I have been a runner for about 25 years. As with many runners, the emphasis ends up on distance and in 2000 I decided to run the London Marathon. I had always been plagued by a bit of knee pain and as my training hit the 10 mile mark, the pain had become intolerable and it was time to Do Something About It. I took myself off to a fancy Physiotherapist in London who said I overpronated, I might need orthotics and he gave me 1 leg knee bends to strengthen my painful knee plus the exercise called The Clam to strengthen my wobbly hips. The Clam did nothing for me whatsoever, no matter how hard I tried and how many billion reps I did, and the 1 leg knee bends were so painful it felt as if someone were running a hot knife into my knee cap. So I took myself off to a podiatrist who prescribed orthotics which did reduce the pain enough for me to run the marathon. By this time I was in this profession and lived in trainers with my orthotics. As time went on, both ankles got more and more painful, so I went back to the podiatrist, who told me I was not in my full prescription, and increased the strength of the orthotics. Within ½ hour, I could barely walk, the pain was so great. Shortly after that I went on a Chek training course, discovered my neck was wonky from an old cycling accident, my knees and ankles were no longer aligned, so my feet had to turn out to allow my knees to point forwards. I was in a mess and the best thing to do would be ditch the orthotics and allow my feet to turn outward.
The years have rolled by and boy, have I battled to straighten up my broken body. Finally, many training courses later, and many thousands of pounds the poorer, I find Z health and listen to the lecture on shoes. And the scales fell from my eyes. The human being is a masterpiece. We are breathtaking in how our body and brain cope with the appalling advice we are given on virtually every front, with constrictions, ignoring of our needs. As we thrash our bodies through our life, we come to the belief, for instance, that running is bad for the knees. What utter tosh. Our feet are the result of millennia of development from knuckle dragging apes with great tree swinging abilities to graceful, upright creatures able to walk tall on 2 legs. Our feet are perfectly engineered springs that can feel the earth and absorb impact as we cover it. And we are told that our feet need motion control and cushioning. This bollocks is peddled by trainer manufacturers who spend billions cushioning and holding our feet ever more ingeniously. I recently had a client who came in with knee pain and who woefully confessed that he had run 3 marathons in the same pair of trainers, despite advice that the trainers need changing every marathon.
The question I asked this client is, ‘Is there a difference between the muscles in your neck and the muscles in your feet?’ ‘No,’ he replied. ‘So,’ I continued, ‘if you wear a neck brace everyday what happens to the muscles in your neck?’ ‘They will get pathetically weak,’ he replied. Indeed. If we grab a pair of shoes and twist them in the middle, they should twist at the arch. If they don’t, the foot cannot move as it should when we walk or run; the foot is braced. What chance has the foot of working properly?
Finally my knee pain is a thing of the past, having done much neural rehab on my legs and I now live in fully flexible trainers with absolutely no cushioning or support other than what I was born with – My Feet. And yes, I do run on concrete. I am using my inbuilt springs! So when I see a young child staggering along, its beautiful feet entombed in mini-me trainers – and they do stagger, little legs battling to move the child forwards – I want to beg the parent to ditch those monstrosities of consumerism and put their child in thin, bendy shoes that give protection against dog poo or glass, but allow the child to be a dynamic, 2 legged human, with strong, supple feet. NO NO NO to the notion that feet are meant to be as soft as a baby’s bottom. This is utter balderdash that will have the soles of our feet so thin that to walk will be painful and we end up dribbling in our beards staring gormlessly at the telly whilst waiting for our enfeebled lives to end.
What to do if an adult or an older child? The most sensible trainer to shift to is the new breed of flexible, as opposed to barefoot, trainers. To start with the trainers that have a higher heel to help the transition – but critically, the arch of the trainer twists. Reduce the training to allow the feet to regain strength. Take off a neck brace and all hell will break loose – and this will happen to the legs if we suddenly ditch the support gained from the trainers. To make the transition superb, the brain has to be reconnected with the body by the Z health drills. No other system does this. No fancy physio, no podiatrist, no callinetics, bogonetics, conmantechnique. Rediscover your feet. And fly.