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Posts from the ‘Barefoot training’ Category

15
Sep

Marc Digesti Featured in SnowMag

The Barefoot-Running Revolution

Considering the latest running trend? Some experts weigh in on the benefits.
“Barefoot training” and “minimalist” shoes are making waves in athletic communities across the country.  Yet these two training innovations are not one and the same.  Minimalist shoes such as Vibram FiveFingers and Nike Free are joining the shoe landscape, partially in response to the bare-footing movement.
“Great athletes have known forever that the key to balance and explosive movement is having as little between your foot and planet Earth as possible,” says author Christopher McDougall.  “Martial artists and gymnasts always go barefoot, and the best distance runners alive grew up covering massive miles with nothing on their feet.”
McDougall’s book Born to Run critically examines the historical and cultural links between our health, training longevity, and what we place on our feet.
These days we have a plethora of options when it comes to footwear; so what’s best, going barefoot or opting for one of the new minimalist products?  The answer, quite possibly, is both.
“Go barefoot first,” says McDougall.  “Once you’re comfortable with nothing on your feet, then think about adding protection as needed.”
The benefits of barefoot and minimalist shoes are in allowing your foot to move as it was designed to move—without the hindrance of an over-cushioned shoe.  Feeling the ground and adjusting to its changes allows athletes to heighten their form by moving more efficiency and with better body awareness.
“Once you learn to rely on your legs for shock absorption, you’re better able to maintain good form without a bulky shoe getting in the way,” McDougall says. “But it’s too much of a leap to say that minimalist shoes equals increased range of motion equals muscle development equals injury reduction. That’s giving too much credit to shoes and too little to technique.”
As bare-footing and minimalist advocates see it, technique is everything.  When seeking to walk, run, hike or move using healthy form, light and quick foot strikes are paramount.  Bare-footing and minimalist shoes encourage this kind of movement.
Bare-footing and minimalism seeks to strengthen your feet, ankles, calves and hamstrings while reducing impact on knees, hips, and lower-back.  By allowing the foot’s musculature to fully develop, athletes ramp up their balance, posture, and core strength as well.
Marc Digesti, USAW professional ski trainer and founder of PerformancEDU started using barefoot training and minimalist shoes two and a half years ago and hasn’t gone back since.
“It’s catching on, whenever an athlete of mine comes in, I have them take off their shoes,” Digesti says.
For skiers, foot refinement is important for on-hill performance.  Taking control of the fall line requires aggressively flexing ankles, forcing shins forward and using quick-strike balance to carve turns.  A skier’s foot is constantly responding to changes in terrain and must be assertive in the boot.
“In a race boot you want to feel the ground and react well with increased proprioception,” says Digesti.  “Your foot placement, toe movement, and weight distribution all improves [when training in minimalist shoes].”
Before entering the world of minimalist footwear or bare-footing, here are key strategies to employ.  Determine what activity the product will be used for.  Find a retailer to try on different models and ask questions about fitting and brand options.  Begin any training regimen slowly, building foot strength over time.
“I go barefoot on asphalt, and on trails I wear either racing flats, FiveFingers, or Barefoot Ted’s ‘Luna’ sandals,” says McDougall. “When it dawned on me that bare feet were the best way to learn a gentle stride, I cut back my mileage for a few weeks and focused on form.  Within a few weeks, I was right back up to my usual training load.”

31
Aug

Strengthening your feet while you run.

How to Strengthen Your Feet for Barefoot Running

Sue Falsone July 5, 2011

Thinkstock Photo

Advocates of barefoot running argue it’s the way evolution wants us to run—and they’re right. However, this ignores the fact that we spend the majority of our lives locked into regular shoes. Rarely do we go barefoot anywhere.

Before you start running in your new barefoot running shoes or minimalist shoes, let your feet adjust by wearing them to the store, the office, and around the house. Next, work on building strength in the tiny muscles on the bottom of your feet, also known as your foot intrinsic muscles. Here’s how:

 

  • Short Foot: From a seated position with your shoes off, cup the bottom of one foot—without curling your toes—so that it makes a ‘cave.’ Cup your hand against a flat surface to use as a reference. Once you’ve got this down, the next steps in the progression are maintaining this foot position while standing, while performing a lunge, and eventually while balancing on one foot.
  • Toe Spreading: Sit barefoot. With one foot at a time, spread your toes apart as best you can, hold for two counts and release. Think of it not as creating a claw with your foot, but rather as trying to move your toes independently from each other.

