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Finally, a minimalist running book worth reading!

Discussion in 'Podiatry and Related Books' started by Craig Payne, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator


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    As I have commented before, I have purchased a number of barefoot/minimalist books in order to learn and understand and have been bitterly disappointed in almost all of them. They were nothing but rhetoric and propaganda and a total misrepresentation, misuse, etc of the science. They were just like the cure cancer snake oil books. They read like manifestos from political parties, in that the party faithful love them, but they are useless to anyone else to get a better understanding. The books I purchased were based on recommendations from barefoot and natural running websites. I have made a note to myself to be more trusting of the one-star reviews on Amazon.com, as they are more likely to be on the mark, especially if the party faithful start attacking the one-star reviews.

    There has only been one that has been useful and had some good practical info (Craig Richards’ Idiots Guide to Barefoot Running) … that was until now:


    I finally got to read Peter Larsen and Bill Katovsky’s new book “Tread Lightly: Form, Footwear, and the Quest for Injury-Free Running” (actually my copy is still in the mail and I could not wait any longer, so got the Kindle edition as well!). Anyone involved in treating runners should have a copy. It reviews exactly what has been going on in the running shoe industry and the trend toward barefoot and minimalist running. It does not suffer from the usual rhetoric and propaganda that other books in this genre do. Its use of science and its interpretation puts the others to absolute shame. There is no hype. There is no rhetoric or promises. There is no second coming of the messiah! It is actually a really good book and well worth owning a copy:

    Links: Amazon.com; Amazon.ca; Amazon.fr; Amazon.de; Amazon.uk; Fishpond.au; Fishpond.nz

    There are some minor weaknesses in the book; primarily it is aimed at the lay community and not health professionals so some of the explanations are overly simplistic and dumbed down. The chapter on ‘Pronate Nation’ is limited due to the ‘straw man’ approach to what ‘overpronation’ actually is and interpreting studies in the context of the overall theme of the book rather than consider other possible alternative explanations and applications of the research reviewed in the chapter. It is also not that helpful from a practical point a view when you have a runner in front of you with an injury that needs treating, but that is not the purpose of the book.
  2. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    What is minimalist running?

    Does it mean that the double swing period is as short as it can possibly be?
    Does it describe the shortest possible stride length?
    Does it describe running as slowly as possible?
    Is it a euphemism for the activity of a couch potato?

    Could ".. the trend towards barefoot and minimalist running" be more accurately stated as " ...... the trend towards bare and minimalist running"?

    It's just a phase I'm going through. I'll be better after I've had something to drink.

  3. Rich

    Rich Member

    his site runblogger.com has some interesting reading/articles as well
  4. I have contributed to runblogger.com on quite a few occasions and have been corresponding privately with Pete Larson, the creator of runblogger.com, for over a year now. Pete Larson did his PhD in animal locomotion, studying aligators, possums, tadpoles etc and their biomechanical function during locomotion. He started getting more interested in running himself after his PhD and is now reviewing a lot of the minimalist shoes and discusses running form and running injuries on his runblogger forum. His first study on the footstrike patterns of runners, published just last year, was a great addition to the scientific literature on this subject (Larson P, Higgins E et al: Foot strike patterns of recreational and sub-elite runners in a long-distance road race. J Sports Sciences, 29:1665-1673, 2011).

    It has been a pleasure to get to know Pete since he is very honest, intellectual, well-read on a variety of shoe and running biomechanics subjects and appreciates the scientific method with all of its pros and cons and also is an avid runner. I would suggest that all of you who are interested in running biomechanics should visit Pete's runblogger site and, at the very least, check out his slow motion videos of running which are the best available on the internet, as far as I have found.


    Pete and I are currently in the process of exchanging books so I hope to be reading Pete's book, "Tread Lightly" on the jet to Manchester by next week. I'll try to post up a review of the book once I have given it a good read-through. After Craig's glowing recommendation, I can't wait to read it.:drinks
  5. brad

    brad Welcome New Poster

    Thanks for the link to the runblogger Kevin. It looks very informative.
    And while I'm reading various books right now on this "new" phenomenon, I look forward to reading 'Tread Lightly.'

    My experiment with minimalist shoes continues, as I am running in the Saucony Kinvara and the NB Minimus as well as the Vibram 5 Fingers, alternating in shorter runs.
    My comment (or question) is regarding the origin and meaning of 'midfoot' striker as we can't really strike midfoot but more accurately full foot strike, forefoot strike or heel strike.
    Just semantics I guess, but I wonder why people would use the term midfoot striker.
  6. keith Bateman

    keith Bateman Member

    Just found this - we are publishing a book on Saturday (olderyetfaster.com) and it seems it will have similarities with Tread Lightly. We use the term 'Whole-foot' landings and not 'strike' at all. However, the type of landing is not the focus. If the runner lands with the foot under the hips (landing taken as when there is significant pressure on the foot) then the landing will always be whole-foot (marginally toe-heel/outside-inside). So the focus is where the foot lands and not how it lands. Further more fixing the landing so the foot does not land in front of the body must be done by fixing the take-off. The book is jointly written with my wife, a podiatrist, who does not prescribe orthotics to runners and uses a foot-strengthening program in conjunction with light shoes and technique change - with great success.

