Foot Slapping in the Vibram FiveFingers

The single biggest issue I have with runners who venture out in the Vibram FiveFingers (especially including those in MY clinics) is the propensity to FOOT SLAP!!

As more & more runners shift to the FFs (&, to a lesser extent, other so-called ‘minimalist’ footwear), I notice the incessant ‘slapping’ of the feet on the ground. This literally sends me into orbit – there is NO excuse for allowing the feet to slap. I instantly envision stress fractures, ‘itis’ injuries, bone spurs, IT-Band issues etc. Of course, without the ‘safety net’ provided by the overtly cushioned running shoe ‘coffin’, continuing to slap the road NEVER ends well.

Gravity is generally  our friend BUT it’s  a runner’s worst enemy. If you give in to the forces of gravity when running in the FFs (& continually SLAP), you WILL suffer a rather debilitating injury. A few of my runners are just recovering from foot stress fractures due to the above. They did not follow my normal protocol for making the transition- thus, a negative result.

My runners now follow a specific protocol to avoid slapping in the FFs:

* bare-foot gym training that involves 1-legged balancing, hopping & running forward, backward, side to side, side to side crossover, angled, squat hops, sumo squats etc. for 60 to 75 mins once per week

* bare-foot hill training that involves forward crossover running up & downhill, angled 1-legged hopping side to side & forward/backward, fast-paced cadence work up & downhill etc.  for 50 to 55 mins once per week

* bare-foot  1 km runs on a variety of surfaces once per week that focus on NO SLAPPING. Once they can do that, we move to 2 kms etc.

Following this as a regular routine has resulted in a ZERO injury rate for my Vibram FF, minimalist & bare-foot runners. Mix this into your routine & join the FF ‘NO FOOT SLAPPING injury-free running club!

 

coach Jeff

 

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2 thoughts on “Foot Slapping in the Vibram FiveFingers

  1. While you stress you shouldn’t slap, what can we do to stop slapping other than the exercises? In other words, what is it about our form that is causing the slap?

    1. The main thing is to BRACE the whole core (mid chest to mid thigh) CONSTANTLY whilst running. Also, keep knees bent always with centre of gravity as LOW to the ground as possible. Finally, you MUST visualize suspending yourself vs. the downward pull of gravity (a magic carpet ride!) – in other words, you actually CARESS the running surface & push off powerfully forward – almost a grazing action.If it sounds difficult, well, it IS exceedingly so. Once you perfect this ‘squat/scoot’ technique, though, you’ll NEVER get injured running … & you’ll get faster for longer distances!The key downfall in form that causes ‘slapping’ (&, ultimately, injury) is ‘letting go to gravity’ – giving in to the natural downward forces that make us lazy. It’s so much easier to do this than to ‘brace & hold the hell on’!!

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