Isometric Range of Motion Exercises to Support Barefoot Running



One of the major problems facing my runners is upper body fatigue sabotaging distance running performance. It’s a pet peeve of mine to see my runners dropping their arms, shaking them out and/or rotating their shoulders. These are all signs to me that they have NOT been doing their upper body fatigue tolerance exercises. In order to run free and strong over distances beyond 15 kms., you better not fatigue in the upper body. Your shoulders lead your arms, your arms lead your legs, your legs determine your finish…! It’s as simple as that.

Due to my belief in the importance of stable, quiet head, neck, shoulders and chest and powerfully driving arms kept in the ‘handshake’ position, I put together the following circuit. I call it Isometric Range of Motion. This basically means holding a ‘muscle flexed and held’ (Isometric) position for a set number of seconds then repeating the action from a range of different angles (Range of Motion). I have developed a number of such circuits. The following is one of them:


1.  push-ups leaning against a bench or chair with feet on the floor. Slowly lower the upper body 3 to 4 inches and hold the new position for a 5 count. You MUST keep the core tight and the body in perfect alignment. Repeat this at a total of 5 positions until your chest is almost touching the support

2.  repeat this as you straighten up to the start position. That completes 1 cycle

3.  switch to a tricep dip position the the hands resting on the side of a bench or chair. The fingers should be pointing forward. Repeat the cycle as per the push-up exercise. This completes the 2nd cycle.


4.  repeat the push-up and tricep dip exercise with one leg off the ground. Repeat this with the other leg off the ground

5. standing in a running position, hold yourself totally braced. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat with the other leg leading

6. running simulation drill. The Isometric part is holding yourself in a braced, compact running position. The Range of Motion part is the active arm swing that locks in the proper ‘handshake’ drive phase. Do this for 60 seconds

Do these 2-3 times per week and try to fit in 2 to 3 circuits. You will notice a HUGE improvement in your ability to run lighter, longer and with less fatigue BAREFOOT. After all, the key to running SAFELY barefoot is CARESSING the running surface whilst staving off the downward pull of gravity.

Coach Jeff

Don’t forget to register for the MADD 5 km road race & breakfast on Sunday, June 9 at J.C. Saddington Park in Port Credit, Ontarion, Canada


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