Podcast 152: Michael Lucchesi : Head Coach, Second City Track Club

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Michael Lucchesi : Head Coach, Second City Track Club
An insightful interview with a great coach, he is one to watch.

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other links for today's show:

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Find Michael at,


Secondcitytc.com

https://www.instagram.com/secondcitytc/

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Progressions and injuries

Progressions and injuries.
If your client cannot demonstrate a competent foot tripod, and they load eccentrically too long into the tib posterior, peroneus longus, and they load too much through the arch and blow into too much arch splay (loosely/slang meaning beyond reasonable pronation limits) and perhaps they evert the calcaneus a little too much.......

If . . . . if they cannot do these things properly, soundly and in a controlled fashion during a double support (standing on 2 feet) demonstration, through a simple standing knee and hip bend . . . if they cannot control their feet in this simple skill . . . .

Then, how in the heck can they do this standing on one leg,? how are they going to do it in a lunge? or as they step forward onto the foot ?How in the world will they do it walking ?
How in the world will they do it properly, soundly, running ? Squatting? Deadlifting? jumping ? or or or or . . . .

if you are wondering why your client has problems, maybe it is because they are doing things way beyond the pay grade of their foot's (limb's) abilities, skills, endurance, strength etc. If you do the simple stuff wrong, in a cheating corrupt fashion, you a will certainly do it that way when things really matter (running, lifting, playing sports).
Sometimes you have to start at the beginning, at the starting line. If your client is having pain and problems, more load doesn;t necessarily make it right. Proper loading, progressively introduced, might however.

Quiz: Walking sideways on a slope

Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 8.38.15 AM.png

Saturday morning fun Test Q#2:
Arm and leg swing gait quiz. Today we combine concepts from our previous quizes ! This one may really put you to the test.

Two women walking on a sloped beach. They are arm in arm.

Take the principles we have taught you on slope walking, functional leg length differentials to level the pelvis, and arm swing to answer the question.

Here is the question: Are these two more likely to walk “in phase or out of phase”?

* Do not mistaken the question for anti-phasic or phasic. These are two different concepts. If you are out of the loop on these 4 terms, just search the blog for them. Then come back here to answer this brain thumper.

Make for your case in your head and then scroll down to hear my reasoning for my answer.

Link to the answer:  https://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/post/144197829694/arm-and-leg-swing-gait-quiz-today-i-combine
 

Arm and leg swing gait quiz. Today I combine concepts from my previous quizes ! This one may really put you to the test. 

Two women walking on a sloped beach. They are arm in arm.

Take the principles I have taught you on slope walking, functional leg length differentials to level the pelvis, and arm swing to answer the question.

Here is the question: Are these two more likely to walk “in phase or out of phase”? 

* Do not mistaken the question for anti-phasic or phasic. These are two different concepts. If you are out of the loop on these 4 terms, just search the blog for them. Then come back here to answer this brain thumper.

Make for your case in your head and then scroll down to hear my reasoning for my answer.

 

This is an EXTREMELY difficult mind bender of a question. You will need to understand the concepts of 2 prior blog posts to even get to the starting line of the solution.  These are the questions I will often pose to myself so that I force the mental gymnastics of gait biomechanics, and quicken my “gait mind” so that I can leave room for processing unique factors in someone’s individual gait. If you have to take time to process the basics, you are gonna run out of time during a consultation and your client will notice you scratching your head. This is a maturation process, you must put in the work that Ivo and I have, if you want to solve the really tough cases. Simple cases are a break, a vacation if you will, they are welcome during a clinic day, but it is the tough cases that make you stretch that truly fulfill your day.  When you are in the clinic, you have to think fast, efficiently and effectively. Recently I had a powerlifter drive from out of state to see me. His case problems were unresolved for many years.  The treating clinician was on the right page, doing a great job actually, but there were so many issues going on that it was hard to see the root of the problem so the case was just being more “managed” than solved. His case was much like this one, all of the findings and factors were related but because I had seen this hodge podge of complaints before (right foot, right knee, left hip, low back, pelvis distortion and a classic Olympic lift compensation fail) so I knew quickly how to piece it all together into a logical solution and find the single spot to focus the therapy, at the root of the problem. My point is that I had done the hard “head scratching” work long ago, so I readily was able to dismiss the distractors and recognize this beast for what it was.  

