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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My Nike Xero Shoe Creation

Fresh off last week’s shoe update, I added another version to the rotation. This was actually a molding of two existing shoes and it turned out pretty good.

The whole project started when an old pair of Nike Sparq trainers encountered a slight problem:

 I liked the feel of the shoe and I noticed the other one was also peeling so after a little bit of tugging, I was able to pretty easily remove the soles:

 This left me with almost some sock like shoes that were really comfortable:

 Unfortunately the bottoms were fabric and didn’t seem durable enough to be walking around, particularly outside. I remembered that I had an extra pair of Xero Shoes (huarache sandals) that were basically just a thin rubber sole so I took out the laces, traced the outline of the Nike, trimmed them down to match the shoes and Gorilla Glued them on:

 After a couple hours I had a “new” pair of Nike Xeros:

 Now, don’t go ripping off soles just yet because I have no idea how durable the bond will end up being and they’re not the most fashionable but so far they feel great to wear. Incredible comfort, flexibility and lightness from the sock like casing of the Nike shoe with just a little traction and and protection.

Maybe we’ve stumbled upon a new collaboration…

Thanks for reading, have a great day!



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What My Feet Are Wearing These Days

I haven’t written much in a while about toe shoes, barefoot-ness and minimalist footwear so I thought it would be nice for a little update on where my feet are regarding all this stuff. While I once was a toe shoe collector and barefoot quite often I now find myself with a pretty eclectic footwear collection and wearing them all pretty evenly. Here’s a picture of what I’ve worn the last week…


From bottom up:

New Balance Minimus MR10v2
New Balance Minimus MR10v2
Nike Flex Experience Run 4
Vibram SeeYa LS
Tabi shoes
Sanuk Pick Pocket
Vibram Classic
Nike Barefoot Ride 5.0

An average week sees me shod:

1-2 days toe shoes (Vibrams)
2-3 days minimalist shoes (New Balance)
2-3 days regular tennis shoes (Nike Free)
1-2 days sandals or huaraches
~1 day barefoot (if you add up time during the week)

Here’s what the previous two weeks saw me wear along with a few repeats from above:


From top to bottom, left to right:

New Balance Minimus MR00GB
O’neill Sandals
Xero Shoes
Vibram Speed
Vibram Sprint (strap removed)
Vibram KimodoSport LS
Vibram Bikila
Vibram EX-L
New Balance 730

I’m also still occasionally wearing all the other shoes I covered a few years ago (Minimalist Shoes Are Everywhere) plus a few additional ones that I’ve collected or still have from a long time ago.

Takeaway #1 – I have a lot of shoes. This is what happens when you buy a new pair every six months and keep them 8-10 years.

Takeaway #2 – Variety is key.

That’s biggest thing the last year or so has seen change in my personal foot philosophy: balance and variety in what’s on my feet. Sometimes I’m more barefootish, sometimes hardly at all. I wear a collection of shoes from a number of families and have found it to be the best approach for my feet and my lifestyle. I like reconnecting with tennis shoes and have found them to be a better choice when I’m jumping around and putting a lot of impact on my feet. When I’m hanging out, standing around or working out, I keep it pretty minimal. Every day is different and nothing is set in stone. I wear what I feel like wearing whenever I want. I still try to be barefoot whenever I can, particularly at home, but I also let myself wear some nice bright orange running shoes once a week too.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!



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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