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Fowler Associates Labs



Static Fire Stories Articles & Technical Papers Current News
The product is shoes - - - The passion is health


by: Mel Cheskin MBS.,C.Ped.
July 23, 2003

The ESD Journal presents the following paper by Mel Cheskin for our readers interest. We have not verified any of the presented concepts. Enjoy!


According to shoe industry expert Dr. William A Rossi, the shoe industry has been stuck in a rut for the past 15-20 years. Bill should know, as the most prolific commentator on footwear in the world with a dozen books and over 2,000 published articles to his credit, his opinion should be valued. "We have stopped being creative. Yes, there were plenty of innovative ideas, but most of them with about 15 minutes of fame. They didn't have enough staying power to establish a trend and stimulate consumer demand." It's true most of the major trends in footwear such as anatomical footbeds, midsole cushioning, air bags and weight reduction were introduced in the biomechanical era of the '70's.

Bill Rossi isn't just one of those critics who can point to a problem but offer no solution. To observe a slump in the athletic and casual shoe business doesn't take an expert. Just ask anyone in sales at the retail or wholesale level for verification. Is it time to consider a new feature in footwear? Is there such a concept on the horizon? Is there another beneficial feature that could be incorporated into footwear that's not another version of an already established comfort or performance feature? Are we limited to weight reduction, comfort, transpiration and biomechanical support features?

In an article written by Dr. Rossi and published in 1997 (FN) he goes into great detail to tell us the answer. Here are some extracts from Rossi's article "Walking on touch-deadened feet". So get ready for a fresh perspective on shoes. "The sole (or plantar surface) of the foot is richly covered with some 1,300-nerve endings per square inch. That's more than found on any other part of the body of comparable size. Why are so may nerve endings concentrated there? To keep us 'in touch' with the earth. The real physical world around us. It's called 'sensory response'. The foot is the vital link between the person and the earth. The paws of all animals are equally rich in nerve endings. The earth is covered with an electromagnetic layer. It's this that creates the sensory response in our feet and the paws of animals. Try walking barefoot on the ground for a couple of minutes. Sensor response feeds the foot with jump-start energy furnished by the earth's geomagnetic field."

The phenomenon of terrestrial magnetism results from the fact that the entire earth behaves as an enormous magnet. The intensity of the magnetic field of the earth varies in different places on its surface (0.5 - 0.7 Gauss). The three electrical systems generated in the earth and atmosphere are known natural geophysical processes. One of them is in the atmosphere, and one is within the earth, flowing parallel to the surface of the earth. The third, which transfers an electric charge continuously between the atmosphere and the earth, flows vertically. The surface of the earth has a negative charge of electricity. Although the conductivity of air near the earth is small, air is not a perfect insulator, and the negative charge would drain off quickly if it were not being ontinuously replenished in some way.

"Modern shoe soles give us adequate wear (and protection) but they also impair the feeling of ground which is so important to the foot's sensory response. The bottoms of our footwear are virtually 'deadened'. A cross section of a shoe - reveals several layers: outsole, midsole, insole filler material, footbed, cushioning, sockliner. An almost total blockout of sensory response. The geomagnetic field covering our planet feeds energy into our bodies - every living thing, including human beings, draws energy from this field through its feet, paws or roots.

Is this beginning to read like - far out or Far East esoteric stuff? Far from it. This isn't science fiction nor is it the other side of the ginseng line. We in the shoe business know quite a lot about biomechanics but what do we know about bioelectromagnetism?

Ancient cultures have taught us for thousands of years about the importance of 'Energy Flow' and 'Life Force'. Ever heard of Qi, Chi Gong or Chakra? Even in Greek mythology there is a story of Hercules and his struggle to defeat the God who drew his strength from the earth. Western science has an edict never to accept any anecdotal or theoretical doctrine without statistically significant evidence. There is a vast amount of scientific evidence concerning body electricity; we call it Bioelectromagnetism or Biomagnetism. It's the emergent science that studies the relationship between electromagnetic fields and living organisms. Hey that's us! And it's all around us in different forms: EMF's, Reflexology, Acupuncture, Electro-therapy (TENS), Electrolytes, Polarity, Magnet therapy and ESD.

Now here's something strange! ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) already exists in some form of footwear now. However, it is only used in industry as a specialized form of safety footwear. Few people in the regular shoe industry actually know anything about it or what it does. If you ask an ESD expert why one should be grounded they will tell you that static electricity is recognized as a nemesis in certain industries such as: Plastics, Telecommunications, Micro-Electronics, Computers and Explosives where damage can be caused to equipment by personnel who, in normal daily activities, can easily generate charges on their bodies in excess of 10,000 volts in an insulated state. Wearing normal footwear charges of 3,000 volts or more can cause sparking to occur. These events can degrade or destroy devices, erase logic or data banks in computers and cause sparking, which can be extremely dangerous near explosive or volatile chemicals or Gasses (e.g. NASA)

Having established both the scientific and commercial use of ESD in footwear with its effects measurable outside the body. What physiological affects are produced in and on the body when the body is conductive to ground as opposed to insulated from it? Well, this may come as somewhat of a surprise but there is an overwhelming amount of medical, holistic, cultural, spiritual and scientific evidence supporting the fact that when the body is electrically balanced with the earth (or grounded) it is in a different physiological state than when it is insulated from the ground.

