6 Common Running Tips DEBUNKED!

Thanksgiving is nearing and that means so is the Nashville Turkey Trot Marathon! Hundreds of thousands of people participate in Turkey Trots each year. 

When one decides to challenge themselves to complete a walk/run, this not only helps the associated charity but also helps themselves both physically and mentally.  They are following proper training methods and preparation and are ready to go when the time comes. However, what is this year’s “Proper” forms of gait and footwear to use?

Note how it states, “This year’s,” as it does change yearly through research and common sense. Common sense, I feel, is sometimes ignored. Research changes based on evidence or unfortunately, assumptions. Interestingly, while I was attending a sports medicine seminar, the speaker gave a disclaimer relating he may say something different next year, so keep up to date. 

So, which common running tips have changed in the last few years or so?

  1. Running with your arms reaching as far forward as possible to assist your motion.  This has been debunked as it not only expends extra energy, but it also causes excess motion of the upper body.  Therefore, researchers have concluded that it is best to keep your upper limbs rotating but close to your body. No more reaching forward.
  2. Heel Striking. Once upon a time, research said not to heel strike as it will cause too much jamming onto the heel.  This has been debunked, which I thought it would, as 80% of us naturally heel strike with walking and running.  Research also shows that heel striking does not increase injury. Yes, if you over stride, jamming your heel may be a problem. The simple solution is to not over stride. 
  3. Forefoot Landing.  In the past, it was common to see many bouncing like a rabbit, landing on their forefoot.  This to me, knowing the different morphologies of feet, did not make sense. Again, because the landing surface is flat, it will deform your foot, not always in a good way.  Forefoot landing also contributes to increased forefoot fractures, pain and Achilles problems. Moreso, it has been shown to slow one down. This is because it delays forward momentum, just for a “nanosecond,” as your heel pivots backward as it approaches the ground.  This also creates increased tension and compression on other structures as well.
  4. Barefoot Running/Walking.  This theory was believed to avoid weakening foot muscles as well as being more “Natural.”  Many benefits of barefoot running have recently been debunked. Although barefoot is natural, the surface you are on is not, it is typically flat! Most recent study now showing intrinsic foot strengthening is not having much, if any, benefit for runners.
  5. Minimalist Shoes. A neutral or minimalist shoe, again, like barefoot, can create other issues for the average individual. Most of us are not elite athletes. Many of us have different shapes of feet that are affected when hitting a flat surface.  Some may need neutral, but others may need some type of assistance such as “guide rails”, stabilizers that stabilize the heel, stability shoes, etc.
  6. Super Thick Soled Shoes. Caution should be used as it may help some and not others.  That is, super cushioning is not always beneficial. It can be like imitating walking/running on the beach. For extreme distance running, the extra cushion may help but in other activities it may create instability. It has also been shown that ground reactive forces (pressure on your foot) may increase! This, because your brain thinks your landing on an unstable surface, so it recruits more of your muscles, tightening up as well, to try to stabilize your feet. 

 

It is important to remember the latest running/walking trend may not be best for everyone. The internet may recommend the latest trends but the internet does not know you, your anatomy, morphology, foot type, gait, etc.

If you are unsure about what is most ideal for you, I recommend seeing a professional that focuses in biomechanics.

 

If you would more information regarding the 2019 Nashville Turkey Trot, please visit https://tennesseeruns.com/nashvilleturkeytrot.