Everyone wants to feel grounded, but a recent health trend is taking this goal quite literally. Grounding refers to the practice of creating physical contact between the earth and one’s feet in order to connect with the planet’s electrical energy (via Shape). The earth emits negative ions which are thought to help the body calm the sympathetic nervous system and improve overall health (via WebMD). It’s hard to feel stressed out when walking on warm sand, or while feeling green grass under your feet, but can it really provide all the health benefits that grounding advocates claim?
Dr. Stephen Sinatra, founder of Grounded.com notes: “Being connected to the Earth’s energy helps bring us back to our natural electrical state … Grounding can provide healing, calming and balancing effects on the physical, mental and emotional bodies.”
There is some science to back it up: A double-blind study by Dr. Gaétan Chevalier showed “significant increases in physical function and energy and significant decreases in fatigue, depressed mood, tiredness and pain while grounded as compared to not being grounded” for their massage therapist subjects, a field of work known for its physical demands (via PubMed).
You probably don't need any special equipment for grounding
Grounding mats claim to provide the benefits of walking outside barefoot, without leaving the house, or even while you sleep. But the range of grounding products can set you back $50 to $500 or more. On the usefulness of grounding mats, Dr. Debra Rose Wilson, a holistic practitioner, told Healthline: “I am looking forward to seeing more research and, in the meantime, I encourage you to walk barefoot and mindfully set aside your stress.”
According to Shape, Dr. Anup Kanodia noted: “The risk-benefit ratio is very favorable to grounding versus many of the different things you might do to lower inflammation, stress, and improve blood flow. I’ve been doing it for more than a decade and do recommend it to my patients.”
In other words, there’s very little risk to grounding, so there’s no reason not to give it a try — or to keep doing it if it makes you feel better. But part of the beauty of grounding as a health practice is its sheer simplicity. Connecting with nature has long been shown to have general benefits for physical health and mental wellbeing, and it can be as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood or, as CNN reports, paying more attention to the birds outside your window. So if a plug-in mat doesn’t sound like it will help you connect with nature, feel free to skip it and step outside instead.
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