Greetings, fellow humans! I’m happy to announce I offer my favorite foot help device. After years of recommending correct toes to friends, family, and my coaching clients, I finally have been nudged into the business of selling stuff. (Mind you, I’m only selling stuff that I truly value.) If you’re wanting to get a set for you or someone you love, just give me a call or text at 828-450-1299 or stop by the office at Apeiron Center, 190 Broadway Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
These are my wife's "almost famous" paleo brownies (slightly modified from Mark Sisson's "Primal Blueprint Cookbook")
Bacon and birthday candles are optional, of course!
While not what I'd call health food, they are a delicious, "healthier" treat for that occasion when a cake is desired. If you have trouble eating treats in moderation, I'd recommend making these only when you have lots of folks to feed, as they are GOOD! This dessert has shown a few of our "paleo-phobic" friends and family that we are indeed not suffering by how we choose to eat. For those who don't know, they will never suspect that these brownies (more like a moist, delicious chocolate cake) are grain-free and non-dairy!
Paleo Brownie Recipe:
1 3/4 cup almond meal (We use Trader Joe's Almond Meal)
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (We use Droste. It is extra rich)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 cup coconut milk (full fat variety in a can)
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil (gently melted)
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (melted)
Preheat oven to 350.
Line a 13x9x2 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients until well blended. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk eggs for one minute, then add coconut milk, maple syrup and whisk again. Add melted coconut oil and whisk until wet ingredients are completely blended. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and whisk well; be sure to scrape sides and bowl bottom so no pockets of dry ingredient remain. Fold in melted chocolate chips and walnuts. Batter will be thinner consistency than conventional brownies. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake 35-40 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.
Enjoy in moderation... If you can! (bacon decoration is optional, of course...)
If you'd like to go all "birthday cake" on it, HERE is a good frosting recipe. Usually, we just cover the cake in fresh berries and drizzle some of this frosting like a ganache over it.
Greetings, fellow humans!
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying a little bit of agave nectar will kill you... What I am saying is that if you care enough to avoid high fructose corn syrup you should be even more concerned about agave nectar.
Let me repeat that. If you care enough to avoid high fructose corn syrup you should be even more concerned about agave nectar.
If you're on any kind of "health kick", you are probably trying to cut back on sugar consumption. Most folks who are paying any attention to what they eat are aware that sugar isn't good for you. You may even be aware of things like glycemic index and glycemic load.
In plain English, the higher a glycemic load, the quicker a particular food will raise your blood glucose aka "blood sugar" levels. In general, raising blood glucose levels quickly isn't really good for you. When this happens, your body must produce loads of insulin and quickly store the excess sugar as body fat. (There are some exceptions to this for post-workout nutrition and carb backloading, which is a subject for another day.) A high glycemic load is one of the reasons I usually avoid grains and consider modern wheat to be so bad for human health. For today, however, we'll stick to sweeteners.
Many may look to agave nectar as a "healthy alternative". At first glance, this seems to be a great idea. Agave nectar is "low glycemic" which means it causes less of a blood sugar spike than other sweeteners like sugar, maple syrup, and honey. Thus, agave is touted as a great alternative sweetener for diabetics and anyone trying to avoid excess sugar. Alas, it seems agave is no better than High Fructose Corn Syrup and quite possibly even worse. How can this be?
This is because the sugar in agave nectar ranges from 57 percent to as much as 90 percent fructose! Fructose, while commonly found in fruits, is not a good thing to eat in concentrated doses.
Look Here for a list of the glycemic index of common sweeteners.
Look here for a more detailed look from way back in 2010. Or look here for Dr. Andrew Weil's take in 2012. However, we still see the stuff being sold as "health food".
Alas, sweet agave nectar… How we wanted to love you. You are still the dishonest darling of so many health-minded folks. Some vegans still love you as an alternative to honey. Sadly, it seems, like so many food stories we've been told… Your sweet promise turned out to be a lie.
In fact, this lie has been uncovered for quite some time. Somehow, however, we want to believe it, so many of us still do.
So long, Agave nectar! From now on I think I'll call you by a more accurate name: "High Fructose Cactus Syrup".
OK… Now go outside and play!
Much love, Mo the human.
How a naked stranger changed my life forever...
To be fair, he WAS wearing a bathrobe at the time...
Since I met this man, almost everything I THOUGHT I knew about running, walking, shoes, nutrition, sleep, and exercise has been turned upside-down... I have fully re-examined how I view almost all aspects of human health.
I LOVE my job. Since finishing school in 1999, I have massaged almost 1000 people every year.
For over 7 years, I was working in a very fancy, and quite large spa overlooking the idyllic mountain town of Asheville, NC. Since time is limited to get to know a new guest at the spa, I would often ask a question:
"What do you do to make yourself happy, healthy, and sane?"
