3 Amazing Barefoot Running Secrets

  1. Still life with human legs and daisies
    Image by J. Star via Flickr

    Run Recovery. When starting out give yourself at least a day to recover from barefoot runs. Never run through foot or lower leg PAIN. This recovery approach has been the key to healing my unnecessarily torn calf muscle and soleus strain. If I had followed this simple time off for recovery formula, I would have skipped many of my aches and injuries.

  2. Straight gait, smooth stride. The easiest way to check your stride is to wear a necklace while running barefoot. I think this is the seventh million time I’ve written about the necklace trick, but it works. (Valen’s Official Barefoot Runner’s Life Barefoot Stride Checker Necklaces Coming SoonThe other essential way to ensure a safe, soft stride is to have someone video record your barefoot run. This is a surefire way to spot bad bio-mechanics. It’s how I cracked my calf and Achilles problems. When I watched the video of myself running, I saw right away that I was swishing my legs from side to side.
  3. Rolling Pin
    Image via Wikipedia

    Rolling Pin Massage Trick. I’ve written about this one too. Buy a cheap wooden rolling pin (LIKE THE ONE IN THIS SHAMELESS PRODUCT PLUG: J.K. Adams BRP-1 10-1/2-Inch by 2-1/8-Inch Maple Bakers Rolling Pin). The rolling pin will not only release the lactic acid from sores muscles, but it will also break up scar tissue, leaving your muscles strong and sexy. The pin will reveal tightness in spots you thought were fine. It’s easy to use, just firmly  it roll over your lower leg. I start rolling from Achilles up to my calf. Then I move to my ankle over my shin up to my knee. I find a lot of hidden tension in my tibialis anterior. Don’t MASSAGE OVER VARICOSE VEINS.

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The Secret of Endurance

US Navy 080910-N-6674H-005 Cmdr. Kristin Barne...
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I discovered this book through a friend.

The system focuses on “training the aerobic system” with foods and movement. It’s about learning to improve your endurance without sacrificing health. In fact, Dr. Maffetone reveals that endurance can lead to healthier, happier, and longer life. He also dispels the myths about training: “… the human engine doesn’t need to be fueled on suffering…”

If you’ve always wanted to run a marathon, a triathlon, or any other type of race that requires endurance, but were concerned about your health and time,  buy this book.

 

–Dr. Maffetone

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How I turned my Legs into Calorie Burning Machines

Muscles of the front of the leg.
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My lower leg has transformed into a beautiful piece of art. Were I to shave it, it could serve as a shining example of the muscles of the lower leg; you can almost see the fibers of my tibialis anterior; heck I never even knew I had a muscle on the front of my leg. My new and improved lower leg is balanced, beautiful and it burns more calories with each step.

Why does it burn more calories?

As you may know I’m recovering from a torn soleus. I ripped it by doing too many eccentric heel drops and attempting to “run  through lower leg pain”. Big mistake. But I learned my lesson.

Whilst recovering from the injury I supplanted my running regime with some of my wife’s Jillian Michaels workouts. Her program focuses on 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio and one minute of abs.

Ironically, it’s the strength portion that leads me to believe that barefooting burns more calories. The exercises in the strength portion involve a lot of movement. For example, Jillian has you do bicep curls as  you do lunges. The idea is to work more muscles at once; thereby burning more calories. By burning more calories, she assures me that I’ll be able to fit into that “strapless dress”. (HMMM, I don’t think the neighbors would be too keen on a barefoot Indian dude with tattoos running down the street in a strapless dress.  )

So, what the heck does that have to with barefooting? Remember my new lower leg?  Walking barefoot puts all of the muscles of your lower leg into action. So much so, that lower leg and foot shape have visibly changed. Since barefooting puts more muscles to work, it stands to reason that it burns more calories. Probably not a truckload more, but step by step a little more than shoes.

 

 

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Barefoot Muscle Memory

Collage of varius Gray's muscle pictures by Mi...
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Do your muscles remember the time Ryan’s buddies held you against the wall while he punched you in the gut? Do they remember the twist in his face when he realized he couldn’t hurt you because you did sit-ups everyday? They must remember how the sneaky bastard waited for you to walk past the blind alley and the hard thump, the sharp bolt of pain, the breath knocked clean from your lungs; they might even remember the sound of that cracked rib.

