#CoachJeff in #BarefootRunning Paradise of #MedwayHeritageForest:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 broke as a spectacular fall day in London, Ontario, Canada. Little did I know that my barefoot run would bring me close to Nirvana and God’s kingdom on earth! I headed from home with no expectations other than a goal of SAFELY reaching Western University along the Medway Creek trail system and returning home the same way.

With that in mind, I ventured onto the path and into a spectacular sunrise that literally stopped me in my barefoot running ‘tracks’! There was an almost eerie silence that I found ethereal in nature – nohumans, the odd chipmunk, no God-awful ear plugs pumping who knows what into my brain. Just me, God and Nature doing our thing!! Of course, there is a path of sorts that has been created over many years by walkers, joggers, cyclists and animals. Having said that, much of it is natural and a totally stimulating running environment for bare-footers. As I proceeded along the trail (not certain I was on the CORRECT one), I remember a neighbour telling me “keep the creek on your left side and you will get to the university”. Easier said than done, as I found out! There are sections where the ‘path’ takes you inland with many off-shoots that I found tempting BUT sensed they were NOT the correct paths. As I got deeper into the bush, there

before my eyes was the sign of humans ‘hands’ at work. The Thames Valley Conservation Authority has constructed beautiful bridges over creek tributaries and steps leading up the steepest sections of the trail (see photos above). This, as I have been told, has been done to make the system more user friendly for those of all ages. Of course, I was NOT about to use them during the run – it was me gliding through the creek and up the sides of the hills. A daunting challenge but exhilarating nonetheless!

Breathtaking beauty was all around me- from the steep cliffs to the radiant waters of the Medway Creek (with the sun reflecting off the surface at every turn).

One section of the trail was so narrow and over-grown that I figured “this is it. I’m lost now!”.As it turned out, I was simply led into another section of panoramic beauty along the creek bed. You can see the reflection of the trees and the build-up of fallen natural debris – creating a haven for snapping turtles, beaver and the like!

From there, I came across a series of low rapids that added to the natural beauty of the trails. The sound of the water was soothing yet a warning to stay a safe distance…just in case!!

Having negotiated my way over fallen trees and along brush-covered trail,

I finally emerged on the western edge of Western University (near Saugeen-Maitland residences, to be precise!). It was rather disappointing to encounter humans and the ‘human touch’ of pavement, concrete buildings and unnatural ‘noise’. The only thing to do was turn back into nature and get swallowed up in the serenity! This is precisely what I did with gusto.

The way back seemed totally different – more densely wooded, steeper drop-offs, less well-marked trails…I wrote this off to it being my first run through the area and a subtle brain freeze. I kept

reminding myself “now, keep the creek on your RIGHT side”. This again was a challenge but did keep me on course for home. As I reached the man-made stairwell,  I will admit that the sheer number of steps and pitch of the terrain from the top down was impressive AND intimidating. I still ran down the side of the cliff! Would you expect anything different???

I finally reached my new ‘swimming pool’ – my reward for a run well done! I slipped on my Sockwas and gingerly entered the creek at the base of a rocky path. It was well worth the effort!I then took one last shot of the sun shining through the forest and spent a few moments locking in the feeling of runners’ Nirvana and the wonders of God’s way.Everyone should be so blessed…

coach Jeff



#WesternUniversity #HallofFameMember Attempts Comeback with #CoachJeff:

Way back in the day (don’t you just LOVE that phrase???) – 1977, to be precise – I had the privilege of meeting, getting to know as a friend AND training with Jed Chinneck. It turned out that Jed was not only a law student at Western but also one of Canada’s premier Cross Country and middle distance track runners. He is also a member of Western’s Athletic Hall of Fame – he was that good! Since I was ALWAYS hanging around the Physical Education complex, Jed and I connected. Somehow, we ended up going for a few training runs through the trails and bush surrounding the university. As a rugby player, I wasn’t much of a runner BUT I think Jed enjoyed my company…and the fact that I would run over any terrain. Most likely, he used the runs with me as ‘recovery efforts’!!

