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Are You Ready to Run? Standard #1

Updated: May 7

Running might be one of the most misunderstood sports in the world.


It's not about how far you run.


Or how fast you go.


Your shoes don't matter as much as your running shoe store specialist would like you to believe.


It's not the best way to lose weight, build bone density, or improve your heart health.


Running injury stats show there is a widespread lack of knowledge on how to run any distance sustainably:


  • There are approximately 30 million regular runners in the US.


  • There are over 1,100 marathons held each year in the US.


  • 90% of marathon runners sustain an injury during training.


  • Every year, 80% of runners sustain an injury that forces them to stop running.


In our practice, we view all types of running as a high-level skill on par with sports like Olympic Lifting or Swimming.


It takes a lot of practice to do it well.


The most successful runners we know and work with do a lot more than just run to perform their best day after day, year after year.


What the heck is going on?


No one ever taught you how to run correctly.


What should have been treated with the same care and concern as teaching a kid to lift weights with good form has instead been assumed as an activity we'll all figure out "naturally".


A Systems Check


From 4 years of cross-country in high school to a variety of adventure races and obstacle course races as an adult athlete, I'm familiar with the demands of running.


As a strength coach and doctor of physical therapy with two decades of experience rehabbing and training runners, I want to give you the tools I use to assess and prepare my clients for a lifetime of success in the sport of Running.


"The Standards", are our 12-point systems check to ensure you own the physical practices and lifestyle pieces to become a lifelong runner.


There are a few key principles I want you to keep in mind as we embark on this journey together to make you a better, more resilient runner.


This is about performance, not just injury prevention.


The standards we apply to your physical performance and lifestyle practices are mutually accommodating.


Good running skill is a form of injury prevention.


Good maintenance work before and after your runs and on your days off allows you to be your best running self.


This isn't about task completion.


Running isn't a job to get done.


Hold the quality of your running to a higher standard.


It's your responsibility to do routine body maintenance


10 minutes per day.


No days off.


It doesn't take a heroic effort to make a change.


It does take a consistent effort.


Keeping your finger on the pulse of your performance and the signals your body sends you is a learning process that never ends.


Embrace the challenge.


Standard #1: Neutral Feet

Our first standard is all about bringing more awareness to how your position yourself.


Your feet need to be pointing in the direction they were designed to point-forward-to support your body.


When you stand in any other position, be it pigeon-toed (feet pointing towards each other), duck-footed (feet pointed out), or a combination of the previous two positions, your body weight rests primarily on your joints.


And while joints do a lot of valuable work for us, they're mainly designed for motion, not bearing all the load of your body as you make contact with the ground when running.


The root cause of poor foot position is most frequently just a lack of body awareness. If you don't have a reference for how to stand and walk with good posture, keeping your toes and feet pointed straight ahead isn't going to happen.


Follow along with the simple steps in the video below to find a good standing and seated posture.:



Good position of your trunk and pelvis allows you to point your feet straight ahead and create tremendous power to run, jump, land, change directions, and lift with greater power output.


A better position = better performance. I love simple math.


WHAT TO DO IF YOUR FEET AREN'T NEUTRAL


We divide the issues we see with our runners into two main buckets:


Mobility and Motor Control.


If your feet are stiff, you're best suited to start with the mobility drills we demonstrate in the video below:



But if your feet are flat on the ground, you've got a Motor Control issue. Rebuilding the strength in your feet is the priority.


The exercises reviewed in the video below are a good place to start:



A FEW WORDS ABOUT SHOES


There's a misconception that the problem with your feet and the reason you hurt when you run is that you don't have the right shoe.


If I get a custom-fit shoe, the thinking goes, I'll be able to run without pain.


Or, I can spend $300 and get a laser-fit custom orthotic.


The shoe industry has created a false construct to sell you the perfect shoe. If your foot is classified as neutral (normal arch, your foot doesn't roll in or out as you walk) you are the lucky winner of a "Stability" shoe.


If you are flat-footed (little to no space between the arch of your foot and the ground, your feet tend to point out and roll in when you walk), you get to strap on a "Motion Control" shoe.


If you have a particularly high arch (your foot tends to roll out as you walk) you will do best with a "Cushioned" shoe.


There's a problem with trying to fit the shoe to the foot.


Shoes do not influence how frequently you will injure yourself when running.


For the sake of saving you time, here's the scoop.


There is zero scientific evidence that your $150 motion control shoe reduces your risk of injury.


Ditto for that custom-fit orthotic.


WRAPPING IT UP


There's no getting around putting yourself in the right position to run well.


Your feet have to point straight forward, as do your knees, and your spine needs to be organized.


Anything less than a normal position turns the conversation from if you'll get injured to simply how long it will take until you get injured.


The easiest way we've found to apply this standard is as follows: every time you stand up, or before you sit down, go through the bracing sequence.


This will take a fair amount of mental focus at first, but as you continue practicing you'll notice two positive habits emerge.


First, you will spontaneously find yourself in a better posture more frequently.


Second, and more importantly, you'll catch yourself slouching more often, which is another key to improving your resting and running posture..


Got more questions?


We love talking to runners and athletes of all sorts.


If you've been struggling to feel or perform your best when you run and are sick and tired of it, you can do something about that.


Click the "Schedule a Consultation" button at the top right of this page.


You'll get connected with a sports medicine professional from our team who can give you actionable advice to start feeling better today!

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