Category Archives: Running Form

Newton and Ironman: Running Efficiency

Posted by on Monday, March 4, 2013 @ 8:49 am | Leave a reply

With our new partnership with Ironman comes Newton Running’s position not only as the official shoe and run course of the granddaddy of triathlon but also writing a series of “Running Modules” for Ironman.com.

In this first installment, written by Newton’s Director or Research and Education Ian Adamson, we focus on probably the most important aspect of running and that is: efficiency. Too often we get hung up on working on biking technique, swimming technique, what shoe is right, what socks we’re wearing or whether the ratio of compression garments to sweat rate is in some arbitrary sweet spot. When you strip away all that other stuff, the one thing that we consistently overlook is running technique and efficiency.

In this piece, Ian gets into some of the most basic yet most often ignored information of running efficiency and the role it plays, and has always played, in our lives.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE

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From the Expert: Dr. Mark Cucuzzella Talks Elastic Recoil

Posted by on Monday, January 28, 2013 @ 2:24 pm | Leave a reply

There is a lot of confusion around the term elastic recoil vs. braking in running.  A critical feature of efficient running is a strong and stable base of support.  Without this foundation, there can be no efficient transfer of energy.

Screen shot 2012 11 12 at 4.21.14 PM resized 600Our tendons are highly adapted to storing and releasing energy under tensile strain.  Jay Dicharry uses  a slingshot analogy.  As runners we must land a bit in front of our center of mass to store the energy and it then releases as we push off the ground.  This is not braking if done correctly.

Can we tell what the runner is actually doing with a video camera?  Not exactly, as we cannot see forces?

But we can make some likely conclusions with slow-motion film as one can see a springy motion vs. a hard hit and resulting shock wave with an overstride.  Muscles lengthen and shorten in the overstride and slow cadence pattern and compromise the elastic storage, as does trying to pick up your foot too soon with active muscle contraction (this is sprinting).

Rewatch this video on the “Principles of Natural Running” below. Do some of the drills shown in the video such as the jump rope and run with tether drill to learn how to land closer to your center. Also a must read is “Anatomy for Runners” by Jay Dicharry“.

 

 

Please be sure to visit Dr. Mark at The Natural Running Center!

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From the Expert: Danny Abshire Talks Foot Placement

Posted by on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 @ 2:37 pm | Leave a reply

Runners often exhibit form habits that can be attributed to  prior injuries, limited range of motion, and movement patterns. This generally results from years of sitting, standing and running with less than optimal alignment and running form.

Moving at a slow cadence and with sub-optimal movement patterns often results  in inefficiencies and, in some cases may lead to injury. Many runners strive to improve their running efficiency, to improve running speed or seek to have less wear and tear to the body. In the context of the above traits, some things can be improved on and other traits cannot. The goal would to be the most efficient runner YOU can be.

More parallel foot placement to the ground is going to be more efficient than a straight leg heel first landing. This is because the lower legs and feet are in a poor position to help attenuate impact and utilize the spring in the leg and foot muscles.

Slight heel landing with flexed knee is more efficient than landing with locked knee and extended heel strike. In a full foot / whole foot / midfoot landing the runner should feel the entire foot touch the ground at the same time. This means you will feel the heel touch with the rest of the foot. A midfoot strike should be more efficient than heel first because the foot and body can get in and out of maximum loading quicker. Maximum load occurs in mid-stance phase during a running gait and this is where the foot/ankle is stable and locked. The ankle and knee are flexed and the muscle/tendon complex is re-coiling like a spring.

A midfoot landing is relatively safe and efficient, but to maximize the benefits, you should have sufficient range of motion. This includes ankle dorsiflexion where the foot is raised upward. If you have past injuries of the ankle with limited dorsiflexion and over tightness in the calf muscles, a midfoot landing might be difficult to achieve..

Landing slightly on your forefoot and letting your heel relax to the ground is a very efficient foot strike and works well for faster and more efficient runners. Again, do you have the individual traits that allow you to land the way you choose or do you have some restrictions and limitations?

The mind and body connection, agility and coordinated whole body movement that comes from running form drills, an efficient cadence, core strength, core movement and relaxed foot placement can help runners become more efficient. Remember a good goal is to be the most efficient runner YOU can be to enjoy a lifetime of fun and fitness. 