At any rate, fast forward to 2017 and my move to London, Ontario. Who happens to be our lawyer handling the real estate transaction? None other than one Mr. Jed Chinneck. Needless to say, it was quite a reunion after 37 years!! Beyond the business of closing our home purchase, Jed mentioned that he could no longer run due to severe left knee problems. When I heard this, it took my breath away. Jed not being able to run was tantamount to me not being able to swim in the Medway Creek!!! Of course, I told him “spend 1 hour working with me and I’ll have you running pain-free again AND running with me”. Jed took me up on this – now, I had to deliver. Me and my big mouth…

Jed presented his MRI history to me dating back to 2006 with a follow-up in 2012. Oh, my, his left knee IS a bit of a mess. To summarize:

  1. a horizontal tear in the posterior horn of the medial meniscus (in other words, debilitating but NOT incapacitating)
  2. mild osteoarthritis in the medial femoral-tibial compartment of the knee (99% of us at a certain age have something similar)
  3. cartilage thinning in the medial compartment of the left knee (again quite common in physically active people)
  4. signs of a previous injury to the area with related functional deterioration

RESULT – instant left knee pain upon running.

Jed is slightly bow-legged which has become worse with age. Along with that, he is rotating down and across from the left side. Both situations put added stress on the medial side of his problematic left knee. Further, when I tested his symmetry, the leg leg presented shorter. I proceeded to put him through the SkiX  and left hip opening drills along with my unlocking exercises.

This at least got Jed symmetrical (see below) so that I could introduce him to my Squat-Scoot method of safe running.I also introduced him to the tension band toes inward IT-Band strengthening drill. This takes pressure off the medial compartment of the knees during the running action – precisely what was needed to get Jed running pain-free again.Then, I put Jed on Level 1 of the Health Bridges to test his back muscle-tendon-ligament range of motion. As you can see below, I had to use a support roller for his head – he was that locked up.For baseline purposes,I had him progress to Level 3 of the Bridges. It was not pretty – he could barely lie back on the Bridge let along achieve even 50% range of motion. This indicates a complete flexor- dominant posture that precludes balanced, light running.I kept Jed on Level 1 for 6 minutes – time enough to at least partially release locked up muscles, tendons and ligaments in the lower-mid back areas. He noticed a significant improvement in balance and upright posture immediately.

It was then on to teaching Jed my Squat-Scoot method of tight, light, compact, forward running – first barefoot and then in his ‘coffins’ but with Barefoot-Science inserts (Plug #1 full length).

It took about 25 minutes of perfect practice for Jed to get onto the technique. Once he did, there was no turning back. I had him walk and then progress to running for no more than 10 metres at a time in his ‘coffins’ with the inserts in place.

For the first time in almost 20 years, Jed was at least able to run with NO pain. The goal now is to gradually increase the run distance whilst maintaining perfect technique, doing the unlocking and balancing drills daily AND keeping the Barefoot-Science inserts in all footwear.

There will be a follow-up session with Jed in 4-6 weeks at which time we will have a better handle on his ability to run again pain-free. It won’t be at Hall of Fame pace BUT it WILL be pain-free!!

coach Jeff


#CoachJeff Returns to Train Clients #InjuryFreeRunning #Barefoot:

Some of my long time private clients in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)wished to keep working with me even after the move to London, Ontario. Thus, I decided to set up a south Mississauga ‘special private training day’. My clients and I settled on Saturday, September 30 – a series of 1 hour sessions were booked throughout the day. The theme was “barefoot activation to maximize training results” no matter who the client and the specifics of the programme. The following is a synopsis of my training day, featuring highlights of each session.

I started with my paramedic client, Mark, at Form & Function training centre in Clarkson, Ontario. We worked through a sequence of actions simulating the challenges of Mark’s work that he had never done before. The goal, as usual, was to put him in uncomfortable settings where focused, calm resolve had to rule for him to succeed in the ‘rescue’ or ‘recovery’.

In the 1st sequence, Mark had to close his eyes whilst carrying a ‘medical kit’ over Bosu Balls without losing balance. He handled this rather easily before having to squeeze through a tire without hitting the sides (perceived sharp edges) and power lift another tire out of his path to the victims. After weaving around pylons and hopping over hurdles, Mark had rescue the ‘victim’, climb up the box step and down the ladder before returning for the 2nd of 3 ‘victims’. The sequence required him to use power, strength, endurance, flexibility, quickness and sense of feel with eyes closed. Going barefoot helps Mark react faster with less risk of injury when he is in safety boots on the job.

The other 2 sequences combined more of the same with a particular emphasis on Extensor chain muscle activation and balance during rescues.

Note the prone body position in the last photo above.Mark had eyes closed whilst locating the ‘victims’ and safely removing them from danger.

