Earthing Your Way to Wellness: Is There Science Behind Grounding Shoes?

Grounding Shoes

For thousands of years, humans walked barefoot, allowing continuous contact between the soles of their feet and the earth’s surface. But in modern times people wear shoes with rubber and plastic soles that insulate their feet from direct contact with the earth. This has advantages, as it shields our feet against hot sidewalks and helps keep our feet clean. But according to proponents of grounding, such loss of contact with the earth is unnatural and disconnects us from the earth’s natural electrical charge.

One solution, according to proponents of the theory, is to wear grounding shoes, also known as earthing shoes or barefoot shoes. These specialized foot coverings aim to restore the foot’s natural connection to the earth. When you wear them you more easily absorb free electrons from the earth’s surface. You might wonder if such an idea is backed by science and whether these shoes offer health benefits. Let’s take a closer look.

The Theory of Grounding

So how did the idea that our feet directly touching the earth is beneficial come about? The idea is the earth’s surface is covered with a limitless supply of free electrons that are highly mobile. When you walk with bare feet or wear grounding shoes, your feet touch the earth and these electrons. As you walk, your feet absorb the electrons.

You’ve heard of oxidative damage, right? This cell and tissue damaging process that everyone experiences comes from an overabundance of free radicals, molecules that have unpaired electrons. The theory is that walking barefoot or walking in grounding shoes helps your feet absorb electrons that pair with unpaired electrons. The hope is that countering free radicals (by giving them electrons to pair up with) reduces cell and tissue damage and counters inflammation. Claims are that, by reducing inflammation, wearing grounding shoes can lead to better sleep, thinner blood, lower stress levels, faster healing, and reduced muscle and joint pain.

 What Research Shows about Grounding Shoes

As you might imagine, studies on grounding are limited. Yet there is evidence to support the benefits of grounding. One 2012 study found that grounding reduced inflammation and resulted in less muscle and joint pain in patients with chronic pain conditions. Controlled studies show that wearing a grounding device accelerates healing from injuries. It also alters the number of immune cells and circulating factors, like cytokines, that affect inflammation.

A pilot study from 2010 showed grounding pads improved sleep and reduced chronic pain in just four weeks. Research also confirms that grounding facilitates transfer of electrons between the earth and body.

There are also small preliminary studies hinting that grounding could reduce pain, and lower blood pressure. But the studies have flaws. Therefore, it’s too early to draw conclusions from them. We need larger, controlled trials to confirm these theories. As of now, the benefits of grounding are more theoretical than proven by science. However, it’s an intriguing idea. Plus, connecting your toes with the earth by walking barefoot or even wearing grounding shoes feels good after wearing conventional shoes that insulate your feet from the active electrons on the earth’s surface.

Is Grounding Safe?

Grounding is safe, as long as you’re wearing a good pair of grounding shoes. Going barefoot is a little riskier. Think about how it feels to step on a piece of glass or a sharp stone. Here are things to consider before grounding:

  • Consult your doctor before wearing grounding shoes. If you have electronic implants like pacemakers, your doctor may urge caution. Grounding may interfere with implanted devices.
  • Choose grounding shoes that have conductive soles, such as leather. Not all minimalist or “barefoot” shoes facilitate the grounding and efficient transfer of electrons. Having carbon or silver in the soles also helps promote electron flow from the earth to your feet. Avoid soles made of materials that insulate, like rubber or plastic soles.
  • Because you want your feet to contact the earth, avoid wearing socks when walking in grounding shoes.
  • Comfort matters – Choose a design that feels comfortable on your feet and doesn’t constrict the sides of your feet or toes. They shouldn’t rub or pinch your feet. Choose a lightweight design and ensure your feet have good airflow.
  • If possible, test before buying. Try to walk with grounding shoes on different terrains before committing to them. You need good traction and support for safety. You’ll need to strike a balance between comfort, security underfoot, and conductive contact with the earth.
  • When possible, buy locally, so you can try on assorted styles, see how they feel, and find the best fit for your feet.
  • Think about where you’ll be wearing them. Grounding shoes come in a variety of styles, including sneakers, sandals, slip-ons, and even dress shoes. Ensure you’re choosing the right shoes for your lifestyle.

Grounding Shoes Show Promise

There’s something intriguing about wearing grounding shoes, especially if they fight oxidative damage and reduce inflammation by facilitating electron exchange from the earth to your feet. Studies show preliminary evidence that wearing grounding shoes offers health benefits, but we need more research.

In the meantime, eating an antioxidant-rich diet may also reduce oxidative stress and free radical damage humans are subject to. And if you enjoy wearing grounding shoes, it’s a way to give your feet a break from high heels and dress shoes.


  • Oschman JL, Chevalier G, Brown R. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. J Inflamm Res. 2015 Mar 24;8:83-96. doi: 10.2147/JIR.S69656. PMID: 25848315; PMCID: PMC4378297.
  • Chevalier G. The effect of grounding the human body on mood. Psychol Rep. 2015 Apr;116(2):534-42. doi: 10.2466/06.PR0.116k21w5. Epub 2015 Mar 6. PMID: 25748085.
  • “What Is Grounding and Can It Help Improve Your Health?.” 30 Aug. 2019, healthline.com/health/grounding.
  • “Practical applications of grounding to support health.” 01 Feb. 2023, sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2319417022001585.
  • Oschman JL, Chevalier G, Brown R. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. J Inflamm Res. 2015 Mar 24;8:83-96. doi: 10.2147/JIR.S69656. PMID: 25848315; PMCID: PMC4378297.
  • “Grounding – The universal anti-inflammatory remedy – PMC.” 15 Dec. 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10105021/.

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