Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Nothing to do with Nutrition

I reserve the right to every once in a while talk about something other than nutrition. Especially when it's a concept I need some help on.

I'll give you the background.

Two weeks ago I was at a DVD photo shoot with Craig Ballantyne and John Barban, running through a bunch of great body weight exercises with our athletes for an upcoming grrlathlete project.

About half way into the shoot Craig had the athletes do a bunch of "siff" squat and lunge variations. These are variations where you perform a normal squat or lunge, but you stay on the balls of your feet through out the exercise.

I didn't think much of it until the other day when John and I were at a meeting with a good friend of ours who is a bio-mechanist. During our conversation, we started talking about running and jogging, and our bio-mechanist friend mentioned the incredible stress that is placed on your spine during a typical heel strike (think about how your heel hits the ground first when you are running - that's a heel strike).

Then today, I was at my Krav Maga class, and I couldn't help but notice that when you are sparring, and moving around, you are always on the balls of your feet!

So this all started me thinking, if almost all athletic activity involves us being on the balls of our feet, why do we train flat footed when we are working out?

Now, my main "thing" is nutrition - It's what I know best. I love working out, and exercise science, but for questions like this I always go to the experts...

So hopefully I can get Craig, John and a couple of other people to chime in here and give us their thoughts...


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Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS said...

I have trained at least one runner that had back problems due to landing on heels...because he ran down so many hills and used his heels for "braking", he ended up compressing the spine.

Now most people compress the spine by doing too many crunches (too much flexion), but he did it by putting his body into extension.

Overall, it was just another runners overuse injury, but it has a bit of an application to your comments here today.

Craig Ballantyne

Brad Pilon said...

Hi CB,

Thanks for chiming in.

Another question for you. I have read that elite sprinters spend almost all of their sprint on the balls of their feet, with little if any heel strikes.

If this is true, then would you use siff squat and siff lunge variations while training sprint athletes?


Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS said...

It wouldn't be a big deal to do that...if they are training with a good coach, they'll splend plenty of time on the balls of their feet in technical drills.

In the gym, we just want to get them stronger. Plain and simple.