margaret Strause
Grounding, also called earthing, is a therapeutic technique that involves doing activities that “ground” or electrically reconnect you to the earth.
This practice relies on science to explain how electrical charges from the earth can have positive effects on your body.
Grounding, or earthing, is defined as placing one’s bare feet on the ground whether it be dirt, grass, sand, or concrete. It is known that the earth maintains a negative electrical potential on its surface. When in direct contact with the ground (walking, sitting, or lying down on the earth’s surface), the earth’s electrons are conducted to the human body, bringing it to the same electrical potential as the earth.
Because to most people this may sound like hooey, I will go into some detail to explain the science behind grounding energy and the possible benefits of using earthing techniques, and how to go about practicing at least one aspect of grounding.
What the Science Says
There are not a lot of scientific studies on the benefits of grounding, however the most recent scientific research has explored grounding for it’s benefits with regard to inflammation, cardiovascular disease, muscle damage, chronic pain, cortisol levels, sleep and mood.
Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D. and Clint Ober are considered pioneers in the industry and have written some of the first books and research materials on the subject. Stephen's son, Step Sinatra, a writer, healer, and co-founder of grounded.com shares more on his website about how the practice of grounding works and why you might want to give it a try.
The central theory from one study is that grounding affects the living matrix, which is the central connector between living cells or what The Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies defines as the continuous molecular fabric of the organism, consisting of fascia, the other connective tissues, extracellular matrices, integrins, cytoskeletons, nuclear matrices and DNA.
Electrical conductivity exists within the matrix that functions as an immune system defense, similar to antioxidants. These scientists believe that through grounding, the natural defenses of the body can be restored. Further research expands on this idea.
In a small study on grounding and heart health, 10 healthy participants were grounded using patches on the palms of their hands and soles of their feet.
Blood measurements were taken before and after grounding to determine any changes in red blood cell fluidity, which plays a role in heart health. The results indicated significantly less red blood cell clumping after grounding, which suggests benefits for cardiovascular health.
Another larger study examined the role of grounding on post-exercise muscle damage. Researchers used both grounding patches and mats and measured creatine kinase, white blood cell count, and pain levels before and after grounding.
Blood work indicated that grounding reduced muscle damage in participants. This suggests that grounding may influence healing abilities. This research is supported by a recent study on grounding for pain reduction and mood improvement. Sixteen massage therapists alternated between periods of grounding and no grounding
Before grounding therapy, physical and emotional stress and pain were common side effects of their physically demanding jobs. After the earthing therapy, pain, stress, depression, and fatigue were all reduced among participants.
After watching a docu-series on the world’s healing resources that are backed by science which discusses non-medical strategies to heal your body, I tried grounding to help with the pain and debilitation that I was still feeling after a months-long knee injury. I was feeling desperate and ready to try just about anything. It was during COVID and I didn’t want to go to the doctor or physical therapist. I hadn’t taken anything for pain or inflammation to date and didn’t want to. I tried the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and also tried some strengthening exercises but wasn’t progressing.
I have to honestly say I felt less pain and my knee felt stronger after several days of walking barefoot in the grass around my house - probably for a half hour to 45 minutes at a time. The stress I had been feeling - from the pain - was reduced. I went into it feeling trepidatious but came out thinking “this is pretty cool.” Was my knee completely healed? No - but it felt better - I felt better….if anything more relaxed. I still will go barefoot around my yard for the benefits.
Most of the studies on grounding are small and rely somewhat on subjective measures, such as self-reported feelings, mood, or even self-administered treatment.
Some studies also rely on blood markers, such as those that detect inflammation, but the size and shortage of these studies suggests that more research is needed.
Types of Grounding or Earthing
There are many types of grounding. All of them focus on reconnecting yourself to the earth. This can be done through either direct or indirect contact with the earth.
• Walking Barefoot: Have you ever been outside on a warm summer day and felt the urge to run barefoot in the grass? One of the easiest ways to ground yourself to the earth is to walk barefoot. Whether this is on grass, sand, or even mud, allowing your skin to touch the natural ground can provide you with grounding energy.
If we go back to the hunter-gatherer days, as you know, there were no shoes. Through direct contact or through perspiration-moistened animal skins used as footwear or sleeping mats, the ground's abundant free electrons were able to enter the body, which is electrically conductive. SO, feet were bare, healthier, adapted to walking/running over rough terrain, hot sand, etc. There is no data to suggest that hunter-gatherers experienced hypertension, anxiety, depression, cancer, arteriosclerosis or other chronic disease. Bacterial infections, getting eaten by a lion - yes; but not the chronic diseases. This may partially be explained by their increased exposure to earthing. They didn’t have chairs for sitting, cushy beds for sleeping, glasses for seeing - you get my point I think. We don’t know if they had back pain, plantar fasciitis, joint pain - but studies suggest that wearing shoes and our feet adapting to the shape of shoes - may be the cause of some of our chronic pain.
Either way, walking barefoot whenever you have the opportunity - can’t hurt and has other benefits.
• Lying on the Ground: You can increase your skin-to-earth contact by lying on the ground. You can do it in the grass by the park or on the sand at the beach.
• Submerging in Water: According to proponents of grounding, water may be used to ground in the same way the physical earth is used for grounding.
Simply wading in a clear lake or swimming in the ocean is a way to ground yourself. I don’t know about you, but walking barefoot on a sandy beach and dipping my feet in the ocean/water has always had a healing energy for me. As always, be sure to stay safe when swimming.
• Using Grounding Equipment: When going outside to ground yourself isn’t an option, there are alternatives. One method of earthing involves connecting a metal rod to the ground outside and then connecting the rod to your body through a wire. This is a hard pass for me - sunshine or not - it sounds sketchy.
If you’re not comfortable using a metal rod to ground yourself, there’s other grounding equipment available. This equipment is an effective way to incorporate earthing therapy into your daily life. These include:
• Grounding Mats
• Grounding Sheets or Blankets
• Grounding Socks
• Grounding Bands and Patches
You can find grounding mats, sheets, blankets, socks, and bands online.
Why Use Grounding?
There’s not a lot of research on the benefits of grounding. However, people have reported improvement for conditions such as:
• Chronic fatigue
• Chronic pain
• Anxiety and depression
• Sleep disorders
• Cardiovascular disease
As mentioned above, many of these studies are small and require further research. Still, some health professionals believe that the benefits of grounding therapy may come simply from feeling like you’re reconnected to nature. Regardless, what’s the harm?
Many of the grounding techniques performed in nature, such as walking through the grass or swimming at the beach, are relatively safe and provide many possible benefits. However, when you are using mats and similar equipment use precautions and follow directions.
In addition, conditions like chronic fatigue, pain, and anxiety may have underlying medical causes that need to be addressed. Always visit your doctor for these types of conditions first before relying on grounding therapy as the first line of treatment.
The views expressed in this article/blog post reflect those of the author and are intended for educational purposes only. This information should not take the place of medical advice. Hometown Pharmacy Partnerships (HPP) and any organization with a business relationship with HPP are not responsible for the outcome of any decision made based on the information presented in this article/blog post. Please check with your health care provider(s) prior to starting any new dietary, movement and/or wellness strategies.
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Margaret Strause is the Director of Front End Sales and Marketing, as well as a buyer and merchandiser for Hometown Pharmacy. Stop by one of our stores to shop our exceptional home decor, clothing, gifts, and so much more.