iSAW 02.10 Cool Runnings

Anthropologists in Australia have discovered footprints in a soft lake-bed of an aboriginal man, dubbed T8, who is believed to have been running at 37 kph. Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt reached 42 kph wearing spikes and lycra on a super-fast rubbery surface. If T8 put down his weapons and put on his spikes it’s estimated he’d be capable of 45 kph; that’s 28 mph. My question is did T8 suffer from running injuries?

Spaulding Cambridge Running Lab

Physical Therapist Rob Morrison invited the 360 NMT staff for a two-hour tour of the state-of-the-art Spaulding National Running Center (SNRC) located within the Spaulding Outpatient Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 360’s own ultra-runner Lisa Gorman, was put through her paces on the treadmill while seven UV cameras rolled. To my eye Lisa had a nice efficient stride pattern. Rob called it ‘goofy’. Later he showed us the slow-mo. Yep, a little goofy. Heel struck first (even though Lisa thought not), meaning that there was deceleration with each heel-strike and increased ground reaction forces. Her knees circumducted around themselves and her elbows flapped. Poor Lisa. But, she’ll be okay, because she’s not in any pain.

Recovery from Injury

Rob doesn’t have elite runners coming in to perfect their style. Many of the greatest runners have their quirks. Take note of Paula Radcliff’s head bob and Haile Gebrselassie’s over-pronation. Their smart coaches didn’t send them off to be corrected. What Rob does is find major faults in runners who are chronically injured and in pain. After the video is analyzed, he formulates strategies to address correction of patterns rather than the singling out of individual muscles. He never jumps to conclusions; he looks for ways to strengthen and stabilize the weak parts, stretch the tight parts, and make whole body positional changes over a period of time. A lot of his rehabilitation involves single-leg activities.

The Barefoot Debate

Are we ‘Born to Run’ in bare feet like T8? Do we need thick-soled shoes or not?To find out if you’re going to be any good at barefoot running Rob says take your shoes off and go for a run on concrete. See if it hurts. If not do a bit more, then a bit more. You can’t run using the same style as wearing running shoes or it really will hurt; heel and toe wont cut it. But, as Harvard professor Daniel Lieberman PhD has said “We are loaded with features, from our heads to our toes, which make us really good at running”.

The Vibram Conundrum

The Vibram foot glove manufacturers made some claims that their FiveFinger footwear was effective in strengthening foot muscles and/or reducing injury. Now a lawsuit demands that they give their customers some of their money back because none of these claims were substantiated. Vibram say that the settlement is not an admission of wrong-doing. Would it be ethical of me to get my money back on my 4-year old Five Fingers so that I can put it towards buying another pair, or is that another form of wrong-doing?