Tag Archives: speed clinic

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.

Why is stability important for long term athletic success?

Success as an athletes depends on an intact joint, strong muscular support, and specific control from our brain to use the right amount of force for the job. But what happens when our joint is chronically damaged? Is your career over? Let’s take a detailed look at how the body adapts, and even improves with stability training.

Warning: I shot this quickly between patients…..there is some fast talking going on at times…….

Treadmill Running: What’s different? What’s the same?

Well, its that time of year again. The sun sinks below the horizon early, and with that my phone rings with reporters wanting to know what tips they should give to their readers about running successfully on a treadmill. Rather than risking this info getting watered down, I figured I’d give you the straight scoop.

  • Fact vs Fiction: A lot of coaches preach the message “you push yourself over the ground outside, and your pull yourself overground on a treadmill”…..this is 100% false. If you look at the fancy stuff we measure called “ground reactions forces” you’ll see very very similar patterns when running on either surface. The overall mechanics are very much the same.
  • Think about it as a different surface, not a different way to run: despite the fact that the treadmill is very similar to running over ground, there are some differences, and some are actually what qualify as “statistically significant.” But if you look at the clinical impact this has, and if you deal with this type of data every day like I do, the differences are really small. There is a difference in body mechanics running on grass, trail, asphalt, and concrete. But again, these differences are small. As long as you slowly adapt your mileage to treadmill, you’ll be OK. No one runs 100% of their miles on trail and then jumps 100% onto the road. This goes for transitioning miles to the treadmill. Allow a few weeks to transition your mileage over, and your body will adapt to these slight changes.
  • Run correctly on your treadmill: Here’s the most important one. Everyone has a friend who ran on their treadmill and then got hurt. Or maybe it was you. They “blame it on the treadmill” – what happened? First, you need time to acclimate (re-read previous paragraph).  But most importantly, its not running on the treadmill that’s typically the issue. More often than not its running differently on the treadmill. Example. If running outside, you are free to make small fluctuations in speed. On the treadmill, the belt speed is held constant. So if you decide to try to slow down 1%, you can’t. As you get tired, your speed changes, but your cadence slows, which forces a longer stride than you are used to. Your body’s soft tissues are in a completely different position (longer) than you’ve trained them in your previous miles. This longer position can create strains on soft tissues and increase the lever arm on your joints and cause pain. But this really isn’t a treadmill issue – its a running form issue.
  • To incline or not to incline? We often hear to increase the incline on the treadmill to 1-2% to make up for the lack of wind resistance. Here’s the deal. Raising the incline slightly increases the physiological stress level compared to flat, and it doesn’t really change the loads much on the body. In fact, running with a slight incline is actually a bit “safer” for the body since it makes it tougher to over-stride. So no harm here.

What’s a safe way to run on the treadmill?

  1. gradually increase the % of miles you are doing on the treadmill
  2. run the same. Be honest with youself. Are you really running 6:45′s on the road? or are you really running 7:15′s? Aim to keep paces realistic. And aim to keep your stride pretty close to what you typically do. An easy way to do this is by counting your cadence (number of foot contacts per minute). Next time you are running 7 min pace, count your strides. If you are consistently hitting 88 per minute (single side), then aim to maintain the same cadence on the treadmill at 7 min pace. This way you avoid overstriding and the stresses it can place on your body.
  3. Novices: don’t go crazy on speed work. Doing intervals makes you tired. Running faster than 800 meter pace on the treadmill can make it much more likely that you’ll run with compensated form.  In general, I recommend tempo intervals on the treadmill, but speedwork is best done outside. If you must do speedwork on the treadmill, make sure your cadence is similar to what you’d maintain outside.

For those of you who like the fine print, feel free to read more below. And of note, all the information in this article pertains to steady state distance running. Sprint training on treadmills is a different concept entirely. My UVA lab group wrote one, and Irene Davis’ team wrote another. No matter on treadmill or outside – enjoy your run!

References:

Riley PO, Dicharry J, Franz J, Della Croce U, Wilder RP, Kerrigan DC. A kinematics and kinetic comparison of overground and treadmill running.Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Jun;40(6):1093-100

Fellin, R.E.,  Manal, K, Davis, I. Comparison of Lower Extremity Kinematic Curves During Overground and Treadmill Running. J Appl Biomech. 2010 November; 26(4): 407–414.

 

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?

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 12.41.43 AM

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

TONIGHT: Beyond Pink: Strong Women, Strong Athlete

There's no "one look" for every woman, and no "one body" for every athlete

There’s no “one look” for every woman, and no “one body” for every athlete

Ladies – tonight its all about you!

Sports Illustrated ran a photo series years ago that is one of the most powerful collection athleticism.  Athletes come in all shapes and sizes, and one of them is YOUR size. And that’s the point of tonight’s talk. As the kick off to the REP Lecture series tonight in Bend, we are going to discuss “the unique needs of a woman.”

We’ll take a look beyond the marketing drivel and discuss what really is unique about your needs in pursuit of your goals. Come grab a seat and a beer, and find some tips that take you to the next level.  Hope to see you 7:00 tonight at Rebound Westside!

Pace Maker: an interview with Today in PT

Today in PT is a magazine for the physical therapy profession. They wrote:

Americans are increasingly on the run, with Running USA’s 2012 State of the Sport report counting nearly 39 million runners. Runners spend nearly $2.5 billion annually on footwear, according to the report. But, unfortunately, new shoes don’t come with accurate information and proper training to safely and successfully pursue the activity. For that, Today in PT turned to Jay Dicharry, PT, MPT, SCS, author of “Anatomy for Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed, and Injury Prevention.” click here for the rest

They threw out 10 questions, and i threw out 10 answers. Check out the link if you’d like to see some of the reasons why i do what I do, a few lines on the book, and why i got into this aspect of athletic injury care in the first place.

 

Link

Coffee Talk: TrailRunner Nation Podcast

The guys at Trail Runner Nation podcast gave me a call, and asked a few questions. If you’d like to hear some inside scoop on what you can do to keep healthy and happy on the way to your next PR, grab some of your favorite brew, and tune in here.

We’ll debunk some myths, babble about footwear, talk about why we don’t treat injuries by treating symptoms, and discuss some cutting-edge approaches on strength training for endurance athletes. Its a long hour of conversation, but all this talk is aimed at ways to help make running fun. Because that why we do this stuff. And more fun is, well,  just more fun.

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

Why does your achilles hurt, and how to fix it

I was contacted by Jason Fitzgerald at StrengthRunning.com to help clear up a lot of the mystery behind achilles issues. Even though this injury can be a major complicator for your training, the mechanics of it are actually quite simple.  If you’d like to check it out, check out this link.