Over my rather extensive career as a coach and sports conditioning trainer of elite athletes and weekend warriors, one physical challenge has always presented itself. It has taken me the better part of 20 years to not only recognize the challenge but introduce ways to overcome it.
What is the challenge, you ask?
It’s the consistent lack of proprioceptive neuromuscular firing via sensory activity from the feet to the running muscles. In turn, the critically important gluteal muscles fail to engage, resulting in balance, stability, power and performance degradation.
It became clear to me after about 10 years in the coaching/training business that deadening of the feet was the main culprit relative to the aforementioned.
How does this happen?
Quite simply, by wearing ANYTHING on your feet (from ‘coffins’ or shoes to so-called ‘minimalist’ sandals, shoes or the like to socks), you eliminate the sensory activation process from the ground to the feet and, ultimately, through the musculature of the body. Without this, it is impossible to ‘square up’, centre and balance the body during any type of physical activity. From there, it is only a matter of time before the avoidable ‘itis’ (tendonitis, fasciitis etc.) injuries appear. The resultant decrease in athletic performance (especially in the loss of explosive power) is a constant source of concern for the athlete and team.
Most of the athletes I train come to me with no idea how to activate their gluteal muscles – the key drivers of proper running action. It’s like running a car on fumes. Thus, I spend an inordinate amount of timing teaching them how to do so.
Part of the process goes as follows:
- barefoot on Mother Earth. This involves standing, walking and slow running on natural surfaces (grass, dirt, stones, rocky trails) not asphalt, concrete or other human-made material. This provides a better connectivity and positive energy flow from the feet through the whole body
- barefoot drills on Mother Earth. This involves running on the spot whilst flicking the heels, balancing on 1 leg whilst rising up and down on the toes, light hopping on the spot
- barefoot running on Mother Earth. As my clients get stronger from the feet up, I have them run forward, backward, side to side over different natural surfaces for no more than 40 to 50 metres. This provides direct proprioceptive activation from the feet through the essential running muscles IN PROPER SEQUENCE
- Barefoot Science inserts into every pair of shoes worn by my clients. Experience tells me that virtually NONE of my clients will actually run or compete in their sport barefoot. Even though it’s the safest, most efficient and powerful way to move, they simply will NOT do it. Having said that, discovering the Barefoot Science insert foot strengthening system revolutionized how I work with my clients. I finally had a product that fully activated the body from the feet up (including the usually flaccid gluteal muscles), fixed virtually ALL ‘itis’ injury problems, replaced the bracing action of orthotics (where feet are essentially placed in a deadening cast-like position) AND improved the overall performance of my clients…for about 1/10th the cost of an orthotic
By incorporating the above 5 steps into your life, the days of flaccid gluteals and avoidable ‘itis’ injuries will be things of the past. All that it takes is for YOU to get with the programme!!