The answers I get to this simple question continue to offer valuable insight into how I may best serve each person in the small chunk of quiet, peaceful time we have before I send them back into the world. One beautiful fall morning, almost 6 years ago, my guest at the spa was a 57 year old man who appeared to be quite healthy.
"I run about 10 miles a day," he said with a casual smile.
Immediately, I recalled the story I was taught in massage school: The story that explained how our hips weren't quite adapted to running, how the shin and hip muscles weren't meant to be shock absorbers, how I was SO much needed by runners, How they needed me to help heal them from the damage they continued subjecting themselves to...
"So... Where does it hurt?" I asked.
To my surprise, he gazed out at the Blue Ridge Mountains and said, "Nowhere. I just want to relax."
I almost fell over...
Having worked on thousands of injured runners, I had never encountered one without SOME sort of chronic or acute running injury: runner's hip, plantar fasciitis, the list goes on and on...
Until this moment... With a 57 year old man... Who runs 10 miles a day...
And this guy just wanted to RELAX?!!
In awe of this superhuman, I asked,"What's your secret? How are you NOT HURTING?"
I continued,"We're not built for running. The impact just destroys our joints."
"Well... You're halfway right," He said, "The impact does destroy our joints, but you are perfectly designed for running. If you run correctly, there's no real impact. You just don't do it right."
At the time of this conversation, I was wearing New Balance nursing shoes and SuperFeet orthotic insoles. Despite all this modern technology, I was suffering from chronic knee and foot pain due to working all day on the hard stone floors of the spa. (or so I thought)
"I don't run at all," I groaned. "By the time I'm done with work, I'm lucky if I can mow my lawn. My knees and feet are killing me. Running is out of the question."
"Then take off your shoes and stop pounding your heels into the ground," He insisted. "Write this book down, you really need to read it."
The book he mentioned, "Born to Run" by Chris McDougall is a great story, but potentially dangerous: It presents a great case for barefoot running with no guidance on how habitually shod humans may regain their natural gait. (I now offer coaching on these techniques as well as other natural human movements.)
Six months (and a few other books, and lots of trial and error) later, I was joyfully working all day on the same stone floors with NO padding, NO arch support, and NO knee or foot Pain!
Luckily, I had not attempted to become a "serious runner" because I now think that overdoing any form of exercise has it's own set of dangers, even if your form is excellent.
I no longer viewed myself as a damaged, aging man. On the contrary... I felt like a happy, healthy, and sane person who was re-discovering the joys of youthful exuberance! Of equal importance was a newfound desire to question most (if not all) of what I had been taught about human health. I continue to constantly re-evaluate what it means to live a fully human life. Through this newfound curiosity, I have found a large and growing community known as the Ancestral Health movement. (aka "Paleo", "clean eating", "real food", etc...)
Most of this blog is devoted to that deliciously playful journey of discoveries. Come with me if you will, as we look behind the veil of conventional wisdom and so-called "Proven Facts" that don't seem to be solving most people's health issues.
I really love biology, physiology, biochemistry, genetics, and many other scientific disciplines that go into the continuing search for fully integrated health. However, I will do my best not to bore or overwhelm you with "science-ey" jargon, and speak to all of these subjects in plain English.
Together, we can explore the "happy little kid, first day of summer vacation, wild animal joy" living within all of us who are human.
OK.... now go outside and play!
Much love and respect- Mo the human
Greetings, fellow humans!
If you have some bananas that are getting a little "past prime", or just craving pancakes, or perhaps you have kids or non-paleo guests who just REALLY want pancakes... you will sooner or later need this recipe.
While not what I'd call a low- carb breakfast, they're quite tasty, and a whole lot more nutrient dense than standard pancakes. (even gluten-free ones are usually just gluten free junk.)
I finally nailed the perfect paleo pancake recipe... I think.
These can also be used as a "tortilla-esque" wrap for any kind of goodies.
Blend in food processor or blender until liquefied:
- 3 ripe (or maybe past ripe) bananas
- 6 eggs (ideally local and from happy outdoor hens)
- 1/2 tsp (or so) cinnamon (optional)
- 1/tsp (or so) vanilla extract (optional)
- 1/4 cup tapioca flour
- 1/2 cup almond (or cashew, or walnut) flour/meal (this can be made by pulsing nuts in a food processor, but it is LOUD)
- To make crepes, simply add 1 or 2 more eggs to the batter.
Cook them just like standard wheat pancakes. Coconut oil or grass-fed butter (I use Kerrygold) is ideal for frying. The tapioca allows them to hold together even at regular pancake size.
Due to high banana content, not much syrup (if any) will be needed.
A nice option is to drop some chunks of pre-cooked bacon to the batter as they are frying.
In my home, we often smear each pancake with almond butter and eat it like a taco.
Of course, the old standard of butter and maple syrup is a hit, but will increase your sugar intake.
Please, do NOT use agave nectar! (It's not the health food we're being lead to believe.)
