Part one talked about why shold you embrace minimalism?
A better approach to minimalism is to realize that your feet are weak in their current state and you need to add a foot and leg strengthening program to your current regimen. A strong core is imperative for good, efficient running form. The stronger the core, the longer you can hold good posture as you run down the road in search of your zen.
Six Simple Exercise to Stronger Strides
Here are six simple exercises you can do daily to improve your intrinsic foot strength. I recommend you walk around your house barefoot for five minutes to warm up your feet. Then really warm up your foot muscles by pretending your big toe is a marker and writing the alphabet with your foot. Do this twice. Now you are ready to begin strengthening your feet.
These six simple exercises can help you strengthen the intrinsic muscles of your feet and lower legs to help you transition to a minimalist running style. Remember to also stretch your quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, and calf (gastrocnemius and soleus) as well as your plantar fascia after these exercises to warm down.
Small incremental increases in stress make us stronger. Large incremental increases in stress lead to overuse injuries! Achieve your natural stride slowly and carefully to stay injury free.
Watch the video if you need help with the exercises!
Why embrace minimalism? Minimalist shoes can help you achieve a more natural running stride. Why is this important? Many biomechanics gurus are finding that a more natural running stride can decrease your impact by over one third and therefore, in theory, decrease running injuries. What I have found is that it can help you find a faster, more balanced, stream lined version of you or what can be described as your running zen.
Running zen is a total state of focus that is a fusion of body and mind while running. Your goal is to develop your natural stride, which in most experienced runners, leads to being fitter, faster and staying injury free.
Your most efficient foot strike is one that lands exactly below your center of gravity, which is usually right below your hips in a mid-to-forefoot fashion, slightly towards your fifth toe. As you land, your foot rolls slightly inwards and propulses off your big toe. This slight roll is NORMAL pronation and is meant to cushion the running stride. Excessive pronation is the effect of weak foot intrinsics and lower leg muscles and is the main cause of many overuse injuries common to runners. This abnormal pronation is often mitigated by stability running shoes and orthotics, but a better long-term approach in healthy athletes should be to strengthen the underlying muscular weakness. Stronger lower leg and intrinsic foot muscles coupled with a stronger core, flexibility and better proprioception can diminish many of these abnormal forces and reduce injury recurrance.
A motion control shoe works to alleviate abnormal pronation and does a great job stabilizing your foot, especially after an injury; but it does little to strengthen the key muscles and ligaments of your feet.
A highly cushioned shoe may overprotect your foot from the stress of the road, preventing natural strengthening while you build mileage.
So, should we all go back to the ballerina flat looking shoes we wore in the seventies? Unfortunately I remember them well and the tibial stress fractures that occurred while I was in high school. No, old school is not the answer; but perhaps a happy medium.
A minimalist shoe guides your foot into a more natural stride by providing cushioning and flexibility, but does not elevate the heel to increase pronatory forces. It allows a shorter stride and softer landing, while encouraging mid-to-forefoot striking to help you manage your impact. It also allows for intrinsic strengthening while you build your mileage and hopefully puts you on the road to finding your sweet spot in your stride.
Who shouldn’t try a minimalist approach? Those runners with severe foot deformities or significant arthritis. As well as people with nerve issues like diabetic neuropathy. As for the rest of the running world, a caution sign should go up here.
A side note of caution to anyone trying to go “less is more.” When you begin to run with less shoe than you have been in years, it is important to realize that your stride is now very different and you have to relearn the fundamentals of running. Please avoid the “too much, too soon, too fast” syndrome that can sideline even the most cautious of runners.
Join Dr Crane at the Boston Marathon discussing minimalist shoes and training with an expert panel!
For more info, click here
Come join me in Boston on April 14th at 6pm
Saucony presents "Step into Minimalism"
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Run stronger and happier!
It’s that time of year again. Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Quanza or Christmas; all of these holidays have one thing in common: Lots and lots of food! The average American gains between two and five pounds during the holiday season. Why? Fork to mouth problem! Here are some tips to keep from gaining that extra poundage and start the New Year off without having to make a resolution to lose weight.
