The Running Form Thread

Discussion in 'Coach Talk' started by Last Place Jason, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. Last Place Jason

    Last Place Jason Barefooters
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    How do we run? This fundamental question is a great unknown. There are many perspectives, even among methods that seem very similar (ChiRunning, Pose, barefoot, etc.) We'll use this thread to explore the similarities and differences, terminology, and underlying theories.

    This thread is an extension of a discussion that started on Facebook between myself and a few friends. We were annoyed with the format over there.

    Quick rule- we're coming from different perspectives, and the goal is to learn from each other. I'm going to moderate this thread with a heavy hand, so keep it civil.
     

  2. Last Place Jason

    Last Place Jason Barefooters
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  3. Last Place Jason

    Last Place Jason Barefooters
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    In attempt to guide the discussion, Ken suggested we define our points of disagreement. Curb's response:

    ...gravity isn't a propulsive force and you aren't off-balance when running [in reference the the role of gravity]

    I'll add:

    What muscles are activated and relaxed throughout the gait cycle? For example, is it necessary to actively pull the foot off the ground?
     

  4. damianstoy

    damianstoy Barefooters
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    I don't believe muscles play an active roll in pulling the foot off the ground. I believe it happens because of 'recoil effect' of tendons, ligaments and muscles specifically in the posterior chain. The recoil effect of the pelvic girdle/hip flexors is what 'pulls' the leg up. Yes?

    Also, I'm not a believer that we need to actively use our hamstrings and "pawback" our legs during the landing phase. This is helpful for sprinters who are trying to create maximum power, but for most runners it is not necessary and can lead to hamstring pulls. It's just inefficient.

    Something I want to ask everyone is this: When I run, what is allowing me to move forward? Is it reaching out in front of me, pushing off with my back leg, pawback, gravity, momentum etc.
     
  5. Agnesd

    Agnesd Barefooters
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    I clicked on the link but got an error
     
  6. Last Place Jason

    Last Place Jason Barefooters
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    Stupid Facebook.

    I think it would also be useful to mention that there's a wide range of opinions on the matter, and none are backed up by significant research. Almost all of the biomechanical studies I've come across either have serious methodological flaws, don't address the issue directly, or study gait as if the overstriding heel strike is the norm. To the best of my knowledge, there is no good research on "natural" running gait.

    Would the rest agree?
     

  7. Last Place Jason

    Last Place Jason Barefooters
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    Damian- I would agree about the foot pull, though I would add I think inertia and a pendulum effect play a role. As the thigh is pulled forward via elastic recoil, the foot is pulled off the ground and continues forward until touch down.

    Regarding what propels you forward- I tend to agree with Dicharry and Cucuzzella. The glutes are the primary driving force with everything else playing a supporting role, which is mostly passive. Mark's take on it can more or less be summed up in the video he shot recently: . He does state we should run at a cadence of 180, which he acknowledged isn't accurate... cadence will vary between individuals and often with pace.

    I really like the explanation Magness gives here:

    http://www.scienceofrunning.com/2010/08/how-to-run-running-with-proper.html

    I'm a big "passive/reflex" fan mostly because it has worked exceptionally well for me personally and as a coach.

    Note- this is a significant deviation from my original thoughts on running gait. I used to be more in the "Ken Bob method" camp until I started to encounter a lot of the limitations related to performance and generalizability when teaching.
     

  8. damianstoy

    damianstoy Barefooters
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    Jason, exactly! The issue I have with biomechanical studies is just that. The research is often times done on participants with 'poor' running technique and not 'natural' running gait. I didn't think anyone else thought that besides me.

    Biomechanically, why do you believe barefoot running reduces injuries? Or does it?
     
  9. damianstoy

    damianstoy Barefooters
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    I think we are on similar pages. I do believe teaching a cadence of about 170-180 to students is very effective. It varies from person to person, they should play around with it but most recreational runners in the US are way too low.

    Pendulum and inertia...totally agree. As well as passive/reflex. The glutes play a significant role but I think the hip flexors, specifically psoas, does not get enough attention. I think the psoas possibly plays the largest roll when it comes to the 'recoil effect' of the human body and locomotion. Any thoughts there?

