This summer, I gradually transitioned into minimal and grounding footwear. My sandal of choice? Earth Runners! Excitedly, I unopened my new pair…. I had been anticipating this for close to six months already. I had read up on the health benefits of zero-sole shoes as well as grounding (see below for benefits). These sandals fit the bill on both counts! Read on to discover how I transitioned during my ‘summer in Earth Runners.’
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Benefits of Zero-Sole Shoes
Why would someone like myself – a petite 5’2″ frame ever want to go zero-sole? I mean, one of my biggest prayers growing up was that God would please just add an inch or two to my height?? But, it turns out sticking close to the ground is the way to go for ideal foot musculature.
Here are just three of the reasons podiatrist Dr. Maurer explains that normal shoes really aren’t that great for your feet:
- Barefoot movement builds arch musculature. This is why the muscles of the arch of your feet can’t strengthen when provided with all the support of shoes!
- The weight of shoes themselves changes the biomechanics of your feet. They do this by changing the angle your ankle, knee and leg take when they hit the ground.
- Our toes were designed to spread out as much as possible so they can dissipate the force of our movement properly. Most shoes do not allow for proper ‘splay’ as it’s called.
For the rest of his reasons, check out Dr. Maurer’s fascinating video.
Likewise, Katy Bowman of Nutritious Movement.com says, “Any shoe with a positive heel, even 1-2” causes your joint alignment to be displaced 20-40 degrees. That causes your body to pitch forward, and in order to remain upright with your eyes on the horizon; you have to deform the natural alignment of your ankles, knees, pelvic tilt, and spinal curvature.”
The flexibility of the sole is also important. In the words of a child, “wherever the shoe isn’t flexible, the parts of your foot can’t be flexible either!”
Would you like to challenge yourself to go barefoot walking regularly, but don’t know where to start? Check out my beginner-friendly guide and checklist to “30 Days to Barefoot Walking“.
Benefits of Grounding
Earth Runners are unique because there is a copper plug in the bottom that allows your body to ‘ground’ without going cold-turkey barefoot running. This grounding plug is then connected to the sandal strap containing metal threads so the whole sandal is conductive. What is so cool about grounding??
Our bodies are conductive and every cell and organ in your body is conductive. The earth carries a negative electric charge. Our bodies – if not connected to the earth in some way – carries a positive charge. Add in rubber soled shoes, carpets, flooring, wifi etc and the positive charge increases. Grounding neutralizes that charge. When we’re grounded, negative electrons from the earth literally coat each of our cells causing them to repel each other and allow for free flow between the cells.
The outstanding documentary “The Earthing Movie” has a fascinating scan of the blood cells of a grounded person and non grounded person. (This insightful documentary is free on You Tube.) The red blood cells actually stop clumping together, begin spacing out and start moving around more freely while grounded! (Minute 37:11) Clint Ober’s study on 60 people showed reduced TMJ, PMS, pain, inflammation and better sleep! (Minute 27:23).
“When we’re grounded, negative electrons from the earth literally coat each of our cells causing them to repel each other and allow for free flow between the cells.”
In addition, Dr. Laura Koniver explains that due to the connectivity of our body, through grounding, every organ in our body can experience healing! (Skip to about the middle of the video for the good stuff.)
Similarly, Mike from Earth Runners says that “disease happens when cells have too little voltage and that our health depends on the electrical charge within and around our cells.”
These are a lot of positive reasons to go negative with your electrons! I enjoyed ‘The Earthing Movie’ so much I made my own video giving you the nutshell version and the most pertinent points of the documentary! If you’re pumped to learn more about grounding and want to challenge yourself to ground regularly, check out my “30 Days to Grounded” guide!
Now… back to my Summer!!
We had just moved to a Texas suburb where we found a temporary home where we could wait out covid. Fortunately, the home had access to a beautiful walking trail right outside the front yard.
While the trail is concrete, one can walk on the slightly bumpy and sometimes angled terrain of the perfectly trimmed grass lining either side of the trail. The walker will enjoy the trees and the somewhat stagnant stream that meanders down the center. A usual sight is several squirrels playfully chasing each other around and a possible crane angling for a catch.
So, I really had no excuse not to make full use of these lovely sandals!
My Summer in Earth Runners
Month 1 (April) – In the beginning, my feet were not used to the way the sandals felt or how the straps felt between my toes. I tried them out a couple of times but definitely didn’t live in them.
Month 2 (May) – I adjusted the toe strap slightly and decided to use them for our once or twice weekly walks. Surprisingly, it was my calves that felt the change the most. Both my calves and my feet felt the change and walking seemed to take about twice the effort!
Month 3 – (June) My feet finally adjusted to the feeling of the straps and my feet/legs felt a little more at home with the feeling of walking in them. I didn’t have to fiddle with straps anymore.
Month 4 – (July) By now, these puppies became my second skin! I could slip them on and off easily. My muscles felt stronger and walking in them didn’t seem to be much harder than walking in my old walking shoes. They are walking through wet dewy grass and muddy patches after rains.
Month 5 (August) In August, I started an exercise program that requires me to walk 45 minutes per day 5-6 times a week, so my Earth Runners were definitely getting tested! I had to walk further, so I covered ground with roots exposed, scattered nuts, and even more angled stretches.The whiteness of the toe and ankle straps faded a bit and my footprint has become dark brown on the cloth footbed. That’s all OK! I’m living in these guys and they were doing some heavy lifting!
Month 6 (September) I made you a little video of how to wear the Earth Runners… they take some time to figure out the straps but once you’ve adjusted them and worn them awhile, slipping them on is easy and they fit like a glove!
The Earth Runner Company
All in all, my summer in Earth Runners has been fantastic! I love supporting a local company that supports two important health strategies, and I truly think everyone should own a pair. I’m grateful to have something protecting my feet from occasional glass, thorns, and rough patches while still getting the benefits of grounding! They’re certainly pricy, but completely worth it. I’d rather have one solidly crafted, health promoting pair of shoes than six fashion shoes that cramp my toes, create health hazards and do zilch to help me ground.
At the end of the day, I’ll admit I don’t wear these to everything, all the time. I mainly use them for my ‘nature’ outings where I know I’ll be able to get some grounding in such as walks in the park, lake outings, trail hikes, etc. Yet, so far, they’ve been my summer mainstay.
They claim it’s the closest thing to barefoot running you can get, and I’d have to agree! The options are 6, 8, and 10 mm Vibram rubber soles depending on how hard-core “zero-sole” you want to get! I started with the Circadian sandal because I wanted to get as “zero-sole” as I could while still giving myself decent padding for the more serious treks.
Ultimately, I just can’t be more enthusiastic about these sandals! Matt even tested his own sandals in this video with a voltmeter and the difference is amazing!) The company has even created socks with a special toe-strap opening, so you can keep wearing these through winter!
If you’re curious and would like to look at the options available, check them out:
To grounding and getting ‘negatively charged’ in a ‘positively charged’ world…!;)