When you’re ready to hit the road in your barefoot shoes, start with a half-mile run and work up to your regular distance over a two-week period. After you run, take a tennis ball or golf ball and roll it back and forth along the arch of your foot, focusing on sore spots. Do this for 30–60 seconds per foot to ease soreness and improve your barefoot running. To see how it’s done,watch this video.

About The Author

Sue Falsone – As the Vice President of Performance Physical Therapy and Team Sports, Sue Falsone provides the critical link between therapy and performance. She develops and implements therapy regimens for athletes at Athletes’ Performance.

2
Aug

Minimalist running shoes provide different experience

Great article in the RGJ this morning.  75%  of PerformancEDU clients/athletes are wearing vibrams. 

On a perfect day, Jim Tatro feels as if he’s a deer when he goes for a run in his almost-barefoot running shoes.

Since his son, Taylor, bought him a pair of Vibram Five Fingers for Christmas, the Reno resident has been running about half of his 50 miles a week in shoes that weigh 5.7 ounces and cause him to land on his forefoot rather than his heel.

“I think I have more experiences where the run is effortless — just painless and effortless,” the former University of Nevada football player said. “You just feel like a deer. Every run isn’t like that.

But when those runs happen it’s just magical. There’s almost no weight on your feet.

“That really changes the sensation of the run,” Tatro said.

He is part of a growing trend of runners discarding cushy, traditional running shoes for bare feet, 5.7-ounce glove-like toe shoes with about 3 millimeters of cushion sole — shoes with no support with the same cushion sole as toe shoes or a 9-ounce shoe that has a minimal heel-to-toe ground strike.

The average weight of a traditional running shoe is 12 ounces, according to Runner’s World.

Although it takes a while for the legs to adjust to the new running style, Tatro said his free-feeling shoes are easing his aches and pains.

“I’ve had two knee surgeries,” the 51-year-old said. “I’ve had really no issues since I started running in these.”

The inspiration

The best-selling book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougal is enticing many to kick off their clunkers. McDougal believes humans are natural born runners and running in a pair of running shoes is “like running in a pair of women’s high heels,” he said in a New York Times video.

The author explains in the book that sports-medicine specialists and foot physicians kept prescribing cortisone shots and orthotics for his sports injuries. Instead, he used a running trainer to learn how to run like the Mexican tribe called Tarahumara, known for long-distance running in the Sierra Madre Occidental in thin rubber sandals. Eric Orton taught him how to run on his forefeet with his feet quickly touching down then kicking back toward his butt, his back erect, head steady, arms high and elbows driving.

16
Feb

Breaking down the Vibram’s……..

There seems to be a new buzz amongst athletes and weekend warriors at PerformancEDU in Reno Nevada, (including myself).  We have all grasped into a new style of  training shoe (or lack there of), called the Vibram 5 Finger.  The Vibram shoe is not just used for out-door activity, it is also used indoors as a training shoe.  The Vibram allows our feet to be able to feel the sensation of the ground, but to gain control through mobility and stability of the downward leg.  But most importantly, this shoe will allow us to be more aware of our foot during any type of training. Vibram shoe’senhance our sense of touch and feel, while improving foot strength, balance, agility, and range of motion during each movement.

5 Key Reasons to Wear or Train in Vibram FiveFingers according to www.vibramfivefingers.com:

Not only do they bring you closer to your environment, they deliver a number of positive health benefits—by leveraging all of the body’s natural biomechanics, so you can move as nature intended.

1. Enhanced proprioception improves balance and agility – when wearing Vibram FiveFingers, thousands of neurological receptors in the feet send valuable information to the brain, improving balance, agility, body mechanics, and posture.

2. Healthier feet – conventional shoes not only cast the foot, they often press the toes together and limit range of motion. FiveFingers gently spread the toes, enhance range of motion, and encourage your feet to move in a more natural way.

