How Health Essentials Moves at Work

How We’ve Created a Dynamic Workplace

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At Health Essentials, we believe that there are many aspects that comprise the premise of living well as a human.  We believe in the importance of “Cultivating Extraordinary Lives” in a very holistic way. An important part of what it means for us to cultivate an extraordinary life is to consciously move in a way that allows our bodies to express our human animaly-ness*. 😉 Afterall, we’re not couch potatoes and we’re not quite monkeys… what we are, however are HUMANS.  So we need to act as such.  Here are 5 of the things WE DO that help us increase natural movement in our work environment!

* Animalyness – a (made up) word that describes one’s state of being as an animal. 😉 

  1. Walk to (and from) work!!

     

    Walking is a really great way to start off and end a work day.  It’s a built in system to add a potential hour or two of moving to your day!

    Tips to add more walking into your work days:
    – Start with a small accomplishable goal of one day a week or every second day.
    – If you live way too far for your general walking tolerance… park your car somewhere along your route to cut the walk down a little!
    – Wear comfortable attire and pack your business clothes so you don’t have to worry about sweating up a storm in the clothes you’ll be wearing all day.
    – Walk outside on work phone calls! After all, it’s not like our phones are connected by a cord anymore!
    – Walk on your break! If you have an extra 15-20 minutes after you’re done eating, or before you eat, get outside and move a bit before returning to work!

     

  2. Stand up at work!

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    If you’ve peeked behind the desk at Health Essentials, you may have noticed that we don’t have any chairs on which to sit throughout our work day.  We instead have 2 “stand-up” style computer set ups! At first this took some getting used to for some of us, but now… we just don’t sit. And since we don’t have the option, we don’t miss it! We don’t even want to sit!!

    Tips to convert your work space into a non-sitting one:
    – Get a stand up desk or a VariDesk (like we did!)
    – Build a stand up desk out of boxes or the perfect height furniture (works slightly better for at home-offices 😉 ).
    – Kneel on a cushion or mat. It’s not quite standing, but it’s also not sitting in a 90 degree hip & 90 degree knee flexion position all day.
    Note: you can also begin by easing your way into the transition with a “stand up desk” or “kneeling mat” you can easily adjust or remove to sit part of the day.

  3. Dress to move properly!

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    A lot of the changes that we have made to create a functional work space that we can move optimally in go hand-in-hand or are subsequent of one another.  Now that we don’t sit at work, we move a lot more and we stand all of the time. Now that we move a lot more and stand all of the time, we feel the necessity to wear functional clothing and shoes that allow for ease of movement, more often!
    P.S. Not to mislead you… we didn’t send all of our more restricting wardrobe items out the door… of course there are the odd days where looking amazing > moving functionally… but, we’re far more conscious now because we have to be! 

    Tips to choose apparel & footwear that lets you move:
    – Pick clothes that let you move in a natural way, and allow your body to breathe! One of our very favourite apparel lines is Icebreaker Merino Wool.  Natural wool fibres are extremely breathable, and their styles allow for functional movements!
    – Wear shoes that have a wide toe box and a zero heel drop to optimize your whole body alignment! These styles also help prevent your feet from getting sore if you’re standing or walking all day!

    – At Health Essentials, we carry 3 amazing styles of barefoot shoes. They are Vibram Fivefingers, Vivo Barefoot & Luna Sandals.  If you work in a strict dress-code workplace, Vivo Barefoot makes dressier styles that look amazing!  

  4. Spend breaks on yoga mats.

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    Since we don’t sit during the day, it’s nice to get off of our feet for a little bit during our lunch breaks. But, since we’re all pretty aware of the fact that sitting in chairs is not so fabulous for our bodies… we like to opt for yoga mat breaks. This doesn’t necessarily mean we hang out in downward dog or work on our headstands the entire time, but it does mean that we’re moving a lot more throughout our break… try sitting on a hard surface in the exact same way for a whole 30 minutes!  Sitting on harder surfaces, your body is reminded to adjust positions more frequently!  Remember what the best posture is… the one that is constantly moving, yes fidgeting is good for you!

    (Tip for ladies: sometimes a great idea to pack a pair of shorts or pants you can put on under a dress or skirt 😉 )

  5. Equip your office with a chin-up bar!  

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    Recently, we brought a chin up bar to work – you know, those doorway fitting ones.  Hanging isn’t just for kids!! We should all have the strength, mobility & endurance to hang from a bar.  Unfortunately, we tend to lose that skill soon after elementary school in most cases.  It’s time to bring it back!! Hanging is a great way to build up arm strength and stretch out the whole body.

    It’s important to relearn the proper alignment for hanging before you get started, though! Check out the video below from Biomechanist Katy Bowman, on the right way to hang.


We hope that this information was helpful for you when it comes to adding movement into your work day! There are of course many other ways that might work better for you in your workspace, but these are just a few to get the ball rolling! 🙂  Do you have any tips and tricks that you use in your work place to add more movement into your days?? Let us know, we would LOVE to learn of more ways we can increase our movement everyday!

