Mar 29, 2014

Also called “shoe inserts,” these alter the natural function of feet.  They add height through the heel which throws off your falling line meaning you will have to compensate from the ground up to keep standing upright.  The stiffness of the device removes elasticity of feet too.  While there “can be” clinical reasons for orthopedic orthotics made by a podiatrist, the notion that you as a consumer can just buy inserts off the shelf and slap them in your shoes to “fix your feet” successfully is highly unlikely.  These foot beds or shoe inserts just treat the end symptoms—not the root causes.  To get a “step ahead,” you need to find out why your foot has collapsed or hurts in the first place! *For more foot facts and shoe info, see my Products Section.

Mar 11, 2014

I was reminded about the EXTENSIVE connectivity of fascia tonight. While doing some abdominal strength curl ups–I felt a painful pull in the bottom of my right heel near where I have struggled with plantar fasciitis in the past. Indeed, fascia is everywhere in your body. It’s actually all connected. Think of fascia as just “one piece” that wraps in and around everything–muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc. To simplify, if you have every skinned a chicken and noticed that “white stuff” connecting the skin to meet–that’s fascia.

I’ve done drills demonstrating the massive connection of fascia systemically with people where I go into a slight back arch while placing one hand against the wall to steady my stance then I slowly and carefully draw circles with my overhead index finger. I have a client place a finger on the outside of my ankle on the same side as the finger that is circling over my head–and they can feel the fascia pulling all the way down into my ankle! Anyway, after my “foot” hurt from my “back” stretching, I hopped up and used my FootLog to ease the restrictions on the bottom of my foot. I got back down and returned to my “abdominal” work, and guess what? Very little strain on the bottom of my foot. Tight restrictive fascia can create havoc in the body and with movement, so getting your body fluid and less restricted is important. Fascia is pretty important and quite fascinating as a connection throughout the body, and once again, the FootLog is a great tool for foot health too as it helped to “release” some added tension along the bottom of my foot tonight.

Mar 8, 2014

I went trail running with my ultraendurance friend and Badwater Ultramarathon veteran Kim Budzik this morning–spiritually of course since she’s in Texas, and I’m in SoCal. For some reason, I thought about Kim descending from my steep and steady trail run as I loped past and amongst the black butterflies with orange-tipped wings, green grass from a recent and LONG overdue rain, and the small groups of people hiking and riding. I ran more relaxed today because I was able to come up right behind people without them even hearing me…soft feet, soft breath, relaxed unforced gait, and as my old ultrarunning mentor Eddie Lujan used to recommend to me years ago before he passed away…just slow down and enjoy your running. My left Achilles got a little tight at one point, but I relaxed and stayed the course, stretched out at the end, and am good to GO.

So thanks Kim. Thanks for your spirit for running and your smile over the years at Badwater. Here’s for Kim and the many friends over the decades I’ve met through endurance. See you on the trail…RJ

Jan 30, 2014

I had a thought today–while running. How far should one run? Seriously. From a practical standpoint and not a sports or ego standpoint–how far should you be able to run? Here are my thoughts, and again, this is practical as in survival–not anything beyond.

  1. I need to be able to run far enough to save my own life.
  2. I need to be able far enough to save the lives of my family.
  3. Ideally, I would like to be able to run far enough to save someone else’s life.

How far is the above? One block? One mile? This is going to vary by person, but my family hikes remotely at times miles from services, so for me, I should be able to run for many miles. Again, THIS IS FOR SURVIVAL PURPOSES. I historically felt I should be able to run 20 miles even if it nearly killed me–just for survival purposes. Realistically now? I would say based on my current outdoor activities, I should be able to run at least 10-15 miles off road in mountainous conditions–just to save my life or the lives of my family. I might need to run out for help if a child fell and had a serious injury. I might need to outrun a predator and keep running long enough to burn them or it out.

So, for all the people who automatically disrespect running altogether–it’s complete BS from a survival standpoint. Do I need to “run” to be able to run? Not really–unless I need to run 15 miles in mountainous conditions which I might very well have to do, so just doing a bunch of kettlebell swings, Olympic deadlifts, yoga, or Spinning while stationary in one spot won’t be very efficient when you have to start trail running in poor lighting and really need to know AND FEEL running–for survival.

Enjoy your running, but know the difference between practical running, sport running, or mindless running with no practical purpose.