If you're wanting a recipe with half as many eggs and no bananas, Barefoot and Paleo has another recipe that I really like as well.
Ok, now go outside and play!
Much love and respect- Mo the human
Greetings, fellow humans!
Summertime berries are abundant right now, and I love that.
If you are looking for something to do with your abundance, I might have a solution... My sweet wife has become quite the creator of delicious paleo and "paleoesque" treats. This one is a sure fire winner. (It also happens to be vegan!)
This dish is quick, easy, and (unlike many over-sweetened recipes) allows the fresh fruit to "shine through" with only 4 tablespoons of maple syrup for the whole dish. If you are used to eating a whole food/paleo type diet, this will be a nice change from most "paleo" desserts. If you are used to eating lots of sweets, this dish may be a little tart, but will still be quite tasty.
Preheat an oven to 375 Fahrenheit while you combine the
- 4 cups fresh berries (blueberries seem to work best, but a mix of anything is ok)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Mix all of these in a 6"x8" to 9"x9" oven proof baking dish.
(below is a picture of the filling in a 6"x9" dish)
- 2 cups almond flour (you can make your own by pulsing in a food processor)
- 1 cup rough chopped nuts (slivered almonds, macadamia, walnuts, etc.)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons grade B maple syrup (grade A will do)
- 1/3 cup coconut oil (if your house is cool, you might need to warm it until liquefied)
- Mix all of these in a medium size bowl and then gently sprinkle over your berry filling.
- Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, until topping is browned nicely. ( See photo below. A wider dish will cook a little faster, as ingredients will be spread in a thinner layer)
- Cool and Enjoy! (In moderation, if you can...) Please, try to remember that this should be considered a seasonal TREAT and not a staple of a healthy diet. Living off of "paleo treats" is not going to yield the the same results as "eating paleo".)
My kids like to eat this as a "breakfast treat" with full fat yogurt and a side of bacon. How do you like to use it?
Ok... now go outside and pick some berries!
Much love, Mo the human
Greetings, fellow humans!
I might have sleep apnea, but I have never been properly diagnosed. One thing is for sure, I snore... Badly. Just ask my wife, my brothers, or anyone else who has had the displeasure of trying to sleep near me. For years, these people have told me that I interrupt my loud snoring with holding my breath for long periods, gasping for air, and letting out long "scary sounding" groans in my sleep... All of which sounds a lot like classic sleep apnea.
As you can imagine, I would wake up feeling exhausted, and I'm already working pretty hard at good sleep hygiene.
I have struggled for years with trying to use a CPAP machine to overcome these sleep issues. If you're unfamiliar with CPAP machines, picture a clear hard plastic mask strapped to your head, with a long hose going to a box on your night stand which is forcefully blowing air up your nose.) According to my wife, the sound is about as cozy as snuggling up with Darth Vader!
Happily, all of those problems are a thing of the past thanks to an inexpensive experiment in sleeping grounded! Now, before you go dismissing me as a complete nut, hear me out:
I had my first exposure to the concept of "Earthing" about 5 years ago when I was re-gaining my natural gait and foot health. Michael Sandler made mention of it in his book on barefoot running. However, I quickly dismissed it as superstition and/or placebo effect. To me, the idea of plugging a wire into the ground so I could be electrically "grounded" seemed a little silly.
About a year ago, I was discussing the concept with Synchronicity Wellness owner Dr. Mickra Hamilton, and she lent me Clint Ober's book "Earthing" which had a very lofty subtitle of "The most important health discovery ever?" It was filled with anecdotes and claims of seemingly supernatural shifts in health due to "Earthing". Since the author actually sells something to solve the problem which he "discovered", I once again dismissed the idea as placebo.
This spring, when I was "field testing" a pair of Earth Runners - my new favorite shoes, I started looking into earthing again. On the Earth Runners website, there is an entire section devoted to earthing. I was most intrigued by all the mention of how this can affect our sleep, but still I remained skeptical.
A couple of months ago, my brother and I took our kids camping. Despite staying up way too late by the campfire, I woke up early in the morning feeling refreshed and well rested. "Sorry about my snoring," I said to my brother. He responded with, "You didn't snore."
This got me thinking that perhaps it's time to run an experiment in sleeping while grounded.
- I went to www.Earthing.com and bought a little starter kit for $20. The kit arrived in a small box with two orange wrist bands and an outlet tester. (see pic below)
- I tested the outlet closest to my bed and it was correct.
- I plugged my little wire into the round hole of the outlet, snapped the wire to the wristband on my arm and went to sleep.
- The next morning I awoke feeling quite well rested!
- My wife said I didn't snore at all.
- I didn't hold my breath.
- No creepy groaning sounds...
