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Stay Grounded – Earthing Shoes Join the World of Footwear

daily alternative | alternative news - Stay Grounded - Earthing Shoes Join the World of Footwear

Walking barefoot has always been a pleasure. It’s unfortunate to think that, more often than not, our carefree moments barefoot are isolated to either early childhood or rare moments on a sandy beach. What’s important to note is that, being barefoot isn’t just a momentary pleasure. Yes, you get to feel young again, bend with life’s breeze, and much more, but that’s not all. This sort of connection is critical to sustaining our bodily posture, cell function and health.

For hundreds of years before our existence, humans lived in very close contact with the earth. Societies and people were living highly agrarian lifestyles, walking barefoot and constantly in direct contact with the earth.

This idea of walking and/or running barefoot has long been studied by the medical community but not until recently have the potential benefits been exposed. Doctors and other medical professionals have studied the barefoot movement and helped us understand where it fits into the modern shoe world.

When it comes to walking barefoot, the benefits are both biomechanical and molecular.

Biomechanical Barefoot Movement

From a biomechanics standpoint, our feet were meant to be bare. As newborns, we’re born with a thick cushion on the bottom of our feet. As the years go by, we become conditioned to wearing shoes and, as a result, lose that cushion that originally offered a natural protection. Moreover, a large heel-to-toe drop, added arch support and synthetic cushion all interfere with our natural movement.

Barefoot or minimalist shoes boast features that attempt to bring the wearer back to a biomechanical interaction with the earth’s surface. Their lightweight and thin-soled features are meant to allow you to walk and/or run in a way that’s nearly barefoot.

Nancy Carr is a Certified Pedorthist from West Palm Beach, Fl. She has been involved in the footwear industry for over 20 years and maintains a strong support for the barefoot movement. When asked about the biomechanics of our bare feet, Ms. Carr explains that, “Maintaining a  ‘barefoot existence’ is absolutely imperative. By establishing and conditioning your feet to this sort of bare interaction, you’re able to get your bones and muscles in line with the natural surfaces that we walk on.” “This biomechanical positioning,” Ms. Carr goes on to say, “is crucial to the health and strengthening of our feet.”

Molecular Barefoot Movement

A critically important piece of barefoot existence is what we’re able to actually get in turn from the earth’s surface. The contemporary trend of Earthing suggests that when you’re barefoot, your body is able to absorb the earth’s limitless supply of electrons.

Too much oxidative stress within our bodies results in a build-up of free radicals. If free radicals aren’t paired with an electron, they can wreak havoc on the body and destroy healthy cells. As a result, this disruption may lead to health ailments such as heart disease and severe inflammation. Luckily, the earth’s surface offers the electrons that we need to maintain an optimally stable, healthy internal system.

As Dr. Roy Lidke, Podiatrist and Physicist, explains, “The greatest benefits [of going barefoot] lay in the potential for free electrons. Atoms and molecules do not like to be unbalanced (having a single electron in the outer shell of their structure).  When this happens we call them ‘free radicals’.” When we are in direct contact with the earth, supplying these free radicals an ample supply of electrons, we allow them to convert to more innocuous structures. “Free radicals are involved in inflammation, cancer, aging and cell death,” explains Lidke.

The benefits of barefoot movement, therefore, are shown to be both external and internal. Aside from the natural movement and strengthening seen in minimalist shoes, recent study and dedication to the grounding and earthing trend has shown that the ample electrons in the earth are immensely valuable in stabilizing our bodies’ natural frequencies.

Earthing shoes have recently entered the realms of medical study and footwear production. Earthing or grounding shoes are designed to help our bodies regain natural balance and stability on a molecular level. Juil is one of the brands to recently enter this arena, designing earthing shoes and sandals by placing copper conductors through the sole of the shoe. By offering this direct, conductive connection, the wearer releases stress and toxins from his/her body in the form of free radicals and oxidative stress.


