#Bracing Our Kids?? What the HELL are we Thinking?? #InjuryFreeRunning #Barefoot:

I seldom lose my temper no matter what the circumstances. Last Friday was the exception to the rule. In a meeting with one of my customers in the chemical business, we started discussing her son and his feet problems. I know – how in God’s name did we go from chemicals to kids’ feet, you are wanton to ask?? Renata (my customer) saw me wearing the Vibram Five Fingers which led to questions about “why do you wear those? What’s the benefit?” and so on. We discussed the problem most people have with ‘dead’ feet that lead to sore knees, hips and back. I then showed her my Barefoot-Science inserts and explained how they actually exercise and strengthen the feet (see photo below).bareffotsci3

That led to Renata telling me about her almost 6 year old son, Jacob, and his foot-leg-hip problems. To make a long story short, she said he has not just flat feet but CONVEX feet and is unable to walk and run without his knees collapsing in. He has pain in his knees and hips and finds it difficult to run. Otherwise, he’s a healthy, active lad. I told Renata that I could help fix Jacob’s challenges but asked her first what, if anything, was being done to help him.

This is where the coach lost his cool. Renata explained that 1 year ago their doctor said “this is the way his feet are – there’s nothing you can do to change that. I will order him orthotics. Put them in and see what happens. Also, do NOT let him go around barefoot. That will only cause him more pain”. Remember…this is a FIVE YEAR OLD boy!! I tried to bite my tongue but simply could not let this go by unaddressed. I explained to Renata that the combination of orthotics AND standard kids’ ‘coffins’ (shoes) will NEVER fix Jacob – that is true. To say he is destined to remain like that for the rest of his life is a CRIME. I set up an appointment to meet Renata and Jacob at Form & Function – the High Performance Centre in Mississauga, Canada – where I train my clients.

I first determined that Jacob indeed had convex feet. His soles were beyond flat with NO activation and strength. In his ‘coffins’ and orthotics, he could not walk without his feet collapsing inward and he showed severe signs of anterior tibial rotation – an indication of ‘dead’ feet. When running in his ‘coffins’, his left hip dropped and his knees hit together, again indicators of ‘dead’ feet, no gluteal muscle activation and locked up joints. Indeed, he was locked up in the left hip especially, thus showing his left leg shorter than his right (see photo below). Jacob 4I immediately put Jacob through my series of left hip unlocking exercises with his mother’s support. These included the left hip thrust (see photo below),Jacob 2the double knee rotation whilst lying on his back, the single knee pull to each side whilst lying on his back and the single leg swing low and up to the opposite hand whilst lying on his back (see photo below).Jacob 3After only 6 minutes of the exercises, I tested his left hip flexibility and leg length discrepancy. Low and behold, he was symmetrical (his legs showed as the same length)Jacob 1, balanced and much more flexible (see photo below). I then introduced the children’s Barefoot-Science inserts (refer back to photo above) into Jacob’s ‘coffins’ after determining that he had NO upper body strength whilst wearing his ‘coffins’ and orthotics. After walking for 300 steps with Level 1 of 4 of the Barefoot-Science system, Jacob showed:

  • a dramatic increase in upper body strength
  • a more upright posture with his hands behind his mid-line, head in line over his neck and feet straight
  • an ability to walk without his feet collapsing in and his left hip dropping
  • an ability to run straight, fast and balanced with NO pain

This all in a matter of minutes!! Jacob’s mother asked “how did you do that?? I’ve wasted hours of my son’s life getting no results. In less than 1 hour, you’ve fixed him!” Jacob kept saying “I feel no pain, Mom! I barely notice the inserts.” He then proceeded to run all over the gym laughing and having a grand time hanging with the heavy weight lifters!

I come back to the title of this blog – “What The HELL are we Thinking??” – when we put our kids in orthotics, keep them in ‘coffins’ and allow the medical community to encourage the process. It simply pisses me off to even think of the long term damage we’re doing to a whole generation of our kids. Come on, now, people, if you don’t know how to activate your kids from the feet up, contact me and I’ll guide you along as I’ve done for so many – including young Jacob and his mom, Renata!! Oh…and keep them the HELL barefoot as often as possible IF you want to keep them strong and activated from the feet up.

coach Jeff

Contact coach Jeff directly at coach@naturalrunning.ca or http://www.naturalrunning.ca

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