Should we run?

There is plenty of research to suggest long distance running is bad for you and lots of research which will tell you the opposite! On one side we have ultra marathon runners and ancient tribal communities and on the other science based strength coaches. One thing is for sure – we all were designed to run, either for short bursts as some leading strength coaches will tell you, or for long sustained ultra runs like the Kalahari bushmen of Africa who still hunt in this way.

The book Born to Run, written by Chris McDougall has really opened the debate about running again which is great and you don’t have to look for too long before you see someone running forefoot in Cornwall anymore. The big issue which never seems to be talked about is technique… technique is considered in all sports but when it comes to running we seem to presume just put one foot in front of the other. (Just to clarify when we talk about running we are not talking about that weird and dangerous conveyor belt to nowhere you see people slamming down into in the cardio suites.)

Running form and muscle function is vital for efficiency, health of your joints, muscles and injury prevention. Most of us aren’t ready to run. We sit still for too long and then expect everything to work properly the second we step out the door.

There are a lot of issues with form and function which go beyond this blog but the main point we are going to look at is the form of the foot. Poor structure to the feet can lead to knee injuries, hip injuries and even neck injuries. The foot is a work of art with over 200,000 nerve endings, 33 major muscles 19 ligaments and 28 bones. It’s all there for a reason and not just to be put in a cast like shoe. Here’s a great video showing what happens to that perfectly designed foot when modern running shoes are added.

The main issue with modern running shoes is the loss of proprioception, we risk twisting an ankle and with our feet numb to the ground we are able to run in a heel striking pattern. To show you why this might not be so great check out the next two links.

Still not convinced? Here is a simple test.

  1. Take off your shoes.
  2. Jump up and down.
  3. Stop and ask yourself ‘what part of my foot am I landing on?’
  4. Now try and jump and land on your heels………urrrgghh.

So why would you want to run this way? You’re basically putting on the breaks every time you heel strike.

After spending too long in ultra protective shoes our feet weaken and our arches collapse, yet strangely the advice we are given is too spend more on fancy trainers. It’s like a doctor removing a cast from an arm freaking at the muscle atrophy and quickly setting a new cast, twice as thick.

So what’s my advice?

  • Kick the shoes off more.
  • Runners learn to run forefoot.
  • Train your poor weak feet.

Please feel free to comment and debate. If you’re interested in learning more get in contact with the team at or find us on Facebook.