Want to be a stronger, happier runner??? Do the flamingo, everyday ;) For most of us our greatest weakness begins at our feet. it's further exacerbated by sitting for hours working, driving, watching TV..."Our strength grows out of our weaknesses." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I began a little experiment on myself about 2 weeks ago, after attending the USATF Distance Summit and listening to and talking with Jay Dicharry. He posted a picture of a flamingo (much like the one above) from his book Anatomy For Runners and presented compelling evidence supporting the view that relying on shoes to solve our foot woos is a bad idea not just for your running but for your mobility for life. Studies indicate that in parts of the world where supportive shoes are the norm, medial knee osteoarthritis occurs at a much higher rates than in other areas of the world. In fact, in areas where supportive, raised heeled, shoes are not prevalent, knee osteoarthritis is rare. Instead, hip osteoarthritis occurs, but it shows up, on average, 20 years later. Supportive shoes alter how impact is distributed across the the knee, so the impact is subtly moved more medially. Now, this is no argument for barefoot running, and Dicharry is very clear that that is probably not optimal, nor practical, but it does suggest that instead of relying on shoes and other gadgets, we should be working out our feet as much as the rest of our bodies. We ignore foot strength to our detriment.
What struck me and stuck with me was when Dicharry said: "Shoes do not stabilize people, people stabilize people." Of course I knew this, but seeing the results of not doing this just drove the point home.
So, my experiment: I teach about 4 hours a day - that's four hours on my feet (one of my classes is 2hs and 5 minutes long) - and I'm what you might call a peripatetic teacher - I walk. I never stand still. But over the past 2 weeks I've been doing the flamingo in class. Yes, my students find me to be a constant source of entertainment, but I'm okay with that. Balance has always been a big bugaboo for me, and I use to chuckle at my klutziness, but no more. Now I'm working on it.
Of course, all things in moderation, and as Dicharry points out in the video below, a little work goes a long way. I'll see how my experiment works out and hopefully I won't topple over while explaining Kant's epistemology. Though that would make for a lively class!
So everyone. Do the flamingo!! Everyday.