What is Grounding?


As you may have figured out by now, I'm a bit of an outdoorsy girl. I love getting outdoors, breathing in all of the fresh air, and enjoying all that Mother Nature has to offer. You may have seen me out hiking, riding my bike, running, camping, or even practicing yoga, but something that I've been doing for a lifetime that you may not have known about is grounding.

Black woman yoga outdoors goddess pose

Recently, I went on a short hike at one of our Maryland State Parks (this was part of my 50 First Hikes adventures) and decided to take my shoes and socks off to really connect with the experience. I know that it may sound hokey, but it felt fantastic! At one point, I placed my yoga blanket on the ground and laid down into savasana (or corpse pose). Beneath my body, it felt a bit like the Earth's heartbeat. I began to breathe deeply, closed my eyes, and just experienced this glorious moment. When I reopened my eyes, I felt a sense of calm. I said to my friend who was with me, "there has to be some science behind this whole thing, right?"

practicing savasana outdoors

What is Grounding?

I did a little research on this topic, and while it seems like an under-researched area, there is some great, reputable information out there on the topic.

Grounding, also called earthing, is a therapeutic technique that involves doing activities that “ground” or electrically reconnect you to the earth.

This practice relies on earthing science and grounding physics to explain how electrical charges from the earth can have positive effects on your body. This type of grounding therapy isn’t entirely the same as the technique that is used in mental health treatment. ("Grounding: Exploring Earthing Science and the Benefits Behind It", Healthline)

Grounding, or earthing, can be performed in many different ways, but the method that's most interesting to me is the physical connection between our bodies and the earth. Some examples may be walking outdoors barefoot (safely!), lying on the ground outdoors, or sitting on a sandy beach. According to the research, "reconnection with the Earth's electrons has been found to promote intriguing physiological changes and subjective reports of well-being." ("Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface", Journal of Environmental and Public Health. 2012; 2012: 291541.)

There are, of course, store-bought ways to practice grounding, but I find it's much more accessible for me to step outdoors than go and purchase something that may not even be eco-friendly in order to simulate the feeling of the Earth. That seems to be a bit contradictory, no? I don't own or have any experience using any grounding mats or bands, so I can't recommend any products if the outdoors aren't accessible to you, but while conducting research for this post, I did come across lots of products. I'm sure you can find something that fits your needs!

Scientific studies have found that there are a number of physiological benefits to grounding.  One particularly interesting study found that grounding can have positive effects on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) - the bane of my existence (not to be dramatic or anything). I may have to go and roll around in the dirt after leg day from now on!

Previous studies have looked into how grounding impacts inflammation and other injuries, concluding that, "rounding appears to improve sleep, normalize the day-night cortisol rhythm, reduce pain, reduce stress, shift the autonomic nervous system from sympathetic toward parasympathetic activation, increase heart rate variability, speed wound healing, and reduce blood viscosity."

Anecdotes and Grounding Exercises to Try 

Without even knowing the name of it, I have been practicing grounding for my entire life. I love feeling the ground beneath my bare feet, and always feel this tingling sense of calm and restoration when I do so. When I go to the beach, I love to just lie in the sand and breathe in the air around me. 

Here's a neat little exercise to try. It may sound a little strange, but hear me out: Find a non-poisonous tree, and give it a big hug. (Something I shouldn't even have to say... but, seriously, don't go around hugging trees covered in poison ivy). Notice your heartbeat. Notice your breathing. How do you feel?

Here are a couple of grounding exercises from International Bestselling Author Milana Perepyolinka that she shared with me:

  • "During the summer, start walking outside barefoot for several minutes. As the fall takes over the summer, keep walking barefoot. During the winter, run at least several leaps in the snow. If you are doing it right, you will feel incredible internal heat and you will feel full of energy.
  • "If you travel to a different time zone, walk barefoot as soon as you can. You will effortlessly adjust your internal clock to the new time zone.
  • "If you stand barefoot on the ground and imagine dumping all your problems and sadness to the middle of the Earth, you will feel happier, lighter, and re-energized."
Katrina Paraskevopoulos of Kat Health & Fitness shared this experience with grounding:

"From my personal experience, [grounding] reduces feelings of anxiety and brings a state of calm. At my previous job, I would walk to the nearby park at lunch, take off my shoes, and walk barefoot on the grass to release any anxious feelings I was having. It helped me last in a position I wasn’t over the moon in and gave me peace of mind." 

What's Next?

I would love to host some grounding events this year. With everything that has been going on over the course of this global pandemic, I think we could all use some extra Mother Earth energy. Meditation, gentle yoga, and even just sitting and listening to nature sounds are all ways in which I would like to introduce folks to grounding. Make sure you're on my email list so you don't miss any upcoming events!

Would you attend a grounding event? Do you have a story to share about grounding? How about some grounding exercises to try? Leave them in the comments or send me an email! 

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