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Rob – aka The Grounded Athlete – Learn What It Means To Be Grounded

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week, I’m excited to welcome to the podcast Rob from The Grounded Athlete. Rob is a professional sprinter and the founder of “The Grounded Athlete and GAIA Grounding Sandals”. The Grounded Athlete is a platform used to spread the awareness about the electrophysiological process of grounding along with its healing properties. In this episode, we talk about the science supporting grounding and how we can determine the tell-tale signs that we may need to reconnect to the earth. Over to Rob.

Audio Version

Some questions asked during this episode:

  • What is grounding and why should we be aware of it?
  • What are the best surfaces to ground ourselves?
  • Is there an optimal time required to properly ground ourselves?

Get more of Rob

If you enjoyed this, then we think you’ll enjoy this interview:


The views expressed on this podcast are the personal views of the host and guest speakers and not the views of Bega Cheese Limited or 180 Nutrition Pty Ltd. In addition, the views expressed should not be taken or relied upon as medical advice. Listeners should speak to their doctor to obtain medical advice.

Disclaimer: The transcript below has not been proofread and some words may be mis-transcribed.

Full Transcript

Stu

(00:03)
Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of The Health Sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long lasting health. Now, I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do. Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products too. That’s right. We are into whole food nutrition and have a range of superfoods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website. That is 180nutrition.com.au, and take a look. Okay. Back to the show.

(00:44)
This week, I’m excited to welcome Rob from The Grounded Athlete. Rob is a professional sprinter and the founder of The Grounded Athlete and GAIA Grounding Sandals. The Grounded Athlete is a platform used to spread the awareness about the electrophysiological process of grounding along with its healing properties. In this episode, we talk about the science supporting grounding and how we can determine the tell-tale signs that we may need to reconnect to the earth. Over to Rob.

(01:14)
Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and I am delighted to welcome Rob from The Grounded Athlete to the podcast. Rob, mate, how are you?

Rob

(01:22)
I am fantastic, Stu. I’m happy to be here talking about grounding with you.

Stu

(01:26)
Oh, excellent. Look, I am so excited about grounding, and we were just saying off-air, you’ve made grounding cool, and I think there’s a lot of things that we can take out of that, perhaps, that we might not already know, but I’m kind of interested to get you take on that. But first up, for all of our listeners that may not be familiar with you or your work, I’d love it if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself, please.

Rob

(01:51)
Right. So I started The Grounded Athlete in summer of 2020, right when COVID was kind of just getting really started and all that. I wanted to do something really fulfilling with my life and what better way to do that than teach people about something that’s made a big impact in my life? That’s grounding. I first found out about grounding as an athlete, because as an athlete, you were always looking for ways to better yourself, and grounding was one of those things that I found that made a pretty significant impact in my life, and in my training, and in my health so I made it my mission to tell other people about this really, really cool phenomenon.

Stu

(02:34)
Fantastic. So I’m jumping in an elevator with you. We’ve got about three floors before I hop out and I say to you, “Mate, what is grounding?” What’s the elevator pitch on grounding?

Rob

(02:48)
Yeah. So grounding can be very simple and it can be very complex. The very simple answer to what grounding is is it’s electrically coupling your body to the surface charge of the earth, which maintains a slight negative charge that’s maintained by the global atmospheric electrical circuit, which has three main generators. You have thunderstorms. You have solar radiation, and you have ionospheric radiation. So at any one moment, there’s about one to 2,000 storms of occurring all around the world, mainly in the tropical regions, and this results in thousands of lightning strikes that are transferring negative charge to the surface of the earth and positive charge into the upper atmosphere into the ionosphere, and so this maintains the surface of the earth, a negative charge that humans have evolved with, and so grounding is being connected to that charge at the surface of the earth.

Stu

(03:43)
Right. So tell-tale signs that we may need to reconnect to the earth if we, for instance, get out of bed, and put our slippers on, and then jump straight into our work shoes, never get outside in nature, never have our feet on the ground. What may we experience?

Rob

(04:06)
Pain, and inflammation, and disease, I think, are the tell-tale signs that we need to reconnect to the earth. Of all the benefits, and there are many that grounding has, the biggest one has to do with inflammation. So the number one cause of death in the world today is chronic disease, specifically heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and grounding’s biggest impact is on inflammation, in oxidative stress because these are very much coupled to each other in terms of disease and a lot of diseases that you find, especially in the noncommunicable, chronic diseases, you’ll find inflammation in oxidative stress kind of feed off each other in the body, and so the number one tell-tale sign I’d say is chronic disease and inflammation.

Stu

(05:05)
Wow. Okay. Well, I’m just thinking about measurements and stuff like that, but I guess… So first up, so tell us how we should ground. I mean, is it as simple as just going outside different surfaces, et cetera?

Rob

(05:23)
So as long as you’re in contact with an electrically conductive material that’s in contact with the earth, you’re going to be grounded, and so, essentially, you can be grounded anywhere as long as you’re conductively connected to the earth. So like right now, I’m grounded. I have a grounding mat right underneath my computer that I’m touching right now, that’s connected to the grounding port in my wall outlet, which is connected to the ground outside. So as long as you’re in conductive contact with the earth, you will be grounded. So if you know the difference between conductors and insulators, which, I mean, you can look up pretty easily, you’ll know when you’re grounded.

Stu

(06:02)
Got it, and so for all of us standing barefoot on the carpet, probably not. Right?

