In the early 2000’s we debated barefoot running and we firmly ruled against the overall benefit vs harm.
In a recent article written by one of my favourite Podiatric biomechanics gurus; Simon Bartold, he spoke on the subject of “Grounding”. Apparently the debate is not quite over.
I love the “feeling”of my bare feet on grass or preferably sand, but to say that this can have a lasting physiological effect on my body is taking a major step beyond. (Yeap I know)
For those advocating the benefits of grounding, report claims that walking barefoot on the Earth enhances health and provides feelings of well-being. Although supported by almost zero meaningful research, grounding insists it is a therapeutic technique that involves doing activities that “ground” or electrically reconnect you to the earth. And if you do this, it will enable you to “pull away from flashbacks, unwanted memories, and negative or challenging emotions.”
Apparently, it will also:
- Reduce inflammation
- Decrease pain
- Decrease stress response
- Increase heart rate variability
- Improve sleep
- Improve cortisol rhythm
- Improve wound healing
- Reduce blood viscosity
Moving right along, Barthold got his hands on a brand new piece to research from Switzerland titled: The Impact of Grounding in Running Shoes on Indices of Performance in Elite Competitive Athletes
Muniz–Pardos et al, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(3), 1317
Basically they took some fairly high level runners and placed them in specially designed shoes to enable grounding to occur during training and in a very nicely designed piece of research they measured heart rate, blood gases, perceived fatigue, recovery and a host of factors in a double blind study.
And drum roll…… the findings were?. NOTHING! Absolutely nothing.
Conclusion: our results suggest that grounding in shoe designs is not an effectivealternative for well-trained athletes to improve their running efficiencies, and/or their physiological/perceptual responses during submaximal exercise.
So what do we take from this? There may yet be something to grounding, by all means continue to enjoy your beach and back lawn in your bare feet, but for those of you looking to improved running performance and recovery, splash out on a pair of Nike Zoom X Vaporfly .. there is compelling evidence for their efficacy!