    By the way, I run a ton barefoot and attribute that, Chi Running, nutrition and yoga to why I'm a 'good' runner and been injury free for the past 8 years. Does barefoot running re-teach us how to move 'correctly' again?
     
  10. Last Place Jason

    Last Place Jason Barefooters
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    Damian, I'm not positive it reduces injuries... only shifts them from joints/bones to soft tissue. I suspect the reduction in injuries we see as teachers of natural running have more to do with a decrease in intensity (need to transition) and a greater awareness of the body (learning to listen to the body).

    The reason- lots of barefoot/minimalist runners get hurt eventually once they get back to running races and training with a "normal" volume.
     

  11. Last Place Jason

    Last Place Jason Barefooters
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    I think barefoot running teaches us to move correctly if we're not wearing shoes. :)

    The problem- gait is affected by a lot of things- terrain and shoes being two primary examples. The question I have- are people running in Brooks Beasts running "correctly?" As barefoot/natural runners, we automatically answer with an unqualified "No!" However, there is some evidence the body will adapt to whatever condition we place it in. In other words, we always gravitate toward the most metabolically-efficient gait regardless of the conditions.
     

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  12. damianstoy

    damianstoy Barefooters
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    hmmm... this is where we might disagree quite a bit. The reason comes from my own experience. 10 years ago I use to run and suffer from chronic running injuries, you name it, I had it. I then found Chi Running (CR), yoga and barefoot running. Since then, I've been injury free for the past 8 years. I attribute this to my more efficient running technique. Why can I have high volume and not get injured whereas in the past I would have?

    I totally agree that body awareness may be the main reason. CR and yoga teach this immensely. But I run so efficiently now and with low impact, I believe this to be a reason why I stay injury free. You may say that I run more efficiently because I am an ultrarunner whereas I think it is vice versa. I am an ultrarunner because I can run efficiently. Chicken or the egg, a question I've asked myself many times.

    I do believe barefoot running reduces injuries mainly because it reduces impact via less heel striking, proprioception, you run 'lighter', you engage the correct muscles including 'core' muscles. And maybe most importantly, stride length is decreased and the foot lands closer to underneath the hips, no way out in front which acts like a brake.

    Why do Brooks Beast promote a poor running technique in most but not all runners?
    1. It encourages a longer stride and the foot lands farther in front of the hips than ideal.
    2. It 'turns off' muscles because of a lack of proprioception. Also, 'core' muscles are weakened forcing leg muscles to compensate and become overused.
    3. It promotes a 'heavy' footfall. Runners get sloppy when shod which I attribute to 'core' muscles not working actively.
    4. It encourages a heel strike which I don't nescessarily believe is harmful.

    When I run barefoot for 20-30 miles, guess what is sore the next day. My core! Not my legs. But when running in shoes, my legs get sore. Why? The answer to me is simple, I can feel the difference when I run barefoot vs. shod in how much my core works. Core=glutes, obliques, TA etc.
     
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  13. Abide

    Abide Barefooters
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    Similar to what Jason said, in my experience I have actually noticed more injuries from running bf or in minimalist shoes. The difference is the type of injury. I experience many more lower leg/foot issues now, whereas a heel striker it was upper leg issues. I have to say I think chronic achilles tendonitis is as bad or possibly worse than ITBS.

    The question I'm curious about is if I am running efficiently, or if a correction of form would limit these injuries? Or am I pushing too hard for my skill level? Likely the latter.
     
  14. damianstoy

    damianstoy Barefooters
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    Abide, thanks for sharing. I'm a firm believer that when running barefoot, you can still have poor technique. Running barefoot does not necessarily fix everything. This is why I believe CR, Pose etc are beneficial. It teaches runners to run more efficiently (not perfect).

    As a CR instructor and without seeing your running (and walking!) technique, I can't say exactly what is going on. But most likely, you are still pushing off with your feet when you run. I know what you're gonna say. "No way do I do that". But most runners do. Because they believe in order to propel themselves, they have to push off with their legs. Hence why we teach using gravity in CR versus pushing off with the legs. Pushing off is inefficient and creates lower leg injuries.