3. Stronger foot muscles – wearing FiveFingers will stimulate and strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, improving general foot health and reducing the risk of injury.

4. Reduced back pain – by removing the heel lift, FiveFingers enable a more natural hip and spine alignment, helping improve posture.

5. It just feels good – we always stress how important it is to listen to your body – most folks tell us wearing FiveFingers just feels good.

Testimonials:

“I really feel like I can activate all the musculature of my foot when I am running, jumping, and lifting.  And they are really natural and comfortable to wear.”

Nick Kalra, M.S., CSCS | Performance Specialist

“I have the ability to feel my foot underneath me during all movements.  This shoe allows me to gain more mobility through my ankles, stability through my hips, and allows me to load into a single leg movement without having to worry about fighting my shoe for balance.”

Lina I’Anson

“I have finally stopped fighting my training shoe’s for all the movements we are prescribed in our methodology.  The shoe has allowed me to gain mobility and stability with progression, rather than regressing with each and every training shoe I change out.”

Marc Digesti USAW | Founder of PerformancEDU

 

 

5
Jan

PerformancEDU in Ski Magazine

Considering the latest running trend? Some experts weigh in on the benefits.
By Ben Gerig
Barefoot training” and “minimalist” shoes are making waves in athletic communities across the country.  Yet these two training innovations are not one and the same.  Minimalist shoes such as Vibram FiveFingers and Nike Free are joining the shoe landscape, partially in response to the bare-footing movement.

“Great athletes have known forever that the key to balance and explosive movement is having as little between your foot and planet Earth as possible,” says author Christopher McDougall.  “Martial artists and gymnasts always go barefoot, and the best distance runners alive grew up covering massive miles with nothing on their feet.”

McDougall’s book Born to Run critically examines the historical and cultural links between our health, traininglongevity, and what we place on our feet.

These days we have a plethora of options when it comes to footwear; so what’s best, going barefoot or opting for one of the new minimalist products?  The answer, quite possibly, is both.

“Go barefoot first,” says McDougall.  “Once you’re comfortable with nothing on your feet, then think about adding protection as needed.”

The benefits of barefoot and minimalist shoes are in allowing your foot to move as it was designed to move—without the hindrance of an over-cushioned shoe.  Feeling the ground and adjusting to its changes allows athletes to heighten their form by moving more efficiently and with better body awareness.

“Once you learn to rely on your legs for shock absorption, you’re better able to maintain good form without a bulky shoe getting in the way,” McDougall says. “But it’s too much of a leap to say that minimalist shoes equals increased range of motion equals muscle development equals injury reduction. That’s giving too much credit to shoes and too little to technique.”

As bare-footing and minimalist advocates see it, technique is everything.  When seeking to walk, run, hike or move using healthy form, light and quick foot strikes are paramount.  Bare-footing and minimalist shoesencourage this kind of movement.

Bare-footing and minimalism seeks to strengthen your feet, ankles, calves and hamstrings while reducing impact on knees, hips, and lower-back.  By allowing the foot’s musculature to fully develop, athletes ramp up their balance, posture, and core strength as well.

Marc Digesti, USAW professional ski trainer and founder of PerformancEDU started using barefoot trainingand minimalist shoes two and a half years ago and hasn’t gone back since.

“It’s catching on, whenever an athlete of mine comes in, I have them take off their shoes,” Digesti says.

For skiers, foot refinement is important for on-hill performance.  Taking control of the fall line requires aggressively flexing ankles, forcing shins forward and using quick-strike balance to carve turns.  A skier’s foot is constantly responding to changes in terrain and must be assertive in the boot.

“In a race boot you want to feel the ground and react well with increased proprioception,” says Digesti.  “Your foot placement, toe movement, and weight distribution all improves [when training in minimalist shoes].”

Before entering the world of minimalist footwear or bare-footing, here are key strategies to employ.  Determine what activity the product will be used for.  Find a retailer to try on different models and ask questions about fitting and brand options.  Begin any training regimen slowly, building foot strength over time.