Rob

(06:13)
Probably not. Nope. You probably got a good amount of static charge built up on, in fact.

Stu

(06:18)
But if we were to go outside, maybe, onto the concrete pathway next to the grass… Grass better than path?

Rob

(06:31)
Soil is going to be your best bet.

Stu

(06:34)
Right.

Rob

(06:34)
Concrete works. Asphalt doesn’t yeah. The petroleum that it’s made with, it’s not very conductive, but concrete, it’s mostly mineral and water, and so the minerals are conductive and so they’ll conduct that surface charge from the ground into your body. So conductors and insulators, that’s all you got to know about that.

Stu

(06:53)
No, that’s good to know. So ocean. So I’m in the ocean now, so is that-

Rob

(06:58)
Yeah, I know you’re big in surfing. Aren’t you?

Stu

(07:01)
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Rob

(07:01)
Yeah. So you’re as grounded as ever in the ocean. The ocean has a lot of mineral content in there, which carries that charge-

Stu

(07:10)
Excellent.

Rob

(07:10)
… across the water, and so-

Stu

(07:12)
Great.

Rob

(07:13)
… yeah, it’s just grounding times 10 so-

Stu

(07:15)
Right.

Rob

(07:16)
… it’s awesome to be in the ocean for grounding.

Stu

(07:17)
Okay. Well, yeah, that will make a lot of people over here very happy because we spend a lot of time in the ocean, and just on timing, I mean, optimal timing, can we just wander outside, turn around, and come back and we are done or we need more time?

Rob

(07:33)
So as soon as you touch the ground, you have conductive contact with the ground. It’s going to discharge your body immediately, and so the benefits are going to start right away. Most of the studies that you’ll find on grounding can range from 10, 20 minutes to the first two minutes to all throughout the night during sleep. Most of the studies are done on people that are sleeping, but the more, the better. I don’t think there’s a specific timeframe you can put on it, and I think a lot of that has to do with how inflamed you are as an individual, how much pain you’re experiencing, what kind of condition you’re in. Does that make sense?

Stu

(08:18)
It does. Yeah, totally. Just thinking about like testing, is there a way to test, maybe, how charged you are and physically see with your own eyes? You know what? I’m outside now. I’m kind of… Wow, I feel completely different and I can see from whatever gadget I might be holding that it’s working for me.

Rob

(08:42)
Yeah. You can go pick up a volt meter from the store for like 4 or $5, and that’ll give you a good idea of the amount of voltage that’s being induced on your body, and then with that volt meter, you go step outside onto the ground, your body will discharge down to about close to zero volts so which means you’re the same electrical potential as the earth. So that’s pretty easy way right there.

Stu

(09:05)
That’s neat, and yeah, I’m a bit of a gadget nerd, and that works for me. Yeah. I want to see this. I’m going to try that. So we figured out that we’ve got to go outside like the the grass, the earth, the ocean. That’s all cool. How many times a day would we want to do that? Obviously, I guess the weekends, we… It’s pretty optimal because we’re outside all the time but if we were, say, 9:00 to 5:00 like most of us are in an office, can we just shoot out at lunchtime? Is that enough?

Rob

(09:36)
Yeah. I mean, any… If you get some grounding in the day, that’s going to be beneficial for you. I’ve worked the 9:00 to 5:00 life and I’ve made it work. In the mornings before I go into work, I would ground. At lunchtime, I would go on and ground. I would take little mini-breaks here and there just go outside and be barefoot and I found it would make a huge difference in how I felt, how stressed I was. But I mean the more, the better, but even a small amount of time is going to make a pretty significant difference for you. Maybe not physiologically, but psychologically.

Stu

(10:12)
Yep.

Rob

(10:14)
But obviously, the more, the better.

Stu

(10:16)
Yeah. I guess there are probably other elements at play as well because we know that when we get outside, we’re surrounded by nature. Things just feel a lot better than when we’re inside in front of Facebook or something crazy.

Rob

(10:31)
Right, right.

Stu

(10:32)
Switching us on in every way.

Rob

(10:34)
Yeah.

Stu

(10:37)
What about kids, pregnancy, et cetera? Any age groups or, I guess, areas or stages in our life that we should be wary to not ground or is it okay for everyone?

Rob

(10:55)
Well, I just first want to clarify that grounding, you’re not connecting yourself to any electricity so it’s not dangerous.

Stu

(11:05)
Yeah.

Rob

(11:08)
I don’t think there’s a particular age group that it’s most beneficial for. I think how inflamed you are as an individual is the more important subject to look at here. If you’re dealing with something, chronic disease of some sort, then the more, the better. But I think the healthier you are as an individual, the less benefit you’re going to see from grounding. Does that make sense?

Stu

(11:36)
Yeah. No. It totally does that. Absolutely. I’ve heard that grounding impacts our sleep quality like if we do it right and maybe if we use the right equipment, we’ll have the right strategies in place. So I’m keen to hear your thoughts on that, and then also learn about maybe what you do at nighttime too.

Rob

(11:57)
I think there are multiple factors that go into good sleep that grounding has a part in. The biggest ones are probably going to be the circadian cortisol along with the autonomic tone that grounding effects, and so… I think you talked about this with Clint a little bit, the circadian cortisol profiles. So your body releases a predictable amount of cortisol throughout the day, your circadian cortisol, with the most amount being secreted at around 8:00AM and the least amount being secreted around midnight, and so altered circadian cortisol profiles are definitely going to impact your sleep.

