An ongoing mission of Natural Running is to create or perhaps re-create the experience of a completely natural stride. Imaging a fairy tale fantasy: A magic wand waves and as the magic stardust settles it enables you to take the two steps that constitute a fully natural stride. Wow, that would be a truly extraordinary experience. Not only would you become aware of the look, feel and sound of a natural stride, but also you would know what it is that is NOT a natural stride. Sadly there are no magic wands and our tendency is to think that patterns of moving that are heavily shaped and conditioned by protective shoes are natural and emphatically they are not.
Here are the footprints of an Nigerian father and son. Footprint B is the father who has never worn shoes. The line from heel to toe shows a directional stability in the way the foot tracks. The 9 year old son (footprint A) has only worn shoes for 9 months and already, clearly the line from heel to toe is severely degraded.
We have evolved, survived and lived for long periods of time without modern footwear. How we might have moved in natural living conditions reveals what we've come to call ' the Design Blue Print'. - By analogy with the computer the Design Blue-Print exists on the hard drive and so we are born with it. The modified adapted way we conventionally walk or run in shoes is in fact the softwear – a programming that has been shaped and conditioned by the restrictions of protective shoes and the beliefs and notions that underpin this. An example of such an idea is the one that suggests that the human foot is incompletely evolved and survives only because we're clever enough to cover- up their inadequacies with foot-gear.
A moment's thoughtful reflection makes it obvious that any protective covering to the sole of the foot will in some way hamper its ability to bend and twist. Now it may well be, depending on the circumstances that the advantages of the protection outweigh the disadvantages of the restriction. The Design blue-print baseline becomes so crucial because the adaptation to the necessary restriction needs too approximate as closely as possible to the natural stride. If we never experience what a natural stride is we also never know what it's not. This lack of awareness creates vicious downward spins of all kinds.
Scientific research shows less strain in barefoot running. The implication is that shoes have created a situation that they often purport to solve. Without the baseline of the Design Blue-Print we tend to behave as if the software programming with its shaped adaptations to shoe wearing is the Design Blue-Print i.e. that it is natural. Here is a possible dangerous error in which we are tyrannised by the norm i.e. we confuse that which is normal with that which is natural.
For most of our evolutionary history we did not permanently encase our feet in protective shoes. Like other animals that are born with gaits that are hard-wired, we too have the equivalent, walk, trot, run, canter, gallop. These are stored on the hard drive and in modern conditions they are heavily overlaid by the adapted habits to wearing shoes.
You may want to use barefoot running as a tool to improve your running style and enjoyment. But you don't know how restricted your feet are, so it's tricky to know how to proceed safely toward a more natural stride. At Natural Running we have been working away in a committed way for 20 years at this very problem. Careful, not to say mindful barefoot running and walking has become an important tool in this endeavour. But barefoot work is not by any means on 'All of Everything Nothing but' panacea. There are many other tools we need to develop to penetrate through that overlay of habit. These are the nearest thing to that magic wand that reveals a natural stride.
John raised £1250 for the Alzheimer's Society by running 80 miles barefoot. READ ALL ABOUT IT AT - http://www.nwemail.co.uk/news...
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