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I remember the days when I was a kid, kicking off my shoes whenever I could to run around barefoot. I’d let my feet touch and feel the ground, sand, grass or whatever I was standing on. There was an instant feeling of grip, tactility and connection with the earth I was running on. It’s truly when the tires hit the road as a kid.
Today, when we think about our feet, we don’t envision those days barefoot and carefree. Instead, we think about the countless number of shoes out there to cover our feet with. We think about the pressure and stress we put our feet through. And with all the various running, workout and X-training shoes being marketed to us, and with all different sorts of padding, soles, air pumps, who would think that training barefoot or with shoes that have minimal support – the way we used to run around as little kids -- is actually better for you? The manufacturers of all these fancy sneakers certainly don’t want you thinking that that’s the truth. But unfortunately for them and their bottom line, it is. Wearing all of these over-designed athletic shoes actually has an adverse effect on your feet, ruins your gait and posture.
Of course, running barefoot around the streets of Hong Kong sounds about as appealing as running on a bed of rusty nails. There are too many different terrains, too much litter, hazards such as broken glass and much more unfriendly debris. But slipping into something that covers the foot with just enough coverage will keep your feet protected, flexible, strong and healthy. Running with minimal protection on your soles can strengthen the muscles in your feet, especially in the arches. Plus, you’re using less energy, since you’re using the natural springs in your feet and calf muscles to run, and not relying on your pumped up sneakers. This is the way I train, and the way I encourage all of my clients to train as well.
Back in 1999, I met Dr. Phil Maffetone who is really the reason I am the athlete I am today. An expert and world-class trainer, he also is a pioneer in several areas, such as training to run barefoot and in shoes such as Keds or shoes with minimal padding, a flat shoe with no frills. Maffetone actually suggests barefoot therapy. He advises his patients to walk and run barefoot to rehabilitate lower leg pain. This can restore feet and legs, making them stronger and reducing the chance of injury in the future.
Maffetone also gave me a great tip: always buy shoes that are half a size too big so that your feet won’t pronate. Pronating is the action of your running momentum placing pressure on the outside of the foot. This can be detrimental to the long-term health of your hooves. Because of this simple strategy, I’ve never had any injuries in all my years of running and training.
However, I should mention that what you have on your feet is only part of what will keep them strong. Knowing how to run is just as important, especially if you are working it barefoot or with lots of support. But getting back to bare feet. Maffertone isn’t the only one who believes in this philosophy. Oddly, one of the largest athletic shoemakers does as well. Nike began as a company by creating competitive running shoes that were nothing but a sole made of thin treads and a minimal upper support fabric mechanic. This is what runners have been competing in for years. There are many shoes that will make you feel like you’re running barefoot when you’re really not. I recommend Nike Free (I’ve used these for years) Vibrams, New Balance Minimus and Inov8 sneakers. These shoes won’t make you look like you’re running barefoot, but they sure will make you feel that way. Find the joy in running again with an au natural approach to feel and traction, just like the old days when you were a kid and running like mad was all for the fun of it. Because, isn’t that why we lace them up?
The Egyptians probably made the first shoes, a sort of sandal with a tough sole. Moccasins were probably one the first shoes ever made and still popular today. Later, imitation moccasins were made first in Norway and became popular as today’s loafers.
The Greeks really made their footprint with shoes, especially introducing the world to high heeled ones. In the Middle Ages, what was popular was a peaked shoe called the Crackow. It had a pointed toe, making it hard to walk. From 14th century BC in Egypt to the 1800s, shoes for both right and left feet were made straight and the same way, by lapstone and hammer.
Then in the 1800s, North America began to make shoes using simple mechanics, and shoemakers discovered it was easier to make shoes for right and left feet. The shoes were called plimsolls.
In 1845, the Rolling machine had a huge impact on the shoe business (as did the sewing machine a year later). In 1875, Charles Goodyear, Jr. created a machine which made shoes from rubber, a material that had been invented by his father.
In 1892, Keds came into existence by the U.S. Rubber Company, with them making comfortable rubber sneakers with a canvas top. By 1917, Keds were everywhere. This is the shoe that Dr. Maffetone had his clients and athletes training in. Also in 1917, Converse All-Stars were created for basketball. An Indiana basketball star, Chuck Taylor, endorsed these shoes in 1923, hence changing the name of the shoes to Chuck Taylor All-Stars. They were the most popular basketball shoes ever sold, this shoe also had very little support and was used by Basketball players, athletes and kids everywhere.
1948 sent sneakers overseas, and Adidas was created by a German man named Adolf "Adi" Dassler, his brother Rudolf started Puma shortly after.
1924 was the year sneakers went international, and Adidas was created by a German man. In 1984, the most famous sneaker of all was the Air Jordan by Nike, which had basketball star Michael Jordan as the spokesman.
