Health Benefits Of Going Barefoot
Fairlady|July/August 2021
The simple act of going barefoot is being hailed for health benefits such as improved digestion, immunity and sleep; and relief from anxiety, depression, inflammation and pain. Should you kick off your shoes?
Glynis Horning

A good friend messaged me about grounding, also known as earthing, early this year: ‘Pretty amazing and well worth checking out,’ he enthused. ‘Many health benefits. I’ve been spending as much time barefoot as possible and feel better for it.’

A Google search revealed a vast alternative health movement, with web­ sites for everything from a 2010 book (Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? by Clinton Ober, Stephen Sinatra and Martin Zucker) to a 2019 documentary (The Earthing Movie by Josh and Rebecca Tickell), a full­on Earthing Institute in the US (earthinginstitute.net), and earthing products available even here in South Africa (groundlive.co.za).

All centre on a single premise: that we are designed to be connected directly to the earth and its electromagnetic field, and our wellness depends on it; yet we insulate ourselves in shoes with rubber or plastic soles, spend our time indoors with synthetic flooring and furniture, and travel in vehicles with rubber tyres.

Watching tourists in trainers getting off a bus in Sedona, Arizona, some 20 years ago, this suddenly struck Ober, a retired cable­TV technician who had dealt daily with electricity and insulation, and was battling a liver problem and a midlife crisis. As he tells it on a number of platforms, he decided to experiment: he stuck a strip of metal duct tape across his bed, threw a wire out the window and attached it to a metal rod to ground him – and he felt and slept better than in ages. Inspired, Ober headed for the University of California, where research persuaded him, and eventually several academics and integrative medicine professionals, that he had made an important discovery. The book he went on to write with one of them (Stephen Sinatra is a cardiologist turned bioenergetic psycho­ therapist) consolidated the movement.

Its message is this: just by walking barefoot or sitting or lying on the ground for 30 to 40 minutes a day, or by ‘earthing’ ourselves while indoors, we can allow electrons to flow from the earth into our bodies again. And this, its proponents contend, enhances our biological processes, neutralises free radicals and provides a slew of benefits, including better immunity, digestion, circulation and sleep; and relief from pain, stress, depression and chronic inflammation, along with the ills associated with this – autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease (which my husband has, hence my friend’s message) and even cancer.

‘I got into grounding five years ago,’ says Marc Giot of the Cape Town online store Groundlive. He happens to be head coach for the Western Province Ice Hockey Association, the former head coach of the national U18/U20 team and a current player for Team SA, with two gold medals from the IIHF World Championship as a coach and player.

‘I was born with bilateral clubfoot, which causes serious ankle pain and poor sleeping patterns. After doing some research about the possible health benefits of earthing the body, I slept with a grounded wire for a couple of nights. With instantly improved sleep and reduced pain, I knew I was onto something.’

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FAIRLADYView All

How to Survive the Feast-Or Famine Cycle

It’s empowering to have more than one income stream, but there is a downside: it’s easy to splurge when money is plentiful, but what about the lean months? Three self-starters share their tips for keeping an even keel through good and bad.

6 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Kaley's Comet

Kaley Cuoco was so beguiling as Penny on The Big Bang Theory that she soon became one of the highest paid actors in television. With HBO’s comedic thriller series The Flight Attendant, she entered exciting, slightly sinister new territory – but it proved her range as an actress and cemented her broad-based appeal.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Let the Music Play

My dad died days before the global lockdown. While I was trapped within four walls, music and dancing gave me reason to smile again.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

How to Make Your Own Luck

Luck isn’t easy to measure or study, but those who have managed to do it discovered it’s not the work of fate – it’s a skill you can cultivate and improve. So, how do you go about it?

8 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Local Flavour

Stocking up your pantry? These artisanal foods are guaranteed to ignite the senses of home chefs everywhere. Meet the foodies behind two of South Africa’s tastiest brands.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

The Comfort of Ritual

Rituals imbue our lives with depth and meaning. And in times of uncertainty, they are even more important because they create a sense of grounding.

8 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Get Your Shine Back!

When the last of the summer heat is over, it’s important to take time to reverse any hair damage caused by sun and sea water.

5 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

The Rise of the Personal Shopper

It’s not a new concept, but the number of people who make a living from sourcing goods on behalf of clients is on the rise. We talked to three personal shoppers to find out what it takes.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Back to the Wild

Imagine camping in the Little Karoo… a billion stars above you, the ancient desert beneath, the insistent flapping of your canvas tent in the cold night air. Then banish all the rustic images this conjures up – because Dwyka Tented Lodge will confound all your expectations.

6 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

A Good (Mo) Hair Day

"Beauty Mokgwamme had other dreams, but circumstances took her exactly where she was meant to be."

3 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022
RELATED STORIES

By Land or by Sea

Unwrap the flavor of the British Virgin Islands, bite by bite.

7 mins read
Global Traveler
November 2021

Barefoot training

Discover the pros and cons of going shoeless.

3 mins read
Oxygen
Summer 2021

JOURNEY FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT

A young girl from Sumda Chenmo, a remote village in Ladakh’s Markha region, shares her journey from growing up without electricity to solar-electrifying over 50 such villages

4 mins read
Outlook Traveller
July 2021

Output Frontier £1,259

Audio company Output have shifted their attention to studio monitors. Jon Musgrave explores their new Frontier

2 mins read
Future Music
April 2021

Avani Leaving the Earth Behind in a Better Shape

In Uttarakhand’s Kumaon region, Avani is a community built on the principles of sustainability and local empowerment. A global network of diverse employees, interns and volunteers give life to Avani’s community-centric rural development programmes. In this article, Dr Rakesh Agrawal ‘Ridh’ highlights the pioneering work by Avani that creates opportunities for rural people to find viable employment through a self-sufficient and environmentally sustainable supply chain that is sensitive to the cultural context of this region.

5 mins read
TerraGreen
December 2020

Tropical treasure

Is this the ultimate island holiday? Amit Dixit checks into soneva Fushi, the original ‘barefoot luxury’ resort

5 mins read
Outlook Traveller
November 2020

Reaching Out To The Sun

A village in Rajasthan trains poor African women to harness solar energy.

10 mins read
Open
November 9, 2015