- I was cured! (or so it seems)
Based on my results, I suggested grounded sleep to one of my closest lifelong friends who has been a snoring "legend" for years. Here is what happened:
"Snoring is something I had accepted would always be an issue with me. I've become very sensitive to how it not only disrupts my sleep, but that of my boyfriend and even guests in other rooms of the house. So I figured what the hell, it was worth a try. The results were amazing! The very first night I not only did not snore at all, but slept like a log and woke up feeling incredibly rejuvenated after only 6 hours of sleep! Needless to say, my boyfriend is pretty happy about it too!"
Here is another quote from another friend of mine who's wife was desperate for something to stop his snoring:
"Grounded sleeping has definitely stopped my snoring, and you can quote me on that. It has also been reported back to me that several others have had the same experience. We did the experiment with the electric meter the other day as well and that was pretty wild to watch the meter act like breakers had been flipped when I touched any of the grounded products i.e. no electricity conduction through me anymore. Crazy cool!"
Recently, I have had quite a few friends and family try grounded sleep and all but one have reported similar results. The one person who doesn't notice feeling better in the morning sleeps alone, so no data on snoring. Admittedly, this is a small sample size, but so far this "experimental treatment" has over a 90% success in treatment of snoring and apnea!
Every night since I began sleeping grounded, my results have been the same. On occasion, my wife will still wake me because I'm snoring. Every time this happens, I fumble in the dark to find that either I had not put on the bracelet or the wire was un-snapped from the bracelet. I'll simply "plug in" and fall asleep with no more snoring.
I'm now considering an "earthing Sheet" to eliminate these little glitches that can happen when sleeping with the bracelet.
For years I've been baffled by the idea that I basically suck at sleeping. However, I'm not alone. Millions suffer from this problem. Snoring, too is an issue for many, even if they don't have apnea. So... Why are so many of us basically incapable of quality sleep? I certainly think being grounded is worth considering as part of quality "sleep hygiene" along with stress, light exposure and looking at faces.
If you want to watch a video explaining some of the ideas behind "earthing"
OK... now go outside and play! (barefoot, if possible.)
Much love and respect- Mo the human
For those of you who are new to my blog, I'm a big fan of natural foot health. As a result, I have spent most of the last 5 1/2 years either barefoot or in minimal, non- structured footwear.
Several months ago, my friend Heidi over at Barefoot and Paleo connected me with Mike from Earth Runner sandals so that I could try a pair of Earth Runners and give them a review... Lucky Me!
My initial impressions of the sandals were quite positive, but I wanted to put in a few miles before writing a review.
It's now safe to say, I've put in far more than just "a few miles". Actually, since these shoes arrived in late January, I've hardly worn anything else on my feet!
Since early in 2010, my poor sweet wife has had to put up with me in Vibram Fivefingers (whenever shoes were actually on my feet). A funny thing has happened thanks to the Earth Runners... I hardly EVER wear Vibram FIve Fingers anymore. This makes her quite happy. In comparison to Vibrams, these sandals are almost "normal" looking!
Anyways... On to the review:
It started with the ordering process. Following instructions on the website was easy, and the nice folks who run this small company are quick to answer email questions. I was assured that custom orders are available if none of the size templates seem right for my foot. I printed a size template from the website and was pleased to see a size 11 actually fits my VERY wide feet! In just a few days, my sandals arrived "fresh" from California where they are made. Below are a few photos of the day my Earth Runners arrived. These were the 6mm thick "Circadian" model. (The most minimal option they make, which is plenty thick for me.)
At first glance, they look like a typical huarache style sandal. If you aren't familiar with huarache style sandals, these are based on the sandals worn by the Tarahumara (aka Raramuri) people in the Copper Canyon area of Mexico, made famous by Chris McDougall's book "Born to Run".
A few common features of huarache sandals:
"zero drop" construction (no difference in sole thickness of the heel and forefoot)
strap between the first and second toes
no arch support (no need in a natural, healthy foot)
some way for the strap to wrap the ankle and hold the sole to your foot (unlike a flip flop, huaraches don't require toe scrunching to keep them on)
The Earth Runners have a few noticeable differences from most other huaraches. The cam-lock buckle and the copper grounding inserts were the first things that caught my eye. The cam-lock buckle and wide, soft leather straps were a huge improvement over any huarache I have worn so far. If you have never worn huaraches before, there is a little learning curve involved in getting them tied just right. Fortunately, with the Earth Runners design, this is much more simple. (see short video below)
Another nice feature of the Earth Runners is their knobby Vibram sole which offers surprisingly good traction on all kinds of surfaces (Including snow and ice). Unlike some huaraches, these soles have been curved up just a little at the edges which makes them less likely to snag on stuff and flap when running like some huaraches do. This 6mm sole offers more than ample protection for every kind of hiking and running that I do. Fortunately, the ground feel is still quite good (for a shoe). These soles are still flexible enough to allow the foot to function as a foot. Other thicker options are available, but I personally like the thinnest option.