Rob

(12:44)
With the people that have insomnia or they get really bad sleep, these circadian profiles are kind of thrown out of whack, and so what essentially happens is they know normalize when you’re grounded, and that on top of the autonomic tone balance that you get from grounding, and so your autonomic nervous system is made up of your sympathetic and your parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is your fight or flight response. The parasympathetic is your rest and digest. So what they found in analyzing heart rate variability, which is another benefit to grounding, is that heart rate variability increases in people who are grounded and vagal tone also increases. Then there’s a study on preterm infants with necrotizing enterocolitis. They found an inverse correlation between skin conductance and vagal tone. So when you ground, your skin conductance, it goes down. The potential on your body goes down to zero, and so what this means is that vagal tone is going to go up. So when vagal tone goes up, it means

(14:00)
Means your parasympathetic and your sympathetic nervous system are balanced. And so you’re not overstressed, you’re not constantly releasing Cortisol at the wrong times of the day. And so those are definitely going to have a significant impact on your sleep.

Stu

(14:13)
Yeah. Right. Fascinating. I’m particularly interested in sleep, or probably obsessed with sleep, and I try HRV with the Oura ring and all the different sleep stages as well.

Stu

(14:24)
And yeah, at the moment, just thinking maybe I should just go out and stand in the garden for five minutes before I go to bed tonight and just see, over the course of the next couple of days, weeks, what if that does anything to my HIV, because that’s the one thing I’m always trying to increase.

Rob

(14:42)
Yep. And that’s a very subjective thing too, so it’s good that you monitor it over a long time.

Stu

(14:47)
Totally, totally. We’re getting there. So do you track sleep, HRV, things like that?

Rob

(14:57)
I don’t track anything. I do sleep with a grounding mat underneath my pillow. I’ve just broke my grounding sheet. It broke off in the port. So I stick my grounding mat underneath my pillow now, but I don’t really track the HRV or anything.

(15:13):
A lot of that, I kind of go off feel.

Stu

(15:15)
Yeah, of course.

Rob

(15:16)
How do I feel in the morning? Do I feel fatigued? Do I feel energized? And I think people, they get really caught up in numbers that they forget to look at “How am I actually feeling?”

Stu

(15:26)
I completely agree, but there’s a caveat here. You’re young and fit and strong, I’m old and tired and withered, so I need a little bit of extra help.

Rob

(15:37)
Yeah. And that data is definitely awesome to have, if you can have it.

Stu

(15:42)
Exactly right. You mentioned a grounding, that you sleep with a grounding mat or stand on a grounding mat as well. And my question to you is because I’m always mindful of EMF and EMR, things like that. Would there be any offset between plugging in your grounding mat into the wall and sleeping on an electrical current in terms of EMF?

Rob

(16:10)
So when you’re grounded, there’s nothing really you can do for magnetic fields. So nothing’s really going to shield you from magnetic fields. The electric fields from appliances and the wiring in your houses, that’s what grounding’s going to protect you against. It’s called the umbrella effect.

(16:32):
Richard Feynman talked about it a lot in his lectures on electro magnetism. But when you’re grounded that shields you from electric fields, but the magnetic fields are a different story and it’s kind of hard to get away from those, especially if you live in a very urbanized setting. I forgot the original question.

Stu

(16:54)
Well, it was just that it’s kind of just one offset the other, because I’m always mindful that you don’t want to stand too close to a microwave rather oven while it’s on because there’s a lot of electromagnetic fields and radiations-

Rob

(17:06)
Radio frequencies.

Stu

(17:07)
…gear going on. And it’s like, well, if I plug this thing into a wall socket and lay on it, am I effectively standing in front of a microwave?

Rob

(17:16)
Right. Well, you’re not connected. One, you’re not connected to any electricity at all when you plug it into the wall.

Stu

(17:25)
Got it.

Rob

(17:25)
But yeah, I mean anything where a current’s going to flow, it’s going to create a magnetic field. So again, they’re kind of hard to get away from without actually physically being distanced from them because when currents flow, that’s when they create magnetic fields and grounding can’t really do too much for that. But the electric fields, they can definitely kind of push away your body.

Stu

(17:50)
Interesting. So tell us about the tech gadgets, kit, or stuff that you use to protect yourself from, I guess, from the electric fields that can cause us to become inflamed if we’re not grounding.

Rob

(18:08)
So I mean the biggest things that I do are the grounding mats and the grounding sheets. So I sleep grounded. That’s nine and a half to 10 hours there. I sleep for a long time.

Stu

(18:17)
I was going to say, hold on, you sleep for nine and a half hours. What’s your secret? What is your secret? How do you do it?

Rob

(18:26)
I don’t keep my phone in the room or really my computer. I try and stow it away from my bed. I don’t sleep with the Apple watch on or anything. Again, I sleep with the grounding sheet, the grounding mats, and those make a pretty big difference in my sleep. I try and stay away from the electronics before bed too. What else do I do?

Stu

(18:50)
You do anything with blue light at all?

Rob

(18:53)
Yeah. I mean, I try and stay away from screens before bed because I know that makes a huge difference in my sleep quality. I do a lot of meditation before bed. Sometimes I like to do the binaural beats a little bit.

