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Tag Archives: Stability

  • Fast Abs

    By Alyssa Shaffer

    A generation ago, you’d be hard-pressed to find elite runners paying attention to their abs. Today, it’s practically mandatory. “Our coaches drill the importance of core conditioning into our heads,” Says world champion hurdler Lolo Jones. “We’re at it all the time.” That’s because scientists and coaches now know that you can’t run your best without a strong core, the muscles in your abdominals, lower back, and glutes. They provide stability, power, and endurance that runners need for powering up hills, sprinting to the finish, and maintaining efficient form mile after mile. “When your core is strong, everything else will follow,” says Greg McMillan, a running coach in Flagstaff, Arizona, who has worked with scores of elite and recreational runners. It’s the foundation for all of your movement, no matter what level of running you’re doing.

    The key is to train your core like a specialist. Experts have mapped out precisely how the movements of running draw on the strength and stability of the glutes, obliques, and ab muscles that lie deep beneath the six-pack. They’ve learned how essential it is for runners to engage these muscles to finish fast, reduce pain, and hang tough on long runs. Best of all, they’ve tailored workouts to help them do that.

    All runners – from those rehabbing injuries to elite gunning for PRs-can benefit from this detailed approach. “When all the muscles involved in running are supported, and the muscles in the hips and trunk work together you don’t get as many injuries and can enjoy running more,” says Phil Wharton, a musculoskeletal therapist and co-owner of Wharton Performance Group in New York and the Wharton Health Experience in Flagstaff.

    Quality core work isn’t easy. But it doesn’t require more than 15 minutes a few times a week-an investment that will pay dividends on the road. Just ask Lolo Jones. Even in the off-season, she’s working her core three times a week so that when she races, she’ll have the stamina to retain her status as America’s top hurdler. “When my core strength is at its peak,” says Jones, “I can run more efficiently and maintain the extra edge.

    Here’s How Your Core Works For You On The Road

    Speed. As you enter your stride or quicken the rate of your leg and foot turnover when you’re trying to pick up your pace, the lower abs-including the transverses and rectus abdominis- and lower back are called into action. The stronger and more stable these muscles are, the more force and speed you can generate as you push off the ground.


     

    Uphills

    The glutes and lower abs support the pelvis, which connects to the leg muscles needed to get uphill. If the core is strong, the legs will have a stable plane to push fro, for a more powerful ascent. When you swing your leg forward, the hip-flexor muscles, such as the rectus femoris, pull on the pelvis. As you push off the ground, the glutes and hamstrings are engaged.


     

    Downhills

    When you’re flying down a slope, you need strong gluteal muscles to help absorb the impact and counter the momentum of the forward motion. As fun as it may be to zoom down, without the core strength to control your movement, your quads and knee joints bear the extra pounding of your body weight, which can lead to fatigue, pain, and even injury.


     

    Endurance

    As you’re nearing the end of a race, a solid core helps you maintain proper form and run efficiently, even through fatigue. With strong lower abs and lower- back muscles, such as the erector spinae, it’s easier to stay upright. If your core is weak, you may end up shuffling, slouching, and putting too much stress on your hips, knees, and shins.


     

    Lateral Movement

    Whenever you have to suddenly move to the side-to turn the corner on a track, dodge a pothole, or navigate undulating terrain-the obliques provide stability and help keep you upright. If your core is weak, then you may end up leaning into the movement, which can put excess weight and strain on the joints in your legs and feet.

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  • How to Choose the Right Shoe

    Foot Type

    The Normal Foot Description: Normal feet have a normal-sized arch and leave an imprint that has a flare but shows the forefoot and heel connected by a wideband.
    Foot Characteristics: A normal foot usually lands on the outside of the heel, and then rolls inward (pronates) slightly to absorb shock. Runners with a normal foot and normal weight are usually considered biomechanically efficient and don’t require shoes with high stability.
    Best Shoes: Moderate stability shoes with moderate control features such as a dual density or medially posted midsole.
    The Flat Foot
    Description: Flat feet have a low arch and leave a nearly complete imprint. That is, the imprint looks like the whole sole of the foot.
    Foot Characteristics: This imprint usually indicates an overpronated foot that strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls inward (pronates) excessively. Over time, this can cause many different kinds of injuries and discomfort.
    Best Shoes: Motion-control shoes, or high-stability shoes with firm, stiff midsoles and control features that reduce the degree of pronation. This type of shoe will usually feature a large of amount of dual-density material in the midsole and will appear to be fairly straight, as opposed to hourglass or peanut shaped, when looking at the bottom. Highly cushioned and neutral shoes should be avoided for this type of foot.
    The High-Arched FootHigh Arched Foot Description: High-arched feet leave an imprint showing a very narrow band connecting the forefoot and heel.
    Foot Characteristics: A curved, high-arched foot is generally termed and supinated or underpronated foot (the terms are synonymous). This type of foot doesn’t pronate enough if at all, causing it to be an ineffective shock absorber.
    Best Shoes: Cushioned shoes with plenty of flexibility to encourage foot motion. Stay away from motion-control or stability shoes that limit foot mobility.
    Basic Foot Motions