Back to the two ladies beach walking, I am basing things on a simple assumption that on most beaches the slope gently levels out at the water line, and that the sand several feet up the beach from the water is on a steeper incline, simple tide erosion principles.  Thus, the woman higher up on the beach will be on a steeper slope, this means more beach side leg knee flexion which means less hip extension, meaning a shorter right step length.  This will impair left arm swing, likely shortening it. Less right hip extension will be met by less left arm extension (posterior arm swing behind the body). This often leads to left arm cross over, arm adduction. 

Here is where things get squirrelly. The lady lower on the beach is on a slightly more gentle slope but her issues are the same just muted slightly. So her right beach side leg is in less flexion at the knee and hip, so hip extension is greater and step length will be longer (relative to her friend higher up on the beach). However, she (ocean side lady) is being led by the impaired arm swing, as discussed above, of the lady on the beach side.  That is, if in fact she is being led or if she is the leader. Oy ! There is the brain bender !  

One must consider who is the more corrupting force. In this case, the more corrupting forces will likely trump out the cleaner forces. The ocean side lady is clearly going to have a “more normal” gait with more normal arm and leg swing and step lengths, quite simply the slope she must negotiate is less so there is less corrupting forces on her. The lady on the beach side is having to accomodate more to her greater slope. The lady up the beach is working harder to keep her pelvis level, her eyes and vestiular apparati on the horizon, her differing step lengths from pulling her off from a straight line course, to keep her from falling over (the steeper the slope, the greater the balance challenge to fight from falling into the beach or falling down the slope. Laws of physics say that things roll down hill, so she is fighting this battle while trying to walk a straight line down a sloped beach, with a friends arm in tow).

So, with all that said, one could logically assume that the gal up the beach is definitely working harder, she has greater differing arm and leg swings from side to side, different step lengths, greater struggles with staying up on the slope when gravity wants her to move down the slope, she has more left arm flexion and adduction to help pair with the struggling and perpetual right hip flexion (and loss of right hip extension), she will have to demonstrate more spinal stiffness to deal with these limb girdle torsional differences side to side and a host of other issues I have outlined in these prior “beach walking” quiz posts. Clearly beach side lady is working harder. Thus, just to maintain her gait posturing up on the slope, she will have to dominate the gait. If she gives in to the signals of her ocean side gal, she will have to soften her slope work strategies and she will move down the slope to easier ground. 

Now, back to the question: Are these two more likely to walk “in phase or out of phase”? 

Who truly knows is the answer ! However, we know beach lady is working harder and must continue to do so to stay up on the slope, so her left arm will remain dominant and the ocean side gal will have to accommodate to a very jerky yet cyclically synchronous gait. To walk linked together they will have to find some rhythm. Walking slower will be easier for them to find a harmoniously rhythm. However, one could make the case that “out of phase” gait will be easier (mental image to help you, if they tie ocean side lady’s right ankle to beach side ladies left ankle you will create “out of phase” gait. Thus, the ocean side lady will not mirror her beach side friend. Thus, when beach lady has right leg in extension, ocean side lady will have her left leg in extension. Why? Well, the left arm swing , their point of union, is the trouble zone. With beach side lady having the left arm in more flexion and adduction, the ocean side lady has to accommodate and meet that troubling arm swing. This means her right leg will be in extension at the same time beach side lady has her left leg in extension. This will be more accommodative work for ocean side lady, but she will just have to go with it. Failure to do so will pull her friend down off the beach and making life harder for her friend.

So there you have it. The person up the slope is working harder to stay here, the person down the slope is working harder to accommodate to a gait that their  lower slope is not requiring. Thus, they are both working hard, but for different reasons. But the winner, the dictator, is the one with the greater slope risk. And thus, she will dictate an “out of phase” gait of her ocean side partner, if they are to still walk embraced. 