When I first tried these sandals on, I immediately noticed the softness of the leather straps and the suede lined footbed. However, (to my surprise) I did NOT notice the sensation of the copper inserts under my feet. The copper inserts are there to offer electrical conductivity. (stay tuned for more on the surprising effects of "Earthing" in a later post) I was concerned that these copper inserts might also conduct cold in the winter and heat in the summer. So far, the only time I noticed a temperature difference was while running and hiking in wet snow.
Admittedly, This is a pretty extreme (and probably unintended) use of the shoe, and even then, the cold wasn't so bad as to be unpleasant. Mike also sent me a nice pair of wool "mitten- like" tabi socks to wear with the sandals during really cold days. Perhaps next winter I will put them to use when things get really cold out again. On rare occasion, when running on really jagged rocks I will step just right so the point of a rock makes a copper insert push up into my big toe just a tiny bit. This isn't enough to be unpleasant, but it's really the only time (other than wet snow) that I even notice the inserts are there.
Here are a few photos from today after numerous miles of hiking and running (I never actually count miles). As one might expect with any natural leather product, they continue to get even more comfortable with time, and conform more to my feet with more use. As the leather straps have formed nicely to my feet they stretched a little so I just trimmed off the extra strap at the ends. On the suede tops are signs of the shoes molding to the shape of my feet. Also, a few water stains are visible on the straps and soles from wet and snowy use. I have very little doubt that these sandals will last a long time. As you can see from the photos below, the soles are just beginning to show signs of very minimal wear after 4 months of daily use walking, hiking, and running on streets and trails around Asheville, NC. At this rate, (as almost the only shoes I wear) they might need replaced in about 5 years... I can live with that.
The copper inserts are just one option for grounding (aka "Earthing") that are offered by Earth Runners. They also offer conductive nylon or leather straps. Initially, I wasn't really convinced that the whole grounding thing was that big of a deal. In a future post, I'll explain how and why my opinion has changed. Suffice to say... I'm into it.
I'm trying to think of anything negative to say about the Earth Runners. Really, I have no complaints! Normally there is something about any product that I would change. (Seriously, ask my family, I modify everything!) OK, maybe the price could be a potential complaint. Admittedly, these aren't the cheapest shoe. However, this is a top quality, durable, handmade product from a small US company with excellent customer service and a truly ethical production model. Without complaint, I will gladly pay full price for my next pair. (That will actually be pretty soon, because my wife wants some now!)
I can certainly say, I give the Earth Runners TEN TOES UP!
OK... now go outside and play!
Much love, Mo the Human
June 2nd update: Mike just offered a discount to Mo the Human customers/friends/blog followers, etc... click this link and use code “Functional10” for 10% off your entire order!
Do you remember how good it felt to be barefoot as a kid? If not, now might be a great opportunity to reconnect with one of life’s great joys!
As with any post on this blog, I am merely sharing my own personal journey in health. I am NOT making any advice as a professional, but rather sharing my own personal experiences. If you would like to set up an appointment with me for top quality movement coaching, please contact me or Apeiron Center for Human Potential so we may work together either in person, or through this magical internet thingie! :)
Below is a partial list of resources for natural foot health and reclaiming your natural human gait. I'll continue to update this list as I learn more about what options exist.
I have spent the last several years re-thinking what makes a proper shoe, what goes into maintaining foot health, and what creates a natural gait while walking and running.This major shift eliminated my chronic knee and foot pain completely... before I even started exploring nutrition and exercise!
NOTE: Purchases made from some of the following shoe company links will give a small percentage back to me. I do NOT promote any shoes that are not in full support of my approach to foot health and natural human movement patterns.
If you'd like to watch a video "Grace in Every Step" explaining many of these ideas, CLICK HERE. (The first 13 minutes gives the most pertinent information.)
Now I'm not trying to convince anyone to go barefoot all the time. There are plenty of times and places where shoes can be quite useful. However, I think it's time we started re-evaluating what constitutes a proper shoe, and how we might benefit from a little more time "au naturale". Over time, exposing our feet to the proper stimulus can be quite pleasant and beneficial to our entire body. Eventually, many folks can reclaim their natural human gait and walk with a fluid, graceful stride rather than the pavement-pounding stride that most of us in the "civilized world" have.
Depending on your current foot health, this process will take some time. For some a few weeks, for some a few years. However, this can be a very enjoyable journey!
Those of us who have spent most of our lives in shoes, however, are in need of a serious "software update" to take advantage of our feet. Once we learn how to feel our feet, we can then move on to building the necessary strength and flexibility to take full advantage of our truly amazing and capable feet. From this platform, we can begin building "foundation" which is a key component in properly integrated core strength. Bunions, hammer toes, plantar fascia issues, knee pain, and even back pain can improve tremendously through carefully training and regaining a natural human gait.
Studies (Like this one) have shown that walking barefoot can reduce dynamic loads on knee joints.
If you have any interest in "finding your foot foundation", consider the "Efficiency exercise" as a careful first step into an exciting new journey.
