Walk b4 u Run #everydayposer

We don’t really have to teach a baby to walk. They will move through the necessary phases of rolling over, pushing up, crawling, pulling up, cruising, and then taking a first step.  However, as we enter adulthood we slowly take on habits that override our natural reflexes.

Here are the activities that typically make up a day in the life of a modern Westerner (I especially like the 70’s era TV pic): images-13 images-12

 

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What do you see that is common to all of these photos? (hint: seated posture with hip flexion–which isn’t so much a hint as the answer)

It is no wonder that our running gait looks like this:

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Looking carefully at these two runners, neither one of them is really extending their thigh relative to their torso. The woman in red looks like it–her leg is back and she is closer to extending, but she is also leaning forward considerably. Try drawing a line from their ears down to the midline of their pelves and see how far you can draw it into their upper legs. Hip extension happens when the femur (thigh bone) is moving towards an angle larger than 180 degrees.

I’ve been doing walking gait analyses on clients now for about 6 months. And probably everyone I’ve filmed flex forward at the hip and knee to take a step. You might argue that is how we are supposed to walk and run.

My mom always told me that I shouldn’t be influenced by what everyone else is doing. I bet your mom did, too.

Think about paddling a boat. Which way do you push? Do you reach waaaay forward when you put the paddle in? Nope. You put the paddle in close to you and push back. The way physics works is to move forward there needs to be a backwards force. And that push should start from the point closest to the center of mass to be most effective.

Walking (and running) then, should be EXTENSION of legs (and arms too). If we flex at the hip to move forward, it means that our glutes are not doing the work.Want a toned butt? Try using it! Extension is where it is at, baby! And if you watch that baby learning to walk, that is exactly what you will see! Notice in this photo, the leg she is landing on is directly beneath her. Draw that line from her ear to the middle of her pelvis and you’ll find her thigh is behind her. No hip flexion is happening in either leg.

Unknown-3Here is a final image of a group of children running. Notice the amount of movement behind their bodies:

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If you have a habit of sitting more than 2-3 hours per day, go back to walking before beginning a running program pretty, pretty please! Learn how to extend your hips and arms again. I think you will find it extremely challenging and a way to really improve your ability to run well too!

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Foot Rant

Last night I came home exhausted, the sort of exhaustion brought on by overload. I though a hot tub soak and a good read would help me unwind so I could fall asleep. The husband unit had pointed out a good article on running in Outside Magazine, so I grabbed that. I’ve got a running workshop coming up soon and I like to catch all the latest hype and buzz.

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Super bad choice for unwinding. Dang! I hate it when something ruffles my feathers right before bed, especially on a night when I need some good sleep. I almost wrote the letter that night, but made myself wait until morning. Here it is, my first letter to the editor of a major publication (just in case it never gets printed in the actual Feedback column):

The trouble with quoting scientific studies to resolve a question (You Don’t Know How to Run, April 2013) is that studies can only test for a single variable. Biomechanics must be done with regard the the entire body within gravity. Likewise, running is not just done with the feet. If there is no mention of hip flexion, extension and lateral stabilization regarding stride form, then any interpretations of foot impact are moot. Heel strike verses mid-foot strike has another variable too: speed. Good walking form requires heel strike. As we speed up, the heel strike lessens and the foot lands more in the mid-foot (if the foot is properly landing directly below the torso). These are more important variables to consider when improving running form than what kind of shoes to purchase. I loved Christopher McDougall’s comeback to the hype: “When did I ever say buy shoes?”

Here are my added points I would like to make. First–I love Outside Magazine. Second–I am a barefoot runner. As in no shoes.I’ve been trying a couple of minimalist shoes and had some good and some bad experiences with them. I also have run in so-called “traditionalist’s” shoes. Third–I own a business, but hate hype marketing, which, sadly, works great but only until the next fad comes along. Fourth–most of the research in the article was most likely paid for by shoe companies (Joe Hamill, professor of Kinesiology at University of Massachusetts Amherst, is quoted extensively and “has done research for shoe companies”) as is most of the magazine paid for by shoe companies that advertise.

Barefoot running is about finding alignment through natural movement. That sounds so much better than this snippet from the article: “The minimalists believe they’re poised to inherit the earth. The traditionalists have no plans to surrender. The battles are being fought runner by runner, shoe by shoe.” Alignment is based on science and is different than posture, which is is based on social constructs. Rather than science based, this article is posturing the two sides of the discussion as enemy camps. Why are we fighting?

Because of money, of course. According to the article, Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run launched a 500 percent increase of FiveFingers shoes sales. If the next trend is just regular ol’ barefeet, well, no shoe sales will follow. Podiatrists don’t like to promote bare feet because they sell orthotics (sorry that is a generalization, and I know there are good podiatrists that are not just out to sell orthotics, but there is good money in them and that is a fact). Are there injuries on both sides? Of course. Even if we run with perfect form from head to toe, shit happens.

This I know to be true: our feet are beautifully bio-mechanically designed. To work with our knees. And our hips, and torso, neck and head. Gravity is constant. Strength is relative. Speed is an imposed external parameter of running performance which has gained importance due to cultural influences. Aerobic exercise means moving EVERY muscle, one of which is the heart. Alignment is based on physics (gravity being a big player) and means that every joint is able to move in a proper relationship to every other joint. Only then can every muscle properly move to become nourished aerobically and strengthened eventually. That would be an internal parameter of running performance, and much better science than jabbering on about shoes.

Peace out.