Dew Walking - A Traditional Hydrotherapy Exercise
Dew walking is an exercise that sits at the intersection of whimsy and practicality. Dew holds an inherent beauty and sparkly magic that has fascinated people throughout time. It absolutely fascinates me, and in the summer I try to get my toes into it ever morning. Partly because it is a lovely morning ritual, but also for the health benefits.
Early Naturopathic Doctors leaned heavily on the application of hot and cold water to stimulate/depress/manipulate circulation in their patients. Some contemporary Naturopathic Doctors continue that tradition. When it seems appropriate, I recommend some type of hydrotherapy as an adjunct to a treatment plan, and dew walking comes up often.
When you walk on dew, the cold water stimulates the circulation in your legs. At the same time, your bare feet exchange ions with the earth- a process called earthing.
Using hydrotherapy to heal depends on a trust in the body. Trust that the body can respond to stimulation by changing circulation. And trust that your body carries everything that you need to heal within your own blood. For some people (and some conditions), that is absolutely true. When you increase blood flow to an area, you infuse that area with more nutrients, oxygen, and immune molecules while providing the opportunity for metabolic waste products to be carried away at a faster rate.
To get a better idea of how important circulation is, imagine that you live in a town like Revelstoke. The streets could be considered our circulation. When it snows, roads close and circulation slows down, things don't run as smoothly. People are late, accidents happen, and parcels don't arrive. Sometimes when the highways are blocked the grocery stores & restaurants run low on food. And what happens if the icy roads slow down the waste management crew? The crows get into the garbage and make a huge mess. The roads need to be kept clear in order for our city to run smoothly. Food in. Waste out. And people need to get where they need to go.
The same goes for your body. The circulation needs to be work well in order for your body to run smoothly. And when it is working well, you don't even think about it!
When you do preventative hydrotherapy (like Dew Walking) it is kind of like doing road maintenance in the summer. It makes the road a little nicer in the summer, but it is in the winter that it makes the biggest difference.
You can also do hydrotherapy to bring nutrients to an area. You could compare this to the efforts that the city makes to entice travelers to drive into downtown Revelstoke, instead of stopping on the highway. They bring more life, more money, and more energy into the downtown core. More resources so that the city thrives. Have you ever soaked your feet in hot water at the end of a long day? If so, you've done hydrotherapy. (PS. if you really wanted to improve circulation, you might want to try contrast foot baths for a better effect)
Hydrotherapy is also used to calm the system- in the way that speed bumps or traffic circles slow down traffic in residential areas, hydrotherapy can be used to calm. Sometimes I recommend calming neutral baths for insomnia, anxiety, and fever.
Back to dew walking. How do you do it? It's pretty easy: your feet + dewy grass = dew walking. Make sure that your feet are warm before you go outside, and don't feel like you need to overdo it- 2-3 minutes is great. (If you're feeling hardcore and it's winter, you can try snow walking for up to 30 seconds).
According to traditional knowledge, dew walking helps to improve circulation, especially in your lower body, strengthens your immune system, reduces inflammation, improves your mood, and energizes you throughout the day.
What does the science say? Lately there has been increased interest in cold hydrotherapy as an intervention (especially after exercise), but dew walking hasn't been studied. Funny enough, the benefits of dew walking as described by science don't come from the cool water as much as from the contact with the earth. If you're interested in learning more about earthing- these two articles are a good place to start.
And if you'd like to learn more about dew walking? Set an early morning alarm and try it for yourself!
PS. Dew walking might not be for you if you have kidney disease, impaired feeling in your feet, or other pelvic disease. Check with an ND first.