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From the Expert: Ian Adamson Talks Stability

Posted by on Wednesday, January 16, 2013 @ 7:50 am | Leave a reply

Having good stability is a critical requirement for all runners. Each time your body moves over your foot (called mid-stance in the gait cycle) you are loading two to three times your body weight on your foot and a little less at each successive body part up the bio-mechnical chain – ankle, shin, knee, thigh, hip, etc.

Ian Adamson talks Stability in RunningIn mid-stance, all this force is on one leg, so you need to have good stability in order to do it safely and efficiently. If you are unable to balance on one leg with all this load, you can’t run. Put simply you will fall over. Runners with poor balance tend to rock side to side since they place their feet in a wide stance.

Stability is not just about balance, since muscular strength is required. Try this exercise to demonstrate:

1. Stand on one leg in front of a full length mirror

2. Keeping your foot flat to the ground, do a shallow squat by flexing your knee hip and ankle as far as possible

3. Make sure your body stays upright (don’t bend forward at the waist)

4. Slowly return to an upright position and keep repeating for as long as you can on two second cycles (one second down, one second up)

This is essential what you are doing (in the vertical axis) while running, but with about one body weight. Imagine doing this with two and a half. Most likely your leg will get tired and you will have to stop due to muscular fatigue.

Now do a few more repetitions and look a little more closely at your alignment (and consequently your stability.) Is your knee tracking straight and true? If not, this is almost certainly happening when you run. As a result, the misalignment at your knee will cause excess stress, which with repetition and load (that would be running) can cause pain and ultimately injury. Typical inures from knee misalignment include medial or lateral knee pain, ITB syndrome and medial shin splints (extrinsic muscles controlling the foot trying to compensate), plus a host more.

The solution is not obvious for most runners.

1. Choose a shoe that is not thick and soft so the surface under your foot is stable. Any shoe that relies on midsole foam for cushioning and is more than about 6 mm thick is probably not good. Soft foams are also unstable, the thicker and softer the worse it gets. Newton shoes do not rely on midsole foam and are essentially hard runner once you load them in a running gait.

2. Stabilize your leg to control the motion at the knee. The knee is a stable joint (like a hinge) and is controlled at either end. The primary muscle controlling the femur (thigh) in the stance phase of gait is the Gluteus Medius, the big muscle on your butt to the outside. This muscle stops your hip dropping and keeps your knee aligned side to side.

A good strength exercise for leg stability is the single leg shallow squat described above. This can be done while brushing your teeth (you do this anyway right?), with a goal of doing 30 repetitions each leg (two seconds per rep.) You have to do these exercises with precision, otherwise your are practicing poor form and will get good at doing these badly! For some people, this may only be two or three repetitions the first time until failure. Failure is when you loose control of your leg, for example knee doesn’t track straight, your hip drops, rises or you loos balance. Don’t worry, progress can be quite fast so after a few weeks you should be able to do this easily.

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Welcome to the School of Running

Posted by on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 @ 2:10 pm | Leave a reply

Today Newton is very excited to be launching our School of Running (SOR) here in Boulder, Colorado. The mission of the SOR is to spread the knowledge of good, natural running form around the world by educating those who are interested in teaching others to become better runners and who wish to become better and more efficient runners themselves.

The first session of SOR which began today is educating a handful of North American retail ambassadors. Soon the School of Running will expand to include Newton’s recently revamped Coach Certification Program. Details of that program will be coming soon but for now the dates of the first sessions are below.

 

 

Friday, September 21, 2012 – Saturday, September 22, 2012

Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification

What: Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification
Who: Newton Running – School of Running
Where: 1300 Walnut Street, Suite 120
Boulder CO 80302 US
Date: Friday, September 21, 2012 – Saturday, September 22, 2012
REGISTER NOW »
Saturday, October 27, 2012 – Sunday, October 28, 2012

Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification

What: Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification
Who: Newton Running – School of Running
Where: 1300 Walnut Street, Suite 120
Boulder CO 80302 US
Date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 – Sunday, October 28, 2012
REGISTER NOW »
Friday, November 9, 2012 – Saturday, November 10, 2012

Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification

What: Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification
Who: Newton Running – School of Running
Where: 1300 Walnut Street, Suite 120
Boulder CO 80302 US
Date: Friday, November 9, 2012 – Saturday, November 10, 2012
REGISTER NOW »
Saturday, December 8, 2012 – Sunday, December 9, 2012

Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification

What: Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification
Who: Newton Running – School of Running
Where: 1300 Walnut Street, Suite 120
Boulder CO 80302 US
Date: Saturday, December 8, 2012 – Sunday, December 9, 2012
REGISTER NOW »

 

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How to Run the Boston Marathon 2012: Part IV

Posted by on Monday, April 9, 2012 @ 8:41 am | Leave a reply

BY:

Mark Cucuzzella MD, Professor West Virginia University School of Medicine, LtCol US Air Force
2006 and 2011 Air Force Marathon Champion and Air Force Marathon Team Member since 1988

Now a few extra ways to get from start to finish quicker on the same gallon. 

  • If you can add a little gas along the way then you can go more into gas mode.  This works a little at best.  If running too fast you shunt all blood to working muscles and nothing digests.  If you are in hybrid the early going you can continually add fuel- the key is not only the correct fuel, but the right pace.  A Powergel every 25 minutes is easy to digest and tops off the tank.  Carry them with you at the start.  The weight is nothing compared to the benefit you will get.  If you do the gels then you can drink water instead of the energy drinks which are often less predictable on the run. Boston has a Powergel station at Mile 17.  Carry 4 at the start (one every 4 miles or so) and reload at mile 17.
  • Maintain effort on uphills.  Your pace will slow. You can easily use all your gas here if your effort increases.  Shorten your stride, relax, and use your arms.  Then allow gravity to take you down. Do not over reach and heel hit on the down hills- remember run over the ground not into the ground. If it is windy get behind a group.  This can save lots of physical and mental energy.
  • If you are having a “bad patch” – try to refocus on relaxing, fuel a bit (sometimes a blood glucose drop triggers the sense of doom), and have faith in your training and race plan.  Another nice trick is when you hit mile 21 it is not 5 miles to go, it is 4 and change. Mile 22 is 3 and change to go.
  • Do not over drink water. This can lead to a dangerous condition called hypontremia.

The fun of the marathon is that we are always learning and enjoying the adventure of it.  I’ve done over 70 marathons now with a couple under 2:25 in my younger years.  We learn from experience, taking chances, and occasional failures. My first marathon was the 1988 Marine Corps was 2:34, when I could run about 30 minutes for 10 k.  24 years later I hope to get near this time again and my current 10k is about 35 minutes (2011 Boston was 2:37.00).   I’ve learned a few things in 20 plus years on how to train and race efficiently and economically, but still there are uncertainties every time you line up.  So relax, taper up, and seize the day.

I’d like to especially thank all the Armed Forces Members around the world who sacrifice daily in the service of their country and for all the volunteers who make the Boston Marathon a Patriot’s Day celebration.  May the wind be at your back, like 2011!

(Click here to read part 1)

(Click here to read part 2)

(Click here to read part 3)

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Natural Running: Coming Soon to a High School Near You!

Posted by on Monday, February 20, 2012 @ 12:56 pm | 3 Replies

Jeff Yanke became certified as a Natural Running Coach at Endurance House in Middleton, WI.  Jeff and I connected, I knew this guy was special and ever since we met, Natural Running went to a whole new level.  Implementing Natural Running in high school gym classes is going to be the start of something big throughout the U.S.  As we may or may not know Newton Running is based on education, we just happen to sell shoes.  My job you ask?  To educate, too educate walkers, runners, fitness enthusiasts, anywhere ranging from “weekend warriors”, beginner walk/runners, all the way up to your elite athlete.

I stopped by for a day just to watch the students from start to finish at their endurance class.  The students walked in with their homework which were questions about Chapter 1 of Danny Abshires book, Natural Running.  Everybody was enjoying the drills and really understood how running with Natural Form reduces impact on the bones and joints.  I’m pretty sure that running is one of the least inexpensive sports out there.  Too see people not participating in running because of injury, is so unfortunate.  If we can teach kids how to run without injury then we will see healthier individuals.  You can run anywhere, just strap on a good pair of running shoes, run with Natural Running form and you are good to go.