    Pronations Explained

    When running, everyone has a unique motion in their legs and feet as they
    approach impact, at impact, and during toe-off…we call this the Running Gait.Typically, the foot starts by turning outward and becoming rigid to prepare for impact. (That is why most people tend to land on the outside of the hell.) At this point, the foot normally loosens up and rolls inward, and then becomes rigid
    again as the body weight is transferred over the ball of the foot, preparing for toeoff.The point at which the foot loosens and rolls inward is call pronation. Pronation is normal and is necessary to some degree for the foot to absorb shock and adapt to running surfaces.
    Over-Pronator: Someone who exhibits excessive inward motion is considered to be an overpronator. Some over-pronators are best served by stability or motion-control shoes, which assist in controlling the excessive inward motion of the foot. Conditions such as flat feet, a flexible arch or an everted heel can cause you to overpronate or roll farther than what is necessary to absorb shock and adapt to different running surfaces. Approximately 70-80 percent of runners overpronate to some degree.
    Under-Pronator: Someone who does not have enough inward motion is considered to be an under-pronator (more commonly referred to as a supinator). Underpronators strike the ground as other runners do, but their foot does not complete the motion needed to absorb shock. Usually, under-pronation is associated with a rigid, high-arched foot. Because the foot is so rigid, it absorbs shock poorly and does not adapt to changes in running surfaces. Approximately less than 10 percent of runners under-pronate or supinate.
    Neutral: Those that are right in the middle are known as neutral. Approximately 10-20 percent of runners pronate normally. By looking at the stride motion of the foot and simply discussing pronation and overpronation, we have only looked at the first portion of your stride when the foot strikes the ground. After your foot has rolled forward past your arch your foot is ready to leave the ground but before it can, your foot needs to roll in the opposite direction of pronation so that the loosened joints will tighten up again. This part of foot motion is called supination. It is necessary so that the foot becomes a more rigid lever to propel you forward.
    Type of Running Shoe
    • Geared toward extreme over-pronators and flat feet
    • Very little flexibility in the midfoot
    • Extremely supportive foundation

    Shop Motion Control Shoes

    • For mild over-pronators
    • Slightly flexible mid-foot
    • Arch support in the midsole for stability

    Shop Stability Shoes

    • For neutral or under-pronating runners with stable feet
    • Very flexible
    • Very little or no supportive technology
    • Provides excellent cushioning

    Shop Cushion/Neutral Shoes

    • Best suited for race days or up-tempo runs
    • Lightweight
    • Highly flexible
    • Very responsive

    Shop Racing Shoes

    • Enhances the runner’s “feel" of the ground  which encourages
      a more efficient and proper running form
    • 4mm drop or less compared to 8-12mm for the average shoe
    • Little or no stability or  cushioning addedLearn more about running in minimal shoes

