Tag Archives: form

How should your foot land when you run?

Foot strike: your cross country coach from 1972 told you to always roll through from heel to toe. the barefoot zealots tell us we should always land on the forefoot. And several other schools of though tell us something else: to land on our midfoot.

Measuring all this stuff in the biomechanics lab has taught me a lot. Foot strike is but one of many variables that are worth looking at, but not the only one worth looking at. Additionally, people often strike different than they think they do. Lastly, Pete Larson found that there isn’t much of a difference in foot strike patterns and running times.

Foot strike is more of an effect of many things related to your form, rather than the overiding factor that governs your form. And if you’d like to see more, check out what Pete Larson and I said to Competitor Magazine.

More free books on the east coast, from Two Rivers Treads

The good folks at Two Rivers Treads are stepping up to help you this holiday season, with a free copy of my book, Anatomy for Runners. So if you need a pair of shoes, why not help those who are making an effort to help you as well. Here’s their email below.

Community Runners,
My friend Jay Dicharry is considered by most in the running world to be THE guru on gait mechanics and running injuries. He spent the better part of 2 years writing a book “Anatomy for Runners”. Jay and I have collaborated on many projects and much of what I have discovered I have Jay to thank for.

So our gift to you is his book with any shoe purchase or 50 dollar gift certificate. This includes closeout or current models. This special extends while our book supply lasts….we have enough books to hopefully get us through the holidays.

Dr Mark Cucuzzella
Two Rivers Treads

Chevy Tahoe or a Mini Cooper? A tip on running shoe selection.

You are about to leave your house and have the keys to both your cars in your hand. Which do you take?

Today, you have to drive through town town to get some groceries, and then to the mall. Its a slow drive on neighborhood streets to the freeway. Your SUV is comfortable, affords a good view of the road, and has lots of room for the stuff you are going to buy. Given the fact that SUV’s account for huge number of sales in the US, the public agrees this is a logical choice.

OK – its the weekend. You are going to flee the city and head up to the cabin. Its a really twisty backcountry mountain road. Turn after turn, its hard to even maintain the posted speed limit. Do you select the SUV that ensures you need to slow down due to body roll, or do you take the sports car? The sports car is lighter, lower, and has a firmer suspension. It was designed for these very conditions. While a stiffer suspension may be less comfortable driving through the burbs, the improved “road feel” you get with the sports car helps you drive better at speed through more challenging roads.

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Time to go shoe shopping! You ask the salesman to pull two pairs of shoes for you. The first feels like a cloud at first step. It feels like you could stand around in them for hours. Your quick run test on the sidewalk in front the shop confirms that same cushy marshmallow feel during your run. Going back inside, you slip on shoe #2. It feels comfortable, but is much firmer. It didn’t grab you at first step as you walked around the store, but when you repeated your short demo run outside, it felt pretty much like the shoe wasn’t even there. The firmer feel felt a bit more responsive.

What running shoe should you buy?

Well, the marketing research is clear. People buy shoes b/c of 1) color, and 2) “first feel”. First feel is that first step you take. You know that sense of walking on a cloud…..the same feeling that made you think you could stand around in them for hours? Well, that doesn’t have anything to do with running shoe selection. Running is not standing. When you stand, you have half your body weight split between each foot. The total load on each each leg is about half your body weight. When you walk, sometimes you have two feet on the ground, and sometimes you have one foot down on the ground. So at the most, you’d have your full body weight on one leg, and at the least, it would be split between both legs. And when you are walking, your feet are on the ground for a long time. If you need to “micro-correct” your muscles to stabilize your body, you’ve got time to do so.

Running isn’t standing. And its not walking. During running, your foot is only on the ground for a very short time: The average runner moving at 7.2 mph is on the ground for only .17 seconds. Decisions on stability need to happen very very quickly, faster than you can actually think about them. And when running, there is no double leg contact. You are either sailing through the air, or in contact with a single leg. That single leg must not only support your full body weight, but about 2.5x’s your body weight.

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So what “car” do you pick? Well, lets look at hundreds of research articles on foot and ankle balance. Almost every single article says that you have a harder time balancing and stabilizing when on a cushioned surface. On marshmallow-cushy surfaces, the muscles that control your foot and ankle kick on too late and not enough to keep things under control. So if you are going to rally around a twisty mountain mountain road, the stiffer suspension on the Mini Cooper gives you better traction and feel. When running, a firmer feeling shoe provides a stiffer surface for the muscles in your foot and ankle to support your body. Said very simply: the foot works better when on a firmer surface.

So do yourself a favor. Go to the store. Try on your shoes. Obviously you’ll stand, and then walk outside or over to the treadmill. But resist the urge to make an impression on the shoe until you are actually running. Of course you should buy a pair that feels comfortable! But most of us are in shoes too soft and squishy to be running fast. Pick the right car for your drive, and the right shoe for your run. Running comfort, not walking comfort, should be key.

Is Poor Posture Stealing Your Power?

Are your shoulders slumped? Both Mom and your favorite drill sergeant don’t take kindly to poor posture. Outside of looks and respect, posture has a huge effect on your running form. If you ‘d like to know how it impacts you as a runner, and how you can fix it,  check out my article in this month’s October edition of Running Times – on news stands, or click here to view it now. Now stand up straight!

any pearls for the aging runner?

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Runner’s World asked for some key points to think about as we edge-up in years. It happens to all of us at some point right?

Check it out here

Disclaimer: the advice mentioned in this article is not meant to replace Botox

Do runners with a ball “get it” more than runners?

The media at large has done a dis-service to you, the consumer. They love polarizing images. They love the battle between overly built-up clodd-hopper motion control shoes vs. naked feet. They try to instantly declare one “better” than the other. The reality is that the barefooot buzz has been incredible for ALL athletes. No matter which side of this polarizing topic you stand on, it has directed attention on form. And that’s one of the main things really.

Let’s clear out the sewer lines folks. Barefoot is very DIFFERENT from running in shoes. Sure a good number of folks switch their contact style from rearfoot to forefoot when going barefoot, but a lot DON’T. And while the media loves to harp on this one single factor, its like saying only one tree in the entire forrest is important. And that’s just not true.

Its not so much forefooot vs rearfoot here, its more about where the foot is in relation to the body that counts. Striding too far in front of the body results in bad things. Your feet were meant to be beneath you – not flying out in front. Imagine running over ice. Anyone feel safe over-striding on ice? Didn’t think so……But its not just “runners” who are beginning to take notice. Other “running athletes” are asking question too.

Recently, I had a conversation with basketball journalist Steve McPherson. He was asking me about the apparent rise of injuries in basketball, and wanted to know if anything from all this barefoot hoopla translates over to the hoop. Steve did an excellent job with this piece, “What can the NBA learn from barefoot running?” I recommend you take a look, whether you run with barefeet, wrapped feet, or a ball.

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South by SouthWest Festival: When Biomechanics Attack

Check out the report WIRED magazine did of my talk with ESPN writer Henry Abbott at SXSW music festival. Likely the only time I’ll get to say I presented at the same conference as Al Gore, Bruce Springsteen, Seth MacFarlane, Jay-Z, and Jeffery Tambor (unfortunately not on the same stage at the same time!)

Nice summary, except they didn’t really get one critical point across. You CAN improve your hip flexibility and your hip strength!

Check out the WIRED article here and check out this link I did for Runner’s World a while ago on improving hip mobility

 

Are you ready for minimal?

Looking to get into “less” shoe? Don’t understand why you need to make some changes in your body to help this process? Looking for some help moving towards something new? Check out this month’s issue of Running Times to check out an article I wrote with my colleague, Dr Mark Cucuzzella, on a smooth and successful transition to minimal running shoes.

And if you’d like to see the print word come to life, check out the video “are you ready for minimal” by yours truly on the www.runningtimes.com homepage. Also on their youtube channel here.

one leg under the mistletoe

My good friend, Dr Mark Cucuzzella, did a nice write up from some of our work on the Natural Running Center site here (of which I am an advisory board member).

Why? Well – you can’t change your arch height -and don’t need to. There is no evidence to show that static arch height really makes a difference since passive structural joint position gets throw out the window when doing something active like running. My friend Pete Larson sums this up nicely here on his infamous runblogger.com (which just make Outside magazines list of Top 10 Sports blogs – nice Pete!

Its high time to dismiss the notion that shoes can “stop” pronation don’t you think? Because there is no evidence to show that they do. This entire concept should go the way of pet rocks, stonewashed jeans, and shoulder pads. What’s important are the muscles, and they can be trained to keep your foot position in check as you run.

Maybe you should practice standing on one foot under the mistletoe this weekend? Or maybe just binge on eggnog. Merry christmas everyone !!!

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Behind the Scenes

If you’ve read our blog in the past, you’ve seen our findings on successful transitions to minimal and barefoot running. Running Times magazine approached myself and Dr Mark Cucuzzella to write a piece for the upcoming April edition. Lots of good wisdom, pics, and video to come……. But that has nothing to do with why this post is cool.

Do you ever wonder what it takes to get those cool cover shots you see on all the mags? Perfect lighting, perfect smiles, perfectly trained runner’s bodies lightless treading through the viewfinder…. Likely with a full hair and make-up team, and a full catered spread for lunch….. Well, I’m here to tell you otherwise. All you need is:

1 fast career runner ( something like 25 years of marathons under 2:45, PR of 2:24)

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A subaru with a pilot, flash operator, One closed downhill subdivision road, and our fearless cameraman, Joel Wolpert. Here’s Joel at almost 20 mph downhill on my longboard. It’s rain/misting and slick as anything. Notice he’s focused on the shot, not the road. That my friends, is zen.

Here’s to all of you and your inner paparazzi !

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