Every cell in the body is a submicroscopic electromagnetic device. Every chemical reaction involves an electromagnetic transaction. Our whole body's nervous system is an electro-chemical interaction that works optimally when the body's electromagnetic level is homeostatically in balance with the earth's electromagnetic frequencies of 7.9 cycles per second (Schuman resonance beat of the core of the earth). In a relaxed state the alpha brain wave pattern is approximately 8.0 Hz cycles per second.

It has been clearly established that positive and negative magnetic polarities have different effects upon the biological systems of animals and humans. Electromagnetic energy and the human body have a valid and important inter-relationship. Characteristically, negative magnetic energy normalizes and calms while positive magnetic energy disorders and over-stimulates the biological system. Oceans, forests and commercial ion appliances emit negative ions into the atmosphere. It's a complex subject but there again - so is computers and we're forced to understand them so let's cut to the chase and try to simplify the effects electrical contact by grounding has on the human body.


1) PREVENTION OF STATIC SHOCK - We know that static build-up on the body causes annoying static shock. Grounding prevents that.

2) COOLER INSIDE SHOE TEMPERATURE - The body generates electrical energy during normal daily activities. In the instances of sport considerable watts of power can be measured from neuro-muscular transmitters. Only 30% of this electrical energy is used for the activity. The rest needs to be discharged. 90% of heat regulation takes place via the skin, only 10% is regulated through breathing. The feet, with more nerve endings per square inch than any other part of the body, are the body's natural earth contact point. Evidence from thermal photography shows that feet discharge more heat when electrically conductive to ground than when insulated from ground. Perspiration can aid this process as a fine conductor of electricity. Depending on the absorption properties of the material, most socks will become somewhat conductive if enough perspiration is produced by the body and absorbed by the fabric. When the body is placed within a magnetic field the interaction with the body's natural electromagnetic field causes ions contained in water molecules to lineup - just like a compass. As the current flows from the body to ground, the electrons making up the current collide with the atoms of the conductor and give up energy, which appears in the form of heat.

3) INCREASED STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE - In addition to a well-know cultural belief that one is stronger when in contact with the ground, several third-party scientifically controlled tests have shown the body to exhibit reduced strength and endurance in an insulated state, as opposed to improvements in performance when the body is conductive to ground. This physiological process can be theorized as the body's electrically sensitive receptors in the feet allowing the earth's natural geomagnetic field to enter the body through conductivity, thus completing the atmospheric - conductor - earth field. This energy would replenish the body's neurological system being used to reinforce neuro-muscular activity during strenuous activities i.e. sport.

4) REFLEX REACTION SPEED UP - Our neurological system works electro-chemically. Our body's natural frequency can be affected by additional internal build-up of electricity (such as occurs when the body is insulated from ground) as well as externally by generated electricity all around us (EMF's). The subtle additional energy fields mix with our body's own optimal electrical system - the one nature designed to operate our electrical nervous system. This interference with the body's signal system causes distortion (Harmonics) of frequencies. Too much positive build up of electricity in the body is not natural to the organism. The homeopathic tendencies of our bodies will try to protect our system as best it can but if outside EMF's are too powerful or too much electricity is built-up in our bodies, our own nervous system or DNA message will not be strong or clear enough. Thus causing a slow down in the electrical message time (similar to static interference on a radio signal). In certain electrically sensitive individuals, up to 15% improvement in reflex reaction response has been achieved. Overall improvement in a controlled group of adolescent and adult test subjects would indicate a significant but much lower percentile performance improvement (around 3%).

5) THE EMF's HEALTH HAZARD - The scientific community's 'Jury' is still out on the definite health hazards of generated Electromagnetic Fields and EMI's (Electromagnetic Interference) to the human body. It is known however, that by making the body conductive to ground, nerve endings (most prolific in the feet) allow electricity to pass out of the body into the earth's electromagnetic field. The earth, a large conductor, which may be assumed to be substantially uniform electrically, is commonly used as the zero reference level for potential energy. EMF's entering the body in an insulated state remains in the body until another conductive path is found. As we know from ESD therefore, grounding the human body on a regular basis helps alleviate any potential build-up or absorption of EMF's and EMI's on the body.

6) ANTISTRESS IN THE BODY - According to many researchers, negative magnetic fields seem to affect all the metabolic processes of the body beneficially. A lowering of electrical potential in the body is caused by grounding. Clinical observations indicate a calmer, less stressful state can more easily be achieved when the body is at zero potential (grounded).

7) ALLERGIES - Allergies are caused by hypersensitivity, which may be stress related. By lowering the body's electrical potential excessive electrical build-up by the body's nervous system can be reduced thus having a calming effect on the body. Famous golfer Gary Player, who suffered badly from allergies, claimed that grounding his body helped him overcome his hypersensitivity to pollens and grasses.

A vast amount of evidence is in and it will continue to accumulate into the next Millenium. Bioelectromagnetics in its ancient form has fascinated mankind for centuries. Yet, it is still one of the new scientific horizons entering the 21st. Century. The scientific community has presented its case. Is the shoemaking jury prepared to accept its verdict?



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