Stu

(19:10)
Yep. I’ve got them on the phone. I like to listen.

Rob

(19:13)
Yeah. I like to listen to the delta waves. The binaural beats are an interesting phenomenon that occur in the brain. Do you know how they work?

Stu

(19:22)
No, I’ll be really keen to. I mean, this is a huge topic. I went through a period of my life. All right, I have children, but when they were young, sleep kind of went pear shaped, sideways. And so I just decided I’m going to embrace sleep with everything because without sleep your life collapses.

(19:43):
And so I’ve experimented with everything. Binaural beats, blue light blockers, every supplement known to man, meditation, sauna, cold, ice baths and my sleep now is pretty good. I’m in the kind of 90 to 95% as tracked by Oura. So I’m doing okay. But I love talking about it as you can probably tell. Tell me more about binaural beats because I’m super interested.

Rob

(20:12)
Yeah. I mean, first of all, sleep is the most important thing you can do for recovery. It’s interesting that people try and they want to do all this fancy stuff to enhance their performance or enhance their wellbeing, their energy. They want to use all the technologies, all the different kinds of supplements, but it’s really the most basic things, getting outside, getting sunshine, getting direct contact with the earth, getting good sleep that make the biggest differences.

Rob

(20:39)
So I mean, before you start diving into all these different directions and all these fancy things, you should really try and hone it in on the most basic things there. But binaural beats are an interesting phenomenon. They work by, so you play one frequency in one ear and you play another frequency in another ear. And so what happens in the brain is that it interprets it, they cancel out each other. And so you’re essentially hearing the what’s left over when the two frequencies overlap. And so that turns out to be these very extremely low frequencies in like the four to eight hertz range. Well, two to four delta waves.

(21:24)
And then it goes theta waves and alpha waves and beta waves. But those delta waves they’ll play a frequency in one ear and a frequency in the another ear. And it puts you in a two to four hertz, which is in the delta brain wave range. And so it makes you sleepy. And so you’re by playing those two different frequencies in both different ears, your brain is interpreting it as that very, very low frequency in the delta brain wave movement range. So really cool phenomenon.

Stu

(21:53)
Fascinated by it. How long would you do that for typically?

Rob

(21:57)
So I would do probably five, 10 minutes, and then I’m also doing other things. I’m focusing on my breathing and stuff just trying to get myself into a relaxed state, a parasympathetic state.

Stu

(22:11)
Love this talk…

Rob

(22:13)
And then when I’m training too, I’ll turn on to like some alpha waves; theta waves, if I’m like trying to work on something, be creative. So there’s a lot of cool ways you can manipulate those binaural beats.

Stu

(22:26)
I love this stuff. And so for everybody that doesn’t know, so you said just off air that you are you’re into sprinting, right?

Rob

(22:33)
Yeah. Yep. So I’m a sprinter on the side here in the States. Yep.

Stu

(22:37)
And off topic of grounding, just thinking about recovery tips and tricks for somebody like yourself at the level where you’re… I mean, I’ve seen your training, at least on the snippets on social, and it looks like you’re doing a lot of stuff.

Rob

(22:54)
And you it’s a lot of stuff.

Stu

(22:57)
So do you use saunas and cold and how do you recover from the type of training that you’re doing?

Rob

(23:05)
Well, I take my grounding mat with me to… It’s really cold here in the Midwest right now. And so I’m training at indoor facilities. And so I’ll bring on grounding mat with me, plug that into the wall at the facility. I’ll stand on that in between reps or after my workout, before my workout. And that makes a huge difference in how I feel during my training, after my training, before my training.

(23:24):
So I’ll plug that into the wall and I’ll do it pre, post, intra workout. What else do I do? I do do steam room every day. I absolutely love the steam room. I love it too much because I sweat so much and then it’s hard for me to get all my electrolytes back in.

Stu

(23:44)
How do you do that? Because I’ve got an infrared sauna and I probably do four sessions a week, like in the evening, on that. And similarly to you, I’ll have like water with lemon and rock salt in there and kind of stir that together. But how do you get your electrolytes back?

Rob

(24:01)
I have a big metal, what do you call them? One of those metal container water containers, and I’ll sprinkle pink Himalayan salt in it. And usually, I got to put down a bunch of that after I leave the steam room, but it’s so addictive for me. It’s a good place for me to meditate. And I absolutely love being warm. So I don’t know why I’m still in the Midwest here in the Stats, it gets really cold in the winter. So how’s the weather where you’re at?

Stu

(24:28)
Currently, it’s 28 degrees and sunny.

Rob

(24:32)
What is that? What is that Fahrenheit? I forgot the conversion, but it sounds, I think, that’s pretty nice.

Stu

(24:39)
I think so. Let’s have a look. It is 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit, according.

Rob

(24:49)
Oh, that sounds heavenly. That’s sprinter’s weather right there.

Stu

(24:56)
Yeah. No, it’s pretty good. I’m just fascinated by just strategies and listening to the protocols that people utilize.

Rob

(25:07)
I would say the biggest thing for me is my strategy, and I do a lot of things. A lot of things in the weight room, a lot of things in the pool, on the track. My biggest philosophy when I approach training is that you should do just enough. Just enough to give yourself a stimulus because I found over the past 10 years of training that it’s just not sustainable to want to go out there and kill it every single day. Do just enough to give yourself a stimulus.