How did you do ? Can you make a case for “in phase” as the solution ? I can, but I think that “out of phase” is more likely, for the above reasons.

Thanks for playing  this tough one. Congratulations to you if you followed things smoothly. IF you did not, go back and play the mental game again, I think these are important fundamentals everyone should have if you are doing gait work.

Dr. Shawn Allen

Cortical Remapping and Injuries (Redux)

"The gist of this article is that cortical remapping occurs with injuries that are not 100% resolved." - from our archives

Facilitating muscles, "activating" muscles, it is a 2 way street. There is the input into the brain and a corresponding motor output. If you are just "rubbing" out some muscles and get a stronger muscle test afterwards, and that is as far as your thoughts go before you turn your athlete loose, then you may be considered by some to be a stick in the spokes of the bigger system. Simple facilitation without corrective measures or corrective exercises to more permanently remap the optimal pattern may lead to repeated and recurrent pain, problems, re-injury or new injuries, and the like.

As a client adapts to their unresolved, partially resolved (yes, even 95% is unresolved) injury(s) a secondary cascade of neurological changes ensue that often force new cortical remapping. A remapping that is not as fundamentally safe or as sound as the pre-injury mapping yet one that is necessary for protecting further or other injuries. Yet, because it is not the original pristine pattern, it is also one that can begin undercurrents to corrupt other patterns of stability, mobility and movement in cortical and subcortical mappings. Understanding cortical excitability is important, and it can work for you and your client or against you both. It can be used for good or evil.

read on here . . . .

https://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/post/80788172925/activation-cortical-remapping-and-what-you-are

Activation, Cortical Remapping and what you are doing wrong to your people.

We are getting ready to step back into the studio to record podcast 58. We have been touching upon this topic off and on in the last 2 podcasts and we are going back in for more on pod #58 because this stuff is just too important not to beat it to a further pulp.  

The gist of this article is that cortical remapping occurs with injuries that are not 100% resolved. Lots of coaches and trainers out there are trying their hands at muscle “activation” and other new trendy tricks and they are missing the boat and making people worse if they are not doing a good sound clinical history and examination. You can activate any muscles and get what appears to be a miracle response, we can teach a 8 year old how to do activation and get a miracle response, but is it the right response or have you created a temporary compensation for your client (right before you send them into training or competition) ?  Activation is a 2 way street, there is the input into the brain and a corresponding motor output. If you are just rubbing out some muscles and get a stronger muscle test afterwards, and that is as far as your thoughts go before you turn your athlete loose, then you are a liability in the system. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution ?

Here are 2 paragraphs from this brilliant article. This is worth your time. As a client adapts to their unresolved, partially resolved (yes, even 95% is unresolved) injury(s) a secondary cascade of neurological changes ensue that often force new cortical remapping.  A remapping that is not as fundamentally safe or as sound as the pre-injury mapping yet one that is necessary for protecting further or other injuries. Yet, because it is not the original pristine pattern, it is also one that can begin undercurrents to corrupt other patterns of stability, mobility and movement in cortical and subcortical mappings. Understanding cortical excitability is important, and it can work for you and your client or against you both. It can be used for good or evil.  

If after you read these 2 paragraphs taken from the Alan Needle article in LER (link) you think you might be part of the problem or realize that you are not the magician you think you are, then good, you are on the track to self enlightenment and actually helping people.  Go read Alan’s article and breathe deep, ready to absorb and start yourself into understanding that you are really fixing the brain and not always the muscle, and that means you are gonna have to learn about the brain and how it works and more so how it can deceive you and your client and your training, treatments or therapy.

Come join us on The Gait Guys podcast 58 later this week as we delve into this topic deeper and more broadly.