Don’t Skip Meals. During the holiday season, a lot of people will skip lunch in anticipation of a holiday party or get so caught up in the festivities that they don’t take time to eat. When you go to a party really hungry, you tend to eat quickly and overeat.
Slow Down. Take breaks while you are eating to give your stomach a little time to discus with your brain how full it is. Amazingly, those that ate slowly and joined in the holiday conversation tend to eat less.
Watch your portions. We all know that holiday portions can border on enough to feed a small African nation. Use a smaller plate or just take one scoop of your favorites. That way you enjoy them all but eat less.
Pack up your leftovers right away. Especially if you are one of the cooks, grazing the leftovers in the kitchen can be a social over eating fest! Send leftovers home with your guests so you won’t be tempted to have a midnight snack.
Limit alcohol. Face it, the more you drink the more you eat! Save the calories for that sliver of pie you are craving.
Exercise as part of the holidays! If you can’t convince the family to run the Turkey Trot, take the clan for a walk after dinner. Enjoy the day and work off a few calories. If the weather is bad, Wii bowling as a family can be hilarious and help burn some calories.
Shop ‘til you drop. Not only will you be stimulating the economy and helping the recession, but you will be exercising! Have a healthy snack before or carry some granola bars so you won’t be tempted to visit the food court.
Fight the holiday blues. Many people get depressed around the holidays and tend to use food as an anti-depressant. Spend time with friends and count your blessings. Writing them down can help you realize even in down years, you have a lot to be thankful for.
Think of how happy you will be in January if you navigate the holidays without all those excessive pounds! Follow these tips and be diligent. You will thank me later!
Like many people in Southlake, Texas this afternoon, I was reading the new edition of Southlake Style magazine that came in the mail today. After the usual local nonsense, I came across an article by Harold Wilson of Multisport Coaching Systems about weight loss exercise programs for truly obese people. He talked about the fact that most articles spend so much time talking about the overwhelming numbers associated with obesity and of course the associated health risks, but almost never spend much time on how an obese person can actually lose the obese tag.
Harold spent some time talking about the people in the news that have successfully lost the weight (Think “The Biggest Loser” or Jared of Subway…heck, he is even going to try to run the New York City Marathon next month!).
The meat of the article discussed the keys to successful weight loss: strategy + execution = success! Wow! Isn’t that the key to just about everything? But wait, maybe Harold is on to something. I have runners that get so caught up in planning their training program that they have little energy left to execute it. Same goes for weight loss programs. Many people spend all their available energy in the planning, so they never get around to executing it!
So, I will reiterate to you Harold’s tips for weight loss and you will see that they hold truth in all exercise programs!
Discipline is necessary
Vigorous Physical Activity Modestly More Protective Than Moderate Activity !
New study shows that we are not crazy! Running is better than walking!
For complete study click here
Here is a great article that again shows the benefits of an active, smoke-free lifestyle. Why don't most people get it? Running or any other kind of vigorous exercise simply makes you live longer! let's cure obesity together! Take a friend for a walk or run. Encourage your friends and families to be more active. Save a life!
Full article : click here
This blog is a discussion of the recently published guidelines for the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity. Opinions are mine but the quotes are taken from published paper. The complete published guideline can be read at Medscape.
The Endocrine Society has issued practice guidelines for the prevention and treatment of pediatric obesity and has published them in the September 9 Online First issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The guidelines were cosponsored by the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society.
Another good reason to exercise through your entire life! Or at least another good excuse to feed our running addiction! :)
Regular exercise reduces the risk for obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and heart disease not only in middle age but also in the retirement years, and the maintenance of aerobic power in older years may be associated with the ability to maintain independence. Sedentary elderly persons may lose physical fitness with age to the point of losing independence, and increased physical activity may be a way to prevent this deterioration as well as manage chronic disease.
News reported by Laurie Barclay, MD on Medscape Today click here for the entire article
Run Happy....for a lifetime!
