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It was wonderful to see all the participants of the 5 km run/walk, including Team East Gwillimbury Physiotherapy, enjoying running and walking the course this year. This is a great time to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Jogging in particular is subject to a lot of debate and trends regarding technique, shoes, stretching/warm-up, training and prevention of injury.

Here are some answers to a few frequently asked questions….

Are minimalist shoes such as vibram five fingers, New Balance Minimus, Merrell vapour glove ok?

Yes and no. Minimal obstruction between foot and ground is recommended especially in the case of trail running. However, the transition should be slow and if you are currently in a stability shoes a transition to less and less support is recommended over a years time. There is research to suggest that a fast transition can lead to injury. But please do not let these articles or stories lead you to a fast conclusion that these shoes are no good. Please visit the link attached for a great summary of “How to Select a Shoe” and please do not hesitate to send me a question or contact me for more details. Lets move on for now.

Should you stretch before a run?

Generally stretching is recommended before a sporting activity. However, there has been some questioning of whether this is always best practice as in some cases the research reports that there is an increase in certain injuries and a decrease in performance.

In running, specifically, a lower range of motion is needed for this activity and therefore just a period of warm up with or without stretching would generally be sufficient. However, generally I would recommend a individualised stretch program (prescribed by a Physiotherapist) plus a proper warm-up as most individuals do have certain muscle groups that are tight and then pull them into an altered biomechanic while running.

Therefore DO warm-up PLUS stretch.

What is a quick tip to improve my biomechanics while running?

A quick, but challenging change you can immediately make to your running technique to improve efficiency and to decrease the prevalence of injury is to aim for a running cadence of 170 and higher. Find an app or website that will click out 170 on a metronome and then run to it making sure to match your right and left foot contact with each click. Remember you can change this rate up or perhaps down at first and work your way up to at least 170. This will automatically improve which part of your foot you are hitting the ground with, thereby decreasing vertical load and joint stress as well as increase your power. This will not be easy but I highly recommend that you work up to this cadence. Check out the pros on youtube and set your metronome to their cadence they will be 170 or higher likely 180-184 (1500 m to marathon).

References: therunningclinic.com, MP. McHugh, CH Cosgrave. To stretch or not to stretch: the role of stretching in injury prevention and performance. Scand j med & sci sports 2010: 20: 169-181.