Sunday, August 9, 2009

Running Forms

Proprioception is our awareness of our body and how it moves. There are a few cases of people who have lost this awareness and only one individual who has taught himself to be able to walk again by retraining his brain. ( and Our bodies use V3 neurons to ensure coordination between the left and right sides (

There are many coaches and teachers who teach various ways to run. Here is a sampling of a few:

Chi Running promises injury free running and increased efficiency. The inventor, Danny Dreyer, based the form on elements of tai chi balance along with the use of gravity in the tilt of the body in running. You can read more at

The Alexander Technique is used not only for walking and running, but dancing and other ways of moving. The emphasis is on as awareness of your body and how it moves and to learn to move more comfortably and without pain. (

The McCall Technique emphasizes form and balance and, as do the prior two, mid-foot strike. and

The last technique we will look at is Nicholas Romanov's Pose Method. ( There is an emphasis on relaxation and mid foot strike and there are drills to improve performance.

One thing to keep in mind, when you change form, you stress your body. Ross Tucker of the Science of Sport wrote in 2008:

"...what the Pose running study at UCT showed me a few years ago is that if you change the landing of the foot, you predispose the athlete to injury - that study took a group of runners and within two weeks had them all running on the midfoot (please don't write in to say that Pose doesn't mean midfoot, because Romanov was the coach and he was happy with their technique!). Two weeks later, they all broke down with Achilles tendon injuries!Why? Because sitting where you are right now, if I was to walk into your office or your home and take you outside and ask you to please run landing on your forefoot or midfoot, I can pretty much guarantee that the way you would achieve this is to point your toe're probably doing this as you read this - contract the calf, and point your toe away from your body, like in ballet. Now imagine your body weight landing on that contracted calf muscle 85 times a minute for 4 hours. That, simply put, is a recipe for disaster.However, if you can gradually change your landing, then I do believe that you can shift your footstrike. But it's a gradual process. And more important, what is the point? There is no evidence that heel-strikers are injured more, no evidence that mid-foot runners are faster and perform better than heel-strikers, and so the ultimate question is:Why would you want to change your foot landing to begin with? Science has little to offer you in support of this. And so my advice, having read this far (well done!), is to forget about the possibility that you're landing "wrongly", and just let your feet land where, and how they land, and worry about all the other things you can when you run!If there is one thing you change in your running, don't focus on your footstrike, but rather on WHERE your feet land relative to your body. Because if you are over-reaching and throwing your foot out in front of you, that's a problem, but what happens when the rubber meets the road is less relevant!"

Investigate techniques, find what works for you, and one thing consistant through these techniques is balance and relaxation.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Baby's Got Back

Running activates hundreds of genes throughout the body, with a mother lodehappening in your butt. Here, they dictate the intricate workings of thelargest muscle in the human body, the gluteus maximus. The butt itselfprovides the ballast needed for stability, so we can accelerate while balancing our forelimbs and trunk on our hindquarters.

Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University studied the activity of this muscle in volunteers during a walk and a jog. "When they walk, their glutes barelyfire up, but when they run, it goes like billy-o," he said.

Our big butt muscles are part of the evolution that separates us from our less cheeky primate cousins who never had to chase game for long distancesin order to survive. We evolved to run. It's a theory that holds true today,and explains why so many of us are able to cover the distances of a marathon and beyond.

Engage your natural ability and invite non-runners to fire up their glutes on Friday, September 18th, during the Road Runners Club of America's 4thAnnual National Run@Work Day. The RRCA will provide brochures and posters,and will post your Run@Work Day event for FREE on the RRCA Calendar at

Sally is also an artist. Her art work can be found at Parlett's Cards, Stationery & Gifts in Williamsburg, Gallery at York Hall on Main St. in Yorktown, Gallery on the York on Rte 17 in Yorktown, Peedles Gallery and Gifts at 404 Wythe Creek Rd in Poquoson, and Rooms, Blooms, and More in Hilton Village on Warwick Blvd. in Newport News.
For comments, questions and resource referrals, she can be reached at © by Sally Young

So, You Want to Run a 5K? (part 2 of 2)

by Dr. Daniel Shaye, Chiropractic Physician
Adapted from an article originally appearing in The Health Journal, January 2008 edition

Our previous column laid the groundwork for "newbies" looking to complete their first 5K or 10K. (Part 1 is at the end of this column.) Here are some additional guidelines and tips to help you successfully achieve your goals:

Get help.

A good coach is invaluable. He or she will answer your questions and help you out the door when you're not sure you really want to do this today. Consider joining a running club (and don't imagine they'll turn you away because you're slow or a beginner). If you've got a support crew in the form of friends or family, so much the better. You might appreciate having someone to carry your stinky clothes or to drive you home on event day.

Listen to your body.

If something hurts, back off; and if it keeps hurting, get it checked out. If you have a hard day, take an easy day or a day off. And finally, take it easy on the pills. Don't mute your body's warning signals.

Make rest an ally, not an enemy.

As we noted above, walking isn't a sin. Similarly, a day off can be a day to recover and come back stronger. Sleep can be time ill used, or time to heal, center and reinvigorate. For all the cyborgs reading, essentially you'll need to recharge. For all the humans out there, use walking, rest days and sleep to do the same.

You can go too fast, but you can't go too slow.

