Tag Archives: shin splints

Does barefoot running really impact injury or performance? Evidence for the peanut gallery

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 2.34.30 AMOK…..most of you are going to have a field day with this blog post, so let’s just get it out there. Barefoot running came in a BIG way. And like most BIG things that come quickly, its fading at a rapid rate. A lot of people think barefoot runners are nuts, and begging for injury. And others think that the injury risk is the same as those who wear shoes, but the location of injury in the body will just move from one to another. Well, I’m not really a fan of speculation.

Some years ago, I put out a survey to barefoot runners with some simple questions. How much to you run barefoot? Why did you go down this path? Did barefoot running impact your injury risk or performance? Over 500  runners responded. Thank you interweb.

To be 100% forthcoming, the study is biased towards runners who have actually tried barefoot running (not minimal footwear, but true barefoot). Duh, you had to have experience running barefoot to answer the questions! Barefoot runners are a passionate bunch, but we made the default assumption that people tell the truth. And yes, its just a survey. But it provides an interesting slant. Instead of wondering if barefoot running works, why not just ask people who do it?

This study, “Barefoot Running: Evidence from the Field” was just published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science, and you can get a full download right here. And for those of you who just want the simple version, the abstract is below.

Now I’m not saying that all of you should ditch your shoes for 100% of your mileage. But this idea of barefoot running supports a very critical concept. Feet are capable of some pretty good work. Barefoot running, when done in the right volume and circumstances, can be a great training tool to help you build a better body. And no matter what side of the barefoot debate you stand on, putting better bodies into running is a concept we can all get behind.

Abstract

Background

Running is becoming an increasingly popular activity among Americans with over 50 million participants. Running shoe research and technology has continued to advance with no decrease in overall running injury rates. A growing group of runners are making the choice to try the minimal or barefoot running styles of the pre-modern running shoe era. There is some evidence of decreased forces and torques on the lower extremities with barefoot running, but no clear data regarding how this corresponds with injuries. The purpose of this survey study was to examine factors related to performance and injury in runners who have tried barefoot running.

Methods

The University of Virginia Center for Endurance Sport created a 10-question survey regarding barefoot running that was posted on a variety of running blogs and FaceBook pages. Percentages were calculated for each question across all surveys. Five hundred and nine participants responded with over 93% of them incorporating some type of barefoot running into their weekly mileage.

Results

A majority of the participants (53%) viewed barefoot running as a training tool to improve specific aspects of their running. However, close to half (46%) viewed barefoot training as a viable alternative to shoes for logging their miles. A large portion of runners initially tried barefoot running due to the promise of improved efficiency (60%), an attempt to get past injury (53%) and/or the recent media hype around the practice (52%).

A large majority (68%) of runners participating in the study experienced no new injuries after starting barefoot running. In fact, most respondents (69%) actually had their previous injuries go away after starting barefoot running. Runners responded that their previous knee (46%), foot (19%), ankle (17%), hip (14%), and low back (14%) injuries all proceeded to improve after starting barefoot running.

Conclusion

Prior studies have found that barefoot running often changes biomechanics compared to shod running with a hypothesized relationship of decreased injuries. This paper reports the result of a survey of 509 runners. The results suggest that a large percentage of this sample of runners experienced benefits or no serious harm from transitioning to barefoot or minimal shoe running.

Road vs. Cyclocross Bike Fit: what’s the difference?

A lot of hype concerning the difference between fitting a road bike and a cyclocross bike could be cleared up if we all agree on two simple things: put the engine in the right place, and then adjust for handling and comfort. Let’s break this down.

Saddle position

Your pedals are driven by large muscles surrounding the trunk, hips and knees. In fact, about 98.8% of the force you deliver to the pedals comes from your hips and knees. That’s right, the ankle only produces a very small percentage of your total power. So it makes sense to have the saddle height and setback (also called for-aft position) the same between your road and cross bikes to maximize power production. Why would you select a saddle position that compromises power output? Keep it simple. If you like your current saddle placement on your road bike, there is zero reason to change it on your ‘cross bike.

Handling and comfort

Good bar position allows you to move around while properly weighting the front end for corners and technical terrain | Photo © Jill Rosell Photography

Good bar position allows you to move around while properly weighting the front end for corners and technical terrain | Photo © Jill Rosell Photography

Okay, now here’s where things are a bit different. Instead of rolling your slick tire down fresh asphalt, you’ve got to contend with dusty pumice, wet grass, rocks, roots, and the nutrient ‘crossers crave: mud! In short, it’s critical to have a good handling front end. This means that you want to have a little less weight on the front so that you can lift your front end over obstacles easier. Careful though, too little weight on the front end will bring your torso too upright make it hard for your front tire to bite and send you skittering wide towards the outside of the turn. Let’s see how this all plays out in fit.

  • ‘Cross bikes typically have a higher bottom bracket. If you were smart, you’d kept your saddle in the same place as your (properly fitted) road bike.  This means that your saddle is higher in the air than your road bike. Since your saddle is higher, your handlebars also need to be higher.
  • Hand-grip placement for optimal handling: A lot of people rarely use their drops on their road bike. Then when on the ‘cross course, they find that they are forced into the drops on steep downhills to brake and get a better grip on the front end. Most riders find the bike is much more stable when conditions get squirrely if they use the drops. So if you are going to be in the drops, make sure you are comfortable.

So what’s the secret recipe to make sense of it all?

It’s simple really; the goal is to get the bars a bit “closer” to you. And you can do this in three different ways. You can run a shorter stem to move the bars closer, you can run your bars higher (by putting a few spacers under the stem or by using a stem with more rise), or a combination of both. I typically recommend that riders start by raising their bars first (because this usually only means moving spacers or flipping a stem). Setting up the bars with some combination of “up and back” will allow you comfortable access to the drops for good grip and handling, and while still allowing you to have optimal engine placement so you don’t lose any precious watts.

Powerful, sketchy, and somewhat comfortable. Yeap; sounds just like ‘cross racing!

Brain Power: Athletes, Coaches, and Clinicians – Join us for a great event in Bend, or beyond

Today, we’ve got a smattering of amazing educational opportunities to announce:

This Thursday in Bend, OR @ 7:30 at the Westside Clinic: Athletes – Please join Jay Dicharry PT (REP Biomechanics Lab Director) Matt Lieto (Pro Triathlete) and Keats McDougal (Ironman Canada & Tahoe Director) for a night of Mobility and Multi-sport discussion. Jay will provide the latest research on mobility and best practices for multisport athletes. We’ll answer the most common questions: What does stretching do for the body? When should you stretch? How long? What’s the difference between dynamic warm-up and stretching? And how does soft tissue work play into this whole discussion? Next,  Matt will discuss his training plans and and upcoming race prep considerations. Matt will show you how the lessons he’s learned along the way can help you prepare better for your next event. Finally, Matt will lead a Q and A with Keats. They’ll provide an overview and considerations of these two challenging courses. It will help you prep for this year’s race, or feed your stoke for next year!  Stick around after for a question and answer session with our panel. And yes, we’ll have beer. Cost: free. No brainer!

This weekend in Boulder Colorado (7/13-7/14): Calling all healthcare professionals – are you tired of getting your information on running mechanics from the mainstream media? Would you be interested in a immersive weekend of education that is based around hundreds of peer-reviewed articles, hands on clinical assessment, and gait cues? We’ll construct a framework of what we know about running mechanics and their effect on performance and economy. And more importantly, we’ll show you how this information applies not just to the masses, but to your individual patients. In short, this is all the stuff you wish they had told you in Med school, PT program, or ATC curriculum. There are still a few spots left. See here for details.

August 23-24th in San Jose: Tri-athletes and would-be coaches- are you looking to get your Level 1 certification? Then join us for the USA Triathlon coaching clinic. Two days packed full of essential knowledge to help you and your athletes succeed.

Sept 21st and 22nd in Bay Area: Running Coaches – this one is all for you. We are going to delve into the truth behind running mechanics, screening strategies for your team, the impact of strength training to improve performance,  discuss the role of footwear, and more. Andrew Allden chairs this event – he’s brought in a knock out panel each and every time –  Learn to think outside the box to take your team to the next level @ this USATF Level 3 Coaching Seminar. More info here

Yea, I know – blogging and tweeting is supposed to make us all smarter. But you know what really makes us smarter? talking face to face. See you soon!

The running shoe industry has been taken by storm: TP Striders

Revolution, not evolution.  The latest innovation for your feet is not from the behemoth with swoosh. Its not from the company who brought you “those funny toe shoes.” Instead, this latest venture was announced last night on prime time television.

Its innovative “dual-purpose outsole” has a unique feature to help you out of a certain situation that always seems to come on about 1 mile into your run. Run prepared! If you’d like learn more, check out the video below.

Ground-breaking news: runners who are faster than you have longer strides

This year, I got to present along an all-star cast at the USATF SPEED Summit in NJ. Basically, the goal is to breakdown the elements of coaching based on science, and then use this science to bolster what we do on track. Smarter plan = better results. Or maybe I should say smarter people help us develop better plans? This is the conference I was most looking forward to this year, and it did not disappoint.

So let’s get past the sarcasm in the title, and go straight to the big picture: if you run slow, you take short strides and your turn over isn’t that quick. The only way to run faster is to increase your turnover and your stride length. So it shouldn’t be a surprise when you hear that faster runners have a longer stride length than slower runners. But now we get into an interesting question…..is stride length the cause or the effect? Or more specifically, why do some runners appear to bound effortlessly over the ground?

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They are stronger. About 80% of the cost of running comes from holding your body up against gravity. If you have strength reserves, it’s easy to combat gravity and float from step to step.  This extra strength enables more “hang-time” which translates to a longer stride length with less effort. Take home here? Get stronger.

How can you develop running specific strength? You can run. Collegiate and sponsored athletes get two workouts a day, and are racking up big miles. You know what else they do? They lift weights to develop strength reserves. Its highly likely that you don’t have the time and energy to rack up monster miles each week. But take a look at your week. Can you examine your training program and budget 30 min 2x’s a week for some strength work? If the answer is no, take a look back at the Achievement Triangle post…..and ask yourself where you’d like to be.  And if you are over 40, this is not optional. Get strong to get faster.

Want more? Check out this reference: Weyand

Triathletes: don’t let your cycling mess with your running!

What can a new research study tell you about running off-the-bike? Sometimes, research just tells us things that are somewhat interesting. And other times, like this one, research provides a very nice take home message of which we should all take note.

A few weeks ago, we published a study called “Sagital Plane Kinematics During the Transition Run in Triathletes.” Don’t let the fancy words throw you off. All you need to know is this: Cycling before your run makes it harder to maintain your posture. 

Now those of you who have seen me for an evaluation, read my Running Times article called “P is for Posture”, or read my book know that this is the un-sung skill that can make or break you as an athlete. Posture is the foundation around which the most powerful muscles in your body attach. If the position of those muscles is optimal, a number of things go really well…..most notably peaked performance, and a better stabilized chassis for a reduced risk of injury. If this optimal position is compromised, then you aren’t operating at your best.

So, if I told you ahead of time that doing “A” before “B” will produce complications that make “B” harder, you’d (hopefully) try to prepare ahead of time to minimize, or eliminate those complications. Right? …. Well, here’s what happens.

We had a group of triatheltes come into our lab and run. We measured a number of factors related to the way they ran to get a baseline. This same group of runners came back a second time, but before they ran, they cycled for 30 min at a just-easier-than-threshold effort. Their post-bike running data showed that they had more arch in the low back, a more anteriorly-tilted pelvis, a more flexed hip, and less hip extension.

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poor position = poor performance

For those of you wondering if this is good or bad, I’ll give you both the simple and more in-depth version. Running off the bike makes you look more like the person on the left than the person on the right.

optimal posture = optimal performance

optimal posture = optimal performance

For those of you who want to know why, and get more in depth –>  read my article in Running Times, and then read Ch 6 and 8 in Anatomy for Runners, especially the “3 non-negotibles” on p.183, and the test on p. 196.

I simply cannot downplay the significance postural alignment. If you screw this up, you’ll screw up your run. And given that 70% of injuries in triathlon occur in the run, this is yet one more contributing factor.

Cycling doesn’t “hurt us”  - then why do we see postural shifts occur in triathlon? You are bent over in a forward position. Some tissues get bound up. Others get lengthened.  And we only did this for a 30 min ride.  What happens if you force this constrianed position for 5 hrs, and then go run? We don’t know for sure (because we didn’t test this) but if I was a betting man, I think we’d see the same patterns, but somewhat worse.  To be fair, we only looked at their running data for the first 14 min of the run. Maybe posture improves after this 14 min. Maybe it stays the same. Maybe it gets worse. We didn’t test it. But no one wants two slow or injury-prone miles out of T2. And due to the fact that central fatigue typically makes our posture worse, I’d think this is something we should all pay attention to.

So here’s your chance to beat the odds, and be “smarter” than the average. Here’s your mission for today:

  1. Find correct posture standing right now (see above references)
  2. Hold correct posture walking around your office or house.
  3. Go for a run, maintain correct posture (and if you fall into the “back seat” stop and fix it!)
  4. Go for a brick workout, and pay special attention to your postural alignment off the bike. If you focus on this in training, it will be easy to correct on race day. You should be able to run any pace – from an easy run to 400′s on the track – without compromising your posture alignment. 

I’d like to thank our former grad student and first author, Nicole Rendos, for taking the lead on this study. And if you are looking for more ways to tune-up your triathlon training, come see us this August for our REP Triathlon Camp!

The Bat-signal has been lit: time for a PARTY!

 

Want to see what we are up to @ Rebound? Come grab a beer, some eats, and join us for our open house this Thursday! (superhero dress optional)

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Running Injury Management on Therapedia

Fresh off teaching this past weekend at University of Michigan – a great group of folks joind together for a course called “Putting the Athlete Back in Triathlete: a clinician’s role in care of the endurance athlete.” …….and more content to come.

I’ve been invited to be a part of Therapedia’s webcast series, and its airing Thursday this week. And yes, it will be available to view after the course as well. Check out this link for what looks to be an interesting discussion!

Do you treat triathletes? Join me @ U of Michigan

Multisport athletes have a lot of challenges in their training,  but the training demands of 3 sports seem to creep up on all of us. Athletes spend so much time trying to fit in their volume that the body often gets ignored.

Well, this all ends now. Join me at the University of Michigan April 20-21st where we discuss “Putting the Athlete in Triathlete: a clinician’s role in endurance sports.” During this 13 hrs course, we’ll lay the ground work and discuss how endurance training impacts the tissues of the body, and then move on to detailed descriptions of the mechanics of each sport. You’ll learn how to correlate your musculoskeletal evaluation of the body with a runner’s swim, bike, and running performance. We’ll discuss why swimmers aren’t your typical overhead athletes, you’ll learn how to do bike fits (how to fit the bike to the rider, and more importantly how to fit the rider to the bike) with hands on practice, learn how to identify common gait patterns and cue them out of problems that overload the body, and understand the role of complimentary training and strengthening. At the end of the weekend, you’ll understand how to help your athletes make training easier on their body, and improve their efficiency.

for registration information, click here, and for a hourly breakdown of the course, click here. See you there!

Running Footwear: A critical look at what we know about footwear and how to select the best fit for your athlete

The media likes to spin things to make headlines. I’m not too big on spinning, I’d rather just help educate. If you’d like to clear the air and see what we know, what we don’t know, and what’s been spun, you can check out this webinar I’m doing for USA Track and Field next week on Mar 26th. Coaches will get CEU’s from their couch.

The make of running shoes have historically gone from one side (thin and flexible) to the other (stiff and bulky) and are now moving toward the middle of the road. Which is best? And how do you match running shoes to an individual runner? In this webinar presentation, Jay Dicharry will comb through relevant research and clinical experience to help you approach your running retailer with the knowledge of selecting the right tool for the job. Learn how to ensure that you are running in your shoes rather than your shoes running you! By the end of this webinar you’ll be able to understand:

  •                 the evolution of footwear
  •                 how footwear has been classically prescribed
  •                 proof that this fit model is ineffective
  •                 how shoes impact your running form
  •                 how barefoot running impacts your form
  •                 how shoe wear impacts your form
  •                 how to select shoes for you
  •                 what minimal shoes are, and if you are ready to make the transition