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What are athletes shod with?

What are athletes shod with?

Saul Yudelowitz Bsc (Hons)

All athletes know that when they go to their sponsor’s hospitality suite at a world track meeting they can get any pair of trainers to wear. All the sponsors have equipment to assess the biomechanical position of the foot and from this a trainer with the correct support is selected for the athlete. While the technique used to assess foot biomechanics can be argued to be anything from inaccurate to acceptable the majority of athletes have a poor understanding of foot biomechanics. This is rather concerning since in any sport where an athlete pushes off the earth to move, foot biomechanics has a very significant effect on the entire movement of all joints of the human body.

It is essential to understand that the earth is heavier than us, so when we push off the heavier earth we move and not the earth. This is easily explained by a well known fact of physics. The work done by an object is measured by displacement, that is the change in acceleration, deceleration or direction of movement. If there is a force applied to an object and the object does not move or if you prefer there is no acceleration, deceleration or change in direction of movement (trajectory) then NO WORK WAS DONE. Running on a treadmill is very different from running on the earth. You will do significantly more ‘work done’ running on the earth. This has such a significant difference that all the English Premiership Footballers that I have treated have a non-motorized treadmill at the team gym. I would be very surprised if any serious professional athlete or team used a treadmill that was motorized.

Now that we have a good understanding of pushing off the heavier earth to generate movement through the work done by the applied force I will introduce you to another secret that athletes apply to sprinting. Keeping the head, shoulders and pelvis dynamically stable, thereby providing a foundation for the limbs to drive off results in the majority of the applied force being converted into work done. In my last decade of treating athletes and non-athletes this is one of the biggest faults that non-athletes consistently do! This is why we look at a pro athlete on TV doing a movement and it looks easy, when the non-athlete tries this we realize that it is very difficult to copy the athlete.

I have introduced these two important points first as foot biomechanics has a very significant influence on them. Back to the sponsored athlete. It is concerning to see that they have such a poor understanding of foot biomechanics. All sprinters know or have been taught that sprinting off the ball of the foot allows you to run faster and this is due to the leaver length ‘Give me a lever long enough and I will lift the earth’. This is a part of a much larger picture. To truly understand foot biomechanics one needs to look at the hip, knee, ankle and then the foot. All of these joints need to work in an integrated fashion.

If we start at the hip, this joint is anteverted. The knee is divided into three joints the two condyles and the patella. The medial condyle and the lateral condyle are not the same in structure and hence there function is not the same. They have a similar structure but there is enough of a difference to effect the function. The ankle and foot form complex joints, the foot has most muscles crossing three joints while the rest of the body has most muscles crossing two or one joints, this makes modelling extremely difficult. What I will say is that one of the main problems faced with humans is that we walk predominantly on a flat surface and this is very evident in the biomechanics of the foot today. It is concerning to see that while athletes train in a functional manner and non athletes hardly do functional exercises none exercise the foot and hence not many people understand how to use the foot to generate an applied force to create

‘work done’



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The information contained in this Newsletter was prepared from medical and scientific sources which are referenced and are believed to be accurate and reliable. The information herein should not be used to treat or to prevent any medical condition unless it is used with the full knowledge, compliance and agreement of your personal physician or other licensed health care professional. Readers are strongly advised to seek the advice of their personal health care professional(s) before proceeding with any changes in any health care program.

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