Unveiling the Secrets of Foot Health: Insights From Ancient Cultures and Their Footwear Practices

Aimee CoustierView post →


Throughout history, various cultures have recognized the importance of foot care and developed footwear practices that not only protected the feet but also promoted their health and vitality. But today, we seem to neglect to recognize the importance of the health of our feet. By looking back at the ancient wisdom of these civilizations, we can unveil a treasure trove of knowledge on maintaining strong and healthy feet.

Understanding the Importance of Foot Health

Our feet, comprising 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments, bear the weight of our entire physical vessel, making them susceptible to wear and tear over time. Neglecting foot health can lead to various foot-centric ailments such as bunions, corns, plantar fasciitis and arthritis– but it may not stop there. The feet are quite literally the foundation which supports the rest of our body upstream, and if our foot health is compromised, our entire musculoskeletal system is at risk.

For example, you don’t have to wear stilettos to suffer the consequences of a raised heel. From modern business shoes to running shoes, and even ballet “flats,” a raised heel is almost unavoidable (unless you intentionally seek out minimalist footwear). Even a few degrees of heel lift can throw the whole spine out of alignment, increasing risk of injury or chronic pain.

Lessons from Ancient Civilizations

Ancient civilizations recognized the significance of foot health and devised their own methods to protect and care for their feet. From the Egyptians to the Greeks, and the Romans to the Indigenous peoples, each culture had its own unique approach to footwear that reflected its environment, lifestyle, and beliefs.

Egyptian Sandals: A Blend of Style and Function

In ancient Egypt, footwear was not just a practical necessity but also a symbol of social status. Egyptian sandals, often crafted from papyrus, palm leaves, or leather, featured intricate designs and were adorned with jewels and precious metals. Despite their ornate appearance, these sandals provided ample support and protection for the feet, allowing the wearer to navigate the harsh desert terrain comfortably.

Greek Sandals: Embracing Barefoot Freedom

The ancient Greeks valued physical fitness and athleticism, evident in their preference for minimalistic footwear. Greek sandals, known as "krepis" or "cothurnus," were simple in design, consisting of a sole attached to the foot with leather straps. This style allowed for maximum flexibility and encouraged a more natural gait, akin to walking barefoot. Greek athletes, including Olympians, often competed barefoot or wore these lightweight sandals during sporting events.

Roman Caligae: Engineering for Endurance

In contrast to the Greeks, the Romans prioritized durability and practicality in their footwear. The "caligae," worn by Roman soldiers, was a sturdy sandal with thick leather soles studded with hobnails for enhanced grip and traction. Designed for long marches and rigorous military campaigns, caligae provided ample protection against rough terrain and inclement weather, ensuring the soldiers' feet remained resilient and agile on the battlefield.

Indigenous Moccasins: Harmonizing with Nature

Indigenous cultures across the globe, from North America to Australia, crafted footwear that honored their connection to the earth. Moccasins, made from soft leather or hide, were meticulously designed to mimic the shape of the foot, providing a snug yet comfortable fit. These versatile shoes allowed for unhindered movement and sensory feedback, enabling Indigenous peoples to traverse diverse landscapes with ease while maintaining a profound respect for nature.

Tarahumara Huarache Sandals: A Testament to Minimalist Mastery

Among the many indigenous cultures renowned for their intimate connection to the land and remarkable footwear traditions, the Tarahumara of Northwestern Mexico stand out for their mastery of minimalist footwear. The Tarahumara, also known as the Rarámuri, have long been celebrated for their exceptional running; traversing rugged terrain with unparalleled agility and endurance.

At the heart of their remarkable feats lies the humble huarache sandal, a minimalist footwear marvel crafted from little more than leather or recycled tire rubber. These simple yet ingeniously designed sandals conform closely to the contours of the foot, offering protection from sharp rocks and thorns while allowing for unrestricted movement and unparalleled ground-feel. The Tarahumara remind us that true foot health transcends the complexities of modern footwear, advocating for a return to simplicity and harmony with the earth.

Modern Minimalism: Healthy Footwear in the 21st Century

As awareness grows regarding the importance of foot health and the benefits of minimalist footwear, a new wave of innovative companies is emerging, dedicated to crafting shoes that prioritize the foot's natural biomechanics. One such example is Earth Runners, a company inspired by ancient wisdom and modern technology to create footwear that nurtures the foot and fosters a deeper connection to the earth.

Earth Runners' huarache-style sandals, reminiscent of those worn by the Tarahumara, feature a minimalist design that allows for maximum freedom of movement and sensory feedback. Our sandals encourage foot health via proper alignment and muscle engagement: promoting stronger, healthier feet with every step.

Applying Ancient Wisdom to Modern Foot Care

While our footwear may have evolved significantly since ancient times, the principles of foot health remain timeless. Incorporating elements of ancient footwear practices into our modern lifestyles can help alleviate common foot problems and promote overall well-being. Here are some tips inspired by ancient cultures:

  1. Choose Quality Over Quantity: Invest in well-crafted footwear made with durable materials to keep your feet securely protected wherever you wander.
  2. Prioritize Foot-Conscious Footwear: Opt for shoes that allow for natural movement and flexibility.
  3. Practice Barefoot Walking: Spend time walking barefoot on different surfaces to strengthen your muscles and improve proprioception.
  4. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any discomfort or pain in your feet. The transition to minimalist footwear should be done gradually to allow your feet to strengthen.