Shawn and Ivo

PS: nice article Dr. Needle. Thank you !

http://lowerextremityreview.com/article/the-brain-a-new-frontier-in-ankle-instability-research

The brain: A new frontier in ankle instability research

http://lowerextremityreview.com/article/the-brain-a-new-frontier-in-ankle-instability-research\

“Recently Wikstrom and Brown proposed a hypothetical cascade of events that would affect an individual’s ability to “cope” following an ankle sprain and provide a rationale for the varying contributors to instability. For an individual starting from a point of normal function, a lateral ankle sprain will trigger a consistent pattern of changes to the joint from the inflammatory process. Swelling will increase pressure on the joint’s mechanoreceptors, and pain will contribute to inhibition of the reflexes to the joint (arthrogenic inhibition). Together, this means patients will have difficulty sensing the joint and subsequently stabilizing it while excessive mechanical laxity will increase this loss of stability.19

Inflammatory changes may be similar across all patients; however, as symptoms remain and the patient adapts after his or her injury, a secondary cascade of neurological changes may occur that may include cortical remapping. In some patients, these adaptations may be beneficial and serve to protect the joint from further injury. Other patients may maladapt, as sensorimotor reorganization changes the nervous system’s perception of the joint. Variable amounts of laxity, proprioception, and cortical excitability exist throughout populations of healthy, previously injured, and functionally unstable joints. Where these populations diverge may be related to how each is scaled relative to the others. For instance, a joint with greater amounts of laxity may have higher proprioception and excitability to aid in stabilizing the joint, but following injury, these factors may become decoupled, leading to errors in movement and coordination.19”  -Alan Needle, PhD

 

Endurance and Injuries

S.E.S. , in that order.
We have been preaching this mnemonic for a decade now here at TGG. Skill first, then endurance, then strength. In other words, first move correctly/well, then move often (build a robust amount of endurance on that skill that you can maintain it throughout your activity without losing the skilled movement without fatiguing), then add strength to this patterned movement. Then rinse and repeat; add a higher skill, add endurance, add strength. Rinse repeat.
We tell this one to our athletes, distance runners in particular, because it is no surprise that most injuries come in the later miles, when fatigue sets in, and compensations have to make up the difference if the run continues. This is necessary and protective, but the wise choice is to never exceed the fatigue, but always be inching the endurance forward.
The question is, do you know where your risk threshold lives ? When are you moving the safety meter past the safe zone and into the risk zone ? Your tightness or pain, if you are lucky, and paying attention, may be your "check engine light" moment, again, if you are paying attention. Never dismiss the benefit of a 2 minute walk in the later part of a long run when a symptom creeps in, it just might get you enough recovery to push out that last 3-4 miles with the symptoms shut down again. If you are lucky. Listen to your body, it is your job.

From the study below:
"In conclusion, NOVICE runners showed larger kinematic adjustments when exhausted than COMPETITIVE (distance) runners. This may affect their running performance and should be taken into account when assessing a runner's injury risk."

-Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

Reference:     https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28730917

Sports Biomech. 2017 Jul 21:1-11. doi: 10.1080/14763141.2017.1347193. [Epub ahead of print] Novice runners show greater changes in kinematics with fatigue compared with competitive runners. Maas E1, De Bie J1, Vanfleteren R1, Hoogkamer W2, Vanwanseele B1.

 

OTS. It is taking down the best athletes, one by one.


Made famous in the beginning, first it was Alberto Salazar.  Now, just in the last decade it has been Anna Frost, Anton Krupicka, Geoff Roes, Kyle Skaggs, even Mike Wolfe. One by one they have fallen, to OTS.  More frighteningly, how many more have fallen to OTS that we never hear about? How many hundreds or thousands walking amongst us have OTS ? If you are a distance or heavy volume training athlete, do not brush off or take lightly what I have complied here today.


OTS, "Overtraining syndrome" is its name, but perhaps a better one would be "Insufficient Recovery Syndrome".  To use the broadest of terms, this is a self-generated, self-perpetuating dis-ease of one's own homeostasis. To be clear, there is a continuum here of multi-system failure, softer less severe forms of OTS. These less damaged states are referred to as Overreaching syndrome (OR). There are two forms of Overreaching syndrome, Functional OR and Nonfunctional OR. Nonfunctional OR shows decreases in performance for weeks to months while OTS being more severe and requiring months to years for recovery despite rest.
Over the past 10 years the best of the best are falling, one by one, victim to "too much".  They have just pushed themselves too much, too far, too long. It is the latest biggest thing in running these days, how far can you run ? Marathons are no longer enough for some, they have to see if 50 miles or 100 miles, or more, are enough and that means running 100-160 miles a week. And what is even more scary, some of these runners are in high school and college, they are still growing kids.