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The Huge Racial Injustice Hidden in Our Credit Scores

Worried about the use of big data for corporate gain? Look not further than the credit scoring system in the US, which has profound impact on our daily lives and is a source and perpetuator of systemic racial injustice.

In response to aggressive marketing by the “big three” multinational credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – employers, landlords and insurance companies now use credit reports and scores to make decisions that have major bearing on our social and economic opportunities. These days, your credit history can make or break whether you get a job or apartment, or access to decent, affordable insurance and loans.

Credit reports and scores are not race neutral. Rather, they embed existing racial inequities in our credit system and economy – to the point that a person’s credit information serves as a proxy for race.

For decades, banks have systematically redlined black and Latino neighborhoods, refusing to make conventional loans or locate branches in non-white and lower-income areas, notwithstanding laws that obligate banks to meet the credit needs of all communities they serve, consistent with safe and sound banking operations. Thanks to financial services deregulation and the advent of asset-backed securitization, a multi-billion dollar “fringe” financial system has filled the void, characterized by high-cost, destabilizing products and services, from payday loans to check-cashers – which banks typically also own or finance.

People and communities of color have been disproportionately targeted for high-cost, predatory loans, intrinsically risky financial products that predictably lead to higher delinquency and default rates than non-predatory loans. As a consequence, black people and Latinos are more likely than their white counterparts to have damaged credit.

This firmly-entrenched two-tiered financial system has had devastating consequences for entire neighborhoods of color. Starting in the 1990s, financial institutions began flooding historically-redlined neighborhoods with predatory mortgages that ultimately led to the meltdown of the global economy. Waves of foreclosures hammered neighborhoods of color for more than a decade before the crash and black and Latino Americans bore the brunt of the ensuing foreclosure crisis, recession and spiking unemployment. Droves of people turned to high-rate credit cards to cover even basic expenses, contributing to the consumer debt crisis and spawning a bottom-feeding debt-buying industry that purchases old debts on the cheap and then uses the courts to extract judgments disproportionately from people and communities of color. These judgments are then listed in their credit reports, which also brings down their credit scores, in turn limiting a whole range of opportunities.

Although Wall Street is no longer pumping toxic mortgages into black and Latino neighborhoods, people and neighborhoods of color continue to reel from the foreclosure crisis, which many predict is far from over. Meanwhile, racially discriminatory and subprime auto lending are on the rise, payday lenders continue to extract billions of dollars from low-wage workers, and student loan debt has surpassed the trillion dollar mark. One in five Americans has unpaid medical debt, with more than half of all African-Americans and Latinos carrying medical debt on their credit cards. By definition, people who take payday loans and have uninsured medical debt are struggling, and are likely to miss payments. Missed payments translate into decreased credit scores.

This information – unpaid medical and credit card debt, student loans, and mortgages, as well as foreclosures, bankruptcies, debt collection judgments, wage garnishments – appears on people’s credit reports and lowers their credit scores. And the credit bureaus make humongous profits by selling this information about all of us.

In New York City, a coalition of labor, community and civil rights groupsrecently won the strongest ban on employment credit checks in the country. It’s a major economic justice victory, but we know it’s just a first step. We knocked down this discriminatory barrier because there is no demonstrated connection between a person’s credit history and his or her likely job performance or character. Credit checks can also block applicants with no or “thin” credit histories, including many students and immigrants. Rather, using credit information to make hiring decisions – or to rent apartments, set insurance terms, or extend credit – is a clear way to perpetuate inequality, poverty and segregation.

Credit reports and scores are mirrors of our manifestly two-tiered financial system, and more broadly our system of racial wealth inequality and unequal opportunity. In our culture, indebtedness – and certainly failure to pay one’s debts – is deeply entwined with concepts of morality. The insidious notion that our credit history speaks to our reliability as human beings is largely taken for granted.

The credit bureaus and the information they sell have out-sized influence over our lives. It’s time to stop these pernicious practices and the systemic injustices that underlie them.


daily alternative | alternative news – The Huge Racial Injustice Hidden in Our Credit Scores

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