Once a baby begins to walk, the next event many parents get excited about is the trip to buy the first pair of shoes. But we're not your traditional parents. In fact, our kids don't wear shoes at all and they're well beyond the walking stage.
According to Clinton Ober in his book, "Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?", the body used to be in contact directly with the earth’s energy for at least 80 percent of the time. And this makes sense to us. After all, men, women and children roamed the earth with their bare feet and slept and sat directly in contact with the earth’s surface for eons. He also discusses how, nowadays, due to insulating shoes, raised beds, synthetic carpets in our homes and artificial carrying devices for children, humans are now directly connecting with the earth less than 1 percent of the time, or just 10 minutes a month.
So why should this matter?
Have you ever wondered why so many children ask to take their shoes off when they're outdoors? I believe the answer lies in the earth’s natural medicine that provide numerous health benefits. The earth acts like a giant, constant, self regenerating battery. It recharges itself during a lightning storm and provides a never-ending supply of free electrons also known as negative ions. These electrons help combat free-radical damage which can cause inflammation and disease.
Apparently, the higher up from the earth we travel, the more positive charge—with a negative health effect—we experience. This is often noticed as static charge in our hair or a small electric shock when touching a door handle, something we experience more in the winter time when we are least connected to the earth and the air is artificially heated. The good news is that the earth has an abundant supply of negatively charged ions which positively neutralize the effect of electromagnetic stress in the atmosphere around us.
In my opinion, the key to connecting back to this vital healing source is to allow children to go barefoot on the earth and touch it directly with the skin as much as possible.
The act of grounding, or earthing, is a process which not only supposedly aids in decreasing inflammation, but may also improve immune function and help to regulate body temperature and circadian rhythms. As the theory goes, the more grounded we become the better we sleep, the less cold we feel and the less we'll get sick.
In my opinion, the key to connecting back to this vital healing source is to allow children to go barefoot on the earth and touch it directly with the skin as much as possible. This occurs only when in contact with natural, living materials such as grass, metal and stone which conduct the earth’s free electrons, unlike man-made insulating materials like tarmac and painted surfaces which are non-conductors.
I've also found that going barefoot enables healthy development of the muscles in the feet and creates correct spinal alignment. If your child has collapsed arches or balance and postural problems one of the first things a chiropractor will probably encourage is to take off their shoes and give the child more barefoot time. Our oldest child also went completely barefoot for the first two years of life and now has excellent postural alignment, coordination and balance.
The biggest obstacle to achieving barefoot time for many parents is the fear of their child walking on something sharp or undesirable. My youngest walks barefoot on seemingly sharp and rugged surfaces all the time including pebble beaches, pavements and wood chips, but due to the lack of tension in her legs and body, she doesn't feel pain like adults might. In times that require a layer of protection like cold weather or walking through areas with dangerously sharp objects like broken glass, we use leather moccasin soft-soled shoes.
So next time your kids ask to take their shoes off, instead of worrying about the dirt and the cold, think of it as a health booster which will help to calm, regulate, restore and rebalance them. And if they've got dirty feet, well, that's what wet wipes are for.