Hello all! Happy Spring!
I just changed something in my running that had such a profound change for me, that I wanted to see if runners here ever had the same thing happen:
Since the snows have left and I put my Yak Traks away, I started running more on the trail near my house. I had occasionally been getting shin pain, but couldn't figure out why. I had been trying to think about ( focusing on) the eccentric landing of the foot in the mid-foot strike...my thinking came from when you do a plyometric jump onto a box and land as softly as you can...I thought that you could do the same thing for the foot strike, thereby smoothing out the landing and lessening the impact to the ground as well as the up and down bounce. I also run with a 168bpm cadence...after starting with Eric's beginning run program a few years ago, has never varied much. Someone mentioned to me the focus of "peeling the heel" off the ground in the back, so I tried it, and immediately my strike evened out so much that I couldn't hear it touching the ground. Before, when I was focusing on the mid-foot, I think I was holding tension in the mid-foot, which caused the occasional shin pain. I am guessing that because it probably is impossible to constantly hold tension in the mid-foot during a long run, that the longer I ran, the more a couldn't hold the tension. I guess it all makes sense. It made me think of how everyone talks about mid-foot striking as being something to aim for, but that it might not be wholly possible to make it happen intellectually. I had a friend who was heel striking, and getting a sore achillies tendon all the time. She started running at a higher cadence, and the pain went away...but then it returned because she was trying to think about landing on the mid-foot, and instead was landing on her fore-foot, not letting her heel touch the ground...like she was trying to run by tip-toeing along. She thought that she wasn't supposed to let her heel land on the ground at all.
1) Does a high cadence lessen the actual possibility of heel striking?
2) Does thinking about doing a mid-foot strike work, or is it impossible?
I am wondering if it is even possible to "will" oneself to mid-foot strike. Of course with minimalist shoes, it is pretty hard to heel strike, since most of us are used to having a raised heel. It feels weird running without a heel (or running with a lessened heel), and in itself should be approached slowly, as Eric says...at first maybe looked at as a foot strengthening tool.
I am sorry if this topic tends to flip-flop...it has been bothering me for years (or some version), but I think I wasn't able to figure out the question until I reached an answer. Comments/replies would be heartily appreciated!
I think the reason I didn't get injured while tensioning my mid-foot was because I have been using Eric's wobble/balance board regularly...it certainly has a great effect on mid-foot/arch strengthening.
My unqualified thoughts... I've seen some pretty high cadence heel-strikers, and trying to force specific prescribed cadence helped aggravate lower back problems that I brought with me into running and lost me much of last summer's racing season while re-balancing with a sports medicine doctor.
I think Eric's response to my recent question (or at least my interpretation of his response) was dead on - do the drills and exercises and things such as form and cadence will happen on their own once you develop a feel for what is right for you.
I've been "willing" myself to mid-foot strike, and feel that I do so - but my shoes tell me otherwise. I stumbled onto a fun in-run drill yesterday which seemed to make a difference - for the first and last mile of my run, I concentrated on exaggerated high knee lifts and "hopping" off of each foot. My feet planted much more under my body than normal, with a natural mid-foot strike.
Good news is that I naturally maintained the better form for the middle miles. Bad news is that I used some new muscles 2 days before a race...
As for seeing what kind of striker you are, the new iPhone 5s can take slow motion video at 120 frames per second...if you have one, or can borrow a friend's, you should be able to see how you are landing. I haven't done it myself yet, but I plan to do it shortly...best done at a track...
You might want to try foam rolling those new muscles...it might help...
John I would always defer to Eric for this but as Jeffrey said "here's my unqualified thoughts"
I am the living, breathing embodiment of Eric's perscriptive programs and philosophies, I can categorically say he has changed my life. Now I know that may seem grandiose and over the top but in my opinion the statement stands on it's own merit, because it works and I don't think just for me. If you do the drills, strengthen your feet, legs and core, you can hold correct form longer and you begin to naturally run with a fore-foot strike especially in minimalist shoes. It then becomes the natural way you run, now I'm not perfect, far from it but from where I've come from, it has amazed me. You pose the question "Does a high cadence lessen the actual possibility of heel striking" In my experiance, running with a fore-foot strike is not conditional on speed or cadence but is a result of awareness, correct form and cadence comes naturally.
It takes dedication, focus, time and an understanding that slowly, slowly it will happen with the pay off being pain free, injury free running. I am currently doing phase 2, week 1 of the Strategic Running Foundation and for the past 12 weeks of phase 1, I've run as per the foundation outlined in TCI, 6 days a week, I could never have done that before.