Did you know that low back pain at some point in time will inflict over 80% of the population? Proper footwear can potentially prevent, reduce and treat biomechanical factors associated with low back pain in runners. Back pain can be a mysterious thing. Every time your feet hit the ground, the reacting shock is transferred up your legs to your hips and spine, and any biomechanical imbalance can ultimately cause lower back pain.
It could be that you have flat feet, and your over-pronation (rolling in of your feet) is causing your back ache. It could be that you have really high-arched, rigid feet and the lack of pronation is causing your back pain. It could be that one of your legs is ever-so-slightly shorter than the other, or that your pelvis is just a tiny bit uneven or tilted. You could have a curve in your spine. More seriously, one of the discs between the vertebrae of your spine could be degenerating or arthritis is setting in.
Back pain can be a tough mystery to solve, but with a little help from your friendly neighborhood sports medicine specialist you should be able to track down the cause. By far the most common diagnosis in patients with low back pain is the lumbar sprain/strain, which accounts for about 75% of all cases of low back pain. While muscle strain is the most common cause of back pain for runners, play it safe and visit a sports medicine orthopedist or a chiropractor to have your spine and vertebrae examined if you are experiencing severe pain.
If you have ruled out all the worrisome spine issue, you may have an uneven pelvis or unequal leg lengths. These conditions are relatively common and can be ascertained with a good biomechanical exam. With either, the muscles on one side are being pulled. They're tense to begin with, and the added stress of running can put them into spasm. Relatively weak abdominal and lower back muscles might also contribute to the problem. Running generally tends to cause strength imbalances between these muscle groups. Add tight hamstrings, another common condition among runners, and you have a nifty recipe for back pain. Core strengthening exercises and a lot of stretching can help.
Finally, the root cause is often in your foot, the last place most people look! Back pain is one of the many possible injuries associated with flat feet and over-pronation. Likewise, if your feet are rigid and high-arched, their lack of stress relief and under-pronation can cause stress imbalance resulting in back pain.
For immediate relief, cut back on the mileage, moist heating pads, anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, and a good massage. If the problem is disc deterioration or spinal arthritis, surgery may be necessary, and an adjustment in training is absolutely required. Take this condition seriously, and see a spinal specialist. If your spine is merely out of alignment, manipulation by a chiropractor or physical therapist may help ease your pain. This may also ease your muscle strain.
If your doctor confirms that you have an uneven pelvis or unequal leg lengths, the solution will likely be to try to correct the problem with a heel lift on the short side. This may be as simple as putting a piece of 1/4" foam or cork into the heel of your running shoe. If you don't get any relief at all within a week, go ahead and take the lift out. If it does no good, its better just not to wear one; your body may have adjusted to different leg lengths, and "fixing" it may cause more discomfort. Whatever the case, make sure that the remedy matches the problem; do not use a heel lift if your doctor does not confirm that you have an uneven pelvis or unequal leg lengths, or you may only make your problems worse.
If your problem is in the structure of your foot, your solution may be as simple as wearing different running shoes or adding orthotics to the mix. Most shoes loose 75% of their shock absorption after approximately 500 miles. This appears to be the critical point in which injuries tend to develop as a result of shoe wear. Thus it is important to have a rough idea how many miles are on your shoes and to replace them before soreness begins. If your shoes are not worn out, see your podiatrist for recommendations of shoe types and to see if an orthotic will help decrease the biomechanical strain causing your back pain. . In most cases of lower back pain, you will benefit from exercises to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles.
Back pain can be an indicator of a serious problem and can lead to a cascading injury that slows your running to a complete halt! Muscular back pain is the most common and can be annoying and complicated to treat due to the myriad of causes. If you have severe pain, seek medical attention immediately. If your pain is mild and seems to be directly related to your running, look to your feet as a possible contributor to you pain.
Run Happy! And Pain-Free!
Just do it! I may sound like a commercial, but it is good advice. Today should be the last day you try to use lame excuses to continue being fat, tired and a cardiac risk! Write down you excuses. When you look at them on paper, you realize most are ridiculous and can be overcome. Starting an exercise program can be a monumental challenge, but we are all up to it! I guarantee you will thank me in a few months when you are closer to your ideal self than you thought possible!
Run Happy...and often! It gets easier!
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