By drawing inspiration from the wisdom of ancient cultures, we can cultivate a deeper appreciation for our feet and embark on a journey toward optimal foot health.

From Tradition to Trend: The Resurgence of Barefoot Shoes in the Modern World

Aimee CoustierView post →

In recent years, there has been a notable resurgence of interest in barefoot shoes, a footwear style that harkens back to ancient human traditions while embracing modern design and functionality. Barefoot shoes, often characterized by their thin soles and flexible construction, are gaining popularity among athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, and everyday individuals seeking a more natural and minimalist approach to footwear.

What is a “Barefoot Shoe” – (AKA: isn’t that an oxymoron?)

While you aren’t technically barefoot if you’re wearing shoes, barefoot shoes are made to mimic the benefits of being barefoot while providing some protection from sharp textures or contaminants underfoot.

One of the key features of barefoot shoes is their thin and flexible sole, which allows for greater proprioception and sensory feedback. This means wearers can better feel the ground beneath their feet, which can lead to improved posture, gait, and overall foot health. Additionally, the minimalist design encourages the muscles and tendons in the feet and lower legs to work more actively, reducing the risk of injury and strengthening the foot's natural arches.

Another aspect that sets barefoot shoes apart is their wide toe box, which allows the toes to splay naturally and engage with the ground, promoting stability and balance. Traditional shoes often compress the toes, leading to issues such as bunions, hammertoes, and neuromas. Barefoot shoes, on the other hand, give the toes room to move freely, fostering a more natural and comfortable fit.

The Resurgence of Barefoot Shoes in the Modern World

The concept of barefoot shoes is rooted in the idea of allowing the foot to move and function as it would in its natural state, unencumbered by the constraints of traditional footwear. Historically, many indigenous cultures around the world have utilized minimalist footwear or even gone barefoot entirely, recognizing the benefits of increased sensory feedback, improved balance, and enhanced foot strength.

However, it wasn't until relatively recently that barefoot shoes gained traction in the mainstream market. In the early 2000s, spurred by a growing interest in natural movement and minimalist lifestyles, a handful of innovative footwear companies began designing and producing shoes that mimicked the experience of being barefoot while still offering protection from the elements.

‘Born to Run’ and the Barefoot Shoes Renaissance

One pivotal moment in the resurgence of barefoot shoes was the publication of Christopher McDougall's bestselling book, Born to Run. Released in 2009, the book captivated readers with its exploration of the Tarahumara, an indigenous tribe in Mexico known for their exceptional running abilities and their preference for running barefoot or in minimalist sandals called huaraches.

McDougall's narrative not only shed light on the remarkable endurance feats of the Tarahumara, it also challenged conventional wisdom about running footwear. He argued that modern running shoes, with their thickly cushioned soles and arch support, may actually contribute to injuries by encouraging a heel-striking gait and weakening the muscles of the feet and legs.

The book sparked a reevaluation of traditional running shoes and inspired many readers to experiment with barefoot running or minimalist footwear. Suddenly, the idea of running without heavily padded shoes seemed not only feasible but also desirable for those seeking a more natural and efficient running form.

Born to Run helped popularize the concept of barefoot running and brought attention to the benefits of minimalist footwear, igniting a wave of interest in barefoot shoes among runners and fitness enthusiasts. Manufacturers responded to this growing demand by developing a wide range of barefoot-inspired shoes designed to provide protection and grip while still allowing for a barefoot-like experience.

Taking Barefoot Shoes One Step Further with Earthing

While the concept of barefoot shoes is rooted in the idea of mimicking the biomechanical experience of being barefoot, some innovative footwear companies have taken this concept even further by integrating the practice of earthing, also known as grounding, into their designs. One notable example of this is Earth Runners, a brand that specializes in minimalist sandals with a unique feature: a copper earthing plug and conductive laces that allow wearers to stay connected to the Earth's energy, just as they would if they were actually barefoot.

The concept of earthing is based on the idea that direct contact with the Earth's surface can have numerous health benefits, including reduced inflammation, improved sleep, and enhanced overall well-being. Proponents of earthing argue that modern lifestyles, characterized by wearing insulated shoes and spending much of our time indoors, have disconnected us from the Earth's natural electrical charge, leading to a host of health problems.

Earth Runners seeks to address this disconnect by designing barefoot sandals that facilitate the flow of electrons between the body and the Earth. The design of Earth Runners sandals is inspired by the huarache sandals of the Tarahumara: with a twist. When the wearer walks on the ground, the copper plug creates a direct connection between the body and the Earth, allowing for the transfer of electrons and the exchange of energy.

The incorporation of earthing into barefoot footwear represents a synergistic blend of ancient wisdom and modern technology, offering wearers the opportunity to reap the benefits of both. By staying connected to the Earth's energy while wearing minimalist shoes that promote natural movement, individuals can experience a deeper sense of connection to the world around them and support their overall health and well-being.

