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Improve Your Running by Learning to Run Naturally

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Continuing with my discussion about author Danny Abshire’s book, “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger, Healthier Running." I could literally run with the ideas in this book for days! If you are a runner, whether occasional or die-hard, this book can potentially save you from chronic pain and injuries most often associated with the pleasure of running. Running should be pleasurable, by the way, not something that wreaks havoc on your body, leaving you feeling as if the couch is your best friend.

Understanding how to run naturally means understanding the foot. Most runners tend to run with their foot in front of the body, creating a heel strike in front of them. What this does is serve to slow you down. Most runners are simply not even aware of this form they so casually employ.

As Abshire pointed out to me, the heel striking motion many runners use is basically a walking gait. Our feet play a pivotal role in the way our bodies move for any type of gait. They sense the ground, relay information to our brains, and basically serve as our primary balancing mechanisms. Additionally, they allow us to brake, adapt, and stabilize.

For runners, the feet are the most important part of the body. However, until they begin to hurt or ache, we usually take them for granted. Let’s face it-- most of us are unaware of the work our feet our doing.

According to the information in Abshire’s book, our feet are comprised of 26 bones, 100 muscles, and 200,000 nerve endings. They also include a huge network of ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels.

While both of your feet may be the same length, they can vary in width, flexibility, range of motion, structure, strength, and flexibility. You are born with these differences. Other determining factors include our own unique habits, such as the shoes we wear, or injuries we have sustained that cause us to favor one foot over another, or even something as simple as a blister or a callus. These can have a major impact on how you run.

For purposes of natural running, the foot is comprised of three regions: the forefoot, the midfoot, and the rear foot.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.