We’ve all seen the saying “In my dreams I’m a Kenyan”. I even had a BondiBand that said it
(unfortunately I lost it somewhere *hmph*)!
I think most of us say it or think it because Kenyans are fast. But now I have a new saying…
In my dreams I have Kenyan FEET.
Well not really their feet – but feet that haven’t been polluted by tight American shoes. Read on…
Recently I attended running symposium put on by Newton Running Shoes and learned a TON. I’m going to try to break down what they said in the 2 hour presentation, so today is about foot stuff.
Look at a photo of baby feet.
If you look at a baby’s foot you will see a “V” shape. Their little toe box is perfectly spread out in fan like shape. Now look at the photo below.
This picture was taken from a study performed almost 100 years ago, published in 1905, in the American Journal of Orthopedic Surgery, showing the difference between a pair of feet of a native of the Philippines, who never wore shoes (Fig 1), and those of a Westerner, whose feet have been deformed by shoes (Fig 2).
No surprise!! We are encouraged to wear shoes everywhere we go!! In grocery stores, to run in, in the back yard to play… shoes, shoes, shoes. No wonder our feet have molded to ‘fit’ the shape of a typical shoe!
So what difference does this make? Who cares what a barefoot looks like?
Oh it makes a huge difference. Do this little test with me.
First take off your shoes so you are barefoot. Get up and stand on one foot. Get your balance. Now try to roll back and balance on your heel alone. You fall off balance pretty easily right????
Ok, now regain your balance, stand on one foot again and this time roll forward and balance on the balls of your feet and toes. Much easier right??? Why? Because your toes actually are gripping the ground and fanning out to help you gain balance.
Now think about it – how much better would your balance be if the front of your foot had more surface area – like say – the foot that had never worn a shoe! SERIOUS ground coverage and balance right??!!
Ok – so we’ve ruined our feet with shoes. And you are STILL trying to figure out how this relates to running… when you run you land on your heel first anyway right????
WRONG!!!! Wrong, wrong, wrong.
A lot of us THINK you are supposed to land heel-toe heel-toe and that just can’t be further from the truth! Heel striking is actually what leads to a lot of running injuries such as knee pain, shin splints and more… but that will be a whole new post on heel striking versus mid foot/forefoot striking.
Next time you run try to pay attention to where you are landing. Is your heel way out in front of your body and hitting the pavement first? Or is your foot landing underneath your body on the mid-front section of your foot. Think about where you benefit from the most amount of balance…. by landing on your heel? Or possibly landing on the forefront of your foot?
I’ll let you think on that and come back for more on ‘striking the heel strike’ ;)