From Tradition to Trend... to Timeless

In recent years, barefoot shoes have transitioned from niche products to mainstream offerings, with an increasing number of brands and styles available on the market. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts appreciate the performance advantages of barefoot shoes for activities such as running, hiking, and weightlifting, while everyday consumers are drawn to the comfort, versatility, and style of these minimalist kicks.

The resurgence of barefoot shoes in the modern world reflects a growing cultural shift towards prioritizing health, sustainability, and authenticity. As people seek alternatives to the overly cushioned and rigidly structured footwear of the past, barefoot shoes offer a compelling blend of tradition and innovation, allowing wearers to reconnect with their natural movement patterns while embracing the latest trends in fashion and design.

Barefoot shoes have evolved from a traditional concept rooted in ancient human practices to a contemporary trend embraced by individuals seeking a more natural and holistic approach to footwear. With their focus on sensory feedback, foot strength, and sustainability, barefoot shoes are poised to remain a staple in the footwear industry for years to come: timeless attire that will continue to promote a more holistic connection with the world underfoot.

Sandal Anatomy–What Are Earth Runners Made Of?

Michael DallyView post →
Performance Laces: Security

In a quest to create the ultimate water performance lace we worked with a specialty mill manufacturer to create laces with the greatest longevity, function, and comfort on both land and water. Performance Laces feature a 1/2" soft hydrophobic polyester webbing that is wrapped in a highly abrasion resistant Mil-Spec nylon, resulting a in 9/16" wide lace. The outer sheath wraps all the way around the core webbing while leaving a gap down the top center third allowing the toe post to fold tightly between the toes for maximum comfort and performance.

    earth runners performance laces
    Lifestyle Laces: Comfort

    Lifestyle Laces share the same two component design of our Performance Laces, yet the abrasion-resistant nylon trim reinforcement is much thinner which makes the lace more pliant. Lifestyle Laces feature a 5/8" wide nylon and lined with a thin strip of Mil-Spec nylon on the top side. Softer and more flexible, Lifestyle Laced Sandals are the best choice for daily comfort and security.

    Grounded Conductive Laces

    Our earthing sandals are designed to keep you grounded to bare Earth via our Grounded Conductive Laces™. Nature is the ideal place for this, as natural surfaces connect you to the native circadian rhythm and Schumann Resonance of the Earth.

    Earth Runners worn on bare Earth allow the copper lace plug situated on the outsole to make effective connection with the ground, facilitating electron transfer between your body and the Earth through the stainless steel lined lace circuit. This effectively grounds the body via the intimate connection of lace and foot–similar to that of being barefoot.

    grounded adventure earthing sandals

      Adventure-Ready Ergonomic Lacing System:

      The historical use of our lacing system–using a single lace to bind the feet to a sandal–has been in existence for thousands of years; the most well-known example being the huarache running sandal of Northern Mexico. The persistence of this tried and true design speaks volumes to its efficiency and effectiveness.

      Through 6 years of rigorous research and development for creating the ultimate adventure-friendly running sandal for both land and water, we have found the ancient huarache design to be the most simple, comfortable, secure and free. The ergonomic routing of our laces harnesses the least dynamic areas of the foot to avoid friction and maximize freedom. Our triangular hugging anchor points on the sides of the sandal maximize the security of the heel. This helps to minimize lateral and longitudinal heel motion, which is critical to keep you adventure-ready and stable across varied terrain!

      ergonomic laces minimalist
        No™ Toe Box

        Toe and metatarsal freedom assists with proper distribution of body weight and optimal ankle and knee stability, as well as allowing the toes to more aptly sense and react to the environment via less proprioceptive interference. Earth Runners feature a single thong strap over the least dynamic portion of the forefoot with a wide sandal platform and no toe box for full toe mobility. No™ Toe Box allows the toes to extend to the sky unencumbered with every stride and splay naturally upon landing.

        By renouncing the standard cramped and unnaturally-shaped toe box, Earth Runners sandals allow for maximum comfort and movement efficiency.

        • Foot-freedom, no toe box to conform to.
        • Free toes: toes can extend, lay and splay naturally.
        • More powerful toe-off with every stride.
        • Healthy utilization of your natural full body shock absorption system.
        • Feet are able to stabilize pronation (inward tilt) naturally.
        • No Toe Box allowing the foot to breath and sense temperature.

        no toe box minimalist sandals

          Zero Drop:

          Zero-drop soles are the same thickness from the toes to the heel–the natural position of our feet. Many running shoes have elevated heels which promote heel striking and increase stress on your bones and joints. Soles that are zero-drop maximize proprioception and encourage proper gait, which minimizes landing impact. Zero drop shoes don't alter the angle of the foot in relation to the body and ground, (the same as being barefoot) therefore not adversely affecting the geometry and length of the Achilles tendon--the thickest tendon in the human body.

