Michael Williams-Stark is like many people who want to run – INJURY-FREE. He starts out in ‘coffins’ (running shoes) and, basically, RUNS! Of course, he has no idea HOW to run safely, efficiently and powerfully due to the fact that NOBODY has taught him how to do so. The resultant litany of what I call ‘avoidable running injuries’ is inevitable. From there, Michael (and most others) chases the proverbial treatment- rehabilitation route with the time-honored recommendation of ‘custom’ orthotics, motion control ‘coffins’ and on-going therapy. Thousands of dollars later and a few years down the road, Michael decides “enough” and he searches out barefoot running coaches in the Toronto, Canada area. Lo and behold, up pops yours truly and the rest is, as they say, history!
Michael and I met for an initial training session this week. The goal was to assess and transform him to a quiet, safe, Squat-Scoot barefoot runner. As you can see from the photos below, he presented with totally collapsed arches, valgus rotation, tibial anterior rotation, asymmetry at the hips (with the left leg a full 1/2″ shorter than the right) and total flexor posture mode – and this is with custom orthotics! Needless to say, it is no wonder that Michael has foot, knee, hip and low back pain when standing let alone running.After taking Michael through my series of left hip unlocking drills, his legs presented as symmetrical and his left hip area (muscles, tendons and ligaments) loosened up significantly. This was a revelation to Michael, convincing him that injury-free running was indeed possible.I next put Michael into the Barefoot-Science inserts to activate his running muscle chain from the feet up. Within 300 steps, his arms lined up at his sides, his shoulders pulled back, his gluteal muscles activated, he went out of flexor into extensor mode (less stress on his back, hips and knees) and he walked upright and balanced with no tibial anterior rotation. Michael could scarcely believe the changes.I next had Michael adapt my falling forward and catch technique whilst bracing the whole core (from mid-chest to mid-thigh) in bare feet. This was the watershed moment when quiet, tight, light, compact and forward running evolved for him – with NO PAIN! You can see the impact points of the feet, improved alignment of his body and the symmetry of the hips and knees.Finally, he finished with a quick-paced run in the ‘slippers’ with the Barefoot-Science inserts in place. This was after we removed his ‘custom’ orthotics (that Michael said made his feet feel weak and as if there were cast in cement!). Again, he ran almost as well as when he was barefoot – squared up, light & driving forward with NO PAIN.After our 1 hour session, Michael was transformed into a smooth, quiet, efficient, Squat-Scoot runner. His work toward total injury-free barefoot running is only beginning BUT the future is indeed bright! This is simply another example of how I assess, re-align and shift injured, frustrated runners into happy, injury-free squat-scooters who can get back to what makes them happy!