Question: Is it possible that kids in school do not enjoy running because they have never been taught how to run correctly?

Answer: ”Absolutely”, said Jeff Yanke, Physical Education Instructor at Naperville Central High School, USAT Level I Coach, and Newton Certified Natural Running Coach.

During this reflection Jeff went back through all his days of education and never remembered being taught how to run:

In the public school system we teach kids every kind of sport but we fail at teaching them Natural Running.  We don’t throw a kid in a pool and say swim a 500 for time, or put them at the free throw line and say you’re graded on the percent you make out of 10.  Yet we do this to our students’ detriment in running the mile test. We teach them fundamentals of all sports and forsake running.  I decided it was time for a change.  I was going to teach my students to run naturally.  In order to sharpen my knowledge of Natural Running, I took a coaching clinic sponsored by Newton.   Then I brought this knowledge to the high school that I teach at.

The class is called “Endurance”.  There are twenty-eight students ranging in athletic ability but all desiring to improve fitness levels.  We started the class with a video of each students’ running gait (they would not see it for 3 weeks) to have a base from which to work, then again at the beginning of week four.  Each day they would work on different drills and concepts.  I knew that it would take three weeks to rewire neuromuscular movement before it would feel natural to them.  The part that I didn’t know was how much they would enjoy it!  Just last week I had the class complete a thirty minute run test and did not have one complaint.  That was a glorious moment in my teaching career.  I can safely say that my students enjoy running.

If you’re a teacher or student and you’re interested in having this program at your school, please contact Justin Dyszelski by email justin.dyszelski[at]newtonrunning.com.

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Metatarsalgia

Posted by on Monday, January 16, 2012 @ 3:32 pm | 2 Replies

Forefoot pain (metatarsalgia) is a condition indicated by pain and inflammation under the ball of the foot. This is increasingly prevalent in runners who are making a change to minimal footwear, barefoot running and Newton Shoes.

As with virtually all running injuries, forefoot pain is a result of doing too much, too fast, too soon. When people blame the shoes, consider whether they would have had the same thing happen running barefoot or in minimalist footwear? It’s a lot like saying “this helmet injured my head”, “this oven mitt burned my hand” or “these shorts tore my ham string.”

The bio-mechanical sensor plate in all Newton Shoes can lead people to believe the shoes are too hard and stress their feet. It actually works the other way around. The midsoles of regular running shoes are unnaturally soft (compared to the natural surfaces we evolved to run on), commonly leading to large, uneven depressions where the EVA foam collapses. Unlike Newton’s Action/Reaction technology, EVA never fully recovers, leaving an uneven surface under the foot.

The unfortunate result for many runners is misaligned metatarsals as the foot adapts to the soft surface and digs increasingly deeper holes into their shoes. Over years and decades it is common for people to end up with badly misaligned bones, like uneven keys on an old piano. Returning to a naturally firm surface like barefoot, minimal or Newton Shoes can be a painful experience as the bones realign, pulling on connective tissue and stressing the nerves.

Leaving the condition untreated can lead to other problems such as stress fractures of the metatarsals or Morton’s neuroma. As with most medical conditions, the cause should be removed (often too much too soon) and then treated. Once addresses, it is important to ensure good running form and appropriate running shoes, with a conservative amount of time to adapt.

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Running Form Friday: Tight Calves

Posted by on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 @ 9:22 am | Leave a reply

If you’re new to natural running one of the first and most noticeable things is how your calves and achilles are engaged differently than before. In this video, Danny explains why this is and how to move past it. Enjoy!

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The Problematic Cross-Over Gait pattern. Part 2

Posted by on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 @ 11:58 am | 1 Reply

Here Dr. Shawn Allen of The Gait Guys further discusses this gait problem in running form. The Cross-over gait is a product of gluteus medius and abdominal weakness and leaves the runner with much frontal plane hip movement, very little separation of the knees and a “cross over” of the feet, rendering a near “tight rope” running appearance where the feet seem to land on a straight line path. In Part 2, Dr. Allen will discuss a more detailed specific method to fix this. You will see this problem in well over 50% of runners. This problem leads to injury at the hip, knee and foot levels quite frequently.

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