Monday, July 16, 2012

Shoes are bad? What?

 Shoes are Bad? What? 

So we have grown up wearing shoes. Many of us didn't wear shoes as children during the summer. But shoes are an essential and unquestionable part of life aren't they? Sometimes though it is good to question the standards and shoes is one of those standards. Shoes are designed to protect our feet from stepping on glass and rocks and other pointy things and keep them warm in the winter. They are designed to "support" our feet; support is good right? Arch support and nice thick heels to dampen the shock. Ok well I have been on a journey for many years now which is leading me away from shoes, back to nature. We humans didn't have fancy running shoes until the Space Shuttle came into being; since around 1970. So for 52 years out of 200,000 years we have been wearing "hi-tech" shoes that are supposed to fix our flawed feet.  Is it working?  It seems that 80% of runners get injuries so I am thinking shoes aren't living up to what they promise or at least what we think they are supposed to do.  Maybe, our flawed poor feet aren't so bad.  And maybe they are not even flawed at all.   Maybe our feet don't need any support or padded heals or springs or air bladders or orthotics.  Is it possible that barefoot is best?  Could shoes actually be bad for feet?  Could they be responsible to running injuries and ankle, knee, hip, back and neck problems?  Well, I have heard that if you go barefoot too much you will get flat feet!  Isn't that true?  In India where the poor kids don't have shoes and the rich kids do, more rich kids have flat feet than the poor kids.  Yeah, that's right.  Wearing shoes too much can give you flat feet!  But what about all that arch support; doesn't that help?  Well if you ask me, when something is supported too much it gets weak.  By definition an arch is a support.  Have you ever seen a supported arch in a bridge or building?   Use it or lose it right?  So what about those cushy heel pads; those have to be good right?  They protect our heel when we run and walk and land on our heels.  Think about how much that would hurt if we didn't have that cushioning.  But wait.... who ever said that we are supposed to land on our bony heels when we run?  I personally don't think it makes very much sense to land on a bony heel.  What did they do for 199,948 years before they came out with those cushy heels on running shoes?  Could they all have been in constant pain?   Or maybe they didn't land on their bony heels.  Perhaps they landed on the balls of their feet when they ran.  Hey, that kind of make sense if I think about it.  If I land on the ball of my foot it is like a shock absorber.  My arch acts like a spring to ease my foot to the ground.  I bet if I ran like that it would give my arch a pretty good workout.  I am even thinking that my arch would get stronger; is that possible?  I think it may be.
  Is there any evidence for these crazy ideas?  Well there is actually.  This link is to Harvard University's Skeletal Biology Lab, where Professor Lieberman and company studied the difference between running with shoes and without shoes.  What he found was that running with shoes predisposes us to heel strike and that when we heel strike it causes quite an impact.  They said it is like hitting your heel with a hammer with the force of 2 times your weight... Pow!  People that run using a fore-foot strike or landing on the ball of your foot, there is only a gradual rise in force meaning it is low impact.
Also upon actually running barefoot himself, Professor Lieberman said it was actually quite fun to run barefoot; it was very freeing.  So running with high tech shoes is a high impact activity and barefoot running is a low impact activity.  You have to wonder if running in fancy running shoes are actually cause injuries rather than preventing them.  All that high impact force on our joints step after step has got to cause some issues with our joints.
   The first time I ran barefoot or should I say with a fore foot strike (with my Vivobarefoot shoes) it was was really cool; it was actually fun!  I haven't run in 10 years and even if I would run 10 steps it would aggravate some sensitive parts of mine (I won't go into detail).  So now I know it was the harsh impact.  Also my hip would snap too (IT band problem). Now I can run 2 miles barefoot with no pain or negative side effects.  It is low impact and my stride is shorter so it doesn't seem to aggravate my hip.
   So that is a lot about running; what about walking?  So Doctor Rossi, a doctor of Podiatry wrote an article about why it is impossible to walk naturally with shoes on.  His bottom line is this (fyi, gait = walking or stride): 
"It took four million years to develop our unique human foot and our consequent distinctive form of gait, a remarkable feat of bioengineering. Yet, in only a few thousand years, and with one carelessly designed instrument, our shoes, we have warped the pure anatomical form of human gait, obstructing its engineering efficiency, afflicting it with strains and stresses and denying it its natural grace of form and ease of movement head to foot. We have converted a beautiful thoroughbred into a plodding plowhorse.
True, despite all these shoe-induced handicaps or gait, the human species is doing fine. But we might make our lives a shade better if we could find a way to regain our natural manner of walking and at the same time keep our shoes on our feet."
   As stated above, most shoes prevent our natural way of walking or our gait.  However, with more careful shoe designs we might be able to have our cake and eat it too.  Some of the new minimalist shoes do a pretty good job of simulating barefoot.  I personally have been wearing VivoBarefoot shoes for many years as they have a 4mm thick sole and a wide toe box so my toes can splay or spread. I have a pair of Komodosport Vibram Five Fingers and also have recently bought a pair of "Invisible Shoes" which are huaraches, the kind of shoes people have worn for thousands of years.  Basically it is two thin pieces of rubber with three holes where the laces go through to strap them on to your feet.   These shoes give the feedback I need to keep a better posture and work the way I was designed to walk.  So yes sometimes my heels start to hurt, but it's not the shoes that are the problem; I don't need more padding.  I just need to stand up straight and then my heels almost lift off the ground.  So feedback is good; maybe it should be called feetback.
  If you are having any trouble with your feet, ankles, knees, hips, back or neck, consider minimal shoes or barefoot whenever possible.  It takes time to adjust and relearn how to walk and run.  It's not a quick fix.  I think of it as a journey to self-awareness.  Take it slow.  If you run 5 miles a day only run the last half mile barefoot and gradually build up.  Too much too fast can cause pain and even injury.  Our muscles have to get strengthened as well as flexibility is a factor as well.  If you always wear shoes, only go barefoot for a part of the day and work your way up to the whole day.  I have found it to be a great adventure.  I hope you do too.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Fish Oil (the key to human survival as we know it?)

I listened to a really good podcast from "The Healthy Mind" called Fish Oil & Your Mood, Dr. Sears Interview.  Dr. Zafirides is good, but he seems kind of hokey at in his intros and conclusions.

 I have actually listened to it two or three times.  Dr. Sears wrote the book "The Zone Diet", which is really a book about having an anti-inflammatory diet.  (I just put in his picture; I didn't picture him to look like that.)

His father and all the males in his family died of heart attacks by age 55 so he know if he did not want to die at the same age he needed to do something different.  He basically goes with the primal diet, meat (grass-feed beef and other healthy meats), vegetables, berries, nuts and seeds and things like that; things that existed prior to the agricultural "revolution" - Hunter gather that is.  An he tells a story of how humans were just barely hanging on and then we stumbled upon shell fish (omega-3's) and then our brains started getting bigger and we got the edge and really started doing well.  Our grandmothers or great grandmother's knew that it was important to take your cod liver oil, get outside and get some sun and run around, but that has been lost along the way.  Today the average person eating a SAD diet (that is Standard American Diet) is getting very little Omega-3 fatty acid and a lot of Omega-6 fatty acid.  It used to be 1:2 ratio, but know it is more like 1:20 or worse, which causes inflammation(the root of most modern diseases).  He cited a rat experiment where the first generation received plenty of Omega-3's, and they were smart rats with no problems, then the generation was deprived of omega-3's and in fact they did quite well and were also relatively smart and free from problems, then the third generation was also deprived from Omega-3's and they were remarkably less smart, they exhibited symptoms of depression, anxiety and were having trouble reproducing.  Sound familiar?  And another thing he believes is that once we fish out our seas, then whoever figures out how to produce Omega-3 fatty acids (with algae or whatnot) will retain their humanity while the rest of us will revert back into intellectually challenged and aggressive "humans".  It's kind of scary.  So I am taking my fish oil!  And I am feeding my family as much fish oil as I can.  I prefer Carlson, The Finest Fish Oil (16oz bottle-lemon flavored) or recently the Vitamin Shoppe claims that they get their fish oil from Carlson and it does tastes exactly the same to me (and it's cheaper).

  It does pass Dr. Sears purity test which is to freeze some of it and if does not freeze solid then it's good, other wise it is the sewer of the sea.  Also, breaking open capsules and smelling the oil is a good indicator; if it is nasty smelling then it's not good oil. Check out your fish oil at the International Fish Oil Standard (IFOS) website who test fish oils for purity.  Carlson ranks up there with Dr. Sear's fish oil.
  I am trying to take at least 4 teaspoons a day which is about 6 grams.  If you take a placebo does you get placebo results, if you take a therapeutic dose you get therapeutic results.  I will back off in a few months 3 grams or so.  This is supposed to help with heart health, depression, hormonal issues, anxiety, ADHD, etc.....

Good luck and have a healthy brain and heart,

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Carbs Can Kill by Dr. Su

I have recently joined the 21st century and I learned how to download podcasts!  There is a wealth of information out there and we don't even have to pay for it.

Dr. Su's podcast are pretty good.  I have learned a lot about the effects of carbs on our bodies.  My favorite podcasts so far are the one's on Alzheimer's, on cancer and on dental issues.

Dr. Su has a heavy accent so that takes some getting used to and sometimes the people he interviews use very technical language, but if you are interested in some heavy duty health knowledge it is a great place to learn.

One of the best podcasts was:

86: Dr. Mary Newport on Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was A Cure?

  Dr. Newport's husband has Alzheimer's and she tried to get him into every clinical trial she could and in the process came to find that one of the trials was really just MCT (medium chain triglycerides) which found in coconut oil.  Here husband was getting pretty bad, not scoring high enough on the tests, indicating he was too far gone, but on the morning before driving a few hours to a trial she gave him 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 3 hours later when he took the test he test score much higher than he had been scoring in years!  So in addition to reducing processed foods and limiting carbs ( which she had already been doing), she started giving him coconut oil on a regular basis (twice a day) and as her husband put it, "The light came back on"  He couldn't even use a computer anymore; but after taking coconut oil he was able to use the computer again.  Basically it helped him get back to a much better state and then is keeping him there.  It is not a cure, but it can really help.  
    The way it helps is that people with Alzheimer's cannot properly process glucose (sugar) in the power factories (mitochondria) in their neurons and so their neurons essentially have no energy source so they start dying off.  Our brains can use an alternative fuel called ketones.  Ketones are derived from fat and medium chain fatty acids from coconut oil are easy to break down and go straight to energy.  They become a fuel source for the neurons in the brain.  Fat is not evil, contrary to popular belief.  The real villain is sugar (too much sugar).  Alzheimer's can be seen as diabetes of the brain; as it become unable to process sugar.  So if you know anyone with Alzheimer's you might suggest for them or their loved ones to read listen to the podcast or go to Dr. Newports website or read her book, but don't delay, because one the brain cells die they don't come back.

More will follow about other podcasts from Dr. Su that I really liked ....

Friday, April 20, 2012

Born to Run

Has anyone read the book "Born to Run"?  I am almost done reading it and it is awesome!  It is written by a extreme sports enthusiast/journalist, who couldn't run 3 miles a week without having major joint issues.  So the book is about his quest to learn how to run.  It reads like an adventure novel and it is really well written.  I highly recommend it, especially for people who run and for people who hate running as well.

I haven't run any distance for like ten years until just recently.  I have a snappy hip and it gets sore when I run; it's from a tight iliotibial band (IT) band I believe.  I used to tell people that I only run when I am being chased!  But after learning about barefoot running and forefoot strikes and actually trying it, I think I can run again with out pain.  Fore foot strikes are shorter strides and a whole different motion than the standard heel strike.  There is a great website on this by Harvard University.  So heel strikes can cause some serious impact to our bodies:
 but forefoot strikes do not:
If you look at these graphs that show the force verses time you can see that heel strike have a really sharp rise, that means that over a very short period of time there is a lot of force put one our bodies.  It's like hitting your heel with a hammer with 300 lbs of force (if you weight 150ish pounds).  That impact force goes into the ankle, knees, hips and spine.  Looking at the forefoot strike, the rise or slope is more gradual.  It's difference of someone shoving/punching you with twice your weight (in force) verses someone pushing you gradually, but forcefully.  So forefoot running can be seen as actually a low impact exercise where as heel striking is a high impact exercise. 

So this journalist had to travel far and wide to learn the "secret" to running.  How to run and why we run in the first place.  It is a fascinating book and has inspired me to run!  I have an urge to go run just for the fun of it.  I used to always hate the term "Fun-run".  Running fun?  I don't think so.  But maybe it is after all; it's not just the runner's high.... it is part of who we are.

Check it out and let me know your thoughts.

Benefits of Grounding (earthing)

Effects of grounding (earthing) that I have experienced first or second hand:

The biggest thing for me that I have noticed is that earthing improves my blood circulation.  Normally when I get in bed at night my hands are cold, even when it is not winter,  BUT within 5 minutes on putting my feet flat down on my grounding sheet my hands are warm!  And in the past I have tried many things to warms up my hands (for my wife's sake) like putting them in front of a heater for instance.  That doesn't really work that well and it takes a long time.  Also with the bottoms of my feet planted on the sheet, they tingle and get really warm, so much so that sometimes I have to take my feet off the grounding sheet.
 So above is the sheet.  What you are looking at is a natural cotton sheet with no dyes and silver thread in a grid pattern.  This sheet has a place to snap on a cord that connects to the third prong of a properly wired electrical outlet.

The next thing I have noticed is people that snore, stop snoring when grounded.  The reason for that is that grounding makes overly lax muscles tighter and overly tense muscles relax.  Snoring, at least most snoring, is the result of a flabby muscle in our throats.  Snoring can be cured by practicing singing which tones up those muscles, but grounding does it with no work involved.  I suspect that not snoring contributes to a more restful sleep that many people experience when sleeping grounded.

Throw away that ice pack, just ground that inflamed injury.  I tweaked my back man handling a twin mattress.  This type of "tweak" would normally be a major issue that would cause my back to spasm which in turn makes my back protect the injury and I would be contorted (croaked).  I wouldn't be able to do normal activities for at least 3 days.  It would normally be a big deal.  I would have been icing it every hour and going to the chiropractor, but I went for my homemade grounding mat and laid on it for about one and a half hours and then got up and I was able to continue my day.  That same evening I grounded it all night and the next day my back tweak was a 0.2 on a pain scale of 0-10.  It was pretty amazing. 

The other thing I have noticed is that I don't get as sore from exercising when I ground myself.  Something that would normally make me really sore is just minor nuisance instead of a really noticeable muscle soreness.  There is a study on this delayed muscle soreness (DOMS).

And it does seem to work as a great anti-inflammatory remedy.  I ran a mile for the first time in 10 years or so in my Vibram Five Finger shoes with a fore-foot strike (not heel toe like most people run) and my calves were kind of sore, but when I walked around barefoot I didn't even notice the soreness, but as soon as put shoes on VFF or Vivobarefoot shoes (which insulate me from earth ground) I could feel my sore calves.  I have emailed these shoe makers asking them to make shoes with conductive soles (just add a bit of carbon to the rubber), but so far no response.  However, there are some shoes out there that are grounded like Juil sandals and Grounders.  I don't like flip-flops so I don't think I would by Grounders, but the juil sandals maybe I could go for those; but they do have a lot of padding which I don't want. I am actually trying to toughen up the bottoms of my feet so I can go barefoot as often as possible, but that goes against the social norm (especially in stores) and I only do that when I am feeling rebellious or I just don't feel like putting on "stupid" shoes.  Shoes have a purpose, but I think they should work with our feet and not try to make them work in a way they were never meant to work (heel-toe), but that is a topic for another post.  I digress....

So I am really liking earthing.  I feel like it's a secret weapon to stay young and feel good.

Anyone else have some benefits to share?

Earthing Web Links

So some of the good websites I have found about earthing are:

The original site:
 I especially like the resources tab that has all the research papers.  I have read many of them.  Some get pretty technical, especially the one entitled " The Earth’s Electrical Surface Potential A summary of present understanding"  It is all about the earth's electrical properties.  It is very interesting, more than I have ever even wanted to know about the complex nature of our planet.

The next site is the commercial site where people can buy earthing products:

So far I have I have bought two starter kits, one for me and one for my mother, for a retirement gift.  I have also bought electrode patches and the car pads for some friends of mine.  I thought I could make a cheaper product, but it's not so easy to make anything really durable.  I hope to buy more and maybe get a bulk discount so I can have friends and family try it out and if they like it they could pay for it or send it back to me.

The next site is from Dr. Sinatra, the cardiologist:

An interview with Dr. Sinatra (this one is really good):

Earthing, among other things, was used in the Tour de France.  So Lance Armstrong does have mention of earthing:

Here is where you could buy the book:

Here is a really cool earthing experiment that I will try as soon as get four vases and 4 sunflowers:

Interviews by Dr. Mercola (where I learned about earthing among other things):
  If you want to see a good interview with Clint Ober, the guy who stumbled upon this concept:

  Another interview with ClintOber (a demonstration):

  An interview with  Dr. James Oschmann about earthing:

David Wolfe and earthing (there is also a video about grounding plants on this site):

Articles from ESD Journal:
So below are some results a test was run for a period of 30 days and below are the results where "23 - 85%" means 23 people representing 85% of the total people:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Earthing - How to make a grounding (earthing) mat

How To Make An Earthing Blanket