Today, the US athletic shoe is a multi-billion dollar industry.
by Davide Butson-Fiori
I’ve been using the 180 Formula ever since training with Dr. Phil Maffetone for my very first triathlon 15 years ago. Fifty triathlons later, I have reduced my resting heart rate and run faster and for longer periods, all because of this highly effective training formula.
So how does it work? The 180 Formula provides the particular heart rate, which, when not exceeded will give you the optimal aerobic benefits. Its been tested time and again by beginners and professional athletes, and it works much better than other method out there.
Before I go into the specifics, let me just provide information about why the two other popular measuring techniques, the 220 Formula and the Talk Test, will not provide accurate results.
The Talk Test assumes you are exercising within your aerobic range if you can comfortably talk to an exercise partner during a workout. This test is obviously unreliable, and in fact results in the person making less of an effort, resulting in a mild anaerobic state.
Many people are familiar with the 220 Formula, where you subtract your age from 220 and multiply the difference by a figure ranging from 65 to 85 percent. This assumes that 220 – your age is your maximum heart rate, but in reality, even if you push yourself to the point of exhaustion – which is not recommended – many of you won’t get this number. A third find their maximum is above this number and a third will be below. The multiplier, which ranges from 65 to 85 percent, also adds to the inaccuracy. Do you use 65 or 75 percent? How about 80 or 70 percent? Without a more precise indicator, you are leaving your training heart rate to a very wide range, and your fitness to chance.
The 180 Formula provides a more scientific, sensible and proven method that considers both your physiological and chronological ages.
According to Dr. Phil Maffetone, to find your maximum aerobic exercise heart rate, subtract your age from 180. Then find the best category for your present state of fitness and health, as follows:
a. If you have a history of a major illness, are recovering from any surgery or hospital stay, or if you are taking any regular medication, subtract 10.
b. If you have been exercising but have an injury, are regressing in your efforts (not showing much improvement), if you often get more than one or two colds or bouts of flu a year, have allergies or asthma, or if you have not exercised before, subtract 5.â€¨
c. If you have been exercising for at least two years and four times a week without any injury, and none of the above items apply to you, subtract 0.
d. If you are a competitive athlete, have been training for more than two years without any injury, and have been making progress in both training and competition, add 5.
For example, if you are 30 years old and fit into category “b”:180–30 = 150, then 150-5 = 145 beats per minute.
The result is your maximum aerobic heart rate, which means that exercising at this level will stimulate your system better than overdoing it, which will only lead to more sugar burning and less fat burning.
If you exercise regularly, it may seem too easy to work out at your maximum aerobic hear rate, but you have to keep at it. In just a short time, the exercise will become more enjoyable and that you need more exercise to maintain that rate. In other words, as your aerobic system builds up, you’ll need to move faster and increase your efforts to attain that rate.
Circuit25 incorporates this powerful training technique to transform weekend runners into marathon finishers and propelling 30-minute joggers into 90-minute runners. Log on to www.circuit25.com to learn how the 180 Formula can work for you.
To learn more about the 180 formula and training for endurance read “The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing ” by Dr. Phil Maffetone famed coach of Mike Pigg and Mark Allen
It was a very warm Saturday afternoon class at Bowen Road, the members were all ready to go and do some serious sweating. First things first though, we jogged for a few minutes to our first location to do some warm up. We began with some multi-planar lunges, followed by prisoner squats, single leg squats and then three sets of stair running.
After the class warmed up we set off to do some serious intervals, push-ups, sprints, lunges all leading up to the ski jump. I noticed one of the members having some difficulty with the form of this exercise; I took him aside as a personal trainer does to give him some one-on-one instruction. The remainder of the class continued to work their way up the hill doing form perfect ski jumps; I then showed just how to get perfect form.
I squatted down with my arms behind my back ready to launch myself forward, as I jumped forward I mentioned to the student to remember to use his knees as shock absorbers and to squat into the landing. I then landed approximately two meters from my launch; very happy with the distance I then squatted down with my knees bending to absorb the impact. I went down to squat, however I went too far.
I have to let you know that I hadn’t done any sort of a warm-up with the class, so my muscles were cold and tight. I also have a newborn baby and for the past few months have neglected my workout to spend time with her, I also have been spending a lot of time at my computer re designing and getting our new website ready for launching.
I spent a lot of time sitting at my desk or sitting in a rocking chair, and very little time exercising or taking care of my fitness. I should really know better, I spend my life telling others the importance of fitness, warm up, flexibility and core. I had a history of back pain before I began Circuit25, I was lifting heavy weights and then spending most of my day at a desk or hunched over with a camera in my hand shooting.
