The top two fitness trends of 2010 according to Outside Magazine were rather sensible ones: Paleolithic fitness and Barefoot Running. The less sensible trends, or completely insane, were the Shake-weight and Sketchers Shapeup shoes.
Many primal fitness enthusiasts are quick to tout the numerous physiological and muscular benefits of taking our flawlessly designed foot (more than 26 bones, 33 joints, and over a hundred tendons, ligaments, and muscles) out of the modern shoe’s rubber cast and returning it to the earth or with the help of some minimalist footwear like the Nike Frees or Vibram Five Fingers (Note: Do not wear to job interview as they do not make for the most impressive sartorial statement).
Natural selection over millions and millions of years didn’t come to the conclusion that the foot needed Nike. Each one of us has these astoundingly supple feet with intricate structures designed to keep us upright and moving gracefully. What they weren’t designed to do is operate bound up in thick, heavy artificial materials waddling back and forth trying to tone your fatass (Shape-ups). How the heck did our ancestors thrive for eons without the modern rubber soled shoes?
Christopher McDougal’s excellent New York Times Best Seller in 2009, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, is the great exposé on the physiological benefits of ditching shoes and running barefoot. He documents the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s rugged Copper Canyons who run barefoot or in flat leathered soles up to 100 miles a day.
Born to Run captures an important half of the picture: barefoot running is beneficial to health. Unfortunately, it misses such an obvious, elemental, and yet overlooked answer to why having a barefoot connection to the earth is so nourishing.
Reconnecting with the Earth
You may not know this, but below your feet is a planet alive with natural energies and subtle rhythmic pulsating frequencies. The Earth is actually a six sextillion (google that number) metric ton battery that is constantly being replenished by solar radiation, thousands of lightning strikes every minute, and heat from its molten core.
The best way to make sense of the Earth’s electrical power is to think of the Earth like the battery in your car. Parallel to how the car battery keeps the motor running and the wheels turning, the earth’s electrical rhythmic pulsations of natural energy flowing through the surface of the Earth keep the biological machinery of all life running in rhythm and balance.
Throughout the greater part human history, there was no way to not be physically touching the earth. We walked barefoot and slept on the ground with the skin of our bodies touching the earth, oblivious to the fact that they were conducting the earth’s nourishing electrical energy. I’ll touch on why this bare skin conductivity to the earth is so important in a moment.
The Electric you!
First, an extremely profound concept to grasp pertaining to electrical energy is that your body is electrical, before it is chemical. We live and function electrically on an electrical planet. The earth maintains our bodily frequencies like a conductor maintains the cadence of an orchestra. Your body is a complex communication where cells talk, organs talk, and organisms talk in a genuine electronic symphony.
Each of these cells and systems communicates using finely tuned bio-electrical transmitters and receivers which are tuned like a radio station. What happens when you expose the radio antenna to a significant amount of external noise? You get static from the noise–and that is exactly what is happening to your body in today’s electrosmog environment of cellphones, wi-fi, electronics, and power grids. Electromagnetic pollution has been linked to neurological disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, and poor sleep/ insomnia.
In modern society we are smothered in electropollution. We put cellphones in our pockets not knowing they are frying our sperm count, we sleep with a lit alarm clock next to our heads when we sleep, and most of all we are physically disconnected from the earth!
The earth and the atmosphere are engaged in this dynamic battle of opposites. The earth is like the negative side of a battery as it produces a negatively charged electromagnetic field. The atmosphere, EMF’s, and other astrological forces are all the positively charged.
If you remember back to basic chemistry that electrons have a negative charge, neutrons have no charge, and protons are positively charged. The earth is actually a brimming reservoir of energetic free electrons. Now, to understand why free electrons are so important and why almost everyone is deficient in them, a quick lesson in conductivity is needed.
There are three types of materials used in electricity: Conductors, Semi-Conductors, and Insulators. Conductors allow the free flow of electricity, semi-conductors are the backbone of modern electronic equipment as their conductance can be controlled to conduct or not with the application of an electric field, and insulators which no current can flow through.
The Earth, just like you, is comprised of water and minerals, both excellent conductors of electricity. Throughout the vast majority of our time on earth we sleep on the ground or on conductive fur blankets and ran barefoot or in thin leather sandals that allowed us to connect to the earths negatively charged electricity.
Somehow in our societal history, we managed to sever our previously omnipresent connection to the earth’s nourishing electric fields by entirely surrounding ourselves with insulators! Examples of common insulating materials include plastic, rubber, glass, and wood. No wonder most people are electron deficient! Your Nike’s you wear constantly have a thick rubber insulating sole and your 3 story house is made of dried wood!
Interestingly, the only time you are “grounded” in modern society is when you are showering! The metal pipes are in the ground and water is conductive. Ever wonder why you have all of your good ideas in the shower, or you figure out to solve the problem, or how the design of your book or paper is going to look just comes to you?