“I go barefoot on asphalt, and on trails I wear either racing flats, FiveFingers, or Barefoot Ted’s ‘Luna’ sandals,” says McDougall. “When it dawned on me that bare feet were the best way to learn a gentle stride, I cut back my mileage for a few weeks and focused on form.  Within a few weeks, I was right back up to my usual training load.”

20
Dec

Jessi Stensland of MovementU on barefoot training

Lisa P writes……I see on the MovementU videos that you do many of your drills and training barefoot. What are your thoughts on barefoot running?

Jessi Stensland……… I don’t work within the confines of a label such as barefoot running. What I like to focus on is making sure that the foot, specifically the muscles of the foot/ankle, are trained properly, allowing them to do the job they are designed to do. I do all of my movement sessions and as much of my running drills as possible without shoes (given ground temps and other inhibitors), so I can have a better feel for my contact with the ground, and be more in tune to the movement/strength of my foot contact to the ground. I want to be confident in my body, including my foot/ankle which is part of the total body movement that is running. Our muscles and movement, have so much more power than any shoe. Therefore, for about 7 years now, after being the athlete that thought there was only one shoe that worked for my feet, it hasn’t mattered what minimal shoe I put on, I am confident in my mechanics as my full body hits the ground. As for actually running barefoot, if the surface is natural enough, awesome. If I haven’t spent enough time running around on rocks like the Tarahumara in Born to Run and my own footbed can’t handle it, I’m not going to suffer, I’m going to wear a shoe, but a minimal one that I’m confident won’t inhibit my mechanics at all.

Jessi Stensland | Founder of MovementU

 

12
Oct

Vibram and military/firefighter sole design

Vibram is always evolving, check out the new vibram sole design.

 

Marc Digesti USAW

Founder of PerformancEDU

30
Aug

Barefoot running: foot strike and impact

I have been following a lot of research with barefoot training involving foot strike and the forces placed upon the foot during high impact movements.

The Study involves:

Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners, and it is published in Nature (Full reference: Lieberman et al., Nature, 463, 531 – 535).

Each group ran in shoes, barefoot and they measured the foot-strike pattern (whether the runner lands on the heel, midfoot or forefoot) and kinematic and kinetic variables (impact force, loading rate, and joint angles).

The Conclusion –  there is a shift in landing and a reduction in force

It turns out that people who run barefoot, even when shifting from shoes to the barefoot condition,  shift the landing point to the forefoot.  Nothing new there, it’s been known for many years that running barefoot changes the footstrike.  Hundreds of studies exist to show this.  The next difference is ankle angle, the barefoot runner has a more plantarflexed ankle when they land.  What this means:  the toe is pointed away from the body more (compared to dorsiflexion, when you pull it back towards you at the ankle).  Again, hundreds of studies have shown this.

Next, the impact forces.  Here’s where there is some disagreement.   Previous studies have occasionally disagreed on how barefoot running affects impact forces.  Some believe it actually increases them, with high variability between individuals.  Most suggest a reduction, particularly early on during impact.   The Nature study has found that being barefoot AND landing on the forefoot reduces both the loading rate and the peak impact force.  In fact, it’s three times lower in barefoot runners who forefoot strike than in heel strikers wearing shoes.  Higher impact forces and loading rates equals greater injury risk, and so the study is suggesting that perhaps people who are barefoot or minimally shod have a better chance of avoiding injury.

Marc Digesti USAW

Founder of PerformancEDU


26
Aug

Taping vs Ankle braces: Barefoot vs. shoes

Many discussions have been brought up about taping vs. ankle braces with many of our athletes here at PerformancEDU.  Here is a great article to break down the common questions a lot of our athletes are pushed with by coaches on all levels:

Marc Digesti USAW

Founder of PerformancEDU

Many studies have compared taping versus bracing.

volleyball ankle bracesMany studies found it was difficult controlling all of the variables associated with ankle injuries (eg, playing surface, shoe wear, individual inherent stability, intensity of competition on both a team and individual level).

Most studies have shown that braces are slightly more effective than taping but that both are better than no support.

One interesting study found that simply wearing high-top shoes instead of low-top shoes prevented some ankle injuries and that high tops plus taping had more than 50% fewer injuries than low tops plus taping.

It’s good to know ankle bracing and taping can help prevent ankle injuries, but what about improving strength and quality of movement?

