What is the “Natural Method”? #Barefoot #Running #Training

 

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My Team Over The Top (TOTT) summer clinic follows a different format than my focused fall and winter running clinics.

I introduce the Natural Method of exercising and conditioning. This basically involves using our surroundings outdoors (baseball and soccer fields, playgrounds, marshes, natural hills and bush trails) and our body weight against gravity indoors – no free weights, no exercise machines, no ropes and  no pulleys.

Now that we are half way through my summer session, I thought it would be cool to blog about the format and include pictures of my TOTTers in action.

The reasoning behind training the Natural Method way is that in our day to day lives, we never encounter weights and bars that we must lift over our heads. We never climb onto a machine and run on the spot. You get the idea. We DO get into situations that require sprinting to catch a bus, lifting a bag of groceries from an awkward angle, hanging from a tree branch and so on.

It only makes sense to put your body in these situations under physical stress and see how you respond.

My Team Over The Top slogan means that if you BELIEVE in yourself, you WILL achieve.

The Natural Method of Training demands that you believe in your ability to complete natural movements repeatedly. My focus on barefoot running is reflected in the website.

 

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The following will give you a bird’s eye view into one of my summer sessions:

  • we start with extensor chain activation and pelvic-hip release. These are important to balance the focus on flexor chain action that dominates most of our movements. Creating a balance helps improve posture and symmetry for the drills that follow

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  • we then shift to stability ball exercises force you to activate various smaller support muscles from odd angles. These are great for injury prevention, range of motion development and core activation

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  • next on the agenda is change of plane running. Falling to the floor forward, backward and side to side whilst running on my whistle simulates the inadvertent tripping or stumbling that happens to all of us. This teaches you how to fall, protect yourself, get back up and carry on

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  • we then move to open field varied running movements. These include leaping, lunging, crossovers, angled, low side to side. Doing these regularly prepares you for those times when you have to change direction suddenly when running after your child or playing a pick-up game with friends

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  • mixing in free-wheel running through grandstands – you can use any natural steps as well – helps improve reaction time, agility, balance and leg power

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  • moving on to fence free-lancing improves your ability to hop over obstacles and pull yourself up powerfully to escape a situation or rescue someone from danger. Balance is also important

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  • the next challenge is barefoot running over varied terrain and hills. You will notice my TOTTers never climb or descend a hill straight on. They go up and down sideways, crossing over the feet, angled etc. This develops the whole lower part of the body to handle any unnatural situation that may cause severe injury or worse

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  • we then either climb through a tree or up and down it, depending on what tree happens to appear before us. If ever in a situation where escape from fire, falling branches or worse, knowing you can climb out of danger is comforting

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  • the picnic table climb and weave is NOT something you would do at a family gathering. Having said that, the ability to quickly and safely climb over different levels of obstacles pays off in all types of daily activities. Reactivity is key

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  • change of plane running through a sand pit is one of the most difficult things to do BUT the most effective at building confidence in your ability to fight through fatigue no matter what is happening around you

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  • we usually finish with a series of high bar and rings drills. These can be found in virtually any playground in your neighbourhood or you can use low-hanging tree branches and vines. You will note the TOTT members use various means to pull themselves up and swing themselves forward and up. This is the best overall series of exercises to develop all aspects of natural fitness

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Do yourself a favour and go for a Natural Method run barefoot – experience the utter joy of pain-free, total body activation that assists you in all areas of your life!

coach Jeff

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3 thoughts on “What is the “Natural Method”? #Barefoot #Running #Training

  1. Besides preventing injury,barefoot exercises add variety, fun to training and enhances the feel good factor.My husband regularly does a 19k home-work commute in homemade sandals. Great tips.

  2. Yes,I agree that many running injuries can be avoided.We are training for a trail race in November.Our kids and I are doing the 11k and my hubby twice the distance. Summer here and it’s great for any outdoors activities.

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