Can Walking Barefoot Heal Your Heart?

August 7, 2017 50 Comments

Why do so many humans equate relaxation and pleasure with walking barefoot along the beach as the waves roll in? How come my son River’s first instinct is to take his shoes off when he sees a field of green grass?

Is it kooky human behavior that is simply hard-wired into our genetic makeup, or is there something more to this urge to remove footwear?

Historically speaking, it seems like we’re right in step with our forebearers. Long before we had cushiony sneakers, our distant ancestors tended to walk barefoot over rock, rubble, dirt, stick, and thorn. Their feet were strong and nimble, able to sense and react to any surface they encountered. More recent native cultures often chose to walk through nature on their naked soles as well, instead of wearing moccasins or similar leather footwear.

Commonalities like “barefootedness”, that we see repeated among ancient groups, beg for further investigation as to “why?” – especially in cultures where simple foot gear was already an option.

Thankfully, there is good science behind shoelessness and the findings are fascinating.

It turns out that the sensation we feel when our feet make contact with moist sand is more than just a feeling. This therapeutic touch of mother earth is laden with remarkable health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, boosting antioxidants in our body, improving sleep, and perhaps most importantly, promoting healthy blood flow.

The primordial practice of walking barefoot, sometimes referred to as “grounding”, is only just beginning to be studied by modern science, but there have already been a few groundbreaking findings. One of the most promising of these points to the effect that the contact of earth on skin can have on our heart health.

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According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Alternative And Complimentary Medicine, walking barefoot “reduces blood viscosity, which is a major factor in cardiovascular disease”.

Blood viscosity is a term used to describe the “thickness and stickiness of your blood.” The lower the viscosity, the easier your blood flows through your blood vessels, and circulates throughout your body. The higher your blood’s viscosity, or thickness, the slower it moves.

To test the effects of grounding on blood viscosity, a group of subjects had their red blood cells (RBCs) examined under a microscope to determine the number of clumped groups of RBCs in each sample. High instances of aggregation (or clumping) in human blood increases your blood viscosity and can result in cardiovascular disease. This experiment was intended to measure whether grounding the body to the earth’s innate electrical charge would have a positive effect on this blood condition and perhaps help to prevent the deadly disease that is linked to it.

Long story short, walking barefoot substantially lowered the instance of unwanted blood cell clumping in every one of the subjects and promoted healthier circulation.

*A later study in the same journal found that “grounding” or “earthing” may help regulate both the endocrine and nervous systems as well.

We present-day humans live in a sea of electromagnetic waves radiated by mobile phone signals, Wi-Fi, automatic doors etc. This is referred to as “dirty electricity” or “electromagnetic pollution”. Luckily for us, the earth’s surface is rich with electrons that can neutralize this dirty electricity and bring the currents within us back into healthy balance.

This can boost our energy, balance our mood, clarify our thinking, and perhaps even save our lives.

A Sacred Science summer challenge for you:

The next two months will be warm in the northern hemisphere while the planetary tilt has us leaning toward the summer sun. So this should be easy…

Next time you’re in front of an appealing patch of earth, remove your shoes and socks and do the unthinkable… step forth onto said terra firma and feel the sensation that runs through your body. Envision the cells in your bloodstream recalibrating as you do so, because well, they are.

That’s it. I’d recommend you do this at least a few times a week for better heart health and overall happiness. We’re earth dwellers, why separate ourselves from her with rubber soles?

(I find it’s fun to go foot-naked in odd places in the midst of shoe-wearers who scratch their heads in confusion as they watch… BUT it’s also nice to do in the comfort of your own backyard or the middle of the forest)

Stay shoeless,

Nick Polizzi
Founder, The Sacred Science

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About Nick Polizzi

Nick Polizzi has spent his career directing and producing feature length documentaries about natural alternatives to conventional medicine. Nick's current role as director of "The Sacred Science" stems from a calling to honor, preserve, and protect the ancient knowledge and rituals of the indigenous peoples of the world.

View all posts by Nick Polizzi

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  1. Betsy says:

    Love this !

    I long been harassed by my friends since childhood a “dirty-foot” but barefoot in natural to me. My hands too there are days that I just need to play in the garden dirt with my bare hands, no gloves it is 100% healing! I didn’t need some one to tell me, but it is good to know your not alone. I’ll stay curious, you keep blogging. Have a great day!