The physiology of these people is failing, truly. Some might suggest they in some respects showing signs of a slow death.  “OTS is one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen in my 30 plus years of working with athletes,” says David Nieman, former vice president of the American College of Sports Medicine. “To watch someone go from that degree of proficiency to a shell of their former self is unbelievably painful and frustrating.” - Meaghen Brown Jun 12, 2015.  Outside online. 

The first reference in which OTS was suggested was by a researcher and athlete named Robert Tait McKenzie.  In his 1909 book, Exercise in Education and Medicine, he mentioned a “slow poisoning of the nervous system which could last weeks or even months.” Then in 1985 South African physiologist professor Timothy Noakes discussed what appears to be the same condition in "The Lore of Running". Runners examined by Noakes had so over exerted themselves that both mind and body were failing.

OTS is truly a deeper problem. This is an immune, inflammatory, neurologic and psychological problem as best as anyone can tell.  In essence it seems the body is slowly dying. The body's parasympathetic nervous system, the system that counteracts the ramping up of the sympathetic nervous system, fails to properly respond to bring the systems back into balance. This means that many of the physiologic responses to activity fail to properly return to baseline. This means that blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, digestion, adrenal and hormonal rhythms amongst many other things go awry. Even other important things begin to decline, things like normal restful sleep, sometimes even insomnia, libido decline, metabolism dysfunction, appetite problems and even heart rate recovery and recurrent colds and viral infections.  We are talking about multi-system failure in these people, and this is serious business. The problem is, these athletes do not listen to the signals until it is too late and they are in full blown multi-system decline or failure. 

Here is likely an incomplete list of things that might be slowing showing up, softly, one by one as multi-system failure ramps up:

- anemia
- chronic dehydration
- increased resting heart rate
- breathing changes
- digestive troubles , bowel troubles (ie. runners diarrhea)
- endocrine problems: adrenal and hormonal shifts
- insomnia and sleeplessness
- blood pressure changes
- libido changes
- metabolism and appetite changes
- recurrent colds and viral infections
- generalized fatigue
- muscle soreness
- recurrent headaches
- inability to relax, listlessness
- swelling of lymph glands
- arrhythmias
- depression (neurotransmitter dysfunction)


There is a way out of OTS. But, one has to wrap their head around the fact that one's goals and mental drive have pushed them to this point. This is one's own fault and they will have to take some hard advice and make some tough decisions, decisions they do not want to make, but ultimately will have no choice but to make. That means changing those goals and habits, otherwise this could get real serious real fast. And wrapping one's head around the toughest part will be the most painful part for most, many months of rest, sometimes a year or more, to fully recover if one hasn't done too much irreparable damage to begin with.  Of course, the immediate course of action is to see a doctor. Hopefully, a doctor who is familiar with elite athletes and one that can rule out any other more serious immediate health concerns and disease processes that can mimic OTS and OR syndromes.

As with solving most problems, one has to first start to realize one is heading towards a problem, and accept responsibility. In this case, over training and under recovering.  One must look at their habits, and the subsequent outcomes, and see if there are signs of impending problems and if so be willing to make behavioral changes. This is a hard thing for endurance athletes, because it is asking them to look at enjoyable, admittedly addictive, endeavors. Endeavors that have always improved many facets of their life, yet ones that have a double edged-sword nature to them which can very quickly chop down all the hard work that has been put in. Ultimately, the answer is balance, balance in all aspects of one's life. But, who is truly good with balance ? Very few of us I am afraid.