What about when you are on the beach and you jump into the water and you feel that rush from the water. Sure, some of the stress relieving effects of being at the beach in the water are that the beach is amazing and the water feels good, but that’s not the whole picture. That built up excess positive charge from all the EMF’s and other radiation that is destroying your wellbeing is pushed off of you at the speed of light. Anything at all that was bothering you before you jumped in the water, is insignificant.
One effect of Earthing, a term used interchangeably with grounding to describe the physical/electrical connection to the earth, is that your circadian rhythms, which regulate sleep-wake cycles and hormones, are instantly recalibrated to the earth’s natural frequencies and rhythms. The earth is a reference point for our circadian rhythms. Think of it like Greenwich Mean Time.
In the same way that exposure to sunlight produces Vitamin D in the in the body, exposure to the ground provides an electrical “nutrient” in the form of free electrons. Since there is already a Vitamin E, I like to call Earthing Vitamin G, or Vitamin Ground.
Electrons are the most potent antioxidant known to man. Anytime you cut yourself, your body sends white blood cells to the injury. One of seven types of White blood cells is called Neutrophils. When Neutrophils are sent to the injury they secret what is called an oxidative burst which is basically a reactive oxygen species that are sometimes called “Free Radicals”. Now everyone has heard of Free Radicals! They are always on the sides of supplements and on advertisements or health articles.
Free Radicals are like little Pac-Man. They tear apart bacteria and damaged cells so that there is a space for healthy cells to move in and repair the tissues. That is what is known as the inflammatory response. When you cut yourself, it’s painful, it turns red, hot, and it swells. That’s the inflammatory response. But it turns out, interestingly, the inflammation is really an artifact caused by a lack of free electron reserves in the tissues!
The white blood cells, neutrophils, deliver to the free radicals to kill the bad cells, but what happens is those free radicals can leak into the surrounding tissue and damage healthy tissue! That’s the inflammation. That doesn’t have to be. If you have been grounding for a long time and have strong electron reserves, or have your feet on the ground after an injury, electrons will come in your body immediately neutralize the positively charged free radicals with the negatively charged free electrons!
The essence of grounding is that it protects your body from collateral damage. Damage that was not intended to take place but does because we have disconnected ourselves from the Earth by putting rubber on the bottom of our shoes and sleeping in ungrounded wooden houses. Grounding has immense benefits for athletes as it was used by Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France team as well as NFL Patrick Kerney as it helps them recover after athletic stress and perform better. So athletes, before your sporting event, stand barefoot on the earth for 10 minutes and witness the performance benefits.
I just mentioned how Vitamin G is the most potent antioxidant known to man and I’ll expound on that by relating to the common antioxidants that many people supplement with like Vitamin C. The way vitamins and antioxidants work is by transferring free electrons. Fascinatingly, once they are oxidized—for intance you forgot to seal the lid to the Vitamin C pills and they are become rancid from the exposure to oxygen—they become oxidized. What oxidation means, is that the Vitamin C no longer has the electron to donate, the electron is gone, and the Vitamin C doesn’t work!
Now if you made it this far, you are probably thinking, “Well, I like going barefoot and swimming at the beach, but other than that, the only other time I am grounding is in the shower. I live in a wooden house and my bedroom is on the 2nd floor.” Turns out, you can be grounded if you are on the second floor or on the 30th floor in a skyscraper in the city.
Every home in America is actually fitted with many grounding ports where you plug in your electronics. The ground port is the third circular prong that protects your electronics from shocks by sending them down into the earth where the metal ground rod is fitted into the ground. Every modern house in America has these in almost every room.
The Grounding Technology plugs a single prong into the ground port and carries the negative current and electrons to a conductive sheet or computer pad. You haven’t sleep until you’ve slept grounded. There are so many people struggling with sleep or feeling lethargic. I just know that they could be feeling so much better if they slept grounded! Anytime I am at my computer I have my feet under the grounding mat or have my mouse on the grounded computer pad that connects to the outlet in the wall. Grounding technology can be purchased at the Longevity Warehouse.
The Grounding Revolution
I am all for iPhones, Laptops, and modern housing comforts. These technological and societal advancements need to be met with other natural technological advancements like grounding technology that return us to our electrical roots. Grounding technology allows you to live primal in the modern world. I don’t want to sleep outside in a sleeping bag in the backyard of my peri-urban home next to the busy street. With grounding technology I can bring the earth to my bed on the second floor. How revolutionary!
The best things in life are free. Sunlight, spring water, wild food, and now, the Earth! So get outside and be barefoot! Garden barefoot, exercise barefoot, and sleep grounded with the earth’s natural electricity and rhythms. Return to the Earth.