Jan 9, 2014

The idea of “Foot Fitness” is nothing new. The historic photo and foot exercises directions are from the 1943 US Department of War Field Manual 35-20 PT for female WACs. Fit and healthy feet are important no matter what your mission or place in life. March on–with healthy feet!

Dec 22, 2013

“fortitudinem in patientia” (strength through endurance)

And now, the politics of feet and running with them!

Anyone remotely interested in Foot Fitness has got to be impressed with the “ultimate” Ultramarathon in the world–the Badwater 135 in Death Valley, CA. I have been one of the official racecourse photographers for the Badwater and Furnace Creek 508 Ultracycling Race the last few years. These photo assigments for Badwater and the Furnace Creek 508  are some of the best times of my life. I am very disturbed to learn that the Death Valley National Park service has cancelled ALL running and cycling events in 2014 for running and bicycling. As cited by Race Director Chris Kostman of AdventureCORPS:

“AdventureCORPS and Chris Kostman have hosted 89 events since 1990 under DVNP special event permits without ever being refused a permit by DVNP, the Department of Transportation, or Inyo County. There have been no deaths, no car crashes, no citations issued, and only a few evacuations by ambulance after literally millions of miles covered on foot or by bike by event participants.”

I have been attending athletic events for decades. I cannot think of any one person that would go above or beyond what Chris Kostman does with AdventureCORPS to run and administer a professional, SAFE, and amazing endurance event! Having been on the race staff for years, it is a monumental task that everyone takes very seriously no matter what their staff support role.

Beyond an incredible safety record for ALL events in Death Valley and beyond, AdventureCORPS brings an incredible amount of money into the race areas for local businesses. Hotels are booked out, vendors stock up and sell out important supplies, many racers and crews spend extra time before and after the event increasing economic value even more. Many families like my own return to Death Valley throughout the year on their own due to the direct influence of AdventureCORPS events.

The most important issue? We are losing something beyond racing and trophies–we are losing part of the ultraendurance soul of America. Badwater and other AdventureCORPS events serve a noble purpose as they inspire the human race to go beyond adversity and difficulty to achieve. We all walk away from Badwater better people with more respect for the planet.

The Badwater Ultramarathon is good for humanity, good for America, and GREAT for the local economies involved. We do not want our fitness freedoms taken away by a sweeping government bureaucracy. 89 events since 1990 without a serious mishap in very challenging circumstances. Why? Because Chris Kostman, AdventureCORPS staff, racers, and crew members know how to compete, behave, and respect their surroundings.

With everything bad going on in America, Badwater is great and uplifting–and should remain. We change the world for the better through endurance. LET US RUN!!!

"Spirit of Badwater" Photo by Ron Jones Copyright 2011

“Spirit of Badwater”
Photo by Ron Jones
Copyright 2011

For more facts and official response, please see the Badwater Ultramarathon Statement on NPS Issue.

Dec 22, 2013

My #1 recommendation for “custom” hiking boot measurement and fit in Southern California is Adventure 16 Outdoor Outfitters.  I go to the A-16 West LA location off 405 and Pico Boulevard near Santa Monica.  While there are many great stores that stock hiking boots, I feel A-16 has a more experienced boot-fit staff.  I’ve taken clients into A-16, and the boot staff has taken 45 minutes to professionally measure their feet then bring out the best boots to fit their specific foot volume and hiking needs. A-16 also has some great presentation workshops too–some are even on feet and shoes like the one Michael Sandler of “Barefoot Running” did recently.

For custom boot repairs, A-16 recommends Quality Shoe Repair in Santa Monica. A good pair of hiking boots might be well worth refurbishing and repairing before discarding or replacing.  Ask for Rubin if going to Quality Shoe Repair.

Dec 18, 2013

Here’s an interesting Foot Fact–the very first shoe to use a heel or platform was the ancient Greek “Cothornos” (also kothornos).  It came from Greek theatre and was said to have been introduced by the Greek dramatist Aeschylus around 450 B.C.E. to help distinguish actors by height. Remember, this was before fancy microphones and PA systems, so actors used many methods to add drama between characters and plot. The higher the platform Cothornos, the more distinguished the actor, and thus the tradition likely began where height via shoes was viewed as a status symbol. The ancient Cothornos platforms were as high as six inches.