    How do you not push off with your feet? We teach something called 'peeling the ankles'. It teaches you the muscle memory of using your 'core', specifically your psoas to lift the leg when you walk and run and not pushing off. Again, the propulsion comes from 'falling'. It's the easiest lesson I teach! We also teach relaxing the lower legs which may be habitually engaged/tight when walking and running. Peeling the ankles greatly reduces dorsiflexion, tension and injuries such as achilles tendonitis, shin splints and PF. It also reduces excessive up and down movement.

    Some other factors may be playing a role. I suggest yoga to 'release' the lower legs of any chronic tension or tightness. Also, certain foods can really help speed up the heeling process. Natural anti-inflammatories such as flax oil, turmeric and boswellia are great choice. You may want to look into 'Tissue Rejuvenator".

    P.S. I don't believe in 'over-use' injuries. Yes, we have to build up slowly and gradually but the human body is miraculous and capable of so much more than we imagine.
     
  15. Abide

    Abide Barefooters
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    Where can you buy boswellia and or tumeric? Do they both come in capsules? Sorry for the threadjack Jason.

    Thanks for the info, I do yoga regularly. As for the pushing I try not to, but I do a lot of hill sprints, stairs and sled pushes and all of these cause me to push off often. Out of curiosity why do you think the body would not be cabable of learning to push off?
     
  16. Abide

    Abide Barefooters
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    I do have a question about chi running though. When I watch videos of Danny running I can't stop thinking about how sloppy he looks as a runner? For example

    Then when you watch this dude it seems like he is doing everything right

    Things I notice about Danny are excessive bouncing, arm flailing and ridiculous shorts, Anton looks completely effortless. Shouldn't we be trying to mimic Anton?
     
  17. damianstoy

    damianstoy Barefooters
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    Great comments. As for pushing off: I don't believe we are meant to do this. Watch kids run, they don't. They don't have much up and down movement. We 'learn' to push off for a variety of reasons. Track coaches have told us to. We think we need to in order to run faster. We mimic others. We 'forget' how to lean and compensate by pushing off because propulsion has to come from somewhere. The list goes on...

    Sprinters push off because they are seeking maximum power. For all the rest of us, we are looking for efficiency and reducing injuries therefore pushing off is not in our best interest. Why would we use small muscles (our calves) to push us down the road/trail? This would be asking small muscles to do a big job. Our calves are meant for stability and balance NOT propulsion. Notice how small they are in elite long distance runners. If we use them too much (any pushing off is too much) than we are asking for injury. Especially do not use them when going up hill. You would be asking your calves to do a huge job of pushing your body weight up hill. Instead, let your core lift your leg up the hill. Much more efficient to lift your leg than push your body weight up hill!

    You can get turmeric as a spice and capsules. Boswellia is best found already in natural anti-inflammatory supplements. Look into 'Curica', 'Tissue Rejuvenator' and there are other good ones out there.

    I agree, I think Danny looks sloppy when he runs (shh don't tell anyone I said that). But he will say and I agree with him that he is incredibly relaxed. This makes him look sloppy. In terms of being super efficient, I would lean towards 'looking' like Tony. I look like Tony when I'm run, probably because we are ultra runners and are experts at efficiency and flowing. If you watch Danny on a trail, he FLOWS.
     
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  18. Last Place Jason

    Last Place Jason Barefooters
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    I would argue the phrase "not pushing off" is inaccurate because we're always producing downward force with the plant foot. The phrase "not pushing off with a concentric contraction of the calf muscles" would be a much better descriptor.

    Regarding injuries- I'm personally in the same boat. I've been largely injury-free as an ultrarunner for years now. However, the research on injuries is poor at best, which is the reason for the caution in making the "reduced injury' claim.
     

  19. Last Place Jason

    Last Place Jason Barefooters
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    Regarding uphill: Again, I think the glutes are the primary muscles that propel us up. They're unbelievably resilient to fatigue, hence we tend not to notice just how much work they do. Ever notice the best runners have great asses? ;)
     

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  20. Abide

    Abide Barefooters
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    Speaking of running uphill and the calf muscle contraction, what is the proper way to handle the eccentric component while climbing hills? Obviously on flat surfaces the heel touches, is it also accepted that you let heel touch uphill?
     

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