The Ideal Transitional Vibram!

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The Vibram Bikila:  What makes it the Ideal Transitional Shoe?

Vibram Fivefingers has a wide selection of shoes which have specific features, for specific types of activities.  All Vibram Fivefingers, however, are great for casual wearing and walking.  The best part about Vibram Fivefinger shoes is the feeling of NOT wearing shoes.  If you’ve never tried on a pair, imagine wearing a mitten your entire life and trying on a glove.  Fivefingers allow you to articulate & spread your toes! They let your feet act like feet! 

Due to the design of, for lack of better term, “conventional” shoes, our bodies have generally been maladapted from their natural biological state of being.  Our heels are meant to be on ground level, and our toes are meant to be able to spread – it’s actually extremely important for optimal balance and whole body alignment!! Unfortunately, a lot of the “conventional” shoes, even the high end ones, are designed exactly opposite to this. They have lifted heels, and narrow toe boxes.  I know right?? WHAT THE HECK!

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Injury, intuition & education are some of the many reasons people are making the switch to more barefoot style shoes. Vibram Fivefingers are one of the best barefoot options available, and they let your feet do their thang!! Although it is a fantastic idea to switch to barefoot shoes, if you haven’t already… it must be a gradual transition.

 

If you’re like the average person, you’ve probably spent at least 60% of your life in shoes that have a lifted heel and narrow toe box.  This shoe design forces your body to use a particular set of muscles in a particular alignment that walking, running, or jumping “barefoot” does not.  You’ll need to prepare by strengthening your lower leg muscles, increasing the flexibility in your feet & working the lower-leg in a completely different way! A great way… but, it may take time.

Ease Your Way Out of Shoes

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A fantastic way to prepare your body for barefoot shoes, is ditching shoes wherever possible.  Even if just around your home! Kick off those slippers, take off your socks, & let your feet breathe! Don’t try to do anything too strenuous, just try to hang out without shoes whenever it’s available.  Even go out in the yard and walk in the grass – trust us, it feels AMAZING.

Start by Wearing your Vibram Five finger 10% of the Time

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Vibram recommends that you start by wearing your new Fivefingers only 10 percent of the time, and slowly increase that number over the course of a few weeks.  Your feet have likely been in a “cast” most of their life and they’ll need time to strengthen the small muscles and joints that haven’t been in use while in conventional shoes!

There are particular styles of Vibram Fivefingers that are recommended as the best “transitional” styles, which will help you with the switch.

The Vibram Bikila Evo


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  • This is an ideal running shoe for those making the transition from traditional footwear to a more minimalist approach.
  • With a total sole thickness of 8.5mm, this style offers a little more protection than some other Fivefinger styles, while still allowing you to feel connected to the ground, spread your toes, and keep your body in proper alignment!
  • Featuring a soft, perforated upper to maximize breathability, this model is extremely comfortable!
  • Bikila Evos are extremely lightweight & their thin sole construction lets you feel your run, connecting you to the true barefoot running experience.

 


At Health Essentials, we are proud to say that we carry the largest selection of Vibram Fivefingers on the Island!! Come in and check out the styles of Vibram Fivefingers that we carry, and have a chance to try on these game-changing minimalist shoes!  

 

Luna Sandals – THE Ultimate Adventure Shoe

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At Health Essentials, we’re crazy about the outdoors. Whether it’s super sunny outside like it has been this August, or it’s crazy rainy like it tends to be from time to time on the Wet West Coast 😉 … We just can’t get enough fresh air!  Perhaps as much as we love being outside, we love spending time barefoot, which is why Luna Sandals are one of our year round footwear essentials.

It can be hard to navigate on some outdoor terrains without a little protection for our soles, especially since most of us are so used to having worn shoes our whole lives.  Luna Sandals are the perfect medium between protection and freedom.  

What are Luna Sandals?

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Luna Sandals were created by a man named Ted MacDonald – aka: “Barefoot Ted” – whose journey of learning how to run pain-free led him to the concept of barefoot running. Running and moving without the impeding modern day “technology” of conventional shoes can have amazing benefits for our body, and actually reduce risk of pain and injury. Our bodies were meant to move – just not the way most modern day footwear forces them to.

Luna Sandals were inspired by traditional cultural styles of sandals, much like those in the Tarahumara natives of Mexico. On a trip to run a 50-mile Ultra Marathon in the Copper Canyons, Barefoot Ted became friends with a man named Manuel Luna, who made him his first pair of “huarache” sandals out of tire rubber and rope (see above). And thus, the name Luna Sandals came to be – inspired by and named after a true Tarahumara native.

Why we LOVE them.

We find ourselves regressing back to what our ancestors did and how traditional cultures lived again, and again when it comes to virtually all aspects of natural health and wellness. Allowing our bodies to express their natural biology seems to be the key to human vitality. Humans were created to move like humans, and Luna sandals allow our natural movement to be expressed to the fullest, while still providing protection.