            Responsive Minimalist Soles: 

            Responsive soles avoid the clumsy effect overly cushy soles have on bio-mechanics by offering a responsive interface between the body and ground with minimal yet effective protection. Stable responsive soles provide accurate biofeedback from the terrain underfoot, resulting in a more precise and accurate gait cycle. We aim to avoid proprioceptive confusion caused by feet pushing through thick cushioned soles in search of a stable and predictable platform to react to (the ground). This effort to achieve feedback from the terrain through unresponsive soles results in a loss of energy and bio-mechanical fluidity. We opt to offer minimalist sandals with responsive soles to help promote proprioceptive skills, proper biomechanics, and healthy running form in pursuit of the ultimate barefoot experience.

            wicking responsive minimalist soles
              Earth Grip Footbed

              In extreme endurance events sandals are sure to get drenched in sweat and are likely to become submerged in water. When the Earth Grip Footbed gets wet, the composition is able to pull moisture away from the foot and into the cotton canvas membrane, helping to preserve traction. By preventing moisture accumulation and pooling under the foot, the (mild bare earth equivalent) textured cotton canvas maintains traction in both wet and dry conditions. Two thumbs up for the sweat-wicking and amphibious traction on this footbed!

              Our Earth Grip footbed is dyed in small batches using GOTS certified organic dye in Los Angeles, California. The fabric itself is not certified organic. The farmers in India who grow our cotton use traditional practices that have been in place for over 100 years - before modern fertilizers were introduced. We laminate the Earth Grip footbed to the Vibram® outsole using solvent-free adhesive.

                Locking Buckle:

                The lace routing on our huarache running sandal-inspired design is unique and is made possible by our proprietary locking buckle. We custom designed this hardware with our friends at Twin Performance Engineering to surpass the high performance demands put on our Earthing Adventure Sandals. With their in-house 3D printer we were able to prototype over ten iterations of the buckle until we had the perfect design that proved itself during rigorous testing out in the wild. This low-profile buckle is designed to be (1) extremely durable and (2) hold high lace tension with zero slip or un-buckling while in action. Our buckles are injection molded in Santa Cruz, California.

                  custom adventure sandal buckle
                  Vibram Gumlite Compound
                  vibram gumlite sole

                  An expanded rubber compound with a specific weight 40% less than solid rubbers. Vibram Gumlite compound, the soles for our Circadian and Elemental sandals, is engineered to be long-wearing, and provides improved grip–even at low temperatures.

                  vibram sole

                    Vibram Morflex Compound
                    vibram morflex sole

                    A microcellular compound based on the use of EVA and natural rubber with a specific weight of 50% that of solid rubber. Morflex, the sole for our Alpha sandals, is extremely soft yet ensures excellent grip and durability.

                      Why Strong Feet Are Foundational To Your Health

                      Aimee CoustierView post →

                      Feet are a masterpiece of engineering perfectly designed to support a healthy, strong, lean, agile, nimble and pain-free body.  

                      Healthy footwear should have no negative impact on our health, while poorly-designed footwear can lead to unhealthy posture and even injury. 

                      A Look At The Arch

                      strong ancient arch structure The arch is among the strongest of all weight-bearing structures and has appeared in nature and in architecture for all of time. Most people using arch support believe it to be a way to solve their podiatry issues. The truth is, orthotics are nothing more than a crutch that prevent your foot from doing its job properly. [1]

                      naturally strong arch support structureYes, you might feel less pain wearing orthotics, but this is because the artificial arch is artificially locking your foot and preventing your foot muscles from moving. These muscles become weaker, old injuries never heal, and you're put at an even higher risk for future injuries. [2]

                      The entire weight of our body rests on the arches in our feet, which were designed to handle this load. When you load the arch from the top, as intended, it causes all parts to mesh together tighter, increasing structural integrity.

                      In addition to arch support, most modern footwear is constructed with cushioned soles and a raised heel.

                      Raised heels & narrow toe-boxes can lead to overextended posture.

                      shoe heel lift affect postureWhether it’s a 1/4-inch heel on a pair of loafers or 3-inches on a pair of boots, heel lift shifts your weight forward onto the balls of your feet. This shifts your hips forward and over-extends your back, which leads to pain, injury, and in extreme cases: permanent joint damage. [3]


                      A responsive and tactile sole allows your foot to sense all the texture it was designed to experience.

                      Thick, cushioned soles also deprive your feet and body of biofeedback (sensory input from feeling the ground). The sole of the foot is richly covered with some 1,300 nerve endings per square inch -- making them crave texture! The foot is the vital link between the person and the Earth, which could be thought of as a kind of radar-sonic base.

                      healthy proper barefoot stride sequenceAlong with elevated heels, cushioned soles encourage you to take big strides and land with most of your weight on your heels. This constant and unnaturally forceful impact radiates up your knees, hips, spine and even to your neck. A proper barefoot stride actually starts as you step down with your pinky toe; and your heel landing last. [4]

                      Your Footwear Matters

                      Most modern shoes prevent natural movement of the foot, which causes the lower body to atrophy and deadens proprioception. Minimalist footwear uses less assistive technology and provides ample foot freedom and biofeedback, allowing for more natural movement and development of the feet. Your feet affect all of your other moments and are the lowest hanging fruit to leverage a healthy lifestyle. 

                      When barefoot or in minimalist footwear, our feet can sense the environment underfoot, and react precisely to the complex multitude of different conditions. Earth Runners sandals strive to strike a fine balance of freedom and security. They allow maximal freedom for natural movement, proprioception and full-range of motion, while offering the security to adventure to your sole's content, (mostly) barefoot.

