Bare 5

Reconnecting to health and wellness


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Welcome To Bare 5!


We all have within us the potential to feel great, be strong and love life. The simple approach that can get us there: reconnect to being human. By honoring our natural instincts and connection to the world around us we can optimize our lives. Make the most of every day by taking your life back and reconnect to your true human nature.

Most of us have been getting more disconnected every year as life, technology and constant stress pulls us further away from our roots. More now than ever before, we need to reconnect. Reconnect to human nature: our true selves, the food, movement, rest, nature, friends, family, happiness and joy that makes life amazing. We are marvelous creatures with incredible potential. Bare 5 exists simply as a resource for connection, an outlet for people to plug back in to health. This blog is dedicated to sharing info, thoughts, resources and links that will help people take their future into their own hands and reconnect to being human, gaining health and wellness and to loving life.

If you’re new to natural living, there’s no better time to start than now and no better way than to kick off your shoes and let your Bare 5 toes reconnect with the ground and get some sunshine on your skin. We can all benefit from the simple acts of reconnecting with being human, from the way we walk, to what we eat, to how we move, sleep and even to how we connect with the earth itself and one another. The more we follow our naturally designed path, the better our lives will be.

Every week I try to add new links, info, resources and thoughts so take a look around, explore, browse and let me know what you think!

If you’re here for the Vibram Five Fingers toe shoes, check out the links on the right…
Or check out the Bare5 Barefoot Headquarters.

If you’re here to explore your health, browse around or check out the Resources or FDN pages.

If you just want the basics, take a look at the Bare 5 Elements and look for the Bare 5 Bottom Line, my synopsis of each post.

Thanks for reading, have a great reconnected day!


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The Couch Stretch

*If your back bothers you, your hips are tight, your knees hurt, your shoulders are stiff, your posture has gotten worse, you generally want to feel better or all of the above, this post is for you.*

As a general rule, the more life goes along the less people move. We go from high volume, varietal, intense and dynamic movers to increasingly lower volume, lower variety, lower intensity movers that are mostly stationary and static beings. 

While kids move all the time in a hundred different ways and with great intensity and change, adults (even teenagers) move very little, with fewer and fewer movement patterns that aren’t too intense (or have too much intensity) when we do move. Add a few too many hours sitting at a desk, in a car or on a couch and the result is many of our joints and muscles lose their mobility and strength while the body loses its overall ability to do normal things. We go from bodies that are capable of anything and well adjusted to everything to bodies that have become adapted to static and limited posture and are very well adjusted to only a handful of small ranges of motion. 

When we do ask our body to do normal things it often physically can’t, which means we either just don’t do those things anymore, feel bad acutely while trying (or chronically in general) or worse, injure ourselves trying to do things our body isn’t currently capable of. Every adult I’ve ever met has experienced this to some degree, from minor limitations and irritations to major life altering problems. 

The long term solution is to move more. In frequency, variety, intensity and dynamics.

The short term solution is to start taking better care of ourselves with some simple exercises and stretches. One of my favorites is the the couch stretch. 

The Couch Stretch

The couch stretch got its name because the couch was the only place people would consistently do this stretch, both from a comfort and convenience perspective. It is designed to be done against a wall (or just about anywhere) but often gets more consistent usage (which is key) when using a couch while watching tv. 

It takes 4 minutes per side (2 minutes each position), or 8 minutes total, and could be the most beneficial 10 minutes you give yourself all day. 

Here’s the stretch:

Find a wall/couch and get on your hands and knees with feet against the edge…  

Making sure your abs are tight and back is straight, place one knee in the corner of the wall with your leg straight up… 

If this is enough stretch for you, stay right here. If not, keeping your core tight, bring the other leg forward, placing your foot flat so it’s under your knee… 

For many, this will be enough stretch. Once again, if this is not enough stretch for you, continue by pushing your hips forward and bringing your upper body more upright. Finish by squeezing your butt on the back leg side…  

Hang out here (or whatever stage you stopped at) for two minutes. 

You should feel a deep stretch in the front of your down (kneeling) leg, ranging anywhere from the knee all the way to the hip, depending on where you are most tight. The more flexible your legs the higher up you’ll feel the stretch toward your hip. The goal is to push the hips forward past neutral while keeping the back straight, however most people can’t the first time. Find the point at which you feel a good stretch and stop there. 

The second stage takes things up a notch. Keeping tight through the core, lean back and straighten your body up as much as you can, trying to hit an upright posture…
Hang in there for two more minutes. 

