Walking barefoot outdoors is the only way to go for some people. If it weren’t for some misunderstanding about the legalities of wearing shoes in public, the same people would go barefoot all the time. Could it be that donning shoes during every waking hour is not really what nature intended? Furthermore, could there be health benefits to going barefoot? Perhaps.
The results of a study published in 2014 seem to suggest that regular contact between the feet and the ground does have an impact on the body. Though far from inclusive, the study was significant enough to suggest that walking barefoot from time to time could actually improve a person’s skin. Imagine that.
The results of that study will be discussed below. Be careful not to assume that walking barefoot will guarantee you that have healthy skin. The data isn’t conclusive to that effect and, even if it does help, walking barefoot would be just one component. Maintaining healthy skin would still require regular deep cleansing, moisturizing, and exfoliation.
Grounding and Blood Flow
Researchers at the University of California, Irvine decided to look at the benefits of barefoot contact with the ground a few years ago. They were specifically interested in whether or not going barefoot – also known as ‘grounding’ in the scientific world – offered any benefits to the skin. What they discovered was fascinating.
The study was conducted using 40 subjects placed in a room for at least an hour. Each study participant was seated in a recliner modified to include a conductive floor mat, pillow, and patches. Each chair was wired to the ground terminal of a standard electrical outlet.
In 37 of the cases, the grounding was legitimate. The remaining 13 cases were sham grounded. In other words, the chairs were not actually grounded despite being made to look like it. These 13 cases represented the control group.
Researchers also used a special laser imaging camera to measure blood flow to the faces of the test subjects. They observed that the 37 truly grounded subjects demonstrated improved blood flow. The 13 test subjects fared no better than baseline.
Conclusions from the Data
Researchers concluded that the natural electrical forces found in the earth do offer health benefits to humans. They further concluded that regular grounding may promote healthy skin inasmuch as increased blood flow promotes natural healing. In short, they believe that going barefoot on the ground for just one hour can be beneficial.
Further studies would be necessary to confirm the UC Irvine findings. Such studies would have to include larger numbers of participants, longer periods of grounding, and a more accurate means of measuring blood flow. If such studies ever do confirm the conclusions of the 2014 study, they could significantly impact what we currently know about skin care.
For example, consider a Massachusetts natural skin care products company known as Poethique. The philosophy behind Poethique’s business model is one of using all nature has to offer in the quest for healthy skin. Right now that includes all-natural ingredients in the company’s skincare products. But down the road, it might also mean encouraging customers to spend some time outdoors without shoes on their feet.
The point of grounding is to be in direct contact with the earth, thereby completing a circuit that has always existed in nature. If walking barefoot for an hour can indeed improve blood flow to the skin, spending a few hours per week in a grounded state could really make a difference. Hopefully someone will take up future studies to confirm what the UC Irvine researchers discovered.