    We hope you like the book.

    BTW Sacramento - my last day in Sacramento was a good one .... https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&...=-at8wOcGBKBuzyNJS0rc3g&bvm=bv.80642063,d.dGc
  7. Please tell me how one foot-strikes with the foot not being ahead of the hips during running (not running in place). In every runner I have ever looked at with slow motion video, unless they are running at a snail's pace, their foot strikes ahead of the hip (center of mass). This sounds like the bad information being promoted by Chi Running and Danny Dreyer. Please provide a video of someone running, over 10 minute mile pace, with their footstrike "under the hips". I won't hold my breath.
  8. keith Bateman

    keith Bateman Member

    Hi Kevin

    Very happy to discuss. Forums can be tricky as not all the information comes out in the right way. I am of course generalising and it is clearly explained in the book. Obviously the foot must touch in front on the hips - however the more pressure there is when this happens the more braking/impact there must be. Top runners lightly touch the ground in front of the hips but the main pressure is when the foot is under the hips. The question is where is the foot in relation to the hips when there is significant pressure on the ground. As far a Chi running and POSE running are concerned they both have errors in their thinking. I can spot a POSE runner a mile away. :)

    I relish discussion and in fact we specifically ask readers to question everything we say, and what others say. If I am stuck for an answer I will defer to my son (a physicist at the forefront of Quantum Physics) but I feel that will not be necessary. If you would like a copy of the book to review that's no problem :) Any errors will be fixed - that's the way we all learn :)

    And if we get to an impass we'll go for a run :)

    Oh the video - well it's close - see the one I referred to (http://api.viglink.com/api/click?fo...google.com.au/url?sa=t&r...80642063,d.dGc) It's me (not as good as Mo Farah of course) - there is minimal pressure on the ground until the foot is under the hips - that's the goal; to reduce the 'over stride' as much as possible. These images are from the last lap - bear in mind my form wasn't quite as good as normal as I had won the 8km XC, 5000m, and 1500m heats in the 5 days before (and won the marathon in 2:43.07 (without marathon training) 2 days after). 2 consequetive frames from the home straight [​IMG]

    Just doing the ebook and here's a quote

    "Once you are moving, you will keep moving unless you slow yourself down, and the only way to do that is to land your foot in front of your body. Any pressure on the ground in front of the body (hips taken to be the centre of the body) causes a deceleration. A good runner at a high constant speed will touch the ground ahead of the body and this will cause some braking but it will be minimum pressure and for a short time, with the vast majority of the pressure being when the foot is under the hips or behind them. In the following lessons we will help you towards this goal."

    But this is taking too much time. Please read the book then come back with any comments. It will speak for itself :)
  9. Keith:

    I don't really know how your photo is showing us anything new. We have known for the past 34 years that the peak vertical ground reaction force occurs when the center of mass is over the planted foot in running (Cavanagh PR, Lafortune MA: Ground reaction forces in distance running. J Biomechanics, 13:397–406, 1980).

    In addition, it's also not true that "Any pressure on the ground in front of the body (hips taken to be the centre of the body) causes a deceleration" since all runners land with their feet in front of the hips. If you notice, the first photo you provided show the runner landing with their foot in front of their center of mass (i.e. hip). Did that runner "decelerate"? No, they kept a relatively constant velocity. Why? Because the ground reaction force vector was going through their center of mass at that instant of running gait.

    If you didn't land with your feet in front of your hips in running, but instead landed with your foot under your hip, then you would fall forward with each foot strike. All runners show a posteriorly directed shear force in the first half of support phase and an anteriorly directed shear force in the second half of support phase of running. This does necessarily cause deceleration and acceleration. Rather, it is the nature of the normal bipedal human running gait cycle....not "bad form".
  10. keith Bateman

    keith Bateman Member

    Nope - your arguments do not stand up to scrutiny, and you are twisting what I say too - and you issue orthotics and do surgical procedures - That puts me off right away. Your agression? Where does it come from - a threat to your income? Anyway - I don't have time for this - I will discuss with Dan Lieberman any time, or a physicist or engineer. This is my last post - let the book speak for itself - I suggest you take a more scientific and critical approach to your own work :) Oh and read the book - I offered you a free copy - I now withdraw that - good bye - and by the way 10 min mile - that's walking not running.
  11. Sean Williams

    Sean Williams Welcome New Poster

    Keith's book is well worth reading. He has done an amazing amount of research on running technique over the last decade. I have seen him help numerous runners improve their technique and therefore speed through both group workshops and one on one sessions. Keith is a runner- not a plodder or jogger like most Americans you undoubtedly see. Keith is the holder of several world running records in the 55-59 year old age group. He turns 60 years of age in less than half a year and can run faster than most Americans on full scholarships at top universities, let alone the plodders who you call runners. The most recent running boom is not in fact a running boom but a plodder's boom. A boom fully of participants who claim they are "running" when they are moving at 7 minute mile pace and slower in races as short as 5km and 10km. The top race walkers move at faster than 7.00 per mile pace for up to 30 miles, so how can these "runners" claim they are running? Yes I agree that those plodders all land with their feet well in front of their hips as they are barely walking, rather than running. Please show me some pics of Usain Bolt's feet landing more than an inch or two in front of his hips.
  12. Sean:

    Thanks for coming on to Podiatry Arena to defend your friend. It is quite noble of you to do so. However, I have no interest in reading your buddy Keith's book after reading his few comments he has already made here.