Switch sides and repeat for another 4 minutes, 2 each stage. 

Do this every night and in a week or two your hips, back and legs will be dramatically looser. 

I see people on a regular basis who come in with a little back tightness or knee pain that “magically disappears” after this stretch. It’s not magic, it’s just relieving some muscle tension that’s pulling on the back or knee and causing pain. 

The couch stretch is not going to fix everyone and everything but it helps almost everyone I have suggested it to, particularly when done regularly and with attention to the details of the sequence and body position. It’s one of the few stretches I do regularly and is the most recommended stretch I give out. 

Here’s a quick video tutorial from Kelly Starrett, the creator of the couch stretch:

Give it a shot and let me know how it feels. 

*Note: If you have a couch, use it. This will be more enjoyable while watching documentaries on the BBC. Or Bachelor in Paradise…

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

P.S. Here’s a variation using a bench:  
After spending about 2 minutes there, step forward about a foot and lean/lunge into the stretch, still keeping the body upright…  

Spend another 2 minutes there and then repeat on the other side. 


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When Good Diets Go Bad

We’ve all seen it in others or been there ourselves. A great diet or nutrition plan that turns you into a miserable human being. It has all the perks of health…except for the part about you feeling good and enjoying your life.

Vegan? Might be great for some and cure many ails but it definitely alienates, complicates and leaves many in a worse place lifestyle wise.

Paleo? Same thing. Many gain physical health but turn into crazy people afraid of most food and criticizing just about everything they come across.

Low carb? Ditto. Another one leaving people struggling to fit in and scared of anything that even resembles a piece of fruit.

These and so many other diets might be a great or even “perfect” diet but if they ruin your life then they aren’t very good for you. Think of it this way:

If your diet…

…Teaches you to fear something (fat, animal products, carbs, bread, GMOs, fill in the blank) – it’s a diet gone bad.

…Makes you crazy about what you eat (or don’t eat) – it’s the wrong one for you.

…Creates an evangelical need for you to share its praises to everyone around you whether they like it or not – it’s gone to a bad place.

…Leaves you cranky all the time – it’s a bad match.

…Makes you judge others and apply morality to food – it’s definitely a bad fit.

…Makes it difficult to go out to dinner with friends – it’s a diet gone bad.

…Complicates your family life – it’s not worth it.

…Defines who you are – it’s gone too far.

…Causes you stress – it’s the wrong one for you.

Conversely, if your diet teaches you to learn how different foods make you feel and contribute to your goals then it’s the right one for you. If it makes you feel better physically without destroying your mental attitude and approach to the world- it’s the right one for you. If it allows you to function in the real world and accept other peoples nutrition choices while exploring your own then it definitely is right for you.

We all want to be healthy and want the same for those around us but we can’t forget that health includes much more than the food you put in your mouth. No matter how great a diet might be, it has to fit into your life and enhance it all the way around. Good diets make your health better without making your life worse. Even the greatest diets go bad when they end up making people change who they are and complicating their life, particularly when they end up judging others in the process. Stick to the diets or approaches that are good for the whole health of your life and you’ll find much more success and enjoy the journey even more.

Thanks for reading have a great day!

Side note: you can go on a vegan diet without becoming vegan just as you don’t have to be low carb forever. A diet can be temporary and shouldn’t define you.

Here’s a nice article on diet and misery.

And another on Angry Dieters.


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Passion & Uncertainty

  Pearls From Pirsig

When is the last time you heard someone argue passionately about if the sun was going to rise? Or if gravity exists?

Probably never.

Now when is the last time you came across a passionate argument about diet? Or religion? Or politics? Or a sports team?

Yesterday for me. A couple times. 

What’s the difference? 


We only argue about things that are uncertain. The more uncertain a subject the more passionate the arguments often get. No one argues for the sun not setting or gravity being false because we are pretty certain of their status. On the flip side, people lose their minds arguing over things like nutrition and diet because we have almost no certainty in that realm. 

Just remember that when you come across someone arguing feverishly that they know the answer to something as ambiguous as what’s the best diet. 

Passion = Uncertainty

Or put another way, people may be certain of a truth for them but that doesn’t mean it’s a universal truth.

Passion = Personal Certainly on Universal Unertain Subjects  

Thanks for reading, have a great day! 

P.P.S. This is continuing a sub series on Pearls from Pirsig, a.k.a what I takeaway from reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. 


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Did You Know?