I learned from experience that to get out of pain I needed to change the way I trained, also the way I spent my time at a desk or my posture. I began to include more functional training and ended all my workouts with stretching and a healthy round of core exercises, in no time my back became pain free and I finally had a healthy core.
Now back to Saturday afternoon at Bowen road, I landed in squat and went past where my backs flexibility. The result was an acute spasm; I lay there in pain, extreme pain. I have a high threshold for pain, however this turned me into a whimpering bundle of exposed nerves.
We had 20 minutes left in the class so I tried my best to stand up and move out of the path of running class attendees, as much as I tried I just couldn’t move without having an electric current of pain shoot right into my lower back. So I lay there, making sure that the people running by me did not step on me and continued to move and finish the session. I am not quite sure how it happened but I finished the session on my back and once I praised everyone with a “good job”, did they approach me looking down and asking if they could help. I just said, “give me my phone I need to call 999.”
The paramedics came and put me on a stretcher, I swallowed my pride and told everyone I would be fine and make sure they warmed up before they exercise, “do as I say not as I do”. I then was taken off to the hospital where I stayed for two days; with a little rest and a lot of pain medication I went home and started my recovery.
The past few weeks I have spent a lot of time re conditioning my back and my core, I pulled out some articles that I’ve written on the subject and am now leading by example again, reminding myself as I remind all my clients. Make time for exercise, or make time for pain and injury.
Have a look at the two stories below, the first one is the importance of warming up and stretching and the one afterward is how to condition your core for a pain free back.
Remember, 90% of everyone over the age of 40 will suffer from some form of back pain, put the work in now so you can lead a long pain free life.
There have been many theories on stretching. Ever since people have started exercising, there have been different philosophies about how and when to stretch. And there are countless studies out, promoting stretching before exercise or after exercise, and suggesting the various benefits of stretching. So we know that stretching is important; it’s just a matter of how and when you do it.
As a fitness expert and trainer who has been exercising for years and working with people who exercise under my supervision, I have my own thoughts and conclusions on stretching. I definitely think it’s an essential part of one’s workout since it increases flexibility and helps prevents injuries, allowing one to benefit more from exercise. But I've also figured out what works best for me and my clients.
For starters, I should mention that I don’t believe in static stretching before exercise. Static stretching is all about holding a stretch once you can’t stretch any further for a minimum of a few seconds to no more than two minutes. These stretches are then repeated. Static stretching before you exercise has been shown that it can hinder your performance, your muscles contract and tighten up.
The results are a lousy exercise session since the muscles are weakened. And if the muscles are weakened, then protecting your joints from injury doesn’t seem possible.
I don’t think anyone should ever stretch when their muscles are cold. The only exception I can make to my “no static stretchin” rule is for dancers and gymnasts. Since their bodies are expected to have extreme flexibility, they need to stretch for long periods of time before they work out. However, they make sure they are warm before they are stretching by doing things like a barre routine to warm up and applying warm clothing to parts of their bodies. (Where do you think the concept of leg warmers came from?).
All that aside, I want to make it clear that I am a firm believer in stretching, in particular, dynamic stretch during a work out once your muscles are warmed up. What this means is that you move your body by using certain exercises that stretch your muscles. For example, in my outdoor circuit training company, Circuit25, we tackle a short run before engaging in a multi-planar lunge that gives us a dynamic stretch and warms us up at the same time before diving into our workout.
There are no extended holding of the stretch. As a result, our bodies are able to handle the exercises without injury and perform better overall.
Stretching is also extremely important after the workout. At Circuit25, we cool down at the end of class by using yoga based static stretching on very warm muscles which we hold for 25 seconds each. By doing this, our muscles return to their original length, and at the same time, we are helping with overall flexibility, which translates into not only fewer injuries but better performance in future workouts.
I do want to mention that when it comes to any kind of stretching, whether it’s before, during or after a workout: don’t overstretch. Even if you’re very flexible, focus on getting stronger so that your joints can handle more. As the comedian Jimmy Falon said, “Don't keep reaching for the stars because you'll just look like an idiot stretching that way for no reason.” While he meant this in humor, there’s some truth to his statement. If you want to reach for the stars in your quest for perfect fitness, make sure you focus on warming up, using some dynamic stretching and then moving on to your exercise routine and feel your body become a pillar of strength.
Back pain is no joke. It can pulverize ambition and sap motivation. It’s time to focus on good posture and a strong core, which are back pain annihilators.
Below are the 25 principles to a stronger, healthier back. They include ten tips on how to combat poor posture and back pain at work, and 15 steps to a stronger core through exercise and stretching. This will give you the scaffolding to obtain a healthier, pain-free lower spine.