The body never really lets go of the anguish of past; instead it just twitches some of it out every now and then. It’s like wringing a towel. You can twist it hard and furious, but it’s always going to have some damp in it. If you want it dry, you have to give to the sun.

At some point everything goes to the sun, muscles, bones, the ones we love. Maybe that’s why the body tries to hold onto everything to store it in everyplace it can find; so one day you can remember everything: the first time you mother hugged you, your first barefoot run, your first kiss…

Muscles, muscles, my army of movement, I praise you, I sing your hymn. Without you I am a pile of flesh.  May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you carry my memories, my pain, my pleasure, my very life with ease.

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Pain from a Strain? Or sore from a chore?

Is it a sore muscle or is it a torn muscle? The knowing the difference can save you

Muscle long fléchisseur de l'hallux
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weeks of rehab (but if you do end up with a  full rupture, you can use that time to learn French so you can read the diagram on the right).

Muscle damage from ripping all or some of  the muscle fibers and the tendons attached to the muscle can occur from suddenly overloading the muscle too fast or from chronic overuse and insufficient recovery. Sudden unexplained pain in a muscle may be s symptom of DEADLY medical condition, if muscle pain comes from nowhere, seek medical attention ASAP. It could save your life.

Le Signs of Muscle Strain:

  • Pain in muscle during periods of rest and inactivity.
  • Weakness or Inability to contract the muscle.
  • Bruising, often the bruises will travel. So, there may be bruising near your ankle even though the pain is in your calf.

(This post is officially over. But here is an exciting “deleted” scene. And by deleted I mean completely included.)

Medical advice from a barefoot runner who is NOT a medical professional or reptilian humanoid:

Ice packs or wraps will alleviate swelling. Apply immediately and for no longer than twenty minutes at a time. Slightly stretch/elongate the muscle for best results. Don’t apply heat too early! OMG, you will regret it. I used wet heat the first night of my calf strain. The next day it felt like rats had gnawed it and the twitchy spasms drove me insane. Heat should be applied by the injured party when the swelling has decreased.

Deleted Scene Commentary:

When the passive voice is used by me, I like to add weak,lifeless phrases such as “the injured party”. It reminds of all the bad writing I committed in Mr. Edwards English class. He would write “AWK” in red ink next to almost every sentence of mine. But the awkward phrases were my favorite ones. I never changed them. I let them tumble around the page. When I read them again, they would project many stupid images into my brain’s theater.  Now playing: “Injured Party”.  A ripped “happy birthday” banner slithers in the wind,  below it a tangle of unhappy hunched figures in blue suits and gray, Victorian dresses; at their feet: wet confetti, popped balloons, and spilled punch bowls. Now that is an “injured party”.) OK that was “AWK. You need to re-write this. Come see me after class, we to talk about your grades.”

Silly Soleus Strain

I strained my soleus doing eccentric heel drops. I contintued to run and stretch the tight muscle, turning a level 1 strain into a level 2 strain. Now, I’m battling muscle spasms,  a deep ache, worst of all I have to ride a bike to get some amount of cardio. No barefoot running for a few weeks.

I took the wrong approach. I’m training for 30 mile run, but during my training  the deep innards of my calves were sore and my Achilles was barking. I decided to stick with my mileage and ignore the aches. That was a mistake.

I’m treating the strained soleus with MICE (Movement, Ice, Compression, Elevation) instead of RICE. I am not stressing the muscles, but I am using them until they start to ache. Then I rest and recover and use them again until the onset of the ache, then I rest and recover. And by movement I mean walking on the treadmill or around a stroll around the block. I’m also walking up hills BACKWARDS. That’s a great trick for sore Achilles too. When you run or walk backwards up inclines, you dramatically decrease the load placed on your Achilles and Calf and dramatically increase your ability to trip–in fact, everyone who sees you walking or running backwards and barefoot will think you are “trippin”.

From what I’ve read, the movement increases blood flow to the damaged muscle and keeps it working, preventing atrophy from disuse. The trick is NOT to overdo it; otherwise I’d just be resetting the injury and building a bunch of scar tissue which would lead to further issues.
I’m also adding some massage with tennis balls. The tennis balls or other hard, curved objects break up the scar tissue.  Some people use broom sticks, rolling pins, and of course the stick. The Stick is a total gimmick, a rolling pin does the same thing AND you can use it to ward off reptilian humanoids.

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