Expect this to be a joyful, but possibly very slow process. Different people learn at different speeds. Approach this as if you are gardening. You cannot force a plant to bloom. As such, do not force your feet or brain to adapt too quickly. Let this be a short time you take every morning to experience the sensation you brain has been hungry for since childhood.
Finding Your Natural Human Gait Step 1
The “Efficiency” Exercise: Teaching Your Brain to See with Your Feet
Start completely barefoot on a flat, hard, smooth surface such as a wood, tile, or concrete floor. Begin this exercise with the 2nd toe (the one next to your big toe) of each foot facing directly forward. Depending on your habitual gait, this might feel "pigeon toed" at first.
Stand for a moment and gently shift your weight from foot to foot without lifting either foot off the ground.
While looking forward (not down) with a soft gaze and a tall relaxed spine, begin lifting each foot very slightly, then gently placing it onto the ground before you slowly lift the other foot.
With a soft, relaxed ankle, place one foot just barely in front of the other foot. SLOWLY lower the front foot and feel the ground, then wait for the front foot to “invite” your weight onto it. This will involve some gentle contraction of the Gluteal and hamstring muscles in the back leg.
Repeat at a slow, gentle pace. Imagine that with each foot reaching forward you are checking to make sure nothing sharp is underfoot. If you are “thumping”, slow down.
Try the same movement walking backwards. Notice the sensations in your feet.
After some time, you may wish to experiment with some different textures: rough surfaced concrete, dirt, etc… eventually even gravel. This should NOT be painful at any point. Do not rush this. With patience you can avoid possible injury as you slowly regain a very gentle and joyful gait. In time the muscles, tendons, and bones of the feet will become stronger as your brain-foot connection becomes “smarter”.
If you would like to arrange for human potential coaching, please contact the Apeiron Center for Human Potential and our team will do all we can to help you live to your fullest potential.
When it comes to foot self care, and re-learning a natural human stride... One might also start with the Vibram Fivefingers education site by clicking here.
After over 5 years of daily use the admittedly odd-looking Vibram Five Fingers shoes are still my favorite shoe for many occasions. Even if you don't buy any five finger shoes, their site is quite useful for making the slow and careful transition to a more natural stride while walking...
I must emphasize the importance of a SLOW and CAREFUL transition! This process is not just strengthening the atrophied bones, muscles, and connective tissues of the foot and lower leg, but actually re-educating the brain-to-foot connection and completely re-learning how to walk and run.
Lems shoes (Click HERE) is a great option for "normal looking" shoes and boots that allow natural foot function. All of the shoes they offer are light, flexible, zero drop and offer ample toe room for most normal width feet. They also seem to hold up quite well over time. My wife has been quite satisfied with the "primal" (a lightweight fabric sneaker-like option) for several years now. I have seen several clients quite happy in the all leather "9 to five" as a casual office shoe. The "Boulder boot" functions well for anyone wanting a higher boot for hiking or cold weather.
Click here to visit Vivobarefoot (and get a discount code for $15 off any order). This is a great company that offers a wide variety of foot friendly shoes. (even kid shoes!) They have casual, athletic, and sandal options, all of which feature zero drop, flexible soles and a wide toe box. Their "Jing Jing" is one of the office appropriate work shoes that many women love. Unfortunately, if you have an abnormally wide foot like me, most vivobarefoot products will probably be too narrow. Even with "normal" feet, some of their products can crowd the toes just a little too much for my liking.
One of my favorite sites is www.naturalfootgear.com Not only do they offer a wide variety of truly foot-friendly (and somewhat non freaky-looking) shoes, but this site is also a wonderful resource filled with great ideas.... For instance, they sum up my well worn objection with the ever-popular clog pretty well.
If you like the idea of hand made sandals with a grounded connection, I highly recommend Earth Runners! These have become my go-to shoe for most occasions lately, even running in snow! (see below)
I also fully support the use of Dr. Ray McClanahan's product "correct toes"
(EDIT: as of Sept 2018, I now sell correct toes directly! Contact me at 828-450-1299 to get some for YOUR feet or someone you know.)
Correct toes (along with some VERY good shoe options) are also available through www.naturalfootgear.com
Do you think you have plantar fasciitis? The please take a moment to Look at this video.
My Japanese Foot massage mat #1 is an amazing tool! The Japanese foot massage mat #2 looks more aggressive, but is actually more gentle. I use these both as part of my healthy computer workstation plan!
Do you ever wonder how shoes became "standard" for most people in society?
"Whole Body Barefoot" by Katy Bowman is a great introductory text for anyone wanting to regain natural foot function.