Dr. Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys
 

References:

Running on Empty By: Meaghen Brown Jun 12, 2015.  Outside online. 
https://www.outsideonline.com/1986361/running-empty

Sports Health. 2012 Mar; 4(2): 128–138.Overtraining Syndrome. A Practical Guide
Jeffrey B. Kreher, MD†* and Jennifer B. Schwartz, MD‡
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435910/

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013 Jan;45(1):186-205. Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the overtraining syndrome: joint consensus statement of the European College of Sport Science and the American College of Sports Medicine.
Meeusen R, Duclos M, Foster C, Fry A, Gleeson M, Nieman D, Raglin J, Rietjens G, Steinacker J, Urhausen A; European College of Sport Science; American College of Sports Medicine.

Open Access J Sports Med. 2016; 7: 115–122. Published online 2016 Sep 8.  Diagnosis and prevention of overtraining syndrome: an opinion on education strategies. Jeffrey B Kreher

Overtraining, Exercise, and Adrenal Insufficiency
KA Brooks, JG Carter
J Nov Physiother. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2013 May 9.
Published in final edited form as: J Nov Physiother. 2013 Feb 16; 3(125): 11717

Related citations:
https://scholar.google.com/scholar?ion=1&espv=2&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.&biw=1179&bih=705&dpr=1.5&um=1&ie=UTF-8&lr&cites=3025342060917260626
 

Podcast 76: The FMS™ screen and Injuries, Impact Loading & more.

Podcast 76: Association of Functional Movement Screen™ With Injuries, Wool workout gear, landing softly and more !

*Show sponsor: www.newbalancechicago.com

A. Link to our server: 

http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegaitguys/pod_77.1_76final.mp3

Direct Download: 

http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/podcast-76

B. iTunes link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gait-guys-podcast/id559864138

C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification and more !) :

http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.aspx?m=80204

D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:

www.onlinece.com   type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen,  ”Biomechanics”

______________

Today’s Show notes:

 
Last week on our social media sites we posted this article that garnered 9000+ hits:
Runner? LONG DISTANCE runner? Better be careful out there!
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120604093108.htm
 
then this news this week:
Well-Regarded Endurance Athlete Chad Denning Dies While Running Appalachian Trail | Valley News
 
Association of Functional Movement Screen™ With Injuries in Division I Athletes
 
from a reader:
Hey guys, great site, sometimes a bit more than I know at this point. Just graduated from massage school in april. I have been diagnosed with tendonosis of the Achilles heel. Also finding that my leg doesn’t fully extend while walking, anything I can do besides hamstring and calf stretches. It really happened after a 30 mile hike with a 40 lb backpack, Help 
Thanks, sincerely Hector
Synthetic Workout Gear Smells Worse Than Cotton Gear
 
 Land Softly And Carry Less Injury Risk

http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/injury-prevention/land-softly-and-carry-less-injury-risk_11174

 
 

Here Dr. Allen of The Gait Guys introduces some of the initial information necessary to understand proper shoe fit. Topics include body anatomy, shoe anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and compensation patterns. This was part of a private industry lecture where The Gait Guys were asked to help improve the understanding of the concepts critical to better shoe industry choices.

Video presentation: The Problematic Cross-Over Gait pattern. Part 1

Here Dr. Shawn Allen of The Gait Guys works with elite athlete Jack Driggs to reduce a power leak in his running form. The Cross-over gait is a product of gluteus medius and abdominal weakness and leaves the runner with much frontal plane hip movement, very little separation of the knees and a “cross over” of the feet, rendering a near “tight rope” running appearance where the feet seem to land on a straight line path. In Part 2, Dr. Allen will discuss a more detailed specific method to fix this. You will see this problem in well over 50% of runners. This problem leads to injury at the hip, knee and foot levels quite frequently. To date we have not met anyone who had a good grasp on this clinical issue or a remedy quite like ours. Help us make this video go viral so we can help more runners with this problem. Forward it to your coaches, your friends, everyone.
Thanks for watching our video, thanks for your time.
-Dr. Shawn Allen, The Gait Guys

