Monday, August 15, 2011

Shoes, shoes, water and war

I'm delayed in Stewart International Airport, working on a business plan, watching this storm that delayed me for the last 4 hours and is threatening to keep me here another night. Good time to write.

I used to wear regular running shoes, back in the days when I really hated running. Now I spend too much money on shoes whose point of pride is doing as little as possible to help you do anything, other than by staying out of your way. That means: no built up heal with springey air pocketey bouncey bounce technology. No micro chip adaptive shoe floor that senses how old you are and whether your hormones are in balance. In fact that means that these shoes are really just expensive strips of thin rubber that keeps the rocks from scraping up my feet.

Examples: Merrill, New Balance, VFF and the most minimal I've used..the actual ninja sock

When I was a personal trainer doing gait assessments on clients I would often put them on a treadmill without shoes to see how they moved. I told them it was too bad they couldn't run barefoot as impact is too high and they'd beat up their joints. Ironically I'm now doing what I told them not to because I think the shoes are the ones causing the impact by promoting a stride that is heavy on the impact. It's not impossible to run with good form in regular running shoes but they do tend to promote heal strike running. They elevate the heal, forcing you forward and they pad your heal so you don't feel the road or the impact from your stride.

It really helps to feel the road and it really really helps to feel the full impact of what you are doing. From the second you take your shoes off, or put on a minimal shoe your body will immediately change the way it interacts with the ground. Your instinctual response will be to shorten your stride, land flatter on your feet keeping them under you, and contact the ground more gently. It feels strange and can seem like it's more work at first but after a little getting used to most people I've worked with on this say that they have more energy to spare, and it gives them more fluidity.

Sun Tzu says: "Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows..." Of course he's talking about ways to win wars, but I think we can draw a similar analogy when considering the body in motion. We're talking about the path of least resistance and your body can only adapt to the environment if it can feel it.

Well, I guess I'll flow over the the counter and see if my path home is still encountering resistance.

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