Recently I posted this picture on instagram of myself in Sedona, AZ sans shoes.
People were really concerned.
Don't worry friends, I agree footwear is necessary for hiking.
But we were only grounding at this point.
So what is grounding?
In short, grounding (or earthing) is putting the body in direct and uninterrupted contact with the earth.
The earth has a natural mild negative charge to it. Over time, through the normal processes of metabolism, our bodies build up a positive charge. Add the electromagnetic waves radiated by our mobile phone signals and you have a lot of cells filled with an excess of positively-charged electrons. Direct contact with the earth can even out this positive charge and return the body to a neutral state (optimal health).
In modern life we no longer have direct physical contact with the earth. Many of us could go months or even years without touching the earth directly at all, even if we're outside. Could this be a contributor to the rising health problems we face today?
Who knows but it feels really good.
Other benefits of grounding:
Reduces inflammation and pain
Supports adrenal health
Improves body's ability to heal
You've probably grounded at the beach and didn't even realize it. Bravo.
In order for grounding to work, the body must be in direct contact with rock, dirt, or water. It's not really a practice you can do "wrong", but some experts warn that if you ground where there is already a strong ground current (like in cities with buried electrical wires) you could exacerbate existing problems. Be mindful too of potentially harmful environmental hazards like glass, dog poo, and toxic runoff when choosing where to be barefoot.
Being in nature is a benefit unto its own. Next time you're outside, maximize it by taking a little time to truly connect with the earth.