Tag Archives: running shoes

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

Elevator Up? The Mindset Behind a Champion

A few weeks ago, I got to present along side Dr. Joe Vigil at a USA Track and Field conference in LA. For those of you who have to ask “who is Joe Vigil?”…..this man is to coaches as Rolex is to watches: the best.

Dr Vigil always has the uncanny ability to break down complex tasks and ask you the “right” introspective questions to help you reach your next milestone. We don’t just train the body in isolation. We’ve always heard that the body can handle more than the mind wants to give. So with that, I’m going to leave you with the following picture. Is it time to take the elevator up the “achievement triangle?” – What’s holding you back from reaching your goals? Change all starts with the desire to change.

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In fact, lets move beyond kumbaya and start this process in motion right now. Turn the computer off. Get out a sheet of paper and make 3 columns. Write down your goals in column 1. Then write down the obstacles that stand in the way of each of your goals. Then make a 3rd column of exactly what you are going to do to beat each of those obstacles.  Stick it on your fridge and remember your passion. When one of those obstacles seems like its standing in your way, make your tiger face and beat it down. Mental Tough = Body Tough.

And if you need help with your plan, give me a ring – I’ll help you find your tiger face.

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.

Baby needs a new pair of shoes

It’s pretty tough for a lot of runners to make sense of all the changes in footwear these days. One key message is that shoes don’t run on their own. You are profoundly more important than the shoes on your feet. This being said, footwear construction can and does make a difference. And when we talk about kids shoes, it affects not only how they walk and run, but more importantly, how they develop.
Want to learn a bit more? Check out the “Shoes for Small Fry” article I wrote for Running Times. As a parent, we all try to give our kids an advantage. I’m well aware that there are a lot of things coming up in my kids life that I can’t control. But giving my kids the gift of strong feet is one I can control. Those little feet just might be passing you up on the race course sooner than you think!

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My 4yr old’s feet: excellent alignment and strong for her scooter, soccer, and the playground. The right footwear will ensure they look this way as she ages through the big game of life.

What can you learn from a frustrated bird?

Here at UVA, I teach a course called Neuro-muscular Basis of Human Movement, and today we are speaking of all things running mechanics. One of my students made an analogy that actually tells us a lot about running. Well, the analogy doesn’t really tell us that much, but a host of really angry and pissed off birds will….. Yes–> those angry birds!

Angry Birds is a simple game ( if it’s so simple, why has our country’s gross national product dropped since its launch????) that forces us to abide by the laws physics. Your goal, of course, is to knock out those smirky smiling pigs at various locations. You learn very quickly that aiming too high blasts your bird up to the clouds, at the expense of sacrificing distance. Aiming too low also compromises distance. Aiming just right produces the greatest distance covered with a pull of the slingshot….. The fancy name for this would be the optimum trajectory

While you don’t have to land on a pig when running, you do try to cover a given amount of distance per stride. In fact, the definition of running economy would be to cover a given distance with as little energy as possible. Too much up and down motion while running wastes a lot of energy. Actually about 80% of the energy required to run comes from raising and lowering the body against gravity. So “aiming too high”- too much vertical rise an fall- is not a smart move.

A lot of people get this. The problem is that they take it to the opposite extreme. They tell us that we need to minimize the rise and fall of our body. Does this play out? Go play angry birds again, and aim your bird dead flat. Pull back all the way and watch your bird take flight….. It won’t go very far. Limiting the up and down motion of the body when running not only ensures you won’t go far with each stride, it also costs a lot of energy! Go for a run and try to keep your head as still as possible- you won’t be able to do this for long- its tough!

So what is best? If you try to get maximum distance per fire on angry birds, you’ll find that about 45 degrees gives you the greatest distance. So does this mean that you should aim for this when running? Well, not exactly. The body isn’t a bird, a cannon ball, or any other type of projectile. It’s an actively controlled spring that actually stores and releases elastic energy to help you move forward. Some amount of vertical rise and fall is actually beneficial to “load the slingshot” and store and release this elastic energy. Exactly how much depends on your body weight, your leg length, and your pace, and your contact time. A sort of nice number is around 4-6 cm of vertical rise and fall of the body typically produces optimal results. In labs like ours at UVA, we study this kind of stuff to tweak your economy.

The take home message is that some rise and fall is necessary, even advantageous, when running.* So when someone tells you that a runner is efficient because their head stays perfectly still when running, maybe you should hand them your smartphone and tell them to play a little game.

* note- excessive rise and fall of your phone, as in when you throw it against the wall after not beating a level for the 37th time, isn’t recommended.

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