                      1. Lieberman et. al. Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners. Nature. 2010 28;463(7280):531-5.
                      2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3050944/
                      3. https://www.fixyourrun.com/blog/2016/01/the-elevated-heel
                      4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6269547/

                      5 Tips to Transition to Minimalist Sandals Safely

                      Michael DallyView post →

                      More and more people are beginning to discover the health benefits of wearing minimalist shoes and sandals. Conventional shoes are the perfect storm for foot, ankle, knee, hip, and lower back injuries. In fact, over 75% of the population suffers from foot pain and injuries, usually caused by shoes, at some point in their life!*

                      There are many reasons why this happens, but today, we’re going to focus on transitioning to minimalist sandals safely. Because, while modern shoes are a recipe for disaster, they’re probably what your feet have been trained to work with with for most of your life. The following list gives you our 5 best tips and tricks to safely and comfortably make the switch to team #minimalism!

                      Start Slow: We know it can be tempting to take your new sandals out on a test run as soon as they arrive, but please don’t go hike your normal routes in minimalist sandals on day one! Instead, bring your lightweight sandals along and start by doing 20% of your normal distance in sandals. Get a feel for it, dial in the laces and build your way up to doing full hikes in sandals. Getting stuck on your first long hike (in sandals) is a formula for injury. Simply spending time in your new sandals whether engaged in physical activity or not can help you acclimate faster. Try to wear them as much as you can throughout the day as your normal routine allows.

                      Build a New Foundation: An effective tactic to ensure a smooth transition to minimalist sandals is to walk on uneven natural terrain with extra weight (20-40lb) on your body for short distances. Try carrying a heavy pack or heavy trail rock, or even farmer carries at the gym! This will enforce proper biomechanics and build strong muscle, ligaments, tendons and train the fascia. Practicing the forefoot/midfoot touching the ground first should come to you more naturally while carrying weight as the consequences of jarring your heel will be greater (“Ouch!”). Note: Add incrementally to your existing regimen to avoid overdoing it!

                      Work the Fascia: With less protection underfoot, your feet will get sore. You’ll need to work the fascia to allow a new foundation to form. Try using a golf ball or tennis ball to work out the soreness on the bottom of your feet, calves, and achilles tendon. You can also try walking short distances on natural uneven terrain totally barefoot to help work the fascia and receive a sensational reflexology treatment. Listen to your feet but try to relax into whatever terrain you are walking on. If you are unable to avoid tensing your feet, try moving to a section of ground with more gentle terrain features.

                      Soothe the Fascia: Soaking your feet in a warm epsom salt foot bath is one of the most restorative things you can do for your feet when they are sore, inflamed, and building new strength. To increase the therapeutic value of of a hot foot bath, try adding some essential oils (peppermint, eucalyptus, or lavender) for additional relaxing, restorative and anti inflammatory effects.

                      If your feet are really sore you can alternate your hot foot bath with an ice foot soak to achieve some contrast therapy and flush the lactic acid out of your sore feet.

                      Listen to Your Feet: Your feet have hyper-sensory capabilities, so listen to what they have to say. When they say slow down, slow down! When they scream, take a break. Err on the side of caution. You will move though the world differently in minimalist sandals so be ready for a change of pace. You may have a heavy exercise day lined up that your feet are not ready for. Don’t ignore you feet’s request for a chill day.

                      If you ever feel pain in the form of soreness in your feet, try taking your sandals off and going barefoot to work the fascia in your feet by increasing the biofeedback from the ground. Don’t push through the pain, listen to what the pain is trying to tell you. Tendons take 6-12 months to adapt to new loads on the body, so take the long term approach.

                      With these 5 tips in mind, you’ll be prowling the world like your ancestors in no time!

                      *reference: https://www.apma.org/files/APMA2014TodaysPodiatristSurveyAllFindings.pdf

                      Minimal Footwear's Role in Landscape Design

                      Kieran SmithView post →
                      ‘Tread lightly upon this earth, seeing, understanding but never imposing.’

                      Todays guest post is by Kieran, a landscape architect and travel blogger at SIM Tourist.

                      As a landscape architect, a lot of my work is ultimately about re-connecting people with nature; ‘rewilding’ through environmental design. I was inspired to write this post by noticing how my minimalist earth runners sandals have helped open my senses, and how this sensory experience helps initiate an awareness of and resonance with natural systems; as is embodied by the philosophy of permaculture.

                      Permaculture is difficult define concisely, but is a broad and inclusive philosophy that entails sensitivity to the land. It aims to align human activity with natural systems, and consists of agricultural and social design principles that are centred around the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. Naturally, the outcome is sustainable, and does not deplete the resources of future generations. The principles of permaculture are not restricted to the garden, nor are they restricted to the environment at large, but permeate all aspects of life.

                      In landscape design, the site survey forms a crucial part of the design process. If you believe in a genuis loci’, or ‘protective spirit’ of a place, then the site survey is what allows you to unveil this and understand its unique identity as something that should be the ultimate informant of whatever you choose to do with it. However, this identity is often elusive. 

                      One of the first core principles of permaculture is observing and interacting. It is subtle, a slowing down of the mind and an attuning to the senses. Permaculture relies on an understanding of your site and local conditions. It relies on connection, to place, to sensation, to spirit: An attentiveness to environment.

