Tips for Natural Barefoot Technique - Colin McPhail

Tips for Natural Barefoot Technique - Colin McPhail

Natural off road running can be very beneficial to overall body strengths. The Altra King MT is a zero drop shoe which gets your feet closer to natural than most. The distinct lack of cushioning is a huge advantage when running the trail as you get a much more responsive feel to the ground beneath you. BUT it requires a technique which can sometimes be masochistically difficult to learn. I put a movie together a couple of years back, see below. If you have any difficulty in viewing then go to google and type in "Back To The Future Of Running" I will come up at the top of the list. The movie concentrates on the desired technique required to achieve successful barefoot/natural running and uses the Vibram Fivefingers for the demonstrations. The technique can be applied to any type of footwear but lends itself best to a zero drop minimal cushioned type.

Please be patient if you are new to bare/natural running as your body will take time and injury during its adaptation process. The job you must do is manage the aches in a manner which does not allow them to compound leading to persistant injury. You have to be committed if you want to run like a human using the body to its most effective. I promise if you stay the course, run the correct distance, listen to your body, you will be my best friend forever once the transition is complete...please allow from 6 months to 3 years and remember, some people adapt at a faster rate than others so listen to your body.....you are in control....do not fall into the mass runner market of blaming the footwear for all your mistakes!! You were not born with shoes on , you dysevolved into the use of footwear and now you have to undo a lifetimes work which took you onto the path of dysevolution.
The 4 Cornerstones of Natural Running

1.Posture Stand tall.  Feet straight ahead. Knees soft (not locked). Relaxed arms to sides at a 90-degree angle. Relaxed shoulders. Use compact arm swings. Avoid crossing the body centre line. Lead with your chest. Push your hips forward (don't sit).

2. Foot Landing
Contact the ground with your midfoot first. The entire foot should land softly underneath the hip line with a bent knee. Run light, avoid pounding - focus on the quick turnover of the feet. Landing on the midfoot makes the best use of your body's natural cushioning anatomy and spring energy.

3. Forward Lean
Lean from the ankles without bending at the waist. Use gravity to help create forward momentum. With correct forward lean you can focus on just lifting your foot and quick feet turnover, instead of pushing propulsion.

4. Cadence
Target 180 steps per minute. A quick turnover of the feet increases efficiency and reduces ground reactive forces. Aim for the same cadence jogging as running at faster speed, just adapt the stride length. Please Note: Stride length expands backwards, not forwards! You should never land in front of the body, thereby activating a break force that sends shockwaves through the knees, hip area and lower back, all the way up to the brain.

Natural Cushioning Anatomy
With a midfoot strike under the body's centre of gravity, your body's own cushioning properties can be utilised to a full extent with minimal energy loss. This engages the body's natural spring mechanism - over 50% of the mechanic energy at footstrike is stored and released by the arch and Achilles tendon alone.

Balanced with Gravity
A low drop from heel to toe gets you balanced with gravity and facilitates a correct foot landing. An elevated heel makes you unbalanced.

Running Gait
Your foot should strike the ground midfoot or at the ball of the foot under the centre mass, so you can start a new stride by lifting the leg instead of pushing off. This makes it easier to run with a quick turnover of your feet, less impact, less rotational force and less use of propulsive muscular force. This is in opposition to the Walking Gait, in which you strike the ground with your heel first and roll your foot to the toes and push propulsion.

NO2 Addendum
Here is a link which may or may not be of interest to you if you are a runner. The movie is all about running in a more natural way and teaches you how to not rely on the cushions within modern footwear but to take a more holistic approach to using our on board human springs. If you land on your heels no matter how much the shoe salesman tells you the shoe is protecting you, it isn't. The shoe will only ever remove a maximum of 10% of the shock of landing. If you land on your foot as this movie shows you will reduce the shock to your joints by up to 75%. The running shoe industry is no more interested in your health than the tobacco industry is!! Fact.....they are interested in selling you more shoes and the quicker you wear your new shoe out the quicker you spend again. If you learn to land more gently, and I'm not saying this is a quick fix, you will make your joints last longer and your footwear will have an infinite lifespan.

Please be patient if you are new to bare/natural running as your body will take time and injury during its adaptation process. The job you must do is manage the aches in a manner which does not allow them to compound leading to persistant injury. You have to be committed if you want to run like a human using the body to its most effective. I promise if you stay the course, run the correct distance, listen to your body, you will be my best friend forever once the transition is complete...please allow from 6 months to 3 years and remember, some people adapt at a faster rate than others so listen to your body.....you are in control....do not fall into the mass runner market of blaming the footwear for all your mistakes!! You were not born with shoes on , you dysevolved into the use of footwear and now you have to undo a lifetimes work which took you onto the path of dysevolution.
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