In the sequence of 5 photos above, every component of Mark’s physical and mental fitness on the job is brought into play. As I always say to him during drills like this, “calm your breathing, slow down your heart rate, narrow your focus to the setting and the victim and complete the assignment successfully”. It’s amazing how good Mark has become at doing just that!

Next came my barefoot running client who now spends 80% of her year in Florida, Michelle. Being away from training with me for such long intervals means that her ability to hold the Squat-Scoot technique of tight, light, compact, forward mid-foot running(especially important when running full-on barefoot) suffers. Having said that, she locked onto the process within 30 minutes of shadowing me and doing a series of activation drills. As you will notice in the shots below, she was moving in perfect harmony. My fall forward and catch drill formed the crux of our session to get Michelle back on track.

From there, it was off to the Port Credit SS track to work with Paula (who is just coming off her first pregnancy – young Henry is now just 6 months old) and Joe and Rebecca Leon (my father & daughter clients). Paula is gradually getting back into running shape and is a firm believer in the benefits of going barefoot virtually ALL of the time. Once she returns to work (as an engineer at Hydro One) in a few months, she supposedly HAS to wear ‘coffins’ of some sort. In the meantime, she AND Henry are always barefoot. Who knows? Maybe Paula will ‘rebel’ versus her bosses and cruise the office barefoot!!!

I started Paula back slowly with drills to lock in her balance and foot cadence (see photos below)

whilst she did a series of post-pregnancy specialized core stability exercises. I then graduated her to specific barefoot, synergistic muscle activation drills to protect her from needless ‘itis’ injuries as we increased her running. The end result was a strong, centered running action with no wasted motion, no pain and no ‘coffins’!!!In doing the eyes closed running on the spot drill with Joe, he still is rotating to his left and moving forward within the 1 minute drill. He is not as ‘off’ as earlier this summer but he still needs to work on balance over his feet. Once he and Rebecca were barefoot and doing the backward balancing drills, their form improved dramatically.

I then took them onto the crushed stone track wondering whether they could handle the rougher surface (they are not full-on barefoot runners). As you can see below, they adapted well, moving quickly, quietly and safely over the track.

I finally turned Joe lose on the infield with instructions to flick slightly from the heels and drive forward slightly with the knees. The end result was a powerful, efficient forward drive with NO pain and more ease of effort than normal for him. He was in perfect barefoot harmony!To finish off my day, I worked with my young Autistic client, Tej, back at Form & Function. Please note he also is full-on barefoot! Having just started high school, his colleagues have been getting into ‘strength’ training with weights. As such, Tej has been wanting me to show him a few strength exercises to compliment the running, balance and unlocking drills we normally focus on. I proceeded to show him how to lift kettle bells and use dumbbells for muscle activation. He also wanted to learn how to perform a chin-up…apparently, a few of his classmates can do these and Tej wants to join in. His comments started with “I couldn’t lift 45 pounds. I couldn’t even move my body weight in trying a chin-up. I couldn’t this and I couldn’t that…”!  I basically took the opposite tack…”yes, you CAN lift 45 pounds. Yes you CAN lift free weights. Yes you CAN at least do a partial chin up”! As you can see below, he did ALL of the above and MORE! 

This from a young lad battling numerous challenges who has been told what he CANNOT do far too often!! My next goal was to have Tej improve his ability to process more than one action simultaneously. This is a most difficult activity but essential for improving one’s overall physical prowess. After a few repetitions, Tej was able to balance on the Bosu Ball, track the bouncing ball AND catch it as he turned to the right or left of reached overhead. He actually amazed me with his progress after only 5 minutes of drills. We finished with a series of strength moves using progressively heavier balls combined with weighted tires lifted on and off steps. Tej once again caught on quickly and completed both drills well. His confidence and self-worth (according to his mom) are higher than ever before. My goal moving forward is to keep improving these components.

Of course, no trip back to my ‘hood’ would be complete without a swim in my personal ‘pool’ – Lake Ontario! Oh, how I miss doing THAT every day!! Medway Creek must suffice… 

Is going barefoot the answer for those who wish to run injury-free? Well, I certainly believe doing barefoot running DRILLS to protect the body from the ravages of gravity ARE the answer (100s of my clients are living testaments to THAT!). I’ll leave it up to the ‘scientists’ to prove me wrong!

coach Jeff



#CoachJeff’s New #InjuryFreeRunning #Barefoot ‘Paradise’!

