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Have We Forgotten How to Run?

Have We Forgotten How to Run?

 

Jogging is not how we evolved to run and it renders us inefficient in our use of energy and prone to injury, according to the barefoot running movement.

 

If you visit a barefoot running clinic, or a skillful movement coach as I did this morning, they will probably tell you that you don’t know how to run.

 

What? I’ve been running for years, I thought to myself. Of course, I know how to run!

 

So it was a bit of a surprise to discover that, in fact, I don’t. At least, not we evolved how to run.

 

It’s broadly accepted that one of the biggest evolutionary advantages homo sapiens had at its disposal on the plains of Africa one hundred thousand years ago was its ability to run long distances.  To track prey during all-day hunting missions, man needed to be able to run every day without getting injured.

 

These days running injuries are incredibly common. So what went wrong?

 

Lee Saxby, who is a barefoot running guru, identifies the problem as two-fold:

 

Firstly, we run in excessively cushioned footwear. This blocks communication between our feet and our brains, which should ensure we strike the ground with a flat foot, which distributes the force of impact in the safest way for the rest of body. Instead, our expensive cushioned trainers encourage us to strike the ground with our heels, which can result in injury.

 

This leads to the second problem: an unnatural running style..ie what most of us when we jog, which is often somewhere in between walking and running. This often involves leaning forwards, barely lifting our feet off the ground and striking the ground with our heels when we land.

 

In addition to rendering us prone to injury, jogging is also an inefficient use of energy. As Lee Saxby writes in his book “Making Sense of Barefoot Running”:

 

“Using the elastic recoil of the Achilles tendon, the plantar fascia (a supportive tissue) and ligaments, our foot and ankle work like a powerful spring. This elasticity greatly reduces the amount of energy required to run (when we land on the ball of our feet and then the heel)”.

 

It’s strange to think that we need to re-learn something that should be natural, like how to run. But we do - check out this video of barefoot training expert, Ben Le Vesconte explaining all this to the Guardian newspaper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=optydWqckVo

 

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Thursday, 21 June 2018
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