Pick Up Your Feet And Run Faster

Have you ever thought about what your feet and legs are doing when you run or even walk? Do you lift your feet off the ground, bending your legs at the knee or do you just drag them just above the ground, shuffling, one after the other?

If you have noticed your running form then you have already changed the way you run. If you haven’t now it’s the time to do so.

Watch the video below for a more detailed explanation, but in summary the reasons you should pick up your feet instead of dragging or shuffling:

Reason #1: You will run faster

Your legs are like pendulums. And like any pendulum, a long pendulum will move slower, a shorter one will move faster.

 

Reason #2: You will run more relaxed, lighter on your feet

If you pick your feet without lifting and leading with the knees you will not use the quads as much, thus you run more relaxed and with less effort. The work is done by your hamstrings and only at the start of the lift, after that your hamstrings should relax.

 

Reason #3: Reduce the risk of injuries

First of all if you drag your feet chances are you will trip or slip at some point. Pick up your feet and you reduce those chances, a lot.

Second if you drag your feet chances are you are landing in ahead of your body (instead of underneath), actively landing (driving your feet forward), heel striking and landing with a stiff leg or ankle. All this, in time, may lead to shin splints, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis and then knee pain and back pain. It’s a chain reaction in fact.

So stop shuffling your legs, dragging them behind you and pick them up and bend your knee.

Remember running is a skill of movement, and art. As with anything you want to create, it will be difficult and uncomfortable at the beginning but once you get the hang of it you won’t run anymore, you will glide.

Check out the video below with this particular technical element and also this article Running Technique – Elements Of Effortless Running – Lower Body:

Factors Leading To Running Injuries – Flexibility And Mobility

When you run your muscles contact and expand. Hundreds of times, maybe even thousands for long distance runners.  Tight muscles and joints can lead to all sorts of injuries including knee pain, lower back pain, plantar fasciitis, muscle cramps.

 

Working on your flexibility and mobility as a runner means you will:

– run faster

– run for longer

– recover faster

– reduce the risk of injuries – including muscle cramps, pulled muscles, lower back pain, plantar fasciitis

– improve blood circulation

 

Furthermore the focus of you stretch and mobility exercises should be not only on lower body but also hips, AND upper body. Why? Because firstly running in a full body movement, second notice how your body moves in diagonal – left leg with right arm, right leg with left arm – there is a rotation in the body every time you step. Third, upper body muscles have to contract and expand just like the lower body, otherwise that rotation wouldn’t take place, it would be very uncomfortable, tight, and at risk on injury.

 

Are 10 min of stretching at the beginning and end of your run enough?

Not really. I mean come on, do you think that after running 5 km 10 min of quick stretches will release the muscles and joints? If you help every stretch for 10-15 sec, and you stretched your whole body, 10 min wouldn’t be enough.

Instead consider:

– having 2 shorter running sessions per week that begin with 10 min stretches and end with a 30 min stretch – full body

– signing up for a weekly yoga and/or pilates class

– natural movement fitness (the kind that we do here at The Merisoiu Technique Institute)

 

Remember, the whole body needs to be flexible, mobile and strong for a runner to be complete.


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Factors Leading To Running Injuries – Change

Does running regularly mean you will end up having to pay physios for life? No, not necessarily. Although, like with virtually any sport, even swimming if you swim often and aim high, you will suffer some injuries. How bad, how often and for how long, now these are variables that can be changed.

Change is one of the causes of sport related injuries. And when we talk about running injuries we refer to:

– foot injuries – including plantar fasciitis
– ankle injuries
– shin splints
– knee injuries
– hip injuries
– lower back pain

These are very common injuries and pains in runners who run regularly and push themselves to make progress.

Change is one of the elements that can cause there types of running injuries. Change in terms of:

– speed
– distance
– running frequency, but also
– different shoes (watch out minimalist/barefoot runners when transitioning to minimalist shoes), and different technique
– training type – i.e. from endurance training to interval training

No matter how much you try to progress fast, you are directed by your NERVOUS SYSTM. Until the nervous system adapts to the change, any attempt to push beyond it’s adaptation time frame can lead to injuries.

Thus, my advice on any changes you wish to make:
– make change slow
– have patience
– make the correct changes
– make the changes correct
– get a coach to direct you so you do things the right way, especially if you are a beginner

Need coaching? Email support@themtechnique.com or click here to book a free consultation.

Want to know when the next running technique workshop takes place? Leave your details below and you will receive the updates.

Something’s Wrong With Your Shoes

I keep picking on running shoes, and, when possible, my clients and I walk and train barefoot. We take off our running shoes and go barefoot for some really good reasons. These are just a few of them:

 

Sensory Perception

There is a network of nerves on the bottom of your feet which sent information to the brain about the ground underneath your feet: . This triggers reflexes that help you avoid injuries when you sense something sharp or uneven. The thick soles of your running shoes limit sensory perception, and limit the key reflexes your body is intelligently equipped with to avoid injury, whether skeletal or muscular.

 

Flat Foot

Flat foot essentially means the arch of the foot doesn’t develop properly or it collapses. This can lead to other injuries.

There are people who are genetically predisposed to getting flat feet, but in many, many cases the problem is caused my weak foot muscles. These muscles help create and maintain the shape of the arch. Like any other arch you see in construction, they support your weight as it bounces up and down.

Your running shoes have arch support and cushioning so your muscles work less. Like any other muscles, if the muscles in the arch of your foot are not trained they weaken.

So I ask you this: if weak muscles in the arch leads to flat feet, are shoes that make those muscles work less the best choice?

Stiff soles are there to make the foot muscles work less as well. The less the muscles work, the weaker they become.

 

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is that sharp pain you may have felt in the sole of your feet after a run or when you wake up in the morning.

The plantar fascia is a tendonlike sheet of tissue at the base of your foot. It works with he muscles in your arch. That sharp pain comes from inflammation of the plantar fascia.

If the arch muscles are weak then the plantar fascia has to work more, to compensate for those weak muscles. More stress on the plantar fascia eventually leads to inflammation.

Thus weak foot muscles contribute to plantar fasciitis as well. Padded shoes, created to help the foot work less, contribute to weak foot muscles. Weak foot muscles then need support, we give them support, they stay weak or get worse, and on, and on we go. A vicious circle.

One way I alleviate plantar fasciitis pain is by using a golf ball. Walking can also help the recovery process.

 

Uneven terrain

Among the things I love most in the outdoors is the uneven terrain. The flat, shiny gym or home floor does little to develop foot muscles. It does help but not as much as when you walk, run , crawl and balance on uneven terrain.

Uneven doesn’t mean holes in the ground. Your foot muscles will react to the slightest drop, even if it’s 1mm.

That is one of the many reasons why I choose the outdoors for myself and also for my clients.

 

Should you throw away your shoes?

There is no doubt that shoes protect us in many situations, such as when we step on a sharp object. They also protect us during the winter. There is nothing wrong in wearing shoes.

However, there is the downside of wearing shoes which has been the topic of this article. Thus, the solution is to balance it out. Wear shoes, wear minimalist shoes and go barefoot as well, indoors but more importantly outdoors where you have uneven terrain.

 

Now, I am not a podiatrist, but I do know this: strong and flexible feet are healthy feet. Strong, flexible and healthy fit make good foundations for a strong, flexible and healthy body. 

A great book to read is The Story Of The Human Body by Daniel Lieberman.

 

If you do need advice, or maybe have questions about minimalist shoes contact me.