  2. Wendy says:

    Hello Nick,
    Two weekends ago I tried bare foot walking in a local state park — on a nicely kept trail so I could focus on feeling my feet connecting to the earth. After a half hour or so, the trail became very rocky so I put my shoes back on. I did not really notice much different until I was finishing the hike near my car and getting ready to stretch a bit before climbing in to drive home. Not one cell in my body felt tired or like I had been on a hike…nothing “needed” to be stretched…I felt completely alive and energized. Can’t wait to do it again and see what happens.
    Wendy
    PS I practice tai chi “sock footed” — can’t wait to try it barefooted!

    • Maud Michal Beer says:

      I love to go barefoot on the beach and do it as often as possible. Summer is approaching and I hope to go barefoot on the beach again

  3. Elaine says:

    I LOVE this blog!!! I’m not much of a shoe wearer either. Grew up in south FL so we tend to have leather soles naturally. Now in Atlanta, GA, I still don’t care for shoes. Even though I scrub my feet, I still have that ‘ring around the foot’.

  4. Bee says:

    I love your wisdom, thank you – this really works. Funny how sceptical people are about things like this – what’s the point of being sceptical?

  5. Maria says:

    I grew up on a farm and remember stepping into cowpats that were still warm and enjoying them curling through my toes. Some people will probably shiver with disgust but to this day (I’m 72) I cannot wait for the weather to warm up each year so that I can remove my shoes.

  6. Lish says:

    Thank you for bringing science into such an important, innate yet often ignored fact of our wonderful lives. I hope this entices many more to be barefoot outside whenever possible. This grounding (and sitting against glorious trees!) helps me right myself always.

  7. KRISHNAMURTHY.V says:

    EXCELLENT ARTICLE. I FEEL THAT GOING BACK TO THE BASICS WILL DO AN OCEAN OF GOOD TO OUR HEALTH– BASICS LIKE WALKING BAREFOOT, LIVING NATURAL ORGANIC FOOD, AVOIDING ARTIFICIAL SYNTHETIC THINGS LIKE PLASTIC ETC.

  8. April says:

    It seems as if I was always barefoot as a kid! And now, I ground each morning. It’s an essential part of what I choose to do each day. Along with the physical benefits, I would add also that being grounded is a huge energetic benefit for the mental and emotional bodies. Sometimes we can have a cluttered mind and go through the day “in our heads”. Grounding puts the focus back into the body being an important vessel. It’s a vessel for growth, and a way of honoring the fact that you’re alive and choose your life this day! Great article, thank you!

  9. Christine Foltz says:

    Would you like more support for your quest? I am looking to partner with individuals and organizations with lume-minded goals to help support each other. I, too, promote alternative living methods, products, and lifestyles for living in a more balance and harmonious way than current modern living.

    I have 2 websites: WHAM IT!, (Wellness Health amd Modifications In Tennis) and Balance Pure & Simple. I am a certified Integrative Health Coach, certified personal and group trainer, certified fitness expert, have a B.S. in Wellness and Fitness Through Movement, and many more attributes to mention.

    I left corporate non-profit sports promotion to get in the minds and hearts of people’s deepest desires when it comes to health and wellness. I’ve presented on numerous topics and dozens of live demonstrations, retreats and workshops and am looking for relationships that support and promote alternative resources for pure and healthy balanced living which are aligned with the natural rhythms and healing actions our bodies are designed for, if given the right information .

    My nickname is “dirtygirl” because I love to garden, water sport, mud race, dirt bike ride, and walk barefoot most of the time. I raised 3 children since diapers to enjoy getting dirty while planting and harvesting and playing in the water and dirt as a healthy lifestyle.

    Would you consider a phone conversation to further discuss ideas?

  10. Julie says:

    Thank you for sharing this Nick. I work as a river guide and it’s undeniable what the benefits of walking barefoot do for people. One of my favorite aspects of my job is watching people recharge their body by spending time in the wilderness. They start to move easier, sleep better, laugh more, and become so present in the moment…it’s an amazing gift we’re all capable of giving ourselves.

  11. Melissa says:

    I have been reading about this too…… thank you for the confirmation!! I love going barefoot!! Thank you for Sharing! 💖

  12. Sue says:

    So true! Also no shoes are allowed inside our house. 😀

  13. Michael says:

    I have “P.A.D.” it’s a Artery disease in my lower legs and feet. Have had 5 surgeries so far. Plus degenerate bone disease in ankles and feet.
    Doctors advise not get poked, pricked etc.
    On blood thinners, not good for me to do !
    I used to walk around barefoot, getting grounded​ 😊, not now a days !

    • Claudia Colarusso says:

      For those who can go barefooted medically, nothing like filling up a basin of beach sand or a piece of sod. Put it where you sit, or outside to sit and just cloud watch. It will ground you. Always look outside the circle.
      Living in New England, I worked with beach sand under my desk all year round.

