If the bottom of your shoes look anything like this, don’t throw them away and get new ones, stop RUNNING!!
Let’s just start with a simple question. What is going to cause more damage to the ground, if you take a baseball and throw it as hard in the same spot as you can repeatedly OR if you take that same baseball and set it down in the same spot over and over? Obviously the second choice is the correct answer.
Now, the real question is, why in a blog about movement and lifelong mobility would this be a question? Why are we spending our time worried about concrete? The simple answer…GRAVITY.
As human beings on Earth, we can run but we can never hide from the effects of gravity. The great news is that our skeleton is put together to handle the downward forces on us, as well as the upward forces for them the earth. If you ever take a good look at our skeleton, you will witness its magnificence in construction. The 26 bones that make up the 33 joints of the foot are not only set up to absorb the impact of the ground below but also to spread out those forces to the rest of the body before catapulting us into our next step. The job of the foot doesn’t just stop with absorbing the forces, it is ultimately the responsibility of the muscles in the foot to tell the rest of muscles in the body what to do with all of those forces. That is a whole lot of work considering it also has to balance an entire body on top of it, let alone deal with Earth pushing back.
Before I go on to more with the foot lets just appreciate the brilliance on our body. The fact that we stand upright is an amazing treat. From our feet we are connected to smaller bones that make up our lower leg which attach to a big bone in our upper leg. What is really neat about this bone, is that it has a slight bend in it that nonhuman primates don’t.
This is important because it allows us balance and stability when we walk. Whereas other animals don’t have this and are therefore need to walk on all fours to be able to move around for any extended period of time. In comparing ourselves to primates, we should be greatly appreciative to have an upright pelvis. The fact that our pelvis doesn’t fall forward the way that other animals allows us to stand upright and ultimately walk.
The awesomeness of nature, is that through time we were able to create a spine with bends in it that allow us to absorb all that shock from below. Want proof? Look at the spine of a newborn baby. What you should quickly notice, is that there is just one bend, not the three alternating “c” shaped curves that we as walking humans have had to develop. The human body is just awesome and being upright, has given us the freedoms to use our hands for other things that other mammals don’t get.
Running used to be essential for survival. How else would we catch our food and feed our family? Obviously times have changed and it has become much easier for us to “catch” our food, and more people are choosing to run because of this. Whether it is to chase away weight-gain or for the pure joy of the sport, millions of people lace up their shoes each day, determined to complete a route. The problem is that out of every ten of those runners, six of them will go done with an injury by the end of the year. The American Journal of Sports Medicine reports that there are 11 injuries for every 100 hours that runners are picking the legs up and putting them down. That’s a lot of hurting knees, hips, and backs that interfere with something that you are wanting to do? So know the question is begged, what can you do to avoid problems? Here’s a couple of things to think about:
1. DON’T JOG…RUN !!!
I noticed that my two-year old has two speeds when she is on her feet. She either walks or she runs. There is no jog. Now, think back to early man and his necessities. There is no way that he could keep up with the Zebra over a long distance. Early humans had to hunt and quickly attack that Zebra. Instead of long sustained jog’s, the early human had to act quickly and explosively to attack that unsuspecting prey. Quick and explosive is more consistent with the type of muscle that is required to make people run in short distances, rather than long distances. When we look at the muscle anatomy we are born with, we find this to be our structural truth. What I mean,, is that can “train” our muscular and cardiovascular systems to allow us to jog, but the cost appears to be heavy in the injury side. When you think about it, this should make common sense. The more we drive our vehicles, the more we need to maintain them. Our body is the same way. When we jog, we are using the same muscles over and over again, this leads us to the repetitive damages of jogging.
So instead of running at less than maximum speed for a longer duration, run as fast as you can covering much shorter durations, your body will thank you.
2. YOUR SHOES ARE THE WINDOWS TO YOUR BONE HEALTH.
Finally I am getting to the picture at the top of the blog. If the bottoms of your shoes look like that example then you are not doing well with gravity. The muscles of your foot and lower leg are designed so that they can talk to the muscles of your leg asking them to slow the body down as it travels forward while running. Uneven wear on the tread on the bottom of your shoe is a clue that your lower leg isn’t doing this, causing your foot to just collapse and collide with the earth, rather than just be set down softly. If you don’t have pain in your knee, hip, back or anywhere else yet, you are lucky!
Take advantage of this warning sign. Learn some exercises to lengthen your calf muscles and get a custom orthotic made while you learning how to restore the arch in your foot.