Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Midweek update-Barefoot running tips

How has your week been??? Mine has been pretty good.

I won a StrideBox from Neon Blonde Runner. Insert cheer here!!! I am super excited to get my box next month.

Running has been going OK. The good news is I have stuck to running 2-3 times per week.  The not so good news is that a couple of weeks ago I got a dull ache in both of my Achilles tendons. I thought it was just my legs getting strengthened again form running. Well this past week it got a lot worse.

I have started icing, and using Bengay pain relief gel. I have also been using my most wonderful PRO Compression hot pink socks! Doing all those things helped a little bit.

Last night before I ran a big one mile, I focused on doing a better warm up. I went slower a little longer before the run and made sure to pay extra attention to my stretching. Then, when I got running I made sure to pay attention to my form. I don't have the form perfectly mastered but I am getting close.

I would love to work with a barefoot running coach but there aren't any by me in Ohio. If you are a coach or know a good one that does online coaching please let me know. I think having some additional one on one guidance would be very helpful!

One of my many resources that I look to online is the Vibram website. Thankfully they have a section about everything you need to know about running form.

"Barefoot Technique: A good landing should feel gentle, relaxed, and compliant. Professor Dan Lieberman of Harvard University suggests trying these two phases to learn the recommended forefoot technique:

Phase 1 Phase 2
FiveFingers runners typically land on the ball of the foot towards the lateral side. It’s probably good to land with the foot nearly horizontal, so you don’t work your calves too much.
After the front of your foot lands, let the heel down gradually, bringing the foot and lower leg to a gentle landing. (It’s like when you land from a jump, flexing the hip, knee and ankle.) Again, the landing should feel soft, springy, and comfortable.
barefoot running technique phase1
barefoot running technique phase2

Heel striking video
In this video you will notice a Force Curve showing the amount of force transferred to the human skeletal system when the foot impacts the ground. Click on this link to view the video:

With a traditional heel striking form, the force curve shows a significant impact transient force when the heel lands. This transient force is an unnecessary force that we inflict on the body by utilizing a heel striking form. Over time this impact transient force becomes magnified and it has been believed to contribute to injury
The proper barefoot form video
With proper Barefoot form the force curve has a smooth line indicating a natural transfer of energy to and from the body. You will notice unlike in the heel striking video above, the impact transient force is nonexistent when the runner utilizes a proper barefoot running form. Click on this link to view the video:

Important barefoot running points to remember:

  • Do not over stride (this means landing with your foot too far in front of your hips). Over striding while forefoot or midfoot striking requires you to point your toe more than necessary, adding stress to the calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and the arch of the foot. It often feels as if your feet are striking the ground beneath your hips. It is similar to the way one’s feet land when skipping rope or when running in place (as runners sometimes do when waiting to cross a street).
  • Not sure if you’re landing properly? Try running totally barefoot on a hard, smooth surface (e.g. pavement) that is free of debris. Sensory feedback will quickly tell you if you are landing too hard. Conversely, if you run barefoot on too soft a surface, like a beach, you might not learn proper form.
  • If you just can’t seem to get the feel for landing on your midfoot, try the following to get better acclimated:
    • walk backwards leaning slightly forward. Then try to do it faster, making sure there are no obstacles in your way
    • walk or run (slowly is okay) up a steep-ish hill. It is practically impossible to strike heel first
    • jump on two feet and see how you land
    • run in place, and make an effort to lean forward a little and lift your thighs up
  • Always be patient, and build gradually. It can take several months to a year to make the transition to running in FiveFingers.It takes time for your feet and lower legs to increase strength and mobility.
  • A gradual transition doesn’t mean a setback in your training. Running in Vibram FiveFingers requires a significant increase in lower leg and foot strength. A gradual transition is critical to avoid overuse injuries. If running is your primary form of exercise, gradually increase the proportion of forefoot or mid-foot striking by about 10% per week over the course of several months as you reduce running in your old style. Remember, this is an experiment to find something that suits you. To make a clean break from traditional heel striking, supplement running with biking, swimming, cardio machines, and fitness classes to maintain your fitness level, while giving primary running muscles a chance to recover."
Thankfully this seemed to help a bit. I got through the run with much less pain and recovered better. I am wondering if the switch from my Vibram Bikilas to my Vibram Lontras might have bothered my body. The Lontras are designed to be waterproof and have a pinch of cushion/padding. I have been wearing them a lot as they are waterproof and have more traction than my Bikilas. I am going to test my theory on this tomorrow when I run. I will let you know how it goes.

Tonight is my birthday~!!!! Tonight I am going to celebrate with my husband and kids. It's going to be a great year!!!

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