For example, is there anything we can do to make our ankles stronger? And how does wearing ankle braces fit into our training?

I’m just concerned wearing volleyball ankle supports will give our players a false sense of security. Wouldn’t it make sense that improving strength and flexibility would reduce the chance of injury? I don’t think coaches have given much consideration to training their player’s by not wearing them.


Barefoot Training

Sensorimotor control has been shown to be impaired through wearing shoes. (1, 2)

Many athletes spend a great deal of time searching for the best shoes to improve performance and reduce the chance of injury. However, many experts believe shoes contribute to ankle and foot injuries and you’re better off training without them.

Many athletic shoes are made with inflexible soles, structured sides and super-cushioned inserts that end up keeping your feet so restricted that they may actually be making your feet weak and more prone to injury.

volleyball ankle braces active ankles(Photo courtesy of exposay.com) Did you watch indoor volleyball in the 2008 Olympics?

Did you notice players not wearing ankle braces?

volleyball ankle braces active ankles(Photo courtesy of Xinhua)

volleyball ankle braces active anklesAre our volleyball player’s missing out on strengthening their ankles by wearing volleyball ankle supports or ankle braces?

Many athletes, mainly runners, have been experimenting with running barefoot. Some studies suggest barefoot athletes naturally compensate for the lack of cushioning and land more softly than runners wearing shoes. Surprisingly, barefoot runners actually put less shock and strain on the body.

As a result of all the success, barefoot training has become a popular trend among personal trainers and strength coaches.

Barefoot Warm-up
Many strength coaches are now having their athletes perform all warm-ups barefoot.

While the idea of not wearing shoes sounds painful, the fact is that your feet need to workout also. When you wear shoes, you are essentially wearing braces on your feet. Our feet contain a large number of information producing sensors. Your shoes can actually keep you from training and strengthening these sensors.

This is where barefoot training can be so important. If you train barefoot, your feet can more frequently get better at understanding body position and movement patterns.

This is what worries me about player’s wearing volleyball ankle supports all the time whenever they train.

Just by spending five or ten minutes performing your warm-up drills (glute bridges, handwalks, lunges, etc) with feet in contact with the ground, you can establish an efficient sense of ankle awareness.

Barefoot training also helps correct form and reduces foot, shin and muscle injuries.


Teaching our athletes to land properly

Ankles are at the greatest risk of sprain during plantarflexion and inversion. (3)

volleyball ankle supports plantar flexionStatistics tell us that the majority of ankle injuries occur during plantarflexion and inversion.

The tibialis anterior (the muscle on the front side of the lower leg) acts to dorsiflex the ankle and control inversion of the foot.

volleyball ankle supports inversionTo dorsiflex, basically move the toe up towards the shin. Plantarflexion is the movement that occurs when you push the balls of your feet into the ground. Many people have major muscular imbalances involving these two opposing muscle groups of the lower leg (gastrocnemius/soleus and tibialis anterior).

Since the tibialis anterior is often weak when compared to the larger calf muscles, it can’t effectively pull us into dorsiflexion when we attempt to land or cut.

Inversion is when the foot falls in, basically to an inverted position.


Learn to absorb force

It’s good to know volleyball ankle braces help protect our ankles from injury, but what about improving ankle strength?

Many ankle problems or sprains are more often than not the result of an inability to land properly.

In sports, the majority of ankle sprains occur when landing from a jump, changing direction quickly, or moving from a higher surface to a lower surface.

All these athletic movements are examples of where it’s important to have the ability to efficiently decelerate your own force.

volleyball exercises - single leg squat jumpsThe purpose of plyometric training or using dynamic exercises when training for volleyball is to increase our ability to absorb force.

The more effective you are at absorbing an external force, the quicker you can overcome it.

Basically, the faster you can stop, the faster you can move.

Being able to quickly and safely slow down the movement of your body is very important in volleyball. For example, when you must stop quickly to get in position to pass a ball, how quickly you can stop can be the difference between making the play or not.

volleyball exercises - single leg squat jumpsAnother example would be a setter sprinting to the net to save a tight pass. If the setter can’t stop her body quickly, she’ll run into the net or possibly go under the net and run into a player on the other team.