  Did you know…

… the body has a various levels of pH (acid-alkaline), with no one “correct” reading for the entire body? A pH of 0 is completely acidic, 14 is completely alkaline and 7 is neutral. When the body is in good working order, human blood has a narrow pH window of about 7.35–7.45 (slightly alkaline). Saliva has a pH teetering around neutral at 6.5–7.4, healthy human skin has a slightly acidic pH of 5.5 and our digestive tract’s pH can range from a very acidic 1.5 to a neutral 7.0, depending on what stage of digestion is underway. The body needs a balance between the two and different parts of the body need different pHs. 

… the brain is 2-3% of our bodyweight, meaning a 150 pound human has a brain weighing about 3-4 pounds? The brain is 77-78% water, the tissue itself being about 50% fat and 40% protein. It houses the most cholesterol in our body- almost 25% of our total cholesterol is stored in the brain. 

… the human mouth has about 500-1000 different species of bacteria capable of living in it? About 150 different species and 20 million bacteria are living at one time in any given person’s oral cavity, although much of our oral microbiome diversity and number appears to be determined by ethnicity and hygiene. Each tooth has anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000 bacteria in a clean mouth ranging up to 100 million to 1 billion bacteria per tooth in an unclean mouth. Because much these mostly beneficial bacteria live in our saliva, we end up swallowing about 100 billion bacteria a day. 

… over the course of the day your entire bodily fluid content filters through the eye? It is thought this process exists to expose the body fluids (blood contents) to UV light which acts as a irradiation agent for pathogens and other abnormalities. For people who spend most of the time indoors and wear sunglasses whenever going outside we have to ask at what cost comes no UV exposure to the eye/brain and what other downstream effects that might have. 

Thanks for reading, have a great day!


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Kyle Knapp Fitness on YouTube

Fitness is a big part of my life and sharing my love of movement and exercise is one of my favorite things to do. As a teacher of fitness, exercise and movement I have found it helpful to put things down in video format as it adds an often much needed layer of explanation. A few years ago I started a YouTube channel and started putting fitness videos and exercise examples on there for my clients to reference while doing their homework or while on vacation. Now there’s about 475 videos that cover everything from basic beginning therapeutic exercises to advanced conditioning circuits with a few bow hunting training videos mixed in. Lately I’ve been sharing how I use the world around me for exercise in the series I call “Me and …” and it’s developed into a neat little passionate side project the last few months.

Of interest to many is my Core & Back series that gives 5-7 minute video sequences of effective and easily done exercises, stretches and movements to help keep your core and back healthy. I have published 4 versions so far with a few more to come. If your back and core need some help check them out.

Those along with anything else fitness related you can see here: Kyleknappfitness YouTube channel.

I hope they help teach or inspire- let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see. I’m always willing to add more things and love to make them specific for people.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!


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Why Do Mosquitos Love Some People So Much?

I’ve always wondered this and happened across the answer while researching a different post so I thought it would be cool to share. The original article I’m summarizing can be found on the online version of Smithsonisn Magazine (Why Do Mosquitoes Bite Some People More Than Others?).

Mosquitoes bite people to acquire and harvest the proteins in our blood and about 20% of the population tends to be particularly delicious to those little critters. Since they are beginning to find some mosquitoes are becoming immune to some repellents, it’s a good idea to figure out what they look most for in us tasty humans. Although we aren’t absolutely certain, here’s what most research (and there’s a lot on this) has pointed to as the 9 most influential reasons some people get bit more than others:

1. Blood Type – type O is the most delicious, twice as much as A, with B in between. However if you’re in the 15% of the population that don’t secrete the chemical indicator of your blood type it doesn’t really matter. 

2. Carbon Dioxide – the more you expel the more delicious you are. This means bigger people expel more and so do exercisers. 

3. Metabolism and Exercise – higher body temperatures attract mosquitoes, as do the byproducts in sweat (lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia and a few others).

4. Skin Bacteria – they prefer large amounts of the same species and dislike high diversity.* Ankles and feet typically fit the low diversity/high number profile criteria so are often targeted.

5. Beer – no one’s sure why but beer drinkers get bit more. It’s proposed to be the ethanol in sweat or increased body temperature but is still as mystery. 

6. Pregnancy – twice as likely to be bit are pregnant women, thought to be due to increased CO2 output and/or higher body temperature.

7. Clothing Color – colors that stand out likely make you easier to spot than those that blend   

8. Genetics – all being said, genes determine about 85% of your appeal to mosquitoes. Through the factors listed above and probably other unknown ones, some people just ooze “bite me.”