Having survived Phase 1 of my move from Port Credit to London, Ontario, Canada, it took me no time at all to finding my new barefoot running trails AND ‘swimming pool’!! No – not another Great Lake to match my Lake Ontario ‘pool’ but at least fresh water close to our new home. After one day recovering from the chaos of the moving process, I headed out from ‘345’ to the Medway Heritage Park system in Sherwood Forest all of 5o metres from the front door! Sweet…!!!

It was a hot, humid morning – perfect for a tree-lined trail run into the creek valley. The initial section of the trail is lose stone covering a dirt path – ultra sharp stone – just what I needed to activate my feet.After a gradual decline, I hit the first of MANY inclines (above), indicating to me that intense hill training would also be at my back door.Of course,with each incline comes a rather steep decline over a combination of rough asphalt, sharp stones, and dirt paths inundated with huge roots, tree branches and logs – perfect barefoot running conditions!

As I climbed another section,along came my new friend, Paul Gill, age 74 and an avid trail walker. Originally a teacher from the Punjab region of Indian, Paul immigrated to Canada 45 years ago where he entered trade school, graduated as a tool & dye mechanic and worked for Magna Industries over 25 years before retiring. He has lived in our ‘new hood’ for 20 years and “loves it”! This made me feel more welcomed knowing that I had a neighbour who at least regularly walked the trails.Just to ensure that you know I ran the trails barefoot, you will notice my foot resting on the wood railing in the photo below. This took me to yet another path that I hoped would lead to the Medway Creek.Not quite BUT it DID lead me into a fantastic sunrise along a spectacular stretch of dirt trail with dense forest on either side. This being a naturally protected area, the giant trees that fall are left as ground cover. Of course, all I could think about was “what a GREAT natural method training ground”! I’ll take that on before the snow flies!

As I exited the area, the next section of trail FINALLY led me to a rocky drop-off to the edge of the Medway Creek. I took a few selfies just to give you a feel for the venue and why my new ‘pool’ is SO inviting!!

The above shot is downstream – I swam down to the natural ‘damn’ and back upstream to my starting point. Believe it or not, the water was just over my head for most of the 750 metres I covered. Not bad for a first ‘go’ at unknown waters. The good news?? No calamities for the old coach!

As you can see from the selfie above, I was no worse for wear. Of course, there was NOBODY else in swimming with me and those who saw me coming out of the creek simply shook their heads. From what I found out from neighbours later, the creek is considered “severely polluted – not even DOGS swim in it!”. Oh, well, after 29 years of swimming in Lake Ontario, how bad can it be in the Medway Creek? I guess only time will tell.

After running back to our street, I realized my mini-Bexhill training hill was right beside our house.The steeper hills are in the park system but this is a good alternative if the trails are too icy in winter. Can it get any better? Well, even though I DO miss the old ‘hood’, this isn’t too bad a replacement…thus far!

Future updates will be forthcoming. In the meantime, get barefoot as often as possible on different surfaces to keep your body activated and balanced.

coach Jeff

#CoachJeff Send-Off Parties a Pleasant Surprise:

Almost 30 years in Port Credit, Ontario, Canada came to an end for the old coach & family on Sunday, September 18, 2017. Upon completion of my 38th Terry Fox run in Port Credit (I always include the 12 kilometres I ran into London, Ontario, Canada with Terry as part of his support team during the Marathon of Hope), I hopped into the car and headed west – ironically, you guessed it…to London, Ontario, Canada!! Our new home in Sherwood Forest close to the Medway Creek awaited.

Having trained 100s of area residents over the decades, it was tough to say ‘goodbye’. Beyond that, I was well-entrenched in the local community affairs, volunteering 1000s of hours to our parish church, local ratepayers’ group, municipal political groups and Covenant House Toronto (Canada’s largest shelter for homeless youth). All this being said, it was time to move on. In my heart I know this is a good move BUT it will take a few months to adapt fully.

I was deeply humbled by the number of heartfelt send-offs that were organized by our neighbours, my Wednesday,  5:31 a.m. Bexhill/Rattray Marsh hill training buddies, my long-time T-Team circuit training gang, my Team Over The Top (TOTT) running clients AND, last but not least, my Saturday,  7:00 a.m. Southdown Strider LEGEND-FILLED RUNNING pals. I gathered shots from a couple of the events and wanted to share them with you.