"The Barefoot Book" by Daniel Howell, PHD is an older book, but offers a pretty good summary of how I look at foot health and it's affect on full body health. I agree with most of what is in this book, except his recommendation of flip-flops, and a few details on stride. In my opinion, anyone dealing with even minor bunions should avoid shoes that make us grasp the first and second toes together. Also, I'm not as "anti-shoe" as he is. Below are a couple of key photos from this book showing how shoes deform our natural foot shape:
I'm not a competitive runner, but I have managed to fully regain a functional, natural, gentle, JOYFUL human gait!
If you want to RUN with proper technique, PLEASE learn to walk barefoot first!
I offer direct one-on-one instruction in natural human movement, (as well as genetically based human potential coaching) both in person and online if you'd like to schedule a session, more info can be found here.
Also, I highly encourage anyone to read "Barefoot running step by step" by Ken Bob Saxton BEFORE running even a single step in minimal/ "barefoot" style shoes. Otherwise, many people end up trying to "ease" their way into minimal shoes, and still end up with foot injuries.
I now see running as a fun skill to master, and a great form of play and/or transportation. However, I see it as an inefficient form of exercise, and highly unnecessary for most people. (Unless, of course, they enjoy it, which I really do.)
For helping reverse bunions, or hammertoes, one might consider working with me or someone else towards wearing foot friendly shoes and read this article
These are a few of my other favorite shoe brands and websites:
Fae Moon Wolf Designs has great etsy shop for hand made moccasins for kids and adults: (Adult options start at a very reasonable $70!) I am still quite happy with my pair of moccasins after a year of use.
www.softstarshoes.com These folks make moccasin- like shoes and sandals for any size or shape of foot, including kids (and even super-wide hobbit paws like mine). These are what I wore for over 4 years while working at a local spa... Comfortably... ON STONE FLOORS! Did I mention that technique is more important than technology?
Amazon has some inexpensive DIY kits for a basic leather moccasin. For about $20-$30 you can make your own shoes. These are pretty flimsy leather, but offer excellent ground feel and are a fun little project.
Astral footwear loyak is a good minimalist option with a reasonably wide toe box. This Asheville based company makes quality stuff! Sadly, the Loyak is currently the only shoe I can recommend for healthy biomechanics. (EDIT: Another good looking option for women! the Mary Jay!) With enough demand (perhaps if we ask for it, they might make it!) I am hoping they will offer more minimalist options in the future.
Altra running offers a wide variety of "Zero drop" running shoes. Unfortunately, most are far too squishy for my liking, but they do have some "kinda" minimal options, and all of their shoes offer a wide toe box and no heel elevation. If you are already a runner, and not ready to run truly barefoot or in very minimal shoes, you can probably find something from Altra that offers padding similar to your current shoe without the tiny narrow toe box and elevated heel.
Carson Footwear is a small 100% USA made company that offers a line of shoes built specifically for trail running. They are light weight, minimal, and have no heel elevation. The toe box also appears to allow normal toe splay. At 10mm thick, the sole is more than I typically like in a shoe, but offers enough padding that someone who is used to "normal" shoes can still allow more natural use of their feet while still maintaining some degree of cushioning. Again, I must stress that technique is MORE important than equipment when running.
www.xeroshoes.com offers an ever growing list of options including some sandals that DONT go between your toes. (I know for some folks, the "toe wedgie" is a deal breaker... You might consider the "Z-trek" or "Z-trail" option) Their "DIY kit" is by far the cheapest, most durable "barefoot shoe" option on the market. These (along with soft stars and merrell barefoot shoes)are one of the few options available for kids that meet my personal criteria for healthy footwear.
If you need serious cold weather winter boots that still allow natural foot function, look
Chronology Men's dress shoes (Formerly known as "The Primal Professional") While there are some good dress shoe options out there, for men who must wear a suit to work, these seem to be the ONLY top-tier shoe I can recommend. Though I have yet to see a pair in person, I've read nothing but glowing reviews from numerous sources.
Japanese Jika-tabi are an option for zero drop "boots". I have the Soukaido i-98 spike. They are not great for daily wear, but I have found them useful for running a weed eater, and for serious wintertime usage.
If you're a GOLFER, or need waterproof shoes (or just want some semi- normal looking zero-drop shoes)... Check out TRUE linkswear. I must admit, I've never seen a pair of these in person, and the toe box looks a little tight to me.
ZEM footwear seems to have lots of options. I have never seen their stuff in person, but the kid shoes look great!
Primal Evo is a small Polish shoe company that seems totally in line with how I like a shoe to "function". I've yet to see a pair, or even hear from someone who has, but they are certainly worthy of consideration.
For anyone who wants a military-style boot, I think the Belleville Mini-mil is their best option to exist so far. I've yet to see a pair in person, but they look very well made, and Belleville is a highly reputable company.
If you're willing to cough up the dough for a seriously well made, one of a kind custom set of boots, look into elf mountain boots. I have seen several pairs of these in person, and they are very nice!
www.birthdayshoes.com (reviews of almost every minimalist shoe made)
All this, and we haven't even started to discuss the effects of grounding (also known as "earthing") yet! Grounding (being connected to the ground, like that third prong on an electrical outlet) sounded like "lunatic fringe" wacky stuff at first... I'm beginning to think there could be something there.