Barefoot Shoe Companies please take note. Barefoot-Natural Running: Fad or Trend

One question still remains, is this whole barefoot “thing” a fad or is it truly a trend that is here to stay ? The Gait Guys believe it has become entrenched enough now, in reputable research journals, that this is a firm trend that will not be going anywhere anytime soon.  The studies are just too convincing that there are benefits. However, Dr. Waerlop and I feel that there are risks for some folks.  Those mainly being that some foot types do not, and never will, have business being in such minimalistic shoes. We remained concerned about the misleading advertising, that these types of shoes will make everyone’s feet stronger. For some, they will, but most of the time strength education must be directed, so why would it be any different here ?  For example, there is a right way to do a squat, and a wrong way and merely doing more of them without guidance does not guarantee that the intended and proper motor patterns will be achieved. We all need direction when it comes to difficult things, like proper foot function.  Thus, merely putting on a minimalistic shoe does not mean that the correct patterns and strategies for foot strengthening are being automatically instituted. We see plenty of folks who are in minimalist shoes and yet still display toe hammering and clenching behaviors which are clearly not seen in strong feet, to the claims that these shoes will do it all are just not true.  And, for those that have challenged foot types and lower limb torsional issues (ie. FF varus, Rothbart Foot, cavovarus foot, excessive tibial varum and/or tibial torsion etc) these folks will likely trend towards local foot problems or injuries or issues further up the kinetic chain (hip, knee, low back etc).  Understandably, these are heavy medical terms and conditions that are very much out there in the running public. We know, we see them daily.  The problem could be that those providing the education do not have enough clinical background to know what these issues are let alone recognize them.  So how can they then draw these issues to the surface in educating the public ?  As I say in my lectures, “You first have to know what a platypus is in order to identify it.  Otherwise it is just a hedge hog with flippers and a duck bill."  These underlying anatomic issues are the elephants in the room that everyone is missing, everyone except us.  We get the folks who are running in these minimalist devices and we get to see who never should have been in them in the first place.

The good thing is that many companies are setting up educational programs to help folks drop down into "minimalism 2.0” but still, to date, no one is talking about the elephants in the room, those being those foot types that are too risky to be in the shoes and even more specifically, how to strengthen the foot.  Merely putting the shoes on and wearing them does not mean the end user who already has challenged feet will begin to engage the correct muscular motor patterns.  But who would admit to those risks, that would be stupid advertising and product risk.  With 36+ clinical years we feel this is where we have some pull and can help.

Someone needed to be talking about the elephants in the room.  We finally decided that we had enough experience clinically, and with runners and shoes, to be that person. Agreeably, there is a danger in doing too much barefoot running too soon. We made this clear over the past few years as Biomechanics Advisory Board members for one of the big players in this game.  For us it is about “keeping them honest” as we like to say now. We are trying to make the calls on the products that have questionable statements and applaud those that stick their neck out but whom take our critique well.  We do not know everything, but we seem to know much more than most when it comes to the biomechanics of what is going in these products.  If you put 10 different feet in a product, you will get 10 different biomechanical presentations from the shoe. So, much of what is being missed is the education of what is going on with the parts that are in the shoe, and that is our world.  A major part of the barefoot or natural running trend are the problems that exist with the thing you are putting into all of these products, a person. A person who likely does not have the classic middle of the road, ‘Average Foot’ these shoes were designed around; that foot that all these companies base their research and dialogue upon.  To us, the most important thing for us to do is to raise the knowledge and awareness to the public, shoe companies and shoe stores that there is likely a ~10-15% standard deviation off of that average foot where their products will work as they claim.  Those other 70%, well…….they need us and they deserve to have us help them see the elephants in the room that no one is talking about.

If the collective goal of the natural running movement is to reduce injuries then the education MUST continue into educating the fabricators and running public of all of the issues at hand (or “foot” in this case) which should include talking about the elephants in the room.

Please help us get the message out. Wouldn’t it be great if this message went viral ? Send this to your friend who just bought a pair of “barefoot or minimalistic shoes”. Send it to your shoe store owner, your coach, your trainer, your doctor, therapist, your running club colleagues, your brother etc.

Lets educate everyone so this positive trend does not have a dark undercurrent that no one speaks of.


Shawn Allen, Ivo Waerlop………with almost 4 decades of clinical experience…..we are,  The Gait Guys