Casey and family hosted my TOTT farewell party – it was a wonderful evening full of laughter and the ODD teary moment. Knowing you most likely will not see people you have trained for the better part of 15 years is tough. As you can see, though, all those in attendance enjoyed themselves immensely.Louise (above) whom I trained along with her son, Patrick (who could not attend), for the Mississauga Marathon (Patrick completed it as a 15 year old!), Rebecca (below), whom I trained from ages 12 through this winter for various races (including the Mississauga Marathon as a 15 year old!). You will notice David Harris (the bald dude directly behind Rebecca) who trained with me for 12 years and completed many marathons during those years, Alicia (whom I trained to successfully qualify and complete the Boston Marathon along with many other races), her husband, Wes, who also trained with me for many years and big Mike (below and Casey’s best friend!) who trained with me many years ago for races from 10 to 42.2 kilometres.Laurel (far right), Karen and Karen shared memories of training with me in various running clinics and successfully completing races such as the 30 kilometre Around The Bay and the Mississauga Marathon. My long-ago clinic member and friend, Judy, is seen pictured with Carole (one of my T-Team members, running clients and published author). The group shot below shows Michelle (my barefoot running client whom I still train privately) in the background with Paul (one of my private running clients and Natural Method Training members), the host, Casey (on the far right) and a few others enjoying a perfect summer evening.Of course, some of my favourite shots from the evening were of the ‘next generation of TOTTers’! The first 2 are

of Edison (age 31/2) who has actually run with me – his parents, Terry & Kimberly have trained with me for a number of years (and raced VERY well, I might add!) and Casey’s 5 year old son, Jack, whom I would have trained next year IF things stayed the same. Alas, it is not to be BUT I know they are 2 of the many of my clients’ off-spring who will get into running AND do very well.

My Southdown Strider running buddies organized a send-off like no other. The hosts (Joan and her husband, Andy) pictured below,opened their century-old home to a gathering of 25. Most of the group have been running with me on Saturday mornings form the Clarkson Tim Horton’s for the better part of20 years. The group itself formed in 1974 – if you can believe THAT – and one of the founders (Roger – age 80!) still runs regularly with us. He is on the far left of the photo below. Another of the early members, 79 year old Eddie, showed off our official Southdown Striders T-shirt whilst enjoying the festivities.The food was delicious and plentiful, the attendance of so many long-time running buddies whobecame special friends (such as Wally, Helga and Kelly pictured below) was appreciated and the

bantering back and forth amongst various members of the group was most definitely ‘over the top’! Of course, I was caught regaling Carole (photo above) with one of my many ‘tall tales’! Many of the gang shared stories training runs gone awry, races gone well and a future uncertain at best. Tommy(pictured in the foreground above) is, at age 77, STILL competing in 140.6 iMs. He is another of the many LEGENDS who belong to the Southdown Striders. The presentation of funny (the ‘nail in the coffin’ running shoes that, as a barefoot runner, I would NEVER wear!) to a beautiful certificate signed by my Strider buddies) was left to Don (best known as Kaa the Scout Leader) – our resident event coordinator.

My good friend, Andy, made a touching tribute to me and my idiosyncratic ways before presenting me with the signed certificate (see below). This was a rather emotional part of the evening for me – to say

the least. Even Oakley (Joan’s and Andy’s ‘best friend”) looked serious (see him front and centre in the photo 2 above)! Once THAT was out of the way, I dug into one of my favourite past times – eating ice cream cake layered in butterscotch sauce – the dessert of champions!!!

Even though all members of my various groups could not attend for various reasons, the events left a lasting impact on me. It has made leaving my home area NOT EASY but EASIER, knowing that I can always come back for a team run or training session with dear friends.

My final shot of the blog is with my best friend and 29 year running buddy, Rick – post final run in our driveway prior to my departure. Words cannot do justice to my feelings toward the ‘R-Man’ who is like a second brother to me. Of course, even though I run barefoot, the big man ALWAYS runs in coffins!!

