Friday, October 14, 2011

Training Tip: Ditch The Flip-Flops (sorry, they gotta go)

Training Tip: Ditch The Flip-Flops

Published: Sep 16th 2011 3:09 PM UTC by Jené Shaw
Although they date back to King Tut and Cleopatra, your favorite thong-style sandal may be bad for your running health according to biomechanical experts The Gait Guys (, Dr. Shawn Allen and Dr. Ivo Waerlop.

In 2008 Auburn University researchers found that wearing flip-flops alters your gait, which can result in biomechanical issues from your foot to your spine. “In flip-flops the kinetic chain is essentially asked to function differently,” Allen says. “They can force changes in step and stride length, reduce function of the glutes, and compromise lower leg and foot intrinsic muscles, to name a few.”
When wearing flip-flops, use of the foot intrinsic and toe extensor muscles is reduced in the stance phase of gait. What’s important about this is that the toe extensors, found in the lower leg, are synergists for ankle dorsiflexion (the upward movement of the foot), which is key in running. Without ample function of these muscles, the toe flexors, calf and Achilles shorten and tighten, which impairs optimal ankle and foot joint function.
3 strikes against flip-flops:
  1. Without sufficient strength in the anterior tibial compartment (the front of your lower leg) you are at risk for several problems, including shin splints.
  2. Lack of adequate function of the toe extensors can lead to toe flexor dominance (look to see if your toes have a gentle curl to them at rest; if so, you are in that group!) which has implications with general weakness of the foot muscles responsible for arch strength and general foot health.
  3. In order to keep a flip-flop on our foot, we tend to grip with our flexors, which forces us deeper into this scenario.
If you are going to wear sandals and you want healthier feet, The Gait Guys recommend wearing sandals that have straps that fasten to your heel or lower leg.

Great Pic

A Great Barefoot Story

A Great Barefoot Story - How a flat footed upper 30s man converted to low cushioning.  Inspired by a barefoot/minimalist group in google groups.  ((like our ))

His experience was just like mine, my 1st half marathon was a disaster at age 38, i needed physical therapy after!

<<Still, I resolved to challenge myself more and sign up for a half-marathon. I accepted a friend’s invitation to join Globe’s first Run for Home race in 2009 and began to train in earnest.
It was a disaster. Although I finished in just slightly over 2:30, I was practically limping at the finish line. I woke up the following day with Plantar Fasciitis, shin splints, and a sore back, forcing me to take the day off.>>

the advice he got from a barefoot 'coach:

<<Ted listed three training goals for a successful transition to minimalist running:
1. Gentle and silent mid-foot landings
2. A quicker cadence through shorter strides and slightly bent knees for natural shock absorption
3. An upright posture with your core engaged, belly button pulled into the spine with no bending at the waist>>

Full Article here