After a long, cold winter, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as kicking off your shoes in the spring and feeling the grass beneath your feet. Walking barefoot through the grass, in fact, has health benefits that extend far beyond the pleasurable sensation it offers to your sense of touch.
Many of these benefits have scientific evidence to back up their claims, suggesting that almost anyone can improve their health just by walking, running or standing barefoot in the grass. Best of all, it’s such a simple thing to do, you have no excuse not to try it this spring!
1. Improve your sleep.
“Earthing” is the practice of making direct contact with the Earth so that its vast supply of electrons can be transferred to your body. In a study involving participants with sleep dysfunction, chronic pain and stress, the participants were grounded to the Earth in their own beds by sleeping on a conductive mattress for eight weeks. By the end, 11 out of 12 of the participants reported falling asleep more quickly and waking up in the middle of the night less frequently.
2. Reduce pain and stress.
In the same study mentioned above, the participants experienced reductions in both pain and stress in addition to improvements in sleep. Insomnia is often associated with a range of problems including physical pain, depression, generalized anxiety and more, suggesting that grounding the body at night can not only improve sleep but also positively impact morning fatigue levels, daytime energy levels and pain levels at night.
3. Relieve your lower body joints.
You may not realize it, but your shoes may be placing a larger load on your joints than you think. A study that evaluated gait and lower extremity joint loads in 75 participants revealed that peak joint loads in the hips and knees decreased significantly when they walked barefoot compared to when they walked with their shoes on. Stride, cadence and range of motion at the lower extremity joints also changed significantly.
4. Recover faster from difficult physical activity.
The soreness you feel about a day after performing hard exercise is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Research has shown that walking barefoot on the ground affects immune system activity and pain by slightly decreasing the number of white blood cells at the stage where DOMS peaks. In comparison, study participants who didn’t ground themselves to the Earth first before exercising experienced a significant increase in white blood cells, signaling a typical inflammatory response.
5. Reconnect with your inner child.
There may not be any scientific evidence to back this up, but you probably don’t need any to be convinced that walking barefoot in the grass is a great way to step away from your adult self for a moment and get back in touch with your child-like self who once played happily and freely outside without any shoes on. The simple act of walking barefoot can help you open yourself back up to that sense of carefree playfulness, which has a tendency to fade away as we grow older into adulthood and become distracted by all our responsibilities.
So when you find yourself enjoying the outdoors this spring, make sure you take a moment to kick off your shoes and enjoy going barefoot. It doesn’t just feel great — it’s super healthy for you, too!