                      What better way to facilitate this connection than through the wearing of minimalist sandals. Footwear that allows the patterns of sun and wind to reveal themselves in sensations on your skin. Nature is subtle and detailed. It reveals themselves to those who listen, and wearing sandals brings a tactile awareness of  these natural systems, promoting a conscious connection with the living breathing natural community beneath your feet.

                      Startling parallels can be drawn between the adoption of a sole, and the literal and figurative disconnection from the earth that follows. Connection leads ultimately to a richer understanding of and natural alignment with natural systems, and disconnection to  alienation and ultimately ecological disaster.

                      Once a site survey has revealed a ‘genius loci’, then this identity can be built upon through placemaking, where local assets and unique features can be capitalised on to express this identity.  Here the sensitivity and keen perception that went into the site survey is rewarded through the revelation of identity, which in turn provides much valued inspiration.

                      Along with identity, natural processes are key to permaculture and successful landscape design. To work with the shifting patterns of temperature, rainfall, pest populations and the multiple forces of nature is an important skill. The goal being to try and work with these processes rather than try to control them. What on a smaller scale fosters awareness and tactile sensation, on a larger scale promotes an understanding of larger systems at play in the landscape. This work was epitomised by landscape architect Ian McHarg, who was one of the pioneers in bringing environmental concerns to landscape design. This was achieved by working with natural features, and recognising natural ‘ecological value’ in the landscape, as detailed in the seminal book ‘Design with Nature’.

                      The message of the book is clear; working with natural systems is ultimately the only sustainable solution, and anything that promotes connection to the earth can help address not only individual balance but also ecological crisis.

                      Author: Kieran SmithSIM Tourist

                      Running Sandals Effect on Biomechanics

                      Curtis HallView post →

                      The human body is a complex system comprised of many integrated sub systems, that when working properly, flow together and facilitate one another precisely. How the body functions in relation to it’s movement or structure is called biomechanics.

                      Our body has developed over millennia to function most efficiently and resiliently under specific conditions--one of those key conditions is being barefoot. Narrow shoes with excessive cushion and raised heels are a recent input on the range of human development. Widespread adoption of over-engineered, restrictive footwear has occurred around the world in recent centuries, especially the last 40 years. However this type of shoe has hindered the function of our feet in much the same way the roots of a potted plant conform to its container. Our feet essentially adapt to their environment becoming the same shape as our shoes. This adaptation often causes long term biomechanical dysfunction leading to a reliance on our shoe-containers that ultimately causes imbalance and dis-ease.

                      feet conform to your shoes

                      Restricting the natural function of our feet compromises the first biomechanical link in a long chain of systems radiating up into the ankle, knees, hips and lower back. I am going to focus on how transitioning to minimalist running sandals can help the whole-body reclaim proper function, with an emphasis on the foot, ankle and lower leg.

                      There are 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles and a whole slew of tendons & ligaments in each foot and ankle--all that to say this is a very complex appendage and, for most, underdeveloped and out of whack. Wearing unnaturally constraining footwear with muted soles and raised heels allows the muscles in your feet to atrophy due to under-use and dysregulation. In turn, your tendons tighten to pick up the slack, pulling joints out of alignment, creating a very fragile and dysfunctional foot and ankle. Conditions like plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, and unstable ankles are common results.

                      Transitioning to flat soled, minimally cushioned running sandals along with stretching and other foot rehabilitation, will help rebuild muscles, loosen tendons and realign joints to create healthy resilient feet and by extension a healthy body.

                      Two specific ways running sandals improve the biomechanics of the foot and ankle:

                      • Closed toed footwear with a narrow toe box crams all your forefoot bones together like a can of sardines, creating the running equivalent of trying to play the piano while wearing mittens. All of your forefoot and toe joints should be able to move independently, gripping, stabilizing and adapting to the earth, functioning much like your hands. Running sandals allow the forefoot to spread out to it’s naturally intended state, giving your toes room to breathe and articulate. This not only increases balance, grip and stability, it reduces the risk of foot cramps, plantar fasciitis and other foot injuries.
                      • Minimal running sandals re-train the foot, ankle and lower leg to move properly, efficiently, and sustainably through increased proprioceptive feedback--from the ground. Most modern shoes, especially running shoes, are overdesigned to cradle your foot, stunting your natural biomechanics and keeping your feet from interacting with the terrain as they should. This encourages a longer less efficient stride and a joint battering heel strike. Minimal running sandals allow your foot to move naturally through a shorter more efficient stride, ending in a forefoot/midfoot strike that builds strong joint protecting, shock absorbing foot and lower leg muscles.running sandals vs shoes
                        Given the complex integration of our body’s biomechanics--foot health and proper function will radiate up and improve the function of your whole body in these key ways:
                      • Lower leg muscles are now absorbing the shock that once went to your knees, creating both short and long term benefits. Joint inflammation is reduced, increasing joint mobility and allowing your connective tissue to function well reducing patellar tendonitis and other overuse injuries. In the long term this will reduce your chances of arthritis and other degenerative conditions.
                      • Zero drop soles help your hips to regain proper alignment. Because your heels are no longer artificially raised, your pelvis no longer has to compensate. The hips are the center of the body, and that when aligned create a healthy back and effective upper leg muscles.