OK... Now go outside and play! Much love, Mo the human.
Greetings, fellow humans!
Spring has sprung, and for many of us that brings a renewed interest in fitness, outdoor play, and renewal.
If you are looking to "Get fit", lose excess body fat, increase you productivity and performance, or just be healthy, happy, and energetic, there is almost nothing more important than quality sleep. Sadly, the question for many of us is...
For most of my life, I have been a night owl. For years I thought that my "natural tendency" was to stay up till about 2 or 3am and sleep until noon.
I now openly admit that my "Natural tendency" was actually an artificially induced habit. Unfortunately, this habit is quite common in modern society and our mental and physical health are suffering from it. As a population, most folks in the USA get inadequate amounts of sleep, and poor quality sleep.
For today's post, I want to address two major factors affecting our sleep: Light and Faces. I'm pretty convinced that artificial light is the biggest factor we need to be aware of.
Picture how life would have been for any person alive just a few hundred years ago. You don't need to be a biologist to know this is what every part of our human DNA expects to happen:
Regardless of your position in life, you likely spent a lot of time outside. (lots of daylight)
You encountered all the people in your life face to face.
You moved a lot, or maybe just a little, depending on the particular day.
When the sun went down, it was dark.
If there was any light at night it came from a candle or a fire. (Orange light, with no "blue light" in the spectrum)
Perhaps you talked with your family and/ or tribe a little, but you could barely see them.
Night time was dark, quiet, and basically "face free".
Soon after the sun was down, you very likely went to sleep.
Except for the pale (and not very bright) light of the moon, there was no light in the "blue" end of the spectrum. Ever... For all of human history.
However, if we fast-forward to life in modern society, this is our new "normal":
we spend the vast majority of our day indoors. (very little daylight)
we have brilliantly lit homes
we stay awake far past sunset in a beautiful, full color, artificial daylight world
the last thing most of us do before we attempt sleep is look at a computer, tablet, or phone
Our brains interpret all of these cues based on what natural "Normal" is. However, we are accidentally "lying to our brains":
The minimal natural sunlight many of us get gives a weak signal of when "daytime" is.
The modern lights in our homes tell the brain "Daytime!" even after sunset. According to Harvard Health publications "Study after study has linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity."
Every time we see a well lit face, our brain thinks "Daytime!"
We have old sayings that illustrate the unhealthy behavior of staying up late:
"burning the midnight oil"
"burning the candle at both ends"
Of course, we know that these mean someone is doing too much, wearing themselves out, and living in a way that will soon bring them harm...
"Is blue light the new smoking"?
According to a very interesting interview on the "Rewild Yourself" podcast exposure to even a few seconds of full spectrum lights (like the bulbs in your bathroom right now) causes severe suppression of our melatonin. This can have grave consequences for our health.
So... What can we do about it?
Figure out when you plan to wake up, then set an alarm for about 10-11 hours before that. When the alarm goes off, it's time to start your winding down period. This alarm is the time when you will put on your "sunset glasses" (see below). Hopefully, you will also turn off your "Glowing Rectangles" (computers, TVs, iPads, and cell phones.)
A cheap "bio hack" is to use blue blocking goggles. (In my house we call them sunset glasses) If you need a pair to go over prescription glasses, look here. This simple tool will greatly reduce your blue light exposure after dark. Admittedly, they won't win you any fashion points, but they are a great way to fight technology with technology! These lenses block the blue light that is telling the base of your brain "DAYTIME!"
Install f.lux on whatever "Glowing Rectangle" devices you can. (It's free!)
If you have an iPhone, here's a great hack to shift your phone red at night!
(Another option for dark sleep is a bed tent)
since we all must spend some time on a computer, attempt to do "Glowing Rectangle" items in the morning, when we WANT to wake up our brain rather than before bed.
intentionally seek outdoor time during the day to get full spectrum daylight when you WANT your brain to get a "daytime" signal.
Here’s a flashlight with independent switches for a single red led (no melatonin disruption) as well as 5 very bright white LEDs (for "emergency use only” in my opinion):
many headlamps offer red led settings as well. It looks like this one has a separate switch for the red lights.
Here’s a very interesting podcast discussing the very serious implications blue light and melatonin disruption. "Is blue light the new smoking"?
Of course, there are lots of other reasons for poor sleep including chronic stress (Get a massage!) , caffeine and other stimulants, poor movement and exercise habits, (Schedule a fitness session!) and malnutrition.
Whether your goals are to be more productive, live longer, lose excess fat, or just feel better on a daily basis... You NEED QUALITY SLEEP!
OK, now go outside and play!
Much love and respect, -Mo the human
For those who want to geek out a little more on the science stuff: