As a therapist I deal with injuries every day. Some are the manifestation of the stress and tension of everyday living, some are due to unfortunate accidents, some are overuse injuries or unbalanced/unintelligent training programmes but the majority of injuries are actually self harm!
What I want to address is...if we are really evolved or designed intelligently to function as moving beings, then why does it all so often go wrong? Why do we see the same patterns of tension and strain over and over?
We therapists identify the overused, the tight and the weak structures, then attempt to restore balance through massage techniques, kinesiology, manipulation and exercise. People seem happy to accept things like, "I have a weak ankle", "dodgy knees","my hamstrings have always been tight - it's me!" A huge industry has grown around addressing the problem that nature didn't get right.
I find it naive and patronising to assume that nature or God (whatever is your belief) didn't get it quite right. So that simply running like we are designed to will naturally result in tight calves, shinsplints, hamstring injuries, low back pain, hip flexor tension, over pronation or supination.
So why do we breakdown so often?
After all the years I have spent in the body industry I reckon we are just not moving like we are designed to. The natural gait gets messed up when we trap the feet and stop them from working by putting them into 'supportive' (more like restrictive) shoes, where they can no longer flex and bend. The feet lose strength, we stop using the natural elasticity of a healthy footstrike pattern and adopt a new one fit for these bindings. In time the achilles tendon shortens, it stiffens and loses strength - the feet get narrower and less active. Eventually they stop feeding back. Feet are a sensory organ and cushioning dims this sense just as ear plugs do to our hearing. Without feedback the body does the best it can, compensating with hips and knees which of course results in tight calves, shinsplints, hamstring injuries, low back pain and hip flexor tension, over pronation or supination.
Undoing this takes time and work and training - but it is possible. We are capable of great adaptation.
I find that teaching people the basics of movement, getting them to be barefoot whenever possible, come out of restrictive shoes and choose minimalist barefoot options makes a huge difference.
So if we are going to make a real difference to everyone, regular people, athletes and "wanna be" athletes who keep breaking - we have to start by undoing their changed gait and unravelling their restricted bodies.
Let your feet be free - start with the minimalist barefoot shoe. My favourite are Vivos - not only for runners - they have great casual shoes and are a really healthy option for kids feet.
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