                        running sandals vs shoes

                      All this builds to make you more durable, more capable, more efficient, and beyond all else, more human!

                       Author: Curtis Hall (@capt.curtis) is the Co-Founder and Head Creative at BAREfit Adventure Training, a fitness company based out of Louisville, Ky. BAREfit uses all upcycled and handmade equipment to train people to Make the World Their Playground.


                      Follow them at:

                      Plantar Fasciitis: How to Rehab

                      Dan ChabertView post →

                      Running is a seemingly straightforward movement – one foot in front of the other,  literally hundreds if not thousands of times, over and over and over – but for all its simplicity, it's also a somewhat complicated movement. There are many forces, actions, and reactions that take place every time we put our feet on the ground and propel ourselves forward. It's no wonder then, that many runners find themselves unfortunately beset with injuries year after year, and one of the more common running-related ailments is Plantar Fasciitis.

                      running biomechanics

                      If you've never heard of or experienced Plantar Fasciitis, consider yourself lucky. Here's a quick medical definition, courtesy of WebMD:

                      Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot. If you strain your plantar fascia, it gets weak, swollen, and irritated (inflamed). Then your heel or the bottom of your foot hurts when you stand or walk.”

                      In other words, Plantar fasciitis simply refers to inflammation of the fascia, the ligament on the bottom of your foot.

                      Plantar Fasciitis can be incredibly painful and very frustrating to deal with, especially since the pain is often at its worst first thing in the morning when you're getting out of bed. However, with some tools and patience you too can beat Plantar Fasciitis and get back to your running, walking, or hiking ways.

                      Plantar Fasciitis

                      Below, I'll outline some tried-and-true tips for rehabbing Plantar Fasciitis.

                      Step 1: Reduce inflammation. Arguably the best way to immediately treat Plantar Fasciitis is to get the inflammation down as fast as possible. The best way to do that is to stay off your feet – read: stop running, walking, and hiking immediately. Don't overburden your already-strained feet with excessive amounts of exercise or time on your feet. Some people also find that they can successfully reduce inflammation through natural therapies such as  soaking their feet in Epsom salt baths and by applying essential oils to their feet at night. As with any medical condition, you should definitely consider consulting a  professional such as a sports medicine physician or a physical therapist. They may recommend that you sleep wearing a Plantar Fasciitis boot if your case is especially egregious. Listen to a professional!

                      epson salt foot bath

                      Step 2: Rehab the fascia. Eventually, once you've decreased your foot's inflammation, you'll want to rehabilitate the fascia slowly but deliberately. It's important that you take things slowly here because you don't want to accidentally set your progress back by a few days or weeks because you became overzealous. Slowly begin to rehab your fascia by kneading the bottom of your foot and strengthening your foot muscles. An easy way to knead the bottom of your foot  (especially if you can't get someone to massage your feet for you!) is to roll it with a textured foot massage ball. In addition, a sports medicine physician or a PT can give you specific at-home exercises to strengthen your foot muscles. As you slowly resume strength and minimize your pain, consider  walking short distances barefoot on grass or other softer natural surface to massage the bottom of your feet and strengthen your foot muscles. During the rehab phase you can continue using Epsom salt baths for your feet and should consistently wear your Plantar Fasciitis boot (if prescribed) until you are no longer experiencing pain.

                      Step 3: Prevent Plantar Fasciitis by strengthening your feet. Hopefully, if you do end up having Plantar Fasciitis, it will be a one-time thing that won't rear its ugly head again in the future. One of the best ways to prevent Plantar Fasciitis resurfacing is to ensure that you do everything you can to strengthen all of the muscles in your feet. Many people swear by using minimalist-type shoes to aid with this as they help your foot  to more easily and naturally “feel” the earth beneath you. This allows your feet to articulate accordingly - something that can be hard to do if you're constantly wearing bulky, thick-soled shoes. As you become more accustomed to wearing minimalist footwear, you might want to consider wearing these types of shoes for most, if not all of your runs as well; you may find that constantly allowing your feet to articulate with the ground, especially when you're running, will help keep you in check – preventing you from running too fast all the time – while also diversifying the forces your feet experience every time they make contact with the ground.

                      minimalist shoes

                      Plantar fasciitis can be a real pain, but hopefully with the tips I've suggested above, you'll be back on the trail in no time – and with stronger feet to boot.

                      Writer’s Bio:
                      Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is an entrepreneur, husband and ultramarathon distance runner. He spends most of his time on runnerclick.com and he has been featured on runner blogs all over the world.

                      Minimalist Adventure

                      Colin EvansView post →

                      The idea of minimalism isn’t a new one but as our culture trends towards ever increasing complexity and the proliferation of “stuff,” minimalism is rapidly gaining in popularity as more and more people seek a simpler path. Perhaps the most converts come from avid travelers. By definition a minimalist will have less to carry and thus worry about. A light load lends itself to spontaneity and thus a greater possibility of adventure. Everything a minimalist carries will have more than one use, and this approach means they are actually more prepared for the unexpected. When seeking adventure in out of the way places, less stuff means greater mobility and access to greater ranging into parts unknown. Arriving at an incredible spot in the backcountry feeling refreshed because your pack was ultralight or finding that perfect secluded camping spot alongside the river deep in BLM land because your motorcycle was unencumbered brings an incredible uplifting feeling of freedom that can be garnered no other way. That’s what it’s all about. 

                      Photos thanks to @iamstephensmith

                      Paleo Minds Interview: Minimalist Sandals, Earthing & More

                      Michael DallyView post →

                      In this two part interview I am interviewed about minimalist sandals, earthing, rewilding, morning rituals and much more. 

                      • [01:30] Interview start
                      • [06:30] Strength and flexibility
                      • [16:40] Michael’s fitness journey and the start of Earth Runners
                      • [29:00] An introduction to earthing
                      • [32:35] Financing Earth Runners
                      • [36:46] Vibram’s involvement
                      • [38:50] Earth Runners range of minimalist sandals
                      • [43:49] The benefits of barefoot/minimalist sandals
                      • [53:10] When not to wear minimalist sandals
                      • [56:15] Earthrunners range of socks
                      • [01:00:48] Pricing


                      • [00:55] Minimalism & Rewilding
                      • [03:20] Fitness routine
                      • [12:45] Office work and minimising a sedentary lifestyle
                      • [29:55] Morning rituals
                      • [36:05] Non-fiction books and podcast recommendations
                      • [49:30] Product recommendations
                      • [56:42] New products

                      Earthing Shoes Resource page
                      How to Make You Own Earthing Sheet (Video)
                      Minimalist Sandals Resource page
                      Running Sandals Resource page.
                      Dave Asprey – Bulletproof Executive
                      Plant Spirit Medicine by Eliot Cowan (UK)
                      Plant Spirit Medicine by Eliot Cowan (US)
                      The Joe Rogan Experience #601 Katy Bowman
                      ReWild Yourself! Podcast
                      The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss (UK)
                      The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss (US)


                      The Best Minimalist Running Shoe

                      Michael DallyView post →
                      born to run

                      Since the book Born to Run hit shelves in 2009 runners around the world have been on a mission to reconnect with their roots. This has stimulated a resurgence in minimalist footwear that continues to grow to this day. Many variations on the minimalist theme are available, but the objective of minimalist running footwear is to offer an experience that closely resembles moving barefoot. Thus, the end goal is thinner zero drop soles that maximize propreception while offering a wide toe area that allows the toes to splay out naturally. As runners around the world have liberated their feet of conventional “foot-coffins,” they have developed superior lower body strength with an increased resilience to fatigue and injury. These consistent results have stimulated a quest for the best minimalist running shoe. There are many excellent options available, but outside of mimicking the physical aspect of running barefoot, little attention has been given to the electrical experience of going unshod upon the Earth.

                      When barefoot on the earth’s surface we share the same electric potential of zero volts. This is earthing umbrella effectachieved by absorbing free electrons from the earth through the soles of our feet. We essentially become an extension of the earth’s surface by sharing the same neutral charge. By practicing earthing we tap into our planets storehouse of free electrons, our body is able maintain homeostasis, and therefore superior biological function. This interaction with the local environmental bio rhythm, causes us to sync up our circadian clock and achieve natural resonance.





                      barefoot connection

                      When considering the physiology of the human foot it is important to understand it's capacity to interface as a link between our body and the Earth. The sophisticated mechanics of our foot combined with its complex neurology make for a sensory base capable of more than most people think. Awareness of the electrical aspect of going barefoot is of fundamental importance to our health, and is overlooked in the minimalist footwear equation at our peril. Up until the advent of modern rubber in the 19th century, the soles of shoes were made nearly exclusively of leather. It is interesting to note that leather is measurably conductive when wet as opposed the insulating effects of rubber. North American Indian tribes were conscious of this fact to a degree and were known to dip their leather moccasins into water before dance ceremonies to enhance their connection with mother earth. The Huarache running sandals of the Tarahumara as featured in the book Born to Run, are an ancient design that

                      has proven itself for centuries. Simplicity in the design makes for the ultimate minimalist footwear experience. The lacing system allows for maximum breathability while offering adequate security for nearly any application. The thong harness not only allows for full range of motion of the toes and splaying of the forefoot, but also stimulates our liver meridian, located between the 1st and 2nd toes. According to Chinese medicine, the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body. Therefore, by stimulating the liver channel we encourage better blood flow to the extremities of the body resulting indirectly in more fluid and efficient locomotion.

                      earth runners reflexologyWhat distinguishes Earth Runners from other minimalist footwear is our original design that allows you to absorb the ever-present subtle electrical energies of the earth: this provides the closest experience we know to going barefoot, while still enjoying a measure of safety from varied terrains or street hazards. Typical modern footwear blocks the incoming flow of vital bio-input present on the earth, and thus impacts our health and how accurately our body is able to track time. This is real time known as Solar time not the made up time we call civil time. Earth Runner’s barefoot technology offers energy flow between the foot and earth. Both our copper inserts and conductive laces ground you electrically by allowing electron transfer from the planet – direct to your body.leather earthing shoes

                      Our mission is to reconnect people with the natural world. Literally. Our current modern society has insulated people from their inherent connection with Earth while causing a neurological deficiency of epidemic proportions. We feel deeply grateful for the opportunity to help the manifestation of this reemerging concept. Reconnect, Sync up, and get Outside!