    • Marianne says:

      Michael, I too take anticoagulants. I do walk around my yard barefoot. If you are concerned, you don’t have to walk barefoot. Go to the park, sit on a bench with grass under your feet, and just take your shoes off…. sit with the grass between your toes, or take your own chair. Go to a beach, and just park a chair or blanket even on the sand, take your shoes off right there, and just put your feet on the sand right where you are. I know that walking does cause leg pain, but if you could get on grass or sand… and just where you are, get barefoot… you’ll be able to see where your feet are going to be that it is clear of anything dangerous. The benefits are outstanding…. (out standing barefoot, lol) Think of ways you could modify things to work for you…… a sandbox. A piece of sod….

  14. Sheila Callaham says:

    I’ve never actually thought about the “why” to my going barefoot but as I read this post it all resonated — especially the part about being more connected with Mother Earth (she writes as she sits on her front port barefooted)… Thanks for another great article!

  15. Janette says:

    Since I was a child, I loved being barefoot. The feel of the sand at the beach and walking on warm stones during the summer. Now at 74 yrs., I prefer being barefoot than wearing shoes.
    I would sit at my desk using my computer, where i placed a large stone on the carpet to rest my feet. So soothing. Felt so connected to the earth.

    • Tom says:

      Have you ever used a golf ball under your foot. Most people’s feet are like blocks as they have been encased in shoes most of the time. As a result the individual bones do not move separately. You do not roll the golf ball with your foot. Put the ball on the floor and place your foot on it. You do not press your foot down, your are resting your foot on it. The highest point of the ball will be under one bone and this bone will move slightly juxtaposed the bones beside it. when you think of it move the foot slightly, it will now be under another bone. Doing this frees up individual bones and gives you better movement and stability in the feet. You can also twirl each of your toes separately, first in a circle and later in a figure of 8. spend a few minutes on each toe. Before you start walk around the room and when you finish do the same walk again and you will be surprised at the difference.

      • Gloria Ives says:

        i like this idea a lot. will definitely try.
        great for mindfulness exercise. also good for self control because i think the tendency would be too put weight on your foot and force the issue to “feel” it.. but this way, i think its more of an awareness exercise.

      • Dan says:

        As a Chiropractor of over 29 years, I have adjusted many feet. Just because you can Move a bone does not mean that this bone Should be moved. A similar example is when people put a tennis ball under their back and get bones to “pop”. There are 25 bones in the foot and Two arches. They all exist in an exact relationship to one another. I can move almost any bone in your foot but again, that doesn’t mean it is the best thing to do. Walking on loose sand is far better for your foot than is putting a goof ball under it. I have taken extensive training in adjusting the foot in addition to having practiced doing same. Moving the foot through range of motion: flexion, extension, inversion and eversion and noticing if there is any restriction, difficulty, discomfort or pain is a good way to start. IF you have one or more of these, the best thing to do is have your feet adjusted by someone who has experience. Bones move and adapt to pressure, but again, just because a bone can move does not necessarily mean that it should be moved. I hope you find this helpful.

    • Gloria Ives says:

      what a wonderful idea. We should have stones at the table for our feet and everywhere else. At the board room et. al.

      • Tom says:

        If the stone as round as a golf ball it will do the same job. If not and you place it under the cuneiform bones it will move them up in block and will not have the desired affect. It could be regarded as an awareness exercise in so far as you will become aware of its benefits. It could also dovetail with mindfulness practices.

  16. P-Daddy says:

    Hi Nick; As a massage therapist at Canyon Ranch here in Tucson AZ back about 6or 7 yrs. ago we started studying the book EARTHING by Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D. & Martin Zucker. Then we tried it on our selves even while sleeping with the aid of special wires attached to the body and the other end plugged into the ground terminal in the wall outlet (after testing it was wired correctly). Very good for those who are bed ridden (healed my tennis elbow in a few nitghts) . Then we started to use it on gusts if they wanted to try it during a massage.

  17. ChristineG says:

    Thank you for reminding me to walk barefoot a bit today!

  18. Tom says:

    Hi Nick. I have been bare footing for a good many years, the garden and of course the seaside. There is another way that one can also earth themselves and they can do this while asleep.
    All you need is a length of light wire such as you would use for speakers (before Bluetooth), two metal crocodile clips and the top of an old sock. The wire is attached to the clips which in turn is clipped to a radiator in your central heating system which should be earthed ( you could also use an earthing rod if this is convenient) and the other end clips on to the top of the old sock which is on you leg above the ankle. The metal clip must be touching the skin. Make sure that you leave a lot of slack in the wire so if you are moving in bed you are not pulling on the wire and also that nobody can trip.over the wire.

