I came to the realization recently that after posting almost 300 blogs over the years, I have NEVER posted a summary of my key training tips for injury-free running – barefoot or otherwise. As all of you know who follow my blog regularly, I have NO time for ‘coffins’ (running shoes) of any stripe or style. Putting so much resistance between the power source (arches of the feet) and Mother Earth quite simply makes NO sense to me. As a result, I encourage ALL of my clients and readers to go barefoot as much as possible (if not ALL of the time) throughout their day. Of course, only a small percentage actually RUN barefoot BUT many DO go barefoot frequently enough to reap the many benefits.
I will now list for you my key training tips to make it injury-free running easier:
- you must check the body’s symmetry (leg length discrepancy). If you present with one leg longer than the other, there are 2 exercises that, if you do them daily, will put you into perfect symmetry (thus reducing your risk of imbalance injuries) – see photos #2 & # below2. I next check for balance by having my clients stand on 1 leg with eyes closed – on the ground or a Bosu Ball. The goal is to hold the position for at least 1 minute on each leg. This indicates good total body muscle activation, alignment and squaring up3. hip drops and 1/2 squats from a step help strengthen the gluteal muscles along with the feet and calf muscles. The drills also help align the body’s key running joints (ankles, knees, hips, shoulders) to prevent uneven landing and the resultant ‘itis’ injuries so common to runners4. the 100 minor and major running on the spot drills force you to land in the same spot consistently – lightly and in perfect alignment. Otherwise, you end up ‘traveling’ off your starting spot – indicating a lack of gluteal activation and sequential muscle firing from the feet up. Perfecting this helps prevent hip dropping and knee collapsing, both of which lead to severe avoidable ‘itis’ injuries5. I next introduce my fall forward drill that locks in my Squat-Scoot style of mid-foot, forward running. The keys are staying tight (through the WHOLE core), light (NO noise when landing), compact (low to the ground) and forward (driving from the knees and arms, pawing back from the drive phase with the legs and flicking from the heels). Mastering this literally GUARANTEES injury-free, efficient and powerful runningI can guarantee that if you implement the above procedure to your running preparation, avoidable ‘itis’ injuries will be a thing of the past – for ALL of you!