As the words on my cake said, “May the wind always be at your back”. Stay in the moment, my friends. The next blog will feature an introduction to the Medway Heritage Park – my new ‘stomping grounds’!! Don’t miss it.

coach Jeff


#CoachJeff Fixes #PersonalBest #TeenTriathletes #InjuryFreeRunning #Barefoot:

I was approached a few weeks ago by the mother of 2 teenage daughters who  started training with an elite youth triathlon club last summer. She was concerned with the lack of focus on safe, efficient run technique as her girls’ mileage ramped up. I agreed to work with them – we set up a training session for last week. My goal was to get both girls moving tight, light, compact and forward using my Squat-Scoot technique along with barefoot running drills.I had trained the younger girl (Sabrina – on the right above) before in my T-Team circuit training programme but I had never trained either girl in proper run technique. I started by assessing their current run style and their ability to balance especially with eyes closed (proprioceptive).

You will notice from the photos above, even though the girls wear the barefoot-science inserts in their runners (which have helped with their posture and alignment), both have no idea how to controltheir bodies against gravity. As a result, both came to me suffering from knee pain (Sabrina – written off as Osgood-Schlatter’s) and hip pain (Arquelle). If you notice in the photos above, both girls over-rotate in the shoulders, cross their arms over the mid-line, drop at the hips, over-stride and lock out at the knees (slamming too far in front of the hips and too hard on impact) and flail out at the feet (almost over-pronating).

The following photos show both girls ending up significantly ahead of the pylons whilst running ‘on the spot’ with eyes closed for 60 seconds. It indicates too much activation in the flexor chain of muscles. This in turn puts too much stress on the ankles, hips and knees with each off-balance impact.

While we had a few laughs about the results (as you can see below), practicing to improve overall balance for running is no laughing matter!During the balancing on 1 leg with eyes closed drill, both girls could only hold the position for 3 to 6 seconds out of a 15 second per leg goal. This shows a severe lack of proprioceptive balance that in turn negatively impacts safe, balanced running.The good news is all of the flaws can be corrected.

I also had the girls do the deep squat drill where the goal is to get the buttocks well below the knees whilst keeping the feet flat on the floor. As you can see, Arquelle had trouble with this – indicating a lack of hip flexibility and pelvic symmetry that assists perfect balance.The bad news is that they all contribute to the perfect storm of avoidable ‘itis’ injuries. After checking the girls’ body symmetry (notice Arquelle’s imbalance below with the right leg showing shorter), I put them through my body unlocking protocol (which includes the SkiEx Functional Chain drill to activate the Extensor Chain of muscles and the Health Bridges) for her right hip, pelvic girdle and lower-mid back, she lined up perfectly. As you will notice, Mom

(Carole), who also trains with me, jumped in on the ‘fun’. These are critically important drills for ANYONE who wishes to be balanced and centered for safe, efficient physical activity.

After all of this, I got the girls barefoot doing my Squat-Scoot technique along with some foot, ankle, calf strengthening drills. After 15 minutes, they were running tight, light and balanced with NO pain. They were both amazed (Mom not so much as she already does run light and quick) with the transition. Now, it is a matter of perfect practice to lock in perfect technique!

For all of you who follow my blog, implement the above protocol (if you are not already doing so) to permit safe, efficient, powerful running with less effort…NOW!!!

coach Jeff

#CoachJeff uses #InjuryFreeRunning #Barefoot to Transform #EliteAthlete:

I was approached by one of my clients, Hatem McDadi, a few weeks ago about the possibility of working with his recently turned 13 year old daughter, India (an elite level ice hockey and boys’ baseball player as well as a sub-4 minute per kilometre runner). She had developed Achilles Tendinitis in both legs and Hatem felt I could help her with running technique, balance and injury prevention.I set up to train father and daughter for 2 reasons – to continue my work with Hatem and have him observe my transformation of India. I feel it is important for parents to observe me working with their children – they then more fully understand the process of creating an injury-free training protocol for their child. You should know that Hatem was an ATP touring tennis pro, a member of the Canadian Davis Cup team and a Canadian Men’s Champion from ages 16 to 24. I first trained him at age 15 in the All Canadian Tennis Academy. Thus, it is no fluke that India is also an elite athlete in many sports. He simply wants the best care for his daughter to reach her full potential.

Assessing India’s running style (in her Nike FreeRuns without Barefoot-Science inserts) showed a severe upper body rotation with a loping leg action plus left hip drop and flailing out of the left foot and turning in of the right foot. Her lack of body control is the main contributor to her Achilles Tendinitis.

