It was about 10 years ago when I really took up running. I was a weight lifter, and the heavier the weights the better! I was given a challenge of running a 10km race, the London Asics 10km. I had 6 weeks to prepare, so I did, I found an awesome playlist of rock and metal with a nice constant beat that matched my pace.
I completed the race in 52 minutes! I found the “running bug”, it got hold of me and has gripped me (off and on) the past 10 years.
I was a typical heel-toe runner and had big comfy, spongy trainers. I decided to enter into a longer race, a full marathon.
This is where problems started, I had given myself 9 months and built up gradually with the mileage. I started getting niggles and pains (apart of the fun I thought), and there is a degree of uncomforting comfort in training, nothing new there, but this felt different.
I got advice from seasoned runners and Trainers alike and thought this was all ok. I then went on to develop runners knee or I T band syndrome, where the insertion of the I T band attaches to the fibula head in the lower leg and rubs against a condyle (a bony prominence). This was debilitating and I ended up having this off and on for a few years.
After this a stress fracture in my tibia, trochantic bursitis, Achilles tendonitis, piriformis syndrome, these issues where like domino’s they just kept coming one after the other!!
I started to think running isn’t for me.
At this point you’re thinking when are you going to talk about minimalist running…wait for it J
I paid to see a specialist Physiotherapy and for 2 hours he analysed everything, gave me some exercises and mobility work and I parted with £180.
I would love to say it was money well spent, it wasn’t!
I decided to tackle this on my own…so what did I do?
I went to University of course!
I studied Sports rehabilitation and that’s when I found barefoot/minimalist running.
There was little to no information at the time apart from anecdotal evidence, and it required to completely change how I ran.
I went from heel-toe to forefoot
I shortened my stride pattern
Worked on posture and breathing
Mobilised and most definitely strengthened.
This was the main issue when Vibram 5 fingers got sued over their claim that it can prevent injury and then a bunch of people got injured.
Where the fuck was the transition.
If you have worn trainers and supported ones at that, your feet are going to be not only weak and compressed and immobilised.
The 33 joints in your foot will almost certainly not be working.
In order to be successful in minimalist running you need the following
- 33 joints to work freely and as one
- Your big toe to be the last thing to leave the ground and the first thing to touch
- Your big toe will then create a rotational force in your tibia, femur and switch on your glutes
- You need optimal range of motion about your ankle to allow for an effective stretch-reflex action in your Achilles
- When your foot lands, your hips need to be over your ankle and shoulder over your hips and head neutral (posture)
- Regulate your breathing to regulate posture and energy systems
If any of these things are missing you are compromised.
Now here is the kicker…This is the same if you wear comfy trainers except you may be heel-toe, but the rest is the same.
Has anyone ever told you this when you buy running trainers or when you go to your training run at your local club?
To transition from comfy trainers to minimalist takes about a year of commitment. You need to hypertrophy (build muscle) in the feet. You need to mobilise (see my past post on this). Start with 1-2 minutes at the end or beginning of your normal run, and build from there, listen to your body and how it responds and feels. Slow and progressive is the key otherwise you will get injured.
Since my transition (trainers and not gender) I don’t get injured and if I feel anything it’s because I’ve moved or progressed too quickly.
I have a mixture of Xero sandles, Vivobarefoot and Vibram 5 fingers, and genuinely where how I feel, and yes I still have a pair of comfy Altra (forefoot) running trainers for the days I feel a bit tired and can’t rely on my nervous system.
I can safely say it was well worth the effort, so why don’t you?
What should I do today?
- Mobilise your feet
- Mobilise your ankles
- Walk around the house bare foot
Build from there.
For more information contact us today and/or follow us on Instagram and facebook
Or if you think actually I can become a Personal Trainer and Sports Therapist and want to do this professionally then we have part-time courses running through the year in Milton Keynes and other cities to follow.