Friday, 5 August 2011

Kojo Nnamdi and barefoot running

I was in the car yesterday returning from DC, where my wife had a job interview and we turned on the radio to listen to NPR. We are big fans of NPR! Anyway, the Kojo Nnamdi show was on and he had an interesting segment on barefoot running. His interviewees included Chris MacDougall, author of Born to Run. You can listen by clicking on the Kojo Namdi show link. The best tip I took from it was to imagine you are running on the spot. It is a good way to practice running in a barefoot manner and land on your mid to forefoot. The best quote came at the end, I think from MacDougall, 'the goal is not to run barefoot, the goal is to run efficiently and injury free and running barefoot is one of the best ways to achieve that.' Some have a certain fetishistic attitude to running barefoot, which I believe might have something to do with i's fashionability rather than its utility. Another good point from one of the other interviewees was that if someone approached him for advice on running barefoot who was already an efficient and injury free runner he would question why they wanted to run barefoot. In other words, barefoot is a means to and end, not an end in itself. However, the feeling of running barefoot on occasion does feel good!


bobby-barefoot said...

In doing some reading and speaking to the guys at running stores one thing seems to be evident when it comes to making the transition to minimal footwear or to barefoot running. For many people they want too much too fast and are not willing to slow into the transition to barefoot running. For many the reason they are making the transition is that the have experience injuries and the traditional brace and support philosophy has not made sense to them. However they need to realize that the injuries and discomfort the forced the need for the traditional treatment was years in the making, and the faulty mechanics that most likely were the true cause of the injuries were also years in the making. It is not realistic to assume that in a few weeks you can reverse decades of problems. What has made sense to me and has proven successful is the use of the foot strengthening biofeedback insoles (see Barefoot Science as an example). So the times that I can not be barefoot or be doing my barefoot exercises my feet are at least exposed to a subconscious firing of the muscles. So as opposed to getting exposed to exercise 2-03 times a week for 40 minutes or so, my feet are exposed to exercise 24/7. In the big picture it makes sense and the underlying science seems pretty simple and straight forward.

Anonymous said...

There is maybe no perfect running form, but more-so an ideal running form - one that is person dependent since everyone has a different center of mass, different center of masses for their limbs, a different body weight / foot size ratio etc.. I am a believer that in the long run the body will find it's own ideal based on the inherent desire to minimize stress and strain on the system. One of the key's to this will be the ability of the body to sense its environment through proprioception and biofeedback. In the ideal world this would mean being barefoot virtually all of the time - those who are not able to do that they can loll into the use of biofeedback foot strengthening insoles (see Barefoot Science). The ability to emulate the ground contact in the mid foot region and initiate proper pre-strike foot position will only help to make the foot stronger and allow the body to find its own ideal , less injurious form.