  19. Moyra Papworth says:

    I always walk barefoot when I can. I had no idea it was so beneficial so I will continue to do so. Thank you for informing me I am doing the right thing.

  20. Maurisa says:

    I am fortunate to live near the beach year round and have made it a priority in my life to walk a minimum of twice a week for an hour. I’ve been doing this for almost two years. This has helped the health of my feet as I’ve had numerous surgeries over the years and my feet are not in the best shape. After reading your article, Nick, I’m even happier knowing I’m doing my heart a huge favor. Thanks so much for always writing an interesting article most would consider “off beat.” I always look forward to your emails.

  21. Iris Weaver says:

    I’ve been walking barefoot all my life! I’m in my early 60s and one of the pleasures of any day is being barefoot outdoors (when it’s warm enough here north of Boston, MA).

  22. Chuck Caly says:

    as a young surfer in southern California with a older friend who grew up in Hawaii I got into sandals and of course always walked to surf barefooted! so I can tell you from personal experince what you just shared is sooo true! not to mention the negative ions coming from the breaking waves!! the beach and mother ocean will always heal everybody and any chance to ground ourselves to earth is a blessing and a sacred time we spend on this blessed earth!! Nick I will never be able to truly thank you for what you do and share with all that read and learn!! Chuck

  23. Dan Pierce says:

    I tried doing Tai Chi in my bare feet out on the lawn. It was lovely but I unknowingly did so ini an are where there was a lot of Chiggers which are nearly microscopic. I got a mass of bites on my legs and feet that swelled up and itched for days. I treated them with tea tree oil and coconut oil and itch cream. Chiggers are mostly harmless and do not carry disease but if you do not treat the bites and itch them a lot they can lead to a secondary infection. I have been out side a lot in my life and NEVER encountered them before. So if you go out side barefoot be aware of chiggers as well as ticks. I did some research of prevention: shower and soap fully after being outside in the woods or barefoot, and use Deet (yuk) around ankles and wrists. Now I don’t want to use Deet and seldom have as need for Personal bug sprays but now that I live here I may have to find something. Does anyone on your staff know a natural no chemical preventive solution for Chigger and Ticks. I heard that a solution of water, vinegar, vegetable oil and peppermint oil is one. I can’t imagine smelling like a peppermint salad. Got any ideas?

    Itching in Michigan, Dan Pierce

  24. "Green" Gene says:

    Grounding can occur when we garden through our hands if we wear shoes or through both ends. As our choices affect the Earth so the Earth affects us.

  25. Barbara Summering says:

    From the time I was a child I have walked barefooted, with much enjoyment. I did, however, receive some serious “scolding” from my Dad for going to the barn shoeless, or riding my horse, shoeless.
    My feet were so accustomed to being shoeless, that I was even capable of racing the neighbor boy down the rocky driveway, barefooted, and winning the race! I had no idea, until reading this blog, that I was helping my body be more healthy!

  26. Jim says:

    There is a good book about grounding called “Earthing” written by Clinton Ober. Also a documentary called “The Grounded” and the health benefits of the Earth’s free electrons that have been found to help with inflammation, chronic illness, and been studied. The premise is we have walked on earth for thousands of years without shoes, now we have become more disconnected from the Earth’s electrical benefits, from being exposed to more emfs and losing touch with the Earth’s energy stabilizing properties, from shoes which do not conduct electrons, so the body has been cut off from beneficial free electrons. They also make mats that connect to the ground on electrical outlets that work like walking on the Earth for people that are not able to access the earth. Also products to sleep on. Please read about doing to much of it if you have medical conditions, for it can be a powerful healing tool, and medications, blood thinners, and more must be monitored by your physician or healer. I hope this gives someone some hope, I have no financial benefits from the above. I just know it can help someone, but please research the mats before using them.

  27. Kay says:

    Being an all faith minister, I am fascinated with American Indian beliefs of being connected to “Mother Earth” and Wiccan practices honoring our connection to the Earth and nature. Even the thought of feeling gratitude for our Earth creates positivity and is healing…calming.

  28. Pj says:

    There is a book titled Earthing. It talks exactly about this phenomenon. They have their own website through which they sell products for grounding. Be careful you don’t go walking barefoot on grass that has been treated with chemicals and pesticides. Happy Grounding!

  29. Jaki B says:

    only problem about being barefoot was I got pinworms. So if u get an inchy bum, you can take inexpensive pills and carefully wash sheets and vacuum thoroughly. (Herbals can take months and $4 tablets do it in 4 days, as I recall.)

