Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Applying the Brakes

Without busting the shins.

I have been noticing this interesting thing when I watch people run.

Someone will be moving along with near perfect form, feet landing directly under center mass, proper heel flick, good turnover, the whole nine yards. Then the go to stop. The throw their body back. dorsiflex the lead foot, lock their lead leg at the knee and heel strike to stop themselves.

¿Cómo se dice ‘OUCH’ en español?

Then they wonder why they are still getting shin splints, sore knee and hip joints and other such pains.

Slamming the weight and momentum of your body into a rigid lead leg with all the force focused on the heel bone, to decelerate from 8 to 0 mph in one or two steps, is not what I would think of as a long term survival strategy.

This is one of those areas where barefoot training can be a real help. The only reason a person can repeatedly perform this maneuver is because the padding in modern running shoes will keep you from feeling the immediate pain of impact (while doing nothing to lessen the shock of the landing).

You can test this (though I DON'T recommend that you do) by taking off your shoes and running a few yards, then stopping in this manner.

A saner way to come to a halt, or a walk, is to land on the forefoot and allow the knee and hip joints to absorb the forward motion by converting it into downward motion. This gives your stride a little dip for a step or two, but it does not put unneeded impact on the leg. With a little practice you can go from a run to a walk in one step, without slapping your foot on the ground or striking your heel into the path.

Here is a video clip of a field hockey player with a good stride, but bad breaking. You will notice that with the slow motion shot, you can see the shock-wave going up his shin from the heel strikes.




jasonencke said...

I can see in the video how he is heel striking to slow down and stop but it is harder for me to visualize stopping as you recommend. I guess I'll have to get out and try it. I've been running about 1.5 miles 3 times per week in my Kwon shoes and focusing on my form. But haven't paid much attention to stopping since I only do it once, at the end of my run, lol.

Janet said...

I'm with Jason. Do you have imagery of proper braking technique?

As slowly as I'm running at the mo', breaking is not much of an issue, but I'd like to learn it now to be prepared for when I get all speedy and whatnot.

Mushtaq Ali said...

I think I will need to do my own video clip on this. I haven't been able to find a useful one on youtube. Now if only I can find a convenient camera person.

BTW, Jason, if you have a spare moment, drop me a note privately, you can find my email in my profile.

Janet said...


jasonencke said...

Salam Mushtaq, I tried to send you an email through my yahoo account. Let me know if you didn't get it.