When testing her ability to balance on 1 leg with eyes closed and to run on the spot for 60 seconds with eyes closed (testing her proprioceptive feedback), she could not hold the 1 legged balance position for more than 6 seconds on either leg (we use at least a 15 second hold as the norm)

and ended up moving 4 metres ahead of her starting point when running on the spot. She was shocked by this, thinking that she was remaining in the same spot for the full 60 seconds. This shows the dominance of her flexor chain  over her extensor chain of muscles. This in turn leads to imbalance upon running impact and resultant soft tissue injury.I explained that her lack of balance indicates a disconnect between her vestibular balance system in the brain and her proprioceptive feedback loop from the feet up the chain. This in turn affects her ability to protect the body from tendon irritation when running, jumping or any airborne action against gravity.

When testing her body symmetry, it turned out that her right leg presented almost 1/2′ shorter than the other. India immediately said “that must be why my hips are always sore”. Correct, my young friend!The unlocking process was next. India was shocked by how good she felt after I unlocked her hips, inner and outer thigh muscles, lower back and abdominal cavity using the Functional Chain Trainer, Health Bridges and manual manipulation. She was on her way to safe, efficient movement!

Upon retesting her body symmetry, she lined up perfectly – both feet level and hips also much looser! My goal was to have her learn my Squat-Scoot technique of tight, light, compact, forward running before we did the outdoor running drills. The end result, hopefully, would be a maintenance of her symmetrical body position.The eccentric loading exercises were included next to give India a protocol that she can do at home daily on her own time to help fix her Achilles Tendonitis issues. This was combined with a series of balancing drills all done barefoot.to help India improve her alignment, balance and muscle sequence firing. This then teaches her to keep the feet, ankles, knees, hips, back and shoulders fully in line by engaging her gluteal and leg muscles consistently. The action then transfers to her running, jumping, skating and turning actions.

We then ventured out to the hills for specific drills – my goal being a total transformation of India to safe, efficient, powerful running under control. The technical work centered around teaching India how to control her body when running up and down hill – especially important when she races cross-country. It became obvious that no coach had shown her techniques to control the effects of gravity when running period – let alone on hills.

It became obvious that India had never been taught how to square up her hips when running, especially uphill. As you can she, she turns her hip UP the hill instead of remaining square and balanced. Once I showed her how to activate the synergistic running muscles to support her main running muscles, she moved efficiently and with power. Being an elite athlete, she was a quick study, picking up the nuances of my technical drills within a few repeats.

Notice that Hatem is wearing my Sockwas with his barefoot-science inserts instead of his stiff, deadening ‘coffins’. He immediately moved quieter, smoother and faster with less effort throughout the drills. From there, he ordered a set of Sockwas from my colleague, David Zasloff. Beautiful!

The series of hill drills up and down that followed were specific to total body balance AND learning how to safely control hill running. Both Hatem and India caught on quickly – with India leading the charge!! She quite simply has an amazing engine capacity that translates into elite performance in many sports. After 40 minutes of intense drills (crossovers, 1-legged hopping, backwards, side-to-side, weaving and straight up and down), we headed back to the gym.

If you look carefully, it will become obvious that ‘like father, like daughter’. It is no accident that India is an elite athlete. The intense focus and athletic talent have been transferred from father to daughter. Notice the total commitment to perfect practice in the photos above and below.

As you can see below, India was starting to fatigue (her head dropped to the right shoulder and her stride became too long (creating a braking action that was slowing her down and jamming her hips).

Once corrected, she flew uphill in perfect form (see below) – burying her dad in the process!!!

Just how difficult are the drills? Notice the intense look on India’s face below. There is simply nowhere to hide when doing the hill drill training BUT the positive results are well worth it.

A simple reminder to fire from her gluteus maximus and minimus doing the drills below allowed India to square up her hips and run balanced to the top – safe and injury-free.

Upon returning to the gym, I checked India’s body symmetry and, lo and behold, she was perfectly level. This meant that she held a balanced, symmetrical body position for the majority of our session. Further, we checked the pain level in her Achilles tendons and it was significantly reduced, much to her surprise. Once I get her into the barefoot-science inserts, her Achilles Tendonitis will disappear within a few weeks.In summary, as parents, you owe it to your children to ensure they know HOW to protect their bodies from gravity and avoidable soft tissue injury – that can limit their involvement in sports and, worse, turn them off from physical activity. Make sure that their coaches and trainers incorporate the things I do as highlighted above…or find ones who do so!!!

coach Jeff