When Thomas was 14 months old, we brought him to his paternal grandparents’ home in Maloma, Zambales, for the first time. It was a weekend of many firsts for him: first time to see chickens, first time to go to the beach and first time to walk on sand and grass, barefoot. The highlight of this trip was his going about the property sans shoes because it was something I wanted him to experience as a baby.
The reasons I allowed this were 1. We were in a safe place 2. I believe in the benefits of this ancient activity – what others refer to as Earthing and what I like to call, Grounding.
Grounding has many benefits to everyone in the family. But to babies experiencing this for the first time, the effects are magical. Experts suggest that connecting to the earth has physiological boosts, and to babies, this could help in their overall development.
According to the US National Center for Biotechnology Information, in their Environmental Medicine Research,
the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. The surface of the planet is electrically conductive (except in limited ultradry areas such as deserts), and its negative potential is maintained (i.e., its electron supply replenished) by the global atmospheric electrical circuit [1, 2].
Mounting evidence suggests that the Earth’s negative potential can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems. Moreover, oscillations of the intensity of the Earth’s potential may be important for setting the biological clocks regulating diurnal body rhythms, such as cortisol secretion .
It is also well established that electrons from antioxidant molecules neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROS, or in popular terms, free radicals) involved in the body’s immune and inflammatory responses. The National Library of Medicine’s online resource PubMed lists 7021 studies and 522 review articles from a search of “antioxidant + electron + free radical” . It is assumed that the influx of free electrons absorbed into the body through direct contact with the Earth likely neutralize ROS and thereby reduce acute and chronic inflammation .
Throughout history, humans mostly walked barefoot or with footwear made of animal skins. They slept on the ground or on skins. 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 . Through this mechanism, every part of the body could equilibrate with the electrical potential of the Earth, thereby stabilizing the electrical environment of all organs, tissues, and cells.
Modern lifestyle has minimized our exposure to nature and thus increasingly taking us away the Earth’s natural flow of electrons. The influx of rubber and plastic footwear has limited us even more from our connection with the Earth.
However, with modern technology, indoor grounding has become an option to those who could barely have access to nature. Grounding socks, mattresses, patches and water bottles, among others, are now easily accessible. Read more here.
As a child, I had the luxury of grounding because of the the environment I grew up in. Nowadays, due to the lack of clear and safe spaces, parents who practice this exercise opt for indoor earthing activities. But for those who, like me, yearn for outdoor play, we highly recommend taking your kids somewhere “dirty” like the beach, a garden, a produce farm or an eco park.
Here are the benefits of grounding, as written by @ecoexplorers
Top 5 reasons for casting aside your shoes and going barefoot – whatever the weather or season.
1. Earthing: Tapping into the Earth’s natural energy
When we practice Earthing – connecting our skin directly with the Earth’s natural surfaces – negative electrons from the Earth are absorbed into our bodies. This offsets the mass of positive electrons we absorb every day from simply living in a world surrounded by electrical devices, wi-fi and mobile phones. Earthing allows us to help restore our natural balance.
2. Neutralise free radicals…and sleep better!
Pain, fatigue, poor sleep, auto-immune disorders and chronic disease are all thought to be related to inflammation caused by free radicals. Boosting the number of negative electrons in our bodies is crucial to keeping free radicals under control, and the simplest way to do this is by Earthing. Walking barefoot for a half hour on the Earth’s natural surfaces gives our bodies time to absorb those necessary negative electrons – encouraging children to do this with you may just improve everyone’s quality of sleep!
3. Stimulate pressure points & the nervous system
When children wear shoes, they are missing out on the most basic sensory experience of them all – the feeling of dirt, rocks, leaves and twigs beneath their feet. Our feet are hard-wired with multiple pressure points and nerve endings to convey messages to other parts of our bodies. Wearing shoes dulls the effectiveness of these nerve endings, while going barefoot stimulates them and, in turn, our entire nervous system. It’s perhaps the easiest and most cost-effective form of sensory play!
4.Strengthen their joints & muscles
Walking barefoot strengthens the muscles in children’s feet and ankles, improving balance and posture. It engages the feet’s arches, strengthening them, and improves the alignment of muscles throughout the legs. This, in turn, helps prevent stability problems in joints such as the hips, knees and ankles, reducing the risks of injury later in life.
5. Foster a connection with nature
Removing their shoes immediately requires children to become more aware of their surroundings – how does the ground feel? Is there a sharp rock ahead? What was that rustle in the bushes? Their senses are heightened – they’re paying attention. From that attention comes an appreciation of the natural world they are walking through. They feel the papery leaves crunching underfoot. The softness of the grass. The sharpness of prickles.
When all five senses are fully engaged, they completely connect with nature and, after all, what better time than childhood to develop a love of being in the natural world?
So, go and let the children play outside, barefoot!
As, the @ecoexplorer mama put it, children are 100% washable! Guaranteed!