    And by the way, Sean, running fast times in track doesn't make someone an expert in running biomechanics, no matter how fast or how old they are. I was a competitive distance runner for 40 years. However, that really means nothing when we start discussing foot and lower extremity biomechanics.

    Here are a number of photos of collegiate runners at the instant of foot strike during running. Also, I have included a child running barefoot and also included the winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon, Meb Keflezighi. Are they decelerating just because their foot strikes ahead of their center of mass, as your good buddy Keith claims? No.

    If you look closely at slow motion videos of runners, Sean, you will notice that all runners foot strike with the point of first contact of their foot being ahead of their center of mass if they are running on level ground at a steady pace (i.e. not accelerating nor decelerating) . Why do you think that is?
  13. Now I see you are Keith's coach, Sean. In fact, Sean, your website http://www.sweatsydney.com.au/ (where you sell your coaching) is hyperlinked on Keith's website, where he sells his book and talks about his accomplishments as an athlete. http://www.keithbatemancoaching.com/

    My guess is that Keith asked you yesterday to come onto Podiatry Arena to promote his book after he told me, "This is my last post - let the book speak for itself." I suppose that this does make you not only a coach, but also a friend.

    Now it all starts to makes sense, Sean. That is why both you and Keith came on this academic website for podiatric professionals, isn't' it? It is all about selling books.

    You may want to just quietly leave before you get others to respond here on Podiatry Arena who don't take kindly to individuals whose only purpose to come on this website is to sell their product.
  14. keith Bateman

    keith Bateman Member

    ............ Join Date: 13th October 2011 - Co-author is a podiatrist too

    Ignore list (check)
  15. Sean Williams

    Sean Williams Welcome New Poster


    I am not trying to sell anything related to this link. I advertise in forums where runners are likely to join my Sydney (Australia) running groups and my Australian running camps. I came here to discuss running technique. Yes I am Keith's coach and friend.
    Thanks for the photos on your last post- the only runner whose foot was landing more than 3 or 4 inches in front of his hips based on the photos is Meb- an interesting shot. Obviously a great runner. You do have the odd elite runner who is an exception to the rule. Meb is more likely to over reach his stride and heel strike- particularly when fatigued. Here appears to be on a long training run. You will find walkers and plodders over reach far more than Meb. There is definitely a market for such over striders/heel strikers where podiatrists can make a motza prescribing orthotics- some of whom are my good mates here in Australia. What coaches like Keith and I, plus podiatrists like Heidi, try to do is to adjust runner's technique. This will aid in injury prevention, consistency in training and better racing. I am not 100% anti orthotics; however in many instances coaches like myself and Keith can prevent them from being required. Thanks for putting my link up- you have actually done the only selling of my business in this forum- I did no such thing. For your assistance I should probably offer you an advertising fee.
  16. Sean:

    All I am saying is that for a coach to tell a runner that they should be running by placing their foot under their hip is ludicrous. The runners I showed, including all other runners, will have the foot hit the ground in front of their hips (i.e. center of mass) whether it is 1", 2", 3", 4"or 12", may depend on their running velocity and whether they are rearfoot, midfoot or forefoot strikers. Contrary to what Keith said, landing with the foot in front of the center of mass does not decelerate the runner!

    In addition, this has nothing to do with whether me or any other podiatrist makes foot orthoses for patients who need them. There are many runners who can simply change their shoes and become injury-free. Some runners can have a coach change their running form (like what you do) and the runners can become injury-free. Some runners do stretching, strengthening and other mobilization exercises and become injury free. And some runners may require foot orthoses, cortisone injections or even foot/ankle surgery to heal their injuries. You know what Sean? I do all of these treatments for my runner-patients and have been doing so for 30 years.

    Therefore, for your buddy Keith to come on to this website that I have been contributing to for over 10 years and make a statement such as "Nope - your arguments do not stand up to scrutiny, and you are twisting what I say too - and you issue orthotics and do surgical procedures - That puts me off right away," I can see that he is ignorant of what I do for my runner-patients and have been doing for my runner-patients for three decades.

    Hope your coaching business does well. As you can probably tell, I'm very tired of the lack of science seen by those who think that all running injuries can be cured by changing running form and wearing thin-soled shoes or by running barefoot. Hopefully you are not one of them.

    Merry Christmas.:drinks

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