  30. Carole Scott says:

    Have loved to go barefoot all my life. But then I heard about getting parasites from walking barefoot in the grass. Any ideas how to avoid parasites?

  31. David Coleman says:

    I have read several articles in the last year talking about donating blood regularly. I have read that when people donate blood regularly it causes the body to have to produce new blood to replace the missing ‘old’ blood with new younger blood. Furthermore, it is claimed that people who do so will seldom die of heart attacks because new blood is replacing the old blood that has been circulating for years. The new blood is young & slippery compared to the usual old blood. It makes sense. I don’t know how true that is but it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Harkens back to the time when people used to be ‘bled’ doesn’t it?

  32. Kathy says:

    I have been walking barefoot as much as possible for most of my life. My summers growing up were on a beach…nobody wore shoes on the beach unless the sand was scorching hot & then it was only to get your towel or chair near the water.
    As for walking on the grass barefooted…yes did that too. But i never knew about the effect it had on our heart.
    I am familiar with grounding by walking on the earth or hugging trees…im a seasoned hippie and loved being barefooted….we had the beach & the countryside growing up…my feet were shoeless most of the time!
    Unfortunately i live near a big electrical grid which i know zaps my energy. I can feel it…its very bad for us….headaches, etc.
    This article was a great reminder that i need to be aware of how important everything is on our body.
    As i have gotten older I am alone almost all the time..and the people that i live with are not family. I live with an old friend & she has much negative around her all the time & she has family that constantly causes bad drama & my friend is not an honest person & it effects me greatly. I can sense all energies…its a gift & also it saddens me to know how dishonest people who say they love you are when they talk to me! But i don’t have any other choice right now. My husband up & walked out on me 15 yrs ago…i have a medical condition which limits somethings i can & can’t do. I want to get away from this negative energy but i have nowhere else to go. I wish there was a place a 64 yr old smart pretty lady could go….have any ideas?
    Im looking at this as ” i was suppose to read this article & share my heart”….i believe God, our Universe sends things our way…no coincidences, right?
    Thank you for reminding me how important our feet are to us! Barefooted feet! Blessings ❤️

  33. Tamara Alferoff says:

    I ran around barefoot most of the time as a child. There’s no doubt it connects us with the planet, and through the planet with all living things. My grandma wouldn’t wear rubber soles on her shoes because ‘it interfered with the electromagnetism of the earth’. I would love it if you included in your post a reference to the seminal work on this topic by Clinton Ober, Zucker and Sinatra. Earthing: the most Important Health Discovery Ever? published in 2010.

  34. Delyth says:

    It’s the first thing I do every morning when I wake up. go down stairs open the back door stand bare foot in my garden and connect with mother !…..rain or shine, and there is something so sensuous and sexy waking on wet grass for sure x

  35. L. Adams says:

    One of my happiest memories was following my grandfather down the rows of grapes, holding the basket to catch those that he picked. Yes I was barefoot and I can still recall with great clarity how the warm, silty earth felt between my toes. When we moved to the coast we took many walks along the beach and I remember that well too.

  36. Jessy Louise says:

    Thank you for the inspiration of “Barefoot-ed-ness……I live in Florida,,,,Barefoot is a way of life here!

  37. Beata says:

    Hello I been walking bearfoof any chance I have most of my life
    Mostly on the beach it always feels good not only my body gets grounded but my very soul too
    My great grandmother in Poland walked bearfoot even on fields while working the plats of land for gardening
    She died at 98 I have to say she was healthy to her last days

  38. Michelle Anita Wirta says:

    Love it, thank you! I tell my empath groups and clients this all the time:0 It’s great how science is validating our energetic common sense:)

  39. Sandie Blackford says:

    I was one of those children who loved to go barefoot as a youngster, no, I insisted on it. Little did we know at that time there was a “Killer” heart problem running through our family. My Grandmother, mother, several uncles and a cousin have died from heart issues and there are several of us who are, as we speak , developing these same heart problems. I wonder if babies and children have an in born instinct that tells them to go barefoot to protect themselves.

  40. mr peabody says:

    I went barefoot for about 6 months in 1972 when I lived in Haight Ashbury – on the streets, in the park, everywhere. I loved it. I remember trying to explain it to people. So liberating, so wonderful. Your feet toughen up so you can navigate rough surfaces. I would run 2-3 miles through Golden Gate Park every morning with my dog. So free. I’ve never felt so well. Can you imagine?

  41. Claudia says:

    Dear Nick, since the first time I’ve received your e-mails something capture my attention. Its my soul looking for ways of validate my truth. Thank you for the time you spent sharing your knowledge with the world. My desire is to find my path. Love, CM

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