Luna Sandals are a line of highly durable, adventure sandals that allow your ENTIRE foot to feel like it’s free!

This sandal is amazing for the heat – letting your feet fully breathe.
They are also fantastic for rainy weather – allowing water to wick away from the foot and rubber sole of the shoe.. puddle free!

There are different styles available for all types of weather conditions, terrain and preference, but they all keep the same simple concept in mind: Allowing your feet to act like the strong foundational bases that they are, allows your body to be aligned and supported properly.

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One of our very favourite, and perhaps one of the most versatile Luna Sandal styles that we carry is The Leadville PacerEquipped with a 9mm Vibram rubber sole, and aggressive tread that is designed to help you navigate any terrain, this sandal is perfect for even the most adventurous types.

 

 

 

 

The Problem with Modern Footwear: Strengthen Your Feet, Strengthen Your Body

Are you confused about what the best footwear is for you? Have you ever been told that the optimum shoe has a snug fit, arch support and cushioning? If you have you’re not alone. At least 10 years ago we started looking at the impact of what has been termed by biomechanists as a foot “cast” . Much the same as if you break your arm and are put in a cast, a conventional shoe keeps your movement restricted, your toes in one spot, often has your arch supported which leads to weakening of the muscles in the foot. Your muscles don’t have to do the work anymore they are supported by the shoe so they atrophy (weaken) . Modern day shoes typically have lots of cushioning, which actually causes more joint impact because your foot isn’t getting the biofeedback (brain body connection) from the surface it is on. Lets break it down:

Your feet have 7000 nerve endings, 33 joints and 28 bones held together by more than a hundred ligaments and muscles. There’s a lot going on in there! The way we use are hands can be compared to the way our feet (are supposed) to be used. Feet really have a huge impact on the way our bodies move. Feet create the foundation for your whole body. Some foot experts say the typical North American’s feet is only functioning at 30%

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Effect of Elevated Heels

Originally designed to create a longer stride, the elevated heel shifts our body forward. Our eyes will auto correct our posture to the horizon (which they always do automatically) . When our eye line shifts the shoulders follow, then the pelvis and completely destroy the natural stance we were meant to have for our bodies to function properly. An elevated heel can changes how your foot strikes the ground, making you land further back on your foot instead of landing on the padded forefoot. Wearing shoes with an elevated heal can cause the achilles shorten over time tightening the calf. Every time your foot steps down it tries to use more force to stabilize the body. Kinetic analyses shows that even on hard surfaces, barefoot runners who forefoot strike generate smaller force than heel strikers.

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What is proprioception?

Katy Bowman explains it as ‘the ability for one part of your body to know where it is relative to the other parts”. It is a system that gives your body a sense of what is internal so you can subconsciously make informed decisions on movement based on the biofeedback from your environment. Proprioception determines body position, and focuses on the cognitive awareness of the body in space. It senses limbs, trunk, effort, force and heaviness. So what does that mean for us? When we pad our shoes we cut off the bodies natural movement and dull the senses confusing our bodies into moving in an irregular way. Being barefoot (or as close as possible) is giving your body the best chance to move effectively based on your environment.

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Having a tight fitting shoes /compressed toe box):

Your toes were meant to move independently just like fingers. Compressed toe boxes lead to toes that are overlapping or with indentations in them. The strength of the individual toes is compromised as well as the ideal base stance. The toes are meant to be the anchor and pivot for the foot. A person can learn to spread their toes over time and can have a more solid and connected base that supports natural movement. Can you move each toe independently? 

How to transition gently to barefoot shoes

Listen to your body. Some people can transition in a week, some take a month or longer. As soon as there is muscle pain back off. You can start at home wearing your shoes for short periods of time. Give your feet some exercise experimenting with different surface types. Stretching and maintaining mobility are important for overall well being and it is especially helpful to continue this practice as your body gets used to a new way of moving. If you have more questions, come and visit us at the store and experience the freeing feeling of wearing a barefoot shoe.

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Poop Like a Pro! – Squatty Potty

Are you having issues with..uh..elimination? Interested in colon health? The squatty potty is the newest great invention in the colon health department!
Did you know that sitting on the toilet actually makes a kink in your colon, blocking the flow of waste? The Squatty Potty fixes that!

Why we love it:
– It elevates your feet to help you get in the optimal position to completely eliminate.
– It takes us back go traditional times. Humans are designed to squat, our ancestors didn’t have the modern invention of the toilet!
– It has an ergonomic design that fits under any toilet.
– It works for all body types, ages, and flexibilities.

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100% Natural Renewable Bamboo

Made with Formaldehyde-Free Glues and Resins
Adjustable Height
Water and Mold Resistant
Lifetime Guarantee
Weight Capacity: 350 lbs

Check out this great video for more information on the Squatty Potty, and come check them out at the store or on our website.