(25:43):
And that’s especially important if you’re a sprinter because sprinters get injured very easily, hamstrings. [inaudible 00:25:51]. And so that’s the biggest philosophy that’s made a difference in my training, in longevity and sustainability as an athlete.

Stu

(26:00)
What would your training look like in a typical week? How often would you do it? What types of movements would you do?

Rob

(26:07)
So this will probably sound really weird to people that aren’t familiar with track and field. So I train Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. I mean Friday’s a regenerative day, but I still consider myself doing something. So I’m training six days a week. One, two, four of them are on the track. One of them is a general strength day, one of them’s a regenerative day.

(26:35):
And even Sunday, which I say is off, I’m still doing things. Like I own a jigsaw that I just converted into a massage gun and I am in love with that thing. You can hear it from a mile away because it’s a jigsaw. But it’s more powerful than the Theraguns and all that, because it’s meant to cut stuff in half.

Stu

(26:57)
You’re breaking up that scar tissue, like no one’s business.

Rob

(26:59)
I’m using that thing every day. I honestly think I might be doing it too much, it’s just breaking down my muscles. But I think that’s been one of the biggest things though, that’s kept me loose in my training and got me ready and gets me ready for the next day. Good to go.

Stu

(27:19)
And so you mentioned like your strength day, what would that look like? What would you do for that?

Rob

(27:25)
So I couple certain strength days with certain days on the track. So it just depends on what the philosophy for that day is. Or what the goal for that day is. So if Monday is an acceleration day where I’m working on getting out of the blocks, I’m also going to be doing stuff in the weight room that compliments that like pushing, pushing stuff, quarter squats.

Rob

(27:48)
And then on days that are maximum velocity where I have more of a pulling motion in my hamstrings, I’m doing more hamstring oriented stuff in the weight room

(28:00):
… to follow that up, like deadlifts, or staggered deadlifts. And then I do a lot of the Olympic variations too, partly because, one, I’m obsessed with the Olympic lifts. I think that’s what I’m going to do when I’m done with sprinting, is the Olympic lifts.

Stu

(28:15)
Oh, really?

Rob

(28:16)
Yeah. I love clean, snatch, all that. It’s really fun for me. And then, two, they have a lot of qualities that definitely carry over into most sports.

(28:28):
You got to be careful with them too, because there’s a lot that goes into them where you can easily get hurt, but I’ve been doing them for so long that I’ve got pretty good technique with it and I have good carry over to sprinting.

Stu

(28:45)
You got to dial it down.

Stu

(28:48)
Did you write your own program or did you get some assistance with it?

Rob

(28:53)
I write my own program every year. I don’t have a coach. I don’t have any training partners. That makes it a little bit harder, but it’ll also give me freedom because you know your own body better than anybody else. It takes me about a month to come up with my year-long program, and that’s essentially programs compiled from 10 to 15 different coaches from all around the world. That’s how I make my program. For the last couple years I’ve had pretty good success with that. So yes, I do. I do write my own programs and part of my background is in exercise physiology, too, so definitely helps.

Stu

(29:32)
Random question. Your thoughts on knees over toes?

Rob

(29:41)
I haven’t looked into it too much, but I know a lot of people are seeing a lot of benefit from it. What’s the main premise there?

Stu

(29:52)
We’ve just always been taught that, don’t overextend, make sure your knee doesn’t go over your toe, but it just seems to be old-school thinking. I just thought I’d throw it out there because obviously you must be doing a lot of lower body training, and I didn’t know whether some of the philosophies from other trainers that you’re pulling into your programming would prompt curiosity or stir that up at all.

Rob

(30:19)
Yeah. I think there’s a lot of traditional dogma that’s in strength and conditioning that just hasn’t been let go, and people need to be more open-minded about it, especially if they’re an athlete like me, where if I’m being told to squat to parallel, why? Why should I be squatting to parallel? What am I going to get in those angles, as far as hips, knee, and ankle angles that you’re going to do in a parallel squat in relation to sprinting.

Rob

(30:49)
You got to think for yourself. How is this going to affect me in real life? Is this functional? I haven’t, I haven’t looked too much the knees over toes guy, but I know a lot of people are definitely benefiting from his methods.

Stu

(31:04)
Yes. Interesting.

Rob

(31:06)
But yeah, that’s really cool.

Stu

(31:09)
And in terms of upper body stuff, are you focused on the lower body or is it more whole body?

Rob

(31:19)
I try not to bulk up and my rep schemes are tailored for that, and so I’m mostly in the lower rep schemes, heavier weights, trying to increase the amount of force I can put into the ground when I’m running. Dealing with heavy weights, and moving them really quickly. It’s kind of my whole philosophy, there.

Stu

(31:40)
Tell us about the fuel, then, because obviously now we’ve got two different types of… I guess-

Rob

(31:47)
Energy systems.

Stu

(31:48)
Yeah. Sure. We’ve got fat, we’ve got sugar and glucose and ketones, and carb loading versus high fat, low carb. We want recovery thrown in.

Rob

(32:00)
I would just like to say that I’m definitely not a nutrition expert. I don’t think I would ever want to be just because things are always changing in that field.

Stu

(32:09)
That’s it.

Rob

(32:10)
And when things change, you have to constantly change everything that you know, and I feel like there’s something that’s always coming out where it’s just like, “This is true and this is this isn’t true.” It’s like, well, crap, everything that I know is based on this being true.