Ten tips to combat poor posture and back pain at work
1. When sitting in your chair, make sure your feet are flat and that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Adjust your chair if need be.
2. Arch your lower back and make sure your hips are at a 90-degree angle. Lumbar pillows and other types of back support are unnecessary.
3. Place your elbows on your armrest for what’s natural to you. Now, adjust the armrests so that they go slightly higher.
4. Push your chest up and forward, but only slightly.
5. Slightly squeeze your shoulder blades together by pulling them down and back.
6. Tuck your chin in slightly. Try to line up your ears with your shoulders.
7. Adjust the top part of your monitor screen to be at eye level and several feet away from you.
8. Don’t reach! Pull your keyboard, phone and mouse closer to you.
9. Sticky note alert! Remind yourself to correct your posture.
10. Take a Break: Even if you’ve been sitting with perfect posture, give yourself a rest. Stand up, walk around and stretch once every hour. This will rid of any muscle tightness. Try to look away and focus on something else that’s far way every 25 minutes. This will ease your eyes from constantly staring at the same depth.
Strengthening your core muscles is probably the most important step in treating back pain. By increasing the strength and flexibility of the core muscles - the abdominal muscles and all the muscles linked to your lower back - your weight will become evenly distributed and less of a burden on your spine.
Note: If you have distinct back problems or injuries, please see your doctor before trying these exercises.
Body weight exercises are very effective for developing core strength. Many athletes and trainers rely on these types of exercises as part of their regular training. They include:
1. The Basic Push Up
3. Wall Squat
4. Hip Lifts
6. Side Lunges
7. Torso Twists
9. Side Plank
10. Modified Plank
11. Sun Salutation
13. Heel dig bridging
15. Child's Pose
A Better Back
By combining our tips for correct posture and core exercises, you’ll find yourself with a stronger, healthier and pain-free back in no time.
Note: If these combined efforts offer no improvement for your back, you should contact your physician.
By Davide Butson-Fiori
Your first triathlon is one you’ll never forget. I still vividly remember mine: it was the “Mrs. T’s” in Chicago. I had a great coach and the right equipment, and I remember the dripping sweat, the stifling heat and the nervous energy. Actually, there was too much nervous energy. Those nerves caused me to panic. If I had the 10 pointers below at my disposal, it probably would have been a much more relaxing and enjoyable race.
When the big tri day arrives, make sure to follow these tips below. If you do, all you’ll need is a little luck in finishing your challenge.
SIGN UP: Remember to register. You’ll have options of what type of race to tackle so here’s what I suggest for your first time… basically, a sprint: 1/2 swim, 12-mile bike and 3-mile run.If you have experience, I suggest pushing yourself for Olympic distance: 1-mile swim, 26-mile bike and 6-mile run.
YOUR PROGRAM/COACH: Find a coach or a program where you feel comfortable and challenged. Do all of the work prescribed and stick to your schedule. You’ll be amazed at your preparedness. I was lucky enough to have been coached by one of the best, Dr. Phil Maffetone. However, if you can’t afford a coach, there are plenty of online coaching programs available, even ones run by experienced tri-athletes.
TRAIN EVERYDAY: Remember to put the time in on all three disciplines: swim, bike and run. I personally do doubles (training twice) on Sunday, increasing my time every two weeks. My suggestion: start training for 1 hour and finish at 1.5-2 hours.
EAT RIGHT: Chow down on protein; you are literally feeding your muscles. Eat three balanced meals: 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates, 20% good fats. Snack on nuts, seeds and other protein rich bites.
KNOW YOUR GEAR. Practice getting into and out of your wetsuit, learn how to use the clips on your bike. Practice changing your tires in case of emergency. I dumped my first bike a dozen times during training but never at a race.
PACK THE NIGHT BEFORE YOUR RACE: Double-check your gear list. There’s nothing worse than leaving something at home. I once drove to a race two hours away from my home in Tokyo and soon after realized I had forgotten my bicycling shoes. I’ll never do that again!
PRE-RACE MEAL: Eat some protein and slow carbs like oatmeal on the morning of the race. Carry some GU (carb replacement drink) and lots of water for the bike ride.
STAY CALM: On race day, right before the swim horn, my stomach was always twisted in knots and full of butterflies. Go out for a 15-minute run just before swim line up. It helps to calm the nerves and warm up those muscles.
RACE TO FINISH. Since it’s your first triathlon, your goal is to finish the race, not necessarily to win it. There will be obstacles. The swim can be the most daunting, with other racers feet kicking your face and waves crashing on you while you breathe. So take it all in stride. Take it slow during the transitions. Get the feel of your first triathlon. Enjoy the experience.
Remember, this is the first of many races in your tri career. So appreciate it because you will always remember your first time. And good luck!
Download: What is the 180 formula.pdf