    Shop Minimal shoes

    Running Shoe Fit
    Fit is the most essential aspect of the marriage between your feet and a pair of shoes.
    Feet are three-dimensional and therefore need to be fit to length, width, height and
    shape. A good fit consists of the following:
    • The footbed of the shoe (midsole/insole) should comfortable and contour the bottom of your feet. The heel should be cupped, the medial arch should be positioned correctly corresponding to your arch, and the balance should feel natural.
    • The fit of the shoe's upper should cradle your heel, wrap securely through the midfoot, and give wiggle room for your toes.
    • The depth of the shoe should match the height at your instep comfortably.
    • There should be no pressure points from seams, insoles or upper fabrics that will irritate you later.
    • The shape of the shoe should match the shape of your feet. Some people have straight feet, some slightly curved. Some people need extra depth, some a very narrow heel. With 26 bones making up each foot there are many variations of shape that need to be accommodated.
    • Different foot lengths are common although usually minor. However when it is more than a half a size it requires the person to fit the larger foot and potentially use a modification for the smaller foot. In all cases try on both shoes.
    Lacing of the upper offers the opportunity to help fit a shoe more uniquely. Recently
    many shoes have added extra eyelets or replaced eyelets with gullies (pull tabs made of
    fabric). These can secure a shoe on a foot by aligning the upper more closely to an
    individual foot shape. Also the use of horizontal lacing can reduce pressure on top of the
    foot decreasing the problem of feet going numb.
    If all aspects are perfect except the fit, it is still not the right shoe for you.
    Fit is the most important factor in shoe selection.Make sure you have appropriate time to try on multiple sizes and styles.
    You should have at least 30 minutes available to select the right shoe. If you
    stand on your feet for much of the day it is important to buy shoes later in the day
    when your feet will be the largest.
    Other Considerations in choosing a shoe
    Socks     The microclimate around your feet plays a large part in the comfort of a shoe. Heat, perspiration, and friction can create discomfort, blisters, and inflammatory pain. And for persons with diabetes the loss of feeling in the feet combined with these conditions can lead to severe trauma. Choosing a sock that is made with performance fibers can avoid these problems while cotton socks will aggravate them. Although cotton socks are comfortable initially, they can absorb up to four times their weight in moisture. The combination of wet fabric and heat or friction is the environment that leads to problems. Socks made out of materials like Coolmax will move moisture away from the foot and will help with thermal regulation. Choosing between a thick padded sock and a thin sock is another consideration. This also can enhance the fit of a shoe. The way a sock is constructed plays a significant role in comfort and function. Today you'll find nonirritating toe seams, Y-shaped heels, ribbing around the arch, and friction free double-layered socks. Most people give little thought to the features of the socks they wear. However, buying a quality sock may be the best investment you can make for your feet.
    Insoles These are often overlooked in the purchase of footwear. However, they play an important role in comfort, shock absorption, and support. Insoles are most likely a very thin foam insert that is glued to the interior of the shoe. Some insoles are removable particularly in athletic shoes. Over the counter insoles are better than most that come in shoes which typically wear out within weeks. Although the technology in shoes can give you cushioning, stability, and support, sometimes it is not enough. Adding a more stable or cushioned insole can relieve pain, reduce fatigue, and prevent a wide variety of injury. Insoles may also enhance fit by taking up additional volume for narrow feet or increasing volume for wide feet. Sometimes insoles available at retail are not enough and orthoses should be fit and made by a doctor.
    Old shoes Keep track of the shoes that work well for you. And the shoes that don't and end up in the closet. Bring this information with you when you are selecting new shoes. Or better yet bring the shoes with you so that the sales clerk can distinguish what features give you the best fit and performance.
    Shoe test Although you should spend time trying on shoes in a store there is a possibility that they may not work well for you. After purchasing shoes try them on again at home and wear them for several hours. You may want to take them to a track and walk a few laps. Most shoes should be comfortable right away without any points of irritation. If you find they aren't quite right, take them back immediately and describe you problem. A good store will always help you find the right product.
    The don'ts Do not allow a marketing campaign to influence you any more than peaking your interest. Some marketing can provide excellent information but it does not mean the product will be correct for you. Do not let a friend influence you to select a specific shoe. The shoe may be from heaven for their feet however it most likely is not the right one for you. Do not buy a "team shoe". Frequently sports teams purchase the same shoe for everyone. This is not a good decision and should be avoided particularly if you have any foot problems or past injuries.
    Running Shoe Construction
    It is useful to understand some basics of shoe construction so that you can discuss and select a quality shoe. The design of each component, the materials used, and the construction of the finished product all contribute to the shoes ability to meet your needs.

    Shoes are built around a last that resembles the shape of a foot. Manufactures spend considerable amounts of research to create lasts that will match the shape of their footwear to specific foot types. The upper of a shoe is generally sewn together by hand then secured to the last and attached to the sole. There are three processes commonly used in the lasting - cement lasting, slip lasting, and injection molding. The shape of a shoe is dependant on the last shape, the lasting process, and the materials from which it is made. The materials in each component of shoes make up its quality. The following describes the basic components.

    Outsole: The outsole's function is to provide protection, traction, and durability. It can also play a role in flexibility, stability, and cushioning. Outsoles are most commonly made from rubber or compounds mixed with rubber. They also may be leather or polyurethane.

    Midsole: The midsole's function is to provide cushioning, support, stability and guidance. Midsoles are made from polyurethane, ethylvinylacetate (EVA), rubber mixed with compounds, and other foam polymers.

    Insole: The insole's function is primarily for tactile comfort although it may add cushioning, moisture control, support, and guidance. Insoles are made from EVA, polyester, thermal plastic, graphite, and foam polymers.

    Upper: The upper functions to position, support, and protect the foot. It also is the primary influence on fit. The upper consists of four distinct parts, the heel and heel counter, the midfoot saddle, the toe box, and tongue and lacing. Materials and design are wide ranging. Some are functional others are simply aesthetic.

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