As I have documented in this place before, for 13 years I did not run, I was told not to run, I was told I should not run, I was told I could not run, I was told never ever again should I run because ....................... I have flat feet, weak feet, poor feet, injured and injury prone feet, that the ponding was no good for my feet, legs and hips and that I need expensive othotics in every pair of shoes I own just so I could walk. And yes I did have weak feet, poor feet, injured and injury prone feet because funnily enough they were WEAK, AND POOR AND INJURY PRONE, as up until then I had not trained properly, run properly or used the correct shoes.
While running one weekend I tore the tendon that would form the arch of my foot, if I had one, due to, I now know, poor foot strike and form, weak feet, the wrong shoes and inefficient training. The path back to running was a winding one and a long story, but the short version is. I went to a different orthodisist about 3 years ago who said he could get me running again with his orthotics, which he did. Then as I tried to improve and educate myself I found Born To Run and then Eric and "The Cool Impossible" which has changed everything for me, in fact, I'm now me again, A RUNNER. Through Eric's philosophy's and training methods, I am transitioning into the B2R trail shoes, as I'm transitioning out of my orthotics, my feet are getting strong, changing shape and I have the beginnings of an arch forming on both my feet.
Reading this reply back to myself I sound like a paid advertisment for Eric and his book but I can assure you I'm not, yes I'm passionate and I spread the word to anyone who will listen but only because I now it works, and can work for anyone.
It is a funny thing about orthotics...I think the perception is that they are a complete solution. I always equate orthotics with high blood pressure medicine. People are given the medicine to control their blood pressure, but instead of changing diet or other factors, they stay on the medicine for the rest of their lives. I haven't heard too many people who go on blood pressure medicine going off it. I think the same way about orthotics. With a lot of dedication and strong will, one could strengthen the arch, as well as the ankles and all the little proprioceptive muscles that one uses for balance...and, theoretically not have to wear orthotics.
I would be interested to hear how your progress went after the tear of your tendon. Was it surgically fixed? Was it a complete tear? Are you still wearing the orthotics? Were the orthotics custom made (from taking a plaster mold of your feet), or a generalized orthotic for flat feet (or collapsed arch)?
I don't think many people would be here if they didn't hold Eric in high esteem! His methods definitely work...as long as one keeps up daily strengthening. I think it is a problem with a lot of people to keep themselves dedicated to any program, be it fitness or nutrition. Keep up the good work. I hope you post further updates as your arches get stronger!
Hi John, no I did'nt need surgery, just crutches for a couple of months. I was attending the physio dept of the local hospital during my rehab and a orthotist had rooms at the hospital. So molds were taken of my feet, orthotics were made and then fitted. I had them for all of my shoes, including my work boots and along with the new orthotics came a warning not to run again, as my feet couldn't handle it, and that was that. However I missed running terribly, I tried the gym on several occasions, sticking at it for 3-6 months at a time and it served a purpose of keeping some level of fitness but I could never fully embrace it, my first and only love was running. Then just over 3 years ago I received runners for Christmas and I did'nt know if they would ever get used but on seeing an Orthotist who was recommended to me he said using his orthotics he could get me back running, of cause he did.
The orthotics were custom made for my feet and my runners at a cost of $500.00 and off I went on, what I now know was, the path to Eric and The Cool Impossible. At present I do not wear orthotics at all in my day to day casual shoes and I am transitioning out of them in my work boots. I still use the one's in my New Balance 1080 V2's however every second run I use my B2R Trail shoes and as my feet and calves get stronger I'll use them more. If my progress so far is any indication by years end I should be not wearing orthotics at all in any shoe and running full time in the B2R's
I try to do the slant board excercises everyday and can now balance for a minute on my Right foot (dominant side) and about 50 seconds on my Left.
I agree with your analogy of orthotics and blood pressure medication but a discussion about education, vested interests and prevention we will leave for another day.
I've transitioned from
30 years of orthotics, constant tinkering with shoes (running and other) and not being able to run more than 10km per week without ankle and/or knee pain and maximum range of 6km, to
no orthotics anywhere, 40km per week of running in B2R shoes and maximum range of over 18km
I switched from heel striking to forefoot/midfoot strike by
1. speeding up my cadence to 176, and
2. concentrating on landing my feet with the ankles behind the knees, and
3. making the running work come from a feeling of pushing my body forward as my feet passed under and behind my body, rather than having my strides stretch out in front of me.
If think if your foot is landing not so far in front of your body you have to land on the forefoot/midfoot. I find slight changes in where your foot is relative to your body move the first touchdown point on the foot slightly towards the forefoot or midfoot. As long as you're landing your feet beneath your body (or only very slightly in front of your body) you can't land on your heel.
During my transition I have twice overdone the running (too much too soon) and strained my calf muscles, including one injury that I think was a tear that took a couple of months to heal. I have done Eric's board exercises now, but did not start with them. I'm pretty sure they would have made the transition more likely to have occurred without the calf tears. But we'll never know about that.