Stu

(32:26)
I know. So it’s nuts, isn’t it?

Rob

(32:28)
Yeah. It’s, a tricky field to be in. But for me, specifically when I’m not in season, I thrive a lot on meat. I think that’s a big thing for people as far as nutrition goes is how, how were your specific ancestors eating? So like mine, I come from a tribe here in the Midwest, and most of that diet was derived from meat, elk, deer, buffalo. I found that when I’m not training intensely, that’s the kind of diet that I thrive on.

(33:07):
But once track season, pre-season and everything gets started, I need a lot more carbs. I just found I do not do that well in training without the carbs.

Stu

(33:20)
Which carbs would you go for?

Rob

(33:25)
I do have my fair share of grains, because it’s easy for me. It’s easy for me to get the carbs from the grains.

Stu

(33:33)
What types of grains, specifically? Not being laser focused or anything.

Rob

(33:40)
Are any of them really good?

Stu

(33:42)
No comment.

Rob

(33:45)
I’ve heard good things about sourdough. What’s the whole deal there? Is sourdough better for you?

Stu

(33:54)
I think the story goes that there’s, traditionally, it’s more of a fermented process and less processed and better for the gut, maybe glycemic load, that kind of stuff.

Rob

(34:11)
Yeah. But better isn’t good, right?

Stu

(34:15)
Again, I commented I’m not a nutritionist, but we are all very, very different. I come from British, Northern European background, so I’m a big fan of the potato. That works really well for me.

Rob

(34:30)
Yeah. I’ve seen some of you guys’ products too. You guys have a good whey on there. And then you have a vegan version of it too, so that’s pretty cool.

Stu

(34:40)
That’s it. Yeah. Like quality proteins. We come at it from the whole food, much like yourself. I think you can’t go too far wrong if you’re focusing more on whole foods and try and crowd out the processed refined, ultra processed, hyper palatable, all that kind of stuff.

Rob

(34:59)
Just a few ingredients, keep it simple. One or two ingredients to what you’re eating, and that can do it. Even if it’s not optimal, it’s probably better than what you’ve been doing.

Stu

(35:09):
Totally.

Rob

(35:10):
That’s my whole spiel there. If you don’t mind me asking, you said you have a daughter that’s dealing with, is it ulcerative colitis?

Stu

(35:21):
Yes.

Rob

(35:21):
Is she still? Yeah.

Stu

(35:25):

It was kind of interesting. This was maybe three years ago and she would’ve been about 10, but was exhibiting symptoms of colitis, and so we went to the doctors, got referred to specialists, went to a hospital and had all of their tests and said, “You’ve got colitis.” And then the gastro team came in and said, “Well, it’s pretty common. You’re going to have to go on drugs.” And I said, “Well, how do we feed her?” And they said, well, “It doesn’t matter what she eats. Just give her what she wants.” And that just didn’t sit well with me.

(36:04):
I thought, come on, this can’t be true. Can’t be true. So, fortunately, for me with the podcast as well, I thought I’m going to reach out to the best names in gut and digestion and Crohn’s and colitis, all of the really deeply respected medical professionals.

(36:26):
Their advice was, well it totally matters what you put in your body, and we recommend that you do this type of thing. It was kind of strict paleo, with a few funky things thrown in. We make this elemental smoothie up for her every morning and it’s got collagen or glutamine and some herbs like slippery Elm and, and a few other bits in there, and she has a few berries and some coconut milk. And we were doing that for, well, straight off the bat, and then when she went for her checkup, they said, “Well, what are you doing? Because everything looks so good.”

Rob

(37:06)
Not what you told me to do.

Stu

(37:07)
Yeah. Didn’t say that. But I was thinking, you kind of think that a lot of the medication that we take today has derived from the rainforest and comes from plants, so this is quite powerful. So you’d think that, well, what about all of the other plants and the foods that we consume, would that have an impact on our body in some way, shape or form? And I said, well, you bet it does.

Stu

(37:33)
You can’t tell me that she can live off of whatever she wants, and exactly whatever a 10 year old wants is not going to be good for her. We just kind of guided her, but now, she’s a star in the kitchen. She cooks our pork belly every Friday night, and she’s 13 year old now, and loves her meat and vegetables and smoothies and whole foods. It kind of worked out well.

Rob

(37:59)
She knows what works for her now.

Stu

(38:00)
She knows. Yeah. She’s in good spirits and in good health, and so yeah, we definitely favor the whole food approach.

Rob

(38:13)
I did want to cover one thing about grounding. And people, if they go on my social media, they go on my website, they look at my videos and everything, they’ll see a lot of benefits with grounding, but I just wanted to cover the biggest benefit with grounding, and it’s not one that’s talked about very often, because we can talk about all the different benefits that reduce blood viscosity, the circadian cortisol, heart rate variability, the autonomic tone, but the biggest one, and I’ve already said it, it’s the inflammation.

(38:47):
It deals with something called the inflammatory preparedness of the organism. What this has to do is your body consists something called the matrix or the living matrix, have you heard of this before?

Stu

(39:04)
No.

Rob

(39:04)
It’s essentially all of the proteins in your body, and this consists of the extracellular matrix, the intracellular matrix, the cytoskeleton, along with the DNA within the nuclear envelope. It’s this big scaffolding network that isn’t talked about a lot and in modern biology. If I were to ask you to draw me a picture of a cell, what would that look like?

Stu

(39:35)
It would look probably like a fried egg, from above.

Rob

(39:40)
Yeah. Just a circle with another circle in it, the nucleus. A lot of empty space in there, and it’s a very isolated way to look at the cell. The matrix is a collection of all of the proteins in your body, which are semiconductors. A lot of people would refute that proteins are semiconductors, but semiconductors as they exist in the body, they’re hydrated, and so essentially it creates this battery in your body that needs to be recharged.

(40:14):
Batteries need to be recharged. How do you recharge them? This battery in the body needs to be recharged by sunlight, and the ground. These proteins in your body, they conduct electrons, and there’s a special type of water that hydrates these proteins. You got a bad of protons and electro electrons throughout the body, and this contributes to what’s called your inflammatory preparedness.

(40:41):
If something like a pathogen tries to invade your body, you have damage, this is going to result in reactive oxygen species getting released into that area. The area inflamed. When the area’s inflamed, you have immune cells being flooded into the area, and these are phagocytes, like macrophages and neutrophils.

(41:05):
What the neutrophils do is they come in and they engulf the pathogens, the microbes, and into these microbes or pathogens or damaged cells, they’ll release things called reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species. The process of creating these reactive oxygen, reactive nitrogen species, it uses up oxygen. It creates what’s called a respiratory burst or oxidated burst.

(41:33):
What this does is it creates a lot of collateral damage, and so essentially what you have is a wall being built up around the inflammatory area. This wall is made of connective tissue. When this wall forms, the circulating antibiotics, the circulating antioxidants and regenerative cells, can’t get into this area, and so eventually this pocket of inflammation

(42:00):
It can persist for years and so it can leak into the bloodstream. It can leak into the lymphatic circulation and it can get spread all throughout the body. So what was an acute inflammatory response can turn into a chronic systemic inflammatory response. That’s how tiny little incidences of inflammation can turn into really big things in your body. The big thing here is that this inflammatory barricade, your body has its own endogenous antioxidants that it makes to neutralize these free radicals.

(42:35):
You also have non-enzymatic antioxidants, like the ones you get from your diet, alpha-Tocopherol, vitamin E, vitamin C, B keratin, flavonoids. These, they can’t get into this inflammatory barricade, but when you ground, what you have is these excited or mobile electrons that get flooded into your body and they essentially saturate this matrix, this protein matrix that your body is made of. These electrons can semi conduct through this matrix network into that inflammatory zone. That’s the biggest benefit in my eyes that grounding how it benefits the body. I know that was a lot of information kind of thrown at you there.

Stu

(43:19)
No, not at all that and that’s fascinating. It’s the perfect segway then into well, how can we do this readily and easily? I’m really keen to talk about the sandals that you created because that is the best way to do it. If you we don’t have access to a mat and all of the other stuff.

Rob

(43:42)
I got really annoyed of being barefoot and having to switch into shoes all the time when I wanted to go places. I was like, okay, I need to make something that I can wear that I don’t have to take off that’s still going to give me the same benefits of grounding. I spent a month trying to figure out something that would work, that I could wear on my feet, that would still ground me. I ended up with Gaia grounding sandals. I initially made them for me and then I started getting messages like, Hey, can you make these for me? Before I knew it, I was making whole crap ton of these every month sending them all over the world. I think it’s around 50 countries that I’ve sent them to and every state here in the US and I make them all out of my garage.

Stu

(44:30)
Are they all handmade by yourself?

Rob

(44:34)
I make every single one from the sewing, to the hand cutting of the soul. Yeah. I do every single part of it. I think that’s a big reason why people enjoy getting them to. You don’t get to see that kind of craftsmanship a lot, especially in shoes that are manufactured in China most of the time.

Stu

(44:53)
That’s it. Tell us about the mechanism then in the sandals that allow you to ground? What’s happening?

Rob

(45:00)
So in the webbing that wraps around the foot, the sandal is based on the footwear of the Terra Humara, which are a tribe in Mexico that were known for their running abilities. The webbing is made in a way that when you pull on the strap from the buckle area, it’ll simultaneously tighten the whole thing even though it’s one strap. So into the webbing, I sew a conductive silver thread from start to finish of that webbing. That’s sewn into every webbing that wraps around your foot. That silver conductive threat is connected to a copper plate that’s bare on the bottom of the sandal. If for some reason the silver were to not be fully connected, which they always are to that copper plate. The leather foot bedding is connected to the embedded copper within the sole. It’s kind of a fallback method to be grounded for some reason, the strap isn’t grounding you. But yeah, it’s copper and silver both put into the sandal, along with leather which is conductive when you perspirate your sweat in it.

Stu

(46:20)
That’s fantastic. How long would a pair take to make?

Rob

(46:26)
You know, when I first started about two hours. Two, three hours, and then I’d have to throw them out because it didn’t work especially when I was first getting started. Right now, I can probably make a pair from scratch in about 30 minutes.

Stu

(46:44)
Really, wow.

Rob

(46:44)
They look really simple, but I promise…

Stu

(46:47)
They’re not right?

Rob

(46:47)
They’re really hard to make.

Stu

(46:51)
Well, that’s the key isn’t it? Things that look really simple, but are actually very complex are often quite treasured.

Rob

(46:58)
Yeah and I absolutely love making them and I love that people all around the world want them. I’m thankful that people believe in what I’m doing and the message I’m trying to spread. They want a pair of sandals too and it’s awesome.

Stu

(47:11)
Fantastic. Wow, that is awesome. We’re just coming up on time, but I’ve just got a few more questions before we then just get into the final questions, but top three tips that you think could make the biggest impact on our overall health and I’m kind of guessing that grounding is going to be one of them?

Rob

(47:34)
So I’m going to lump grounding in with living a more ancestral life. Living a life that’s more resonant with your ancestral lifestyle, which is being outside more, being connected to the earth, getting more sunlight, eating more natural foods. So definitely living a more ancestral lifestyle. Overall wellbeing and happiness, put happiness in there.

Stu

(48:02)
Well we all need some happiness at the moment. That’s for sure.

Rob

(48:06)
My biggest philosophy with happiness, is that happiness is a skill and it’s a choice. The happiest people in the world are the people that choose to be happy. I think people get really caught up in chasing happiness.

Stu

(48:21)
That’s interesting.

Rob

(48:21)
They think one day I’ll be happy when I have this thing or when I have that thing, but really it’s something you develop over time and it’s something that you choose. You choose it every morning. Today I’m going to be happy. Today, I’m alive, I’m breathing, the sun is out. There’s a lot out there to be thankful for. Happiness is a skill and a choice. Let’s see, number three, I suppose I can relate this one to athletics since it’s the grounded athlete. Do just enough to get what you need. I wouldn’t lump that into other domains of life, but definitely in athletics do just enough and anything beyond that is going to be hard to sustain.

Stu

(49:21)
Yeah. I like that. A few years ago I was chatting to Mark Sisson and that was actually his answer to one of those questions and it was figure out what you can get away with. Just do that.

Rob

(49:35)
Yeah, that’s way better than how I see it.

Stu

(49:37)
No, no, it’s great. That is great.

Rob

(49:41)
He actually has a pair of my sandals.

Stu

(49:43)
Does he?

Rob

(49:44)
Yeah, so he emailed me one day and I didn’t know who he was and then I saw him go on Joe Rogan this past summer. I was like, oh, that’s him. I had no idea that he was that popular, doing big things.

Stu

(50:03)
You’ve got to be careful who you send those sandals to otherwise, you’re going to be spending a lot more time in front of the machinery and the tools.

Rob

(50:10)
Hey, I don’t doubt my abilities. I pop a lot of these things out.

Stu

(50:18)
That’s awesome. What’s next? What have you got in the pipeline?

Rob

(50:24)
Well, a few things. I like to make the videos. Those are pretty big for me. There’s a few studies that I really want to get into and I want to tell people about, especially concerning grounding and diabetes and grounding and osteoporosis and melatonin. Those are some cool studies I’m going to be getting into pretty soon here and I’ll put some videos out on those, because the biggest thing with what I do is, the sandals are cool and all, but telling people about grounding. That’s the reason I got started. That’ll always be the primary focus here. So that and then I have another thing that I’m working on, a big project that I can’t tell a lot people about. Maybe I’ll tell you once we get off, no live here.

Stu

(51:09)
I’ll hit the stop button, then I want to know.

Rob

(51:12)
Yeah. I think I’m going to change the health industry here. I’ve got a big plan for that.

Stu

(51:20)
Wow, I am intrigued. That’s awesome. For everybody that wants to find out more about yourself, follow you online, check out your sandals, order a pair, just dive into the world of grounding. Where can we send them?

Rob

(51:41)
So the website is an awesome resource. If you’re interested in the research with grounding there you’ll find all the videos that I’ve made about grounding research and groundings effect on your body. My email is on the website. I’m pretty good with getting back to emails. The Instagram, I’m super active on the Instagram. If you DM me on there, I try and get back to everybody and usually I’m pretty good about that. The Instagram, the website are pretty good resources. The website, you can make orders on there. If you’re domestic here in the US. If you’re an international customer, you can email me or DM me and I’ll figure it out.

Stu

(52:17)
Figure it out. So that is www.thegroundedathlete.com?

Rob

(52:20)
The groundedathletellc.com. I had to do LLC because the thegroundedathlete.com was taken.

Stu

(52:31)
You’ll get it. One day you’ll get it.

Rob

(52:33)
I’ll get it, absolutely.

Stu

(52:35)
That is awesome. Rob, thank you so much for sharing all of your wisdom. Super, super interesting. For all of our listeners, jump onto Instagram and just see what he is about because you are this kind of crazed athlete that just exudes health and videos are fantastic. Obviously there’s a passion coming through the sandals. It’s a real culture and I was just saying before, you’re making grounding really cool, which is really cool in it of itself because it’s so very beneficial for health and longevity. So thank you.

Rob

(53:08)
Yeah. I’m very thankful for the audience I’ve built up out there and people like you that are able to get a hold of me and want to talk about grounding with me. That’s always an awesome opportunity for me and I’m very thankful for it. I’m thankful that you asked me to be on your podcast.

Stu

(53:22)
Awesome. Thanks again, much appreciated. We’ll speak soon.

Rob

(53:26)
Yes sir

Rob (The Grounded Athlete)

This podcast features Rob. He is a professional sprinter and the founder of "The Grounded Athlete and GAIA Grounding Sandals". The Grounded Athlete is a platform used to spread the awareness about the electrophysiological process of grounding along with its healing properties. In this episode, we talk about the science... Read More
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