Interestingly, at one point in history, only upper class people were allowed to wear large heeled shoes and platform shoes while the peasants were relegated to low (lowly) shoes. The added height allowed upper class people to “look down their noses” at the lower class people. A “well-heeled woman” also came out of status and height as women with high heels were only upper class socialites at one point in history in some cultures.

*(Source: William Rossi, D.P.M.)

Nov 23, 2013

I was meeting with one of my Filipino clients the other day discussing ping pong fitness. Now if you are American, you might think of ping pong as good recreational amusement for a backyard BBQ, but if you are from the Philippines or China–it’s way serious business especially on the foot fitness side!

As often the case, the conversation drifted into shoes and feet. My client used to play collegiate level ping pong when she was in college–hours per day of just ping pong. She said so much of game is about really fit feet and proper foot wear. The shoes they were are typically very flexible, have a wide toe box so toes can do their job, and have fairly thin soles. She said the toes do a lot of working stopping you so you can return in the other direction.

Ping pong is not fast–it’s explosively QUICK. The ballistic nature of the feet cannot be underestimated–and their required fitness levels. A volley consists of the ball being knocked over the net and returned. In ping pong, just one volley can be clicked off in under one second. This is a game measured in milliseconds, and when it comes down to milliseconds, you’d better have great feet!

For fun, I found a foot fitness exercise video just for ping pong. Once again, our feet take quite a beating here, so let’s appreciate what they do and take care of them with proper conditioning and proper footwear.

For more info on Foot Fitness, see my Products Section.

Nov 14, 2013

Yes, that’s me in the photo after a big Cross Country race…back in 1976 while running JV my junior year for North High School and our beloved Coach Stan Ingram. Yes, I have been running for a while, and, I have a pretty good “track record” for NOT falling while I’m doing it too.

My ten year old son has been thinking about running lately. He “might” want to try cross country and track. We do not push my kids to do sports, but we do expect them to be physically active and fit. Anyway, this has prompted some “coach chat” about running since I have been running for decades, love running, and have coached running from 2nd Grade through collegiate, am the official race course photographer for the Badwater Ultramarathon–plus I have LOTS of enduro running friends too!

We were hiking recently and got on the subject of falling. Not falls in general–but taking an actual fall while doing a training run. I have been running for fitness since the early 1970s, and I have only fallen twice. Once was while running XC in college one early morning of training. We were cutting across a park on a steep grassy slope that was wet with morning dew, I stepped on the wrong slope, and my foot gave away quickly dumping me but without injury. The second time was earlier this spring while trail running. It had just rained. I was descending a steep dirt trail with really slick mud. I got off on the edge of the trail which sloped away from me and lost traction. I was quickly dumped, but again–no injury.

Why I was able to run for decades with only two falls was amazing to my son. So was it luck? No. Was it shoes? No. Two primary reasons basically. First, it was running light with quick feet. I had some great coaching early on that taught me to never “run heavy” or slam my feet down hard. A dead give away to me when running around other people is that when I hear someone loudly banging their feet on the ground–I know they do not run efficiently. If you do land heavy and slip–it’s a lot easier to fall. I have slipped hundreds of times running over the years and had hundreds of “near” ankle sprains, but I run light enough to quickly pull my weight off the compromised foot and transfer weight to the opposite side.

Fast forward a few decades to barefoot running, and it’s the same thing. Run lightly not heavy. Minimize strike force with more efficient gait.

The second primary reason I have only fallen twice while running is because I pay attention and focus on what I am doing! I have not crashed my bike much for the same reason…I pay attention.

Beyond my main two points, the last few years my feet have gotten a lot smarter, much fitter, and better tuned by doing more barefoot walking, barefoot strength and conditioning drills, and by wearing minimalist running shoes which force my feet to figure it out instead of being bullied by the shoes. Feet need to be able to adjust–QUICKLY! Motion control shoes force feet into positions and postures that are not always optimal when running on uneven and sloped surfaces. I cannot say it has always been this keeping me upright because nearly all of my running career I wore stiff motion control over engineered shoes.

So while it’s possible and likely if not eminent that eventually you will fall while running especially when you trail run or run at night like I have, you can really minimize falls by: 1) Running Light, and 2) Paying Attention to where you put your feet. Additionally, getting your feet smarter by wearing “less supportive” footwear can help too.

Run on…and do your best to stay upright. 🙂

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