Heel Landing Due To Fear of Falling-Oz GFOFT

Leave the first response August 26, 2007 / Posted in Running Form & Style

— In RunningBarefoot@yahoogroups.com, “tim” wrote:
> I noticed that in the picture of Ken on the barefoot web page has most of the runners in the back landing heel first. I often ask myself why does something that is incorrect become a thing the majority does. I am guessing it is due to the shoes. If you put 1/2″ of rubber under your heel then it is hard not to land heel first.

> I remember reading Ozzie’s thoughts a few years ago and then trying it. But I had a few problems then I moved to shoes that did not have the big cushioned heel and it all made sense.

>… tim


You will notice that a number of shoe companies have removed the thick cushioning in their shoes. Check out Puma H. Street, Asics Hyper Paw RV II, Kangaroo Speed Mesh Lo, Nike Waffle Racer, Reebok Nautical Mile, New Balance WR 790 & MR 790.

Heel strike has nothing to do with the thickness of the heel of the shoe. It has to do with the way we walked and ran after our first fall. Shoe companies saw that the majority of runners who are not in the competitive or elite category landed on the back of the heels of their shoes. So logic would have it that, if the problem is injuries to the body, then why don’t we solve the problem by making the impact to the heel of the foot less…impactful. So the logic of creating softer heel impact was born.

The theory part of my reasoning about why people land on the back of the heel of the shoe is Gontang “Fear of Falling” Theory or better known as the Oz G-F-O-F-T.

While a baby learning to walk will plop down on its butt, I hold that between the age of 3 and 8 the majority of us were running, got out of control and tripped or fell. Of the 30,000 people I’ve asked, about 1 in 40 hit their chin and needed anywhere from 3 to a dozen or more stitches.

All the others had an indelible “One Time Learning Experience.” This one-time-experience of extreme pain embedded in the brain that the cuts, bruises, abrasions, lacerations, trauma, and shock were caused by the fall. The mind/body holds onto that experience remembering never to let it happen again. Never. Never. Never. It’s too painful to allow to happen ever again.

You will notice that when people walk they snap the lower leg forward. So if they stepped on a banana peel, their center of gravity is behind the foot landing. Therefore the foot on the peel will slip forward.

Rather than lifting the knees up and down to run, the runner has to lift their entire center of gravity up and down so the lower leg can pendulum forward. Therefore the lower leg swings forward landing on the back of the heel of the shoe…and causing a deceleration and also a compression as the rest of the body weight comes down upon the foot.

Stand with your feel parallel and about 3 inches apart.

Keep the weight and your body above and on your left foot/leg . Let the right foot go forward so that the heel of the right foot is touching. The weight is still on the left foot.

In that position the weight of your body is behind the right foot. To take the next step you have to put your weight into the front foot. If the banana peel were there you’d see that your foot would slip forward upon weightbearing.

Now once again: Stand with your feel together and about 3 inches apart.

Keep the weight and your body on your left foot/leg and let the right foot go BACKWARD so that the ball/toe of the right foot is touching. The weight is still on the left foot.

Notice now that your center of gravity is over the front foot. That is where I want the runner’s body to be. That is what I play with when I retrain the neuromuscular awareness of the body to experience of running as falling and catching oneself gracefully.

This is the body posture that Dr. Romanov of POSE Method and Danny Dreyer of ChiRunning are addressing as they teach proper running form and style

If you saw Steve Scott racing one of the 134 sub four minute miles in his career, and there was a chest high wall or curtain he ran behind for a few seconds, you’d say it looks like he cruising along on a skateboard.

So I return to getting people aware that most of us walk with the upper body sitting on the pedestal of the pelvis and legs. When we run from that mind and body set, we’re unable to use the whole body to run.

Watch people walk and you’ll begin to see that they walk from the pelvis and the upper body sort of sits there for the ride. You can only snap your knee forward when the weight is upon the back leg.

If you bring your upper body weight from sternum to top of the head forward a half inch, you’ll notice that you can no longer snap the knee because your center of gravity is over the front foot and you’re now the proverbial broom handle falling forward being held in the palm of your hand. You move fast enough to keep the rate of fall constant.

The reason I give people the sky hook with a hawk, hummingbird, or butterfly at the other end, is to keep the head balanced so there is no wasted energy holding up the head. Also if you read about the Alexander Technique, you’ll realize that the quarter of an inch lift from the crown of the head involved the entire body in walking, running or any kind of movement.

In closing I repeat myself: Running is falling and learning to catch oneself gracefully. One can run clumsily or gracefully. Go for the grace!

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