"Too much, too fast, too soon" is the top mistake new runners make. Chart your running and walking, or keep a log. There's plenty of time for you to focus on reaching your full potential, regardless of your age. Oh, and say hello to the tortoise for me, will you?

Be flexible.

Let's say you were planning on running your first full mile today...but your allergies are especially bad, or you stayed up too late last night. Modify the plan. Perhaps tomorrow is a better choice. Life and running each have their challenges, their literal and figurative inclement weather, injuries and such. When it comes to your schedule, feel free to adjust your plans to suit changing circumstances. However, don't change your habits on event day. Race day is not the time to try out a new pair of shoes or energy drink.

Fuel smart.

Water and food are your "gas." Learn to use them wisely.

Prepare for the course.

If the course is hilly, be sure you're physically and mentally up to the challenge. Also, don't run all your miles on the treadmill. Make race day a logical extension of your training - the more you prepare for the actual event conditions and course, the more likely your success.

Support a cause.

Your event entry fee will typically support a cause such as a hospice, the Humane Society or a scholarship fund. You might enjoy running for your own glory, but why not add to the joy by helping others?

Be ready for weather.

Is your event day likely to be hot? Train for it. Cold? Dress for it.

Be safe.

Tell your doctor what you're up to. If your doctor is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine or a similar organization, so much the better. Don't self-diagnose, and consider having your doctor "clear" you to run. And while I'm mentioning safety, be smart. A single female running alone in the dark wearing earphones is a recipe for disaster.

Don't forget to enjoy. Running can be fun! When you hit your finish line, you'll have done something very special. Don't be surprised if your finish line turns into a new starting line, a gateway to new experiences and vistas you once couldn't imagine for yourself.

I'll see you on the trails, my friends.

Yours in running, health, & fitness,

-Dr. Daniel A. Shaye
Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician
Fellow, International Academy of Medical Acupuncture

Do you have a question you’d like answered? Mail your questions c/o Performance Chiropractic, 1307 Jamestown Road, Ste. 103, Williamsburg, VA 23185; e-mail ; or visit

So, You Want to Run a 5K? (part 1 of 2)
Adapted from an article originally appearing in The Health Journal, January 2008 edition

So you've got this idea in your head - you'd like to run a 5K, and someday maybe even a 10K. Maybe you're motivated to lose a little weight. Perhaps you'd like to thumb your nose at the passage of time (when did we get so old?). Perhaps you'd like to be a part of the camaraderie; after all, 31,000 people completed Richmond's Monument Avenue 10K last year. No matter why you've decided to run, I'd like to offer some advice on training for, and completing, your upcoming race - safely.

A 5K is 3.1 miles. If your stride is three feet long, that's 5,456 steps. I've written articles on running fast, but our goal here is simply to get you to - and preferably, past - the finish line. For the novice runner, step one is to forget about time. Note that I used the term "novice." If you've never tried a 5K or 10K, you're a novice runner; and if your last run was years ago, you'll need some time for your body to catch up to your ambitious mind.

As to forgetting about time, let me be more precise: Forget about your finishing time. That being said, you will need to learn about pace. You'll need to learn what your body will and will not do; and you'll need to learn to save your energies, even when you're feeling good and full of beginner's enthusiasm. Remember that on the big day of your goal event, you might get sucked into a pace that's faster than you intended; beware the high price of starting too ambitiously. As Socrates counseled, "Know thyself." (It is not known how Socrates fared at the 5K distance.)
Here are some guidelines for successfully completing your first 5K or 10K:

Set a goal.

Pick an event that excites you, challenges you, or both. Maybe your friend is doing a particular run, or perhaps you were inspired by seeing Aunt Sue complete a race last year. Regardless of which event you choose, leave enough time to prepare. If you're truly starting from scratch, you might want to choose a race that allows you 10, 15 or even 20 weeks to prepare. You can do it! You'll just need enough time. A bonus benefit of setting a goal: You've committed yourself. If you feel like chickening out, something as silly as a potentially squandered $20 race entry fee might be the little nudge you need to line up on the big day.

Work backwards.

This is a trick borrowed from financial planners. If you want to hit the retirement "finish line" with $1 million in the bank when you're age 65, you'll need to save according to a plan. Similarly, if you want to run and reach a 5K finish line 10 weeks from now, you'll need to build up your aerobic "savings account." On event day, you'll only be able to spend what you've saved up. Let's say that today you can't run more than a quarter mile (a single lap around most tracks) without stopping. Ten weeks from now, you plan to run a distance equivalent to 12 and a half times around the track (i.e., a 5K). In eight weeks, you should be able to run up to two miles (eight laps) without feeling like it's the end of the world. Certainly by four weeks you should be able to handle three to four laps without stopping. If you look at the steps needed to reach your goal, and find the steps unreasonably steep, either adjust your goal (maybe a 5K is more reasonable than a 10K for this Spring) or push it back to give you enough time to reach it.

Start small.

Don't be afraid to run slowly, or even to walk. One way to build up to running a mile is to mix brief periods of running with recovery periods of walking. As you progress, your need for walking breaks will diminish. As your aerobic systems develop, you may even surprise yourself by carrying on a conversation while running!

Get the right gear.

Your feet are the only part of your body to touch the ground when you run. Consider going to a specialty running store. Ask questions, and try before you buy. Also, consider custom orthotics for your shoes.

In the next installment of this column, we'll explore the value of working with others (including a coach); as well as some rules for fueling, preparation, safety, and more. Until then… happy running!