It's autumn in the Pacific Northwest, which means rain, rain, rain. I usually tend to my urban farm chores wearing my faithful Hunter boots, but the weather has been so warm I occasionally run outside in my bare feet. The chickens are confined to their pen, so there are few "surprises" I step in, other than some really squishy mud or a slug *shudder*. I find it so much easier to just wipe off muddy feet than deal with muddy shoes, and to be quite honest, I like walking barefooted outdoors. I don't mind mud, but prefer cool green grass or warm sand on the beach. I've even made the mad dash outside in the snow sans shoes or socks.
I grew up being told to always wear shoes. For years I wore "impractical" shoes, high heels with pointy toes than may have been too small for me but, oh, they were so cute and what was a little pain? Yes, this is coming from a doctor trained in foot reflexology. Maybe it's age, but my favorite shoes to sport these days are my Acorn TEX-MOC slippers and my Hunters (of course).
An email newsletter arrived today that reminded me of "grounding" or "earthing," which I first learned of when I was in naturopathic medical school. Benedict Lust, one of the fathers of naturopathic medicine, wrote about the health benefits of walking barefoot way back in the early 1900s and Father Sebastian Kneipp promoted "dew walking" in Germany even before then. Recently, researchers at the University of California have been studying the health effects of walking barefoot (or indoors, connected to systems that conduct energy from the ground into the body, simulating the outdoor effects). They found that connecting to grounded conductive systems (including walking outdoors) "may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV, hypercoagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease. The research recommends "earthing," weather and conditions permitting, for 30 to 40 minutes daily.
So go ahead. Take off your shoes. Wiggle your toes in the grass. Get "grounded."
Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons