Running by Sandy Musson Owner Tri & Run Sports / Gait Specialist Of all the new developments in running, none have been more sharply debated than minimalist shoes and barefoot running. Fuelled by Christopher McDougall’s epic novel Born to Run athletes are asking the hard questions about what to wear on their feet and if minimalist, barefoot running is for them. While barefoot speaks for itself, minimalist is defined by a lower heel to toe offset. The higher the heel in relation to the toes, it has been argued, the greater the impetus to land on ones heel. Logic then dictates that if the heel is lowered the foot is permitted to move to a more neutral position on the ground. A minimalist shoe also brings the foot closer to the ground limiting the cushioning as well as increasing the flexibility of the shoe, foot strength and proprioceptive responses. Running in a minimal shoe or barefoot, however, does not guarantee an improvement in running form and therefore a reduction in injuries. There are people in highly stable control shoes that run with impeccable form and
those that can run barefoot with poor form. Individuals with ongoing pain or problems in the Achilles, metatarsal heads or those having had injuries in flexible, unstable shoes in the past should reconsider minimalism. Everyone would benefit from some gait alterations that prevent a heel strike by increasing their cadence or turn over causing them to land lighter on their feet. This can be done in existing footwear or during a period of transition to lighter more minimalist shoes. It is recommended to begin wearing your next to nothing shoes around the house to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the feet that have been weakened by wearing shoes. Do not wear for more than five to 10 minutes at a time, increasing by 5-10% per week, all while listening to your body’s injury cues and retaining your gait. As McDougall states on his website, Ultimately, the debate isn’t about Bare Soles vs. Shoes. It’s about learning to run gently. Master that, and you can wear — or not wear — anything you please.
Running Injury Free by Liz Grant 1. Ease into and out of your run… Increase your body temperature with a light jog / brisk walk. Follow this with 5 minutes of functional ballistic stretches that mimic running. I.e. light jog/brisk run at 50% of your normal running intensity 5 minutes. Then break your run into parts: high knees, Kick your heel towards your buttocks, and lunge. 2. Encourage adaptation… Your body will adapt as long as you do not do too much too soon. Start with an interval program: 5 min walk: 1 min run: 1 min walk (x3): 5 min walk. Gradually work up from this, increasing run:walk sequence, and then running time. 3. Vary the conditions… Running the same route repeatedly does not encourage adaptation, and can lead to overuse injuries. Try running on different surfaces that are firm and irregular. 4. Watch for Signs of overuse Pain during activity. Pain for 30 min or more after activity. Pain or stiffness the morning after. What to do? Examine any changes to your training.You may need to decrease your training, or cross train (e.g. cycle / swim) to allow overworked structures to rest while maintaining your cardiovascular fitness. Seek advice from a qualified professional if the problem persists.
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