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Grounding: Earthing footwear the doctor didn’t order

Someone figured out how to integrate shoes into the grounding equation


Scientifically proven grounding benefits spur creation of specialized footwear; groundbreaking revolution in earthing footwear growing by leaps and bounds

Part II — Grounding: Barefoot healing the doctor didn’t order

Native Americans insulating themselves from the elements in teepees and wigwams, extending back to antiquity did not have the presence of mind to understand the significance of grounding as a scientific health maintenance modality. The inclination to touch skin to soil was innate. To bond with the Earth was as natural as breathing air.

Alternately walking in animal skin moccasins and being barefoot, sleeping on the ground on material made from animal skin, yielded extraordinary health benefits from the infusion of electrons into their physical bodies directly from the surface of the earth.

That was a much simpler time before footwear became a necessary creature comfort.

The footwear disconnect

In contemporary society, notably in urban settings, the practice of grounding and moving about barefoot is rarely seen. People transit from one place to the other mostly by car, bus or train. Indoors and outdoors, people wear shoes and walk on various surfaces, never coming in physical contact with the earth.

Mankind’s first and most resolute disconnect from the ground, grass, and sand was after the invention and wearing of shoes with rubber, leather or polyvinyl soles. Sandals were the most common footwear in most early civilizations, however, a few of the earliest cultures wore shoes. In Mesopotamia, (1600-1200 BC) a type of soft shoes were worn by the mountain people who lived on the border of what is known as Iran, today. The soft shoe was made of wraparound leather, similar to a moccasin. As late as 1850 most shoes were made on absolutely straight lasts, with no difference between the right and the left shoe.

A shoe stitching machine was invented by American Lyman Reed Blake in 1856. In 1858, Blake secured a U.S. government patent for his invention. The stitching machine, a kind of sewing machine for shoes enabled shoemakers to attach the sole of the shoe to the upper of the shoe. The practice was quickly adopted by manufacturers throughout New England.

As with most innovation, perfection emerges throughout a period of years to add to or improve upon a breakthrough. That happened with the shoe. The individual designated by fate to carry out that mission was Jan Ernst Matzeliger, who introduced automation into the shoe-making business.

Born on Sept. 15, 1852, on a coffee plantation in Dutch Guiana, formerly known as Paramaribo (now Suriname), Matziliger ultimately emigrated to the United States. By the time he reached manhood at age 21in 1873, Matziliger was an expert shoemaker. A decade later in 1883, he invented and patented what many before him had attempted: an automated shoe lasting machine that quickly attached the top of the shoe to the sole.

The process speeded up shoe production, increased the availability of shoes, and decreased the price of footwear.

Matzeliger, a revolutionary shoe artisan, died tragically of tuberculosis in 1889, in Lynn, Mass. He was only 37 years old but left an enduring legacy with the invention of the automated shoe lasting machine.

Grounding footwear enters market

The shoe will always be considered one of the notable creations of the modern era, serving as protection for the feet providing comfort, convenience, and a fashion statement. The majority of contemporary society cannot leave home without shoes.

Beth Goldstein, industry analyst and executive director of the National Purchase Diary Panel Inc. (NPD), an American market research company, noted just how important footwear is to our modern culture. At a 2017 year-end shoe industry confab, Goldstein reported that total footwear sales for the year were $66.7 billion.

The enormous sales figure, Goldstein said was largely driven by the high demand for sport lifestyle sneakers among men, women, and children. Other strong shoe categories have been skate sneakers and cold-weather casual boots. Conversely, Goldstein noted, dress, running, and casual shoe segments were the worst-performers. To foster sales gains, Goldstein urged brands to pay close attention to trends, such as comfort and convenience, which she says are of great importance to consumers.

Pluggz: Big step in the right direction

One area Goldstein overlooked is footwear that augments improved health in people. If the practice of grounding — touching bare foot to ground — was going to be the spearhead in this regard, it was only a matter of time before someone figured out how to integrate shoes into the equation, providing critically important health benefits, while simultaneously tapping into the billion dollar shoe market.

An auspicious footwear company aptly named Pluggz, Inc., emerged in 2016 at precisely the right time to fill the gap. Earthing shoes was a concept sent from On High and Sharon Whiteley was the individual blessed to receive the gift.

Whiteley had just emerged from a health and wellness conference about the scientifically proven benefits of grounding in 2016 when the idea struck her like a burst of light in the night — “Shoes!” it occurred to her.

Compton Herald | Pluggz grounding shoes


That epiphany was — as a writer aptly put it — “the genesis of a revolutionary addendum to the art of shoemaking. Pluggz was born!”

The next year-and-a-half, Whiteley immersed herself in research and also forged a relationship with Clint Ober, the re-discoverer of grounding in 2010, Dr. James Oschman, the man behind much of the scientific validation, and a host of talented individuals who’d embraced the Pluggz vision.

Writes one reviewer of the brand: “Although this is an ancient, and natural technology, closed toe, year-round grounding shoes and earthing shoes are not. They are a new concept in today’s busy, fast pace and for some, stressful world.”

The Pluggz technology is simplistic ingenuity. According to the company’s website: “Every pair of Pluggz grounding/earthing shoes – women’s ballet flats, loafers, mocs and flip flops, and men’s drivers and flip flops, contains soft black plugs made from a custom-formulated carbon and rubber compound that sit under the weight bearing part of your feet. Pluggz proprietary technology is carefully engineered and designed into the insoles of all shoes to simply conduct the flow of the earth’s electrons into your body every time you take a step on the ground. When this happens, you get grounded effortlessly.”

Jarrette Fellows, Jr. is Publisher and Editor of Compton Herald. He attended junior and senior high school in Compton, and is an alumnus of California State University, Los Angeles.


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