9. Natural Repellents – a variety of chemicals appear to be emitted by low bite people and, although these are still being identified and studied, researchers hope to use that info to bolster sprays for those less fortunate in the mosquito department. Or as quoted in the article, “Eventually, incorporating these molecules into advanced bug spray could make it possible for even a Type O, exercising, pregnant woman in a black shirt to ward off mosquitoes for good.”

So if you want to lower your bite factor keep those things in mind. 

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

P.S. * I wonder if our fear of germs and bacteria is one of the things involved in the skin bacteria issue. Perpetually cleaned skin is probably going to harbor fewer species of bacteria and the ones that survive will likely grow in number making them quite appealing to our little friends. 


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Do You Float or Swim?

There are three types of people in this world, those that can count and those that can’t. (Sorry, couldn’t resist one of my old favorites- let’s try this again…)

There are two basic types of people the world, floaters and swimmers. Think about your life… which of the following resonates the most with you:    The River Of Life

Are you floating along, taking life as it comes and guides you or do you swim against the current, making your own way?

There are pros and cons to both.

The floaters literally go with the flow. Their stress levels are low and they adapt to whatever the river of life gives them. When life pushes hard they adapt easily and see the silver linings. However they only go where the river flows and are vulnerable to going places they don’t want and being at the mercy of the current.

The swimmers shape their destiny. They go where they want and when they want and very rarely go where they don’t want to be. When life’s current pushes them in a way they don’t like they push back or swim around it. As a result of their proactive approach they are often more stressed out and expend much more energy, mentally and physically fighting the river of life.

I’m a floater, most definitely. I don’t have a problem with swimming I just like the concept of floating. Quite a few quotes out there claim that dead fish are the floaters and the lively are those who swim against the current. Others say it’s the smart ones that float and let the river do all the work while the dumb ones fight against it and tire themselves out to get almost nowhere.

I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer but I think we all need to ask ourselves this question. Do we float with or swim against life? And how does that impact our life both positively and negatively?

If you are a floater and never find yourself getting where you want maybe it’s time to swim a bit. If you are a swimmer and find yourself exhausted and frustrated with life then maybe it’s time to float a bit. Or better yet, learn the skill of when to float and when to swim.

Let the river of life guide you through the rapids and swim when the waters are calm.

The other way to think about it is this: if you find yourself constantly swimming against the current never getting what you want to go and maybe you’re in the wrong river or you need some help (life jacket, flippers, etc.). If you find yourself floating along and never ending up where you want to go then maybe you’re in the wrong river or you need to get yourself an oar. Be a floater with an oar. Or a swimmer with flippers. Or better yet, find a partner who has a raft and oars or flippers and life jackets (shout out to my wife here).

The River of Health

Now think about your health journey. The same question: Do you float or swim?

Are you someone who floats along, just letting health be what it may or are you someone who swims against the current and battles it? Are you someone who accepts aging and health decline or are you fighting (kicking and screaming) to keep your health?

Once again, probably pros and cons to both. There is benefit to being a health floater, particularly when it comes to stressing out over health, exercise and the perfect diet. But ignorance is only bliss until the river dumps you off a waterfall. The swimmers control much more of their health destiny and can manipulate their river ride to a very strong degree but they often end up having to dedicate a lot of time and energy to do so, often to the detriment of other things.

I was a health floater most of my life until my health awakening a few years ago, which I think of my learning how to swim, when I became a swimmer and one that used his new found ability at every opportunity. Not surprisingly, I think I tired myself out after a few years of hard swimming and have since settled into being a floater again who tries to swim only when an opportunity presents itself and goes with the flow the rest of the time. Needless to say I feel like this has me navigating the river of health much more effectively and I am enjoying the ride quite a bit more.

A couple things to remember:

– Some parts of the river look calm on the surface but have a big current underneath. Think about that in your life- when does it seem like things should be working out but they just aren’t?
– Every once in a while the river is shallow, particularly around the rapids. Stand up or grab a rock if you can because it can really help in a time of big currents.
– There are sides to every river that might offer opportunities for rest or achievement, look out for them but make sure you choose good places to bank.
– Swimming sideways is an option. You don’t always have to head up or down stream.
– You’re very rarely alone on any river in your life. Keep your eyes open for fellow river goers.

Life and health are rivers. Whether you are a floater, swimmer or somewhere in-between, the best approach is this: find the right river for you, get a few tools to help then enjoy the ride.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!


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