If you’ve read the previous articles on running, you now know that your bodies’ own shock absorbers are of crucial importance.

Whenever I work with clients that want to either get into or- improve their running performance, I test them on multiple abilities.
One of those is their ability to jump. or actually, to land. 

By practicing and optimizing your jumping mechanics, you create can learn how to use your ankles, knees, and hips to decelerate impact. It teaches the central nervous system how to make all the different muscles and joints to work together in an efficient way.

These are the conditions for a healthy jump and landing.

  • Knees track the first 2 toes during the jump and the landing
  • There is a smooth transition between ankle, knee and hip flexion during the land
  • There is a smooth transition between ankle, knee and hip extension during the jump
  • No noticeable impact may be heard during the landing “or Ninja-style landing”
  • Has to be performed barefoot

This is how to test it for yourself, though I strongly advise getting a set of trained eyes to accompany you for a good assessment.

  • Put your phone on camera mode and select the “Slow-Motion” option.
  • Make the jump at least three times while taking separate videos for it.
  • Rate the technique on the points above. Sound usually doesn’t transfer well to slow-mo videos so you’ll have to rate that yourself.

Here’s a video of my athletes doing box jumps in slow-mo, what do you think?

 

Also, if you want to read more, Click here to find some shocking facts about running

 

 

EM sportscience released a video that broke down new research on running shoes so it’s time for an update on my -now- blog series on the topic.

After #1 and #2 , here’s a video that does a great job at explaining what current evidence is showing. Below you’ll find the bullet-points of the talk but if you have the time, I’d recommend watching it all (maybe during your next treadmill run?)

Injuries in running have not gone down over the last 10 years, despite shoe technology

No conclusions can be drawn by comparing former research to now since injuries have changed and runners changed.

Impact force peak doesn’t seem to be a causal factor in running injuries 

Most impact doesn’t happen on landing but later in stand phase. Which means cushioning the heel makes less sense than assumed.

There is no good evidence that loading rate (or faster running) leads to higher change of injury. 

There is no significant connection between anti pronation properties in shoes and injuries. Actually, it seems that sometimes pronation can be an advantage 

New suggested ways of looking at running injuries and shoes might be the “comfort filter” theory and the “preferred movement path” theory.

 

#1 The most expensive shoes are the worst.

 

According to a study done by Bernard Marti, a preventative medicine specialist at Switserlands’ Universtity of Bern, runners wearing A-quality running shoes are 123% more likely to get injured than runners in cheap shoes.
That’s right. Seems crazy right?

He and his team analysed 4.358 runners in the Bern Grand-Prix, which is a 9.6 Mile race. The first thing that struck them was that 45 percent of the studied group had been hurt in the year leading up to the race.
The rest of the information from the study wasn’t any less surprising:

The most common variable between the runners wasn’t training surface, running speed, body weight, age, motivation or previous injury.

It was the price of the shoe.

Runners in shoes over 90$ were twice as much likely to get hurt as runners in shoes of 40$ and below.

For me, it’s not that much of a shocker. I’ve been running on 20$ fake (don’t tell anybody 😉 ) Nike Free running shoes and I’ve never felt better during my runs.

#2 Feet don’t respond well to cushioning

 

We believe that the more cushioning in our shoes, the more comfortable the feet will be. We might be wrong.
First off, all the cushioning in our expensive running shoes do nothing much to reduce impact. When you think about it, that’s not so strange. During every step we take during a run, the body weight that comes down smashing onto the ground can go up to 10 times your body weight.
In my case, that would be 1500 pound of force coming down onto a half an inch of rubber. It’s very unlikely that piece of rubber is going to absorb it all.

“You can cover an egg with an oven mitt before rapping it with a hammer, but that egg ain’t coming out alive”- Christopher Mcdougall (Born to Run)

Secondary, more cushioning make our landing mechanics worse. During some studies on gymnasts they found that the thicker the landing mat, the harder athletes would slam down, trying to find balance. A comparable thing happens when we run. The feet sense a soft underground and instinctively pushing through to find a hard, stable surface to land on.
This is often found when multiple types of shoes are used while running on a force plate. Often, force absorbed by the plate changes significantly while changing between well cushioned shoes, thin soled shoes and barefoot running shoes. Just not the way you’d expect.

Often impact levels are the least in bare foot of thin soled footwear, and highest in cushioned shoes. And that’s because with less cushioning to rely on, we use our bodies’ own shock-absorbers  and they happen to be really good.

And even better, it can be trained to become even better.

If you want to know how your shock absorbers are functioning, click here

 

I’ll upload some stability exercises to my channel soon.

 

Mark

I don’t know many people that get riled up when a 10k run on the treadmill is on the menu.

And fair enough, it’s not exactly spectacular. Most people like stimulus, challenge and variety. Treadmill work doesn’t offer any of those, and therefore there’s a big chance you’ll find yourself thinking about other things to do, like binging on pizza and Netflix.
– Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that – , I actually happen to like both.

But for training purposes you might take a bit of a different approach.

Here’s the facts:

  • Slow jogging is NOT effective for either weight loss or increasing aerobic capacity
  • Slow and steady treadmill work is hard on the joints and connective tissue
  • Slow jogging has a poor ROI (return on investment) in terms of calories and hormone response in the body
  • Slow jogging is catabolic, and can cause you to lose muscle tissue (OH NO!!!)

jog sprint

 

The solution:

With the right approach, training on the Treadmill can be effective. You’ll get the most bang-for-your-buck when you try to focus on forms of training that have the ability to increase your Vo2 max* and create EPOC*.
Most of the time, these effects will be obtained from doing high intensity forms of cardio. In some cases this can even help you build muscle because of the necessary explosive demand on the type II muscle fibers and the increase of anabolic hormones such as testosterone, epinephrine and growth hormone rise.

Before getting into the real stuff , get a sense of what it’s like to perform on HIT and see what happens to your Heart-rate during and after.

This is what you do:

Get on the treadmill and do a 3-5 min warm-up. Soon as you’re starting to lightly sweat, you’re ready to begin.
Your goal is to run 1 kilometer as fast as possible. There’s two approaches to this.

  1. choose a steady phase and stick to it. (for example, 11.5km/h will make you do a 5 min KM)
  2. choose a medium phase with 30 second higher speed intervals

After you’ve finished. Note your time and Heart-rate. Take a moment to rest and repeat, trying to beat your previous score.

After you’ve tried this a couple of times you’ll get familiar with pushing the intensity and you’ll learn how to deal with the feeling that comes with a higher heart rate.

Give this a try and I’ll guarantee you won’t have much time to be bored. Post the results below this post so I get an idea of how slow I am compared to you all  😉

 

My first attempt: 5 min 8 seconds , Heart Rate 110 (you can probably draw your conclusions on how hard I “pushed” it on this one)

 

Happy running! More workouts will follow soon.

 

Mark Chen
MarkChenMovement.com

 

PS. If you’re interested in investing in your own treadmill, check out this research into the top models currently available: https://www.reviews.com/treadmills

 

*Google is your friend, my friend… I’ll do write ups about them later, promise.