You’re only as strong as your weakest link, which in this case is the ability to eccentrically control movement.

Plyometric volleyball exercises are excellent for force absorption work and improving eccentric strength (the muscle strength used for absorbing force).

If you’re trying to decide if and when to wear volleyball ankle supports (braces), I’m not sure if there’s a good answer. It would make sense to train without them to strengthen everything, and then wear them during competition for the extra ankle protection.

References
1. Balduini FC. Historical perspectives on injuries of the ligaments of the ankles. Clinical Sports Medicine 1982 Mar;1(1):3-12
2. Robbins S, Waked E. Mechanism and prevention of ankle injuries. Sports Medicine 1988; 25(1):62-71.
3. Garrick JG. The frequency of injury, mechanism of injury, and epidemiology of Ankle Sprains. American Journal of Sports Medicine 1977;5(6):241-2.

20
Aug

Nike research on barefoot training

Founder of PerformancEDU Marc Digesti with Vibrams during Glute Activation

There are pro’s and con’s to everything we use as a tool in life.  The research done by Nike back in 2006 (before vibram five fingers came out) has great points.  Of course we are not going to head outside during an August summer and run on the pavement at 100 degrees fully barefoot. This is where the vibram’s come in and allow us to have the confidence of protection of the foot during outdoor training and the consistency of the foots production during ground contact.

Enjoy the article by Stack Magazine.

Marc Digesti USAW

Founder of PerformancEDU

By Josh Staph of Stack Magazine

Theory says that without the support of athletic shoes, the bare foot is forced to use muscles it otherwise wouldn’t. Many believe such training strengthens the lower body and prevents injuries. To gain a full understanding of this practice, we spoke to training experts, Eric Lichter and Tim Robertson, co-owners of Speed Strength Systems, Cleveland, Ohio.

Lichter and Robertson have implemented barefoot training with their athletes, including NFL prospect Donte Whitner and NFL stars London Fletcher, Nate Clements, Tony Fisher and LeCharles Bentley. “We perform all kinds of speed and agility work in our sandpit to help strengthen our athletes’ feet, ankles, knees and hips,” Lichter says.

Taking the practice to solid ground, Speed Strength’s clients now perform dynamic speed warm-up drills without shoes. Lichter says, “When you wear shoes, you lose some of the force production of your feet. When we have the athletes warm up barefoot, their feet produce more force, which makes them stronger, faster and more powerful.”

Nike’s research

In June 2002, Nike set out to test the practice that was keeping its shoes off world-class athletes’ feet. Senior researcher Jeff Pisciotta set up a Nike Sports Research Lab (NSRL) on a grass soccer field. Ten men and ten women ran at a 7:30-mile pace with pressure-measuring insoles taped to the bottom of their bare feet. Simultaneously, high-speed cameras captured the 40 feet in action so that researchers could later examine joint angles, foot motion and foot pressures.

According to their research, a foot sans shoe makes more natural contact with the ground. Without confinement, the foot moves freely, pressure is evenly dispersed among the foot bones and toe muscles contract to grip the ground—incorporating more muscles throughout the rest of the body. Pisciotta concluded that a bare foot works harder and more naturally than one shod in a running shoe, supporting the belief that training barefoot can improve strength, speed and agility.

The practice does have its limitations, however. A bare foot lacks protection and cushioning, so a well-groomed surface is necessary. Also, the bottom of the foot has little traction, making speed and agility training difficult.

Their technology

To combat these problems, Nike developed its Free Technology. Nike points out that the Free’s essence is flexibility, which is derived from a sliced soft upper material and a segmented sole. Each cut is positioned to reflect the pressure measurements taken at the NSRL, as well as the foot’s skeletal structure. In contrast to most athletic shoes, which control the shape of the foot, where force is distributed, and how foot contact is made, Nike says your feet control the Free.

Different versions of the Free are available. On a scale where the typical athletic shoe is on one end and barefoot training on the other, the 5.0 falls right between, while the 4.0 provides slightly more freedom. The Free Trainer—designed for change-of-direction training—has a Velcro strap across the forefoot to provide lateral stability during speed and agility drills.

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