Bones Should Be Jarred
This article I wrote after reading an article which appeared in the March 9, 2014 issue of The New York Times Magazine.
I read a piece recently in the New York Times Magazine which caught my eye as it is relevant to how we use our bodies.
Bones should be jarred, they get stronger. Many experiments in the past have shown that by presenting excessive forces to bones in the form of abrupt stress, shock, this leads to them adding mass or reduces mass losses, as the subject ages. The debatable issue is the amount of stress forces required to stimulate bone and how to create these forces in a daily routine.
Recent studies at the University of Bristol collected data from male and female adolescents. At this time of the life cycle bone mass accumulates rapidly. The bone density of their hips, were measured as their daily activities were monitored by means of an activity monitor.
After a week the scientists downloaded the data gathered by these activity monitors and measured the G-Forces received by each of the teenagers. This would allow an accurate measure of impact. The teenagers who underwent the greatest impacts of >4.2G's, although not the most frequent impact, showed the strongest and highest density hip bone mass. The researchers then had to show what sort of impacts would create this type of increase in bone strength and density. Running a 10 minute mile or jumping onto a box at least 375mm high would create the relevant forces. These findings suggest that people would have to run relatively fast or undergo a lot of jumping to recreate the force required to build bone.
As we age we become more lethargic and this in turn was addressed by the researchers. In an attempt to discover how jarring could help older people and to monitor the effects of this, the researchers took 20 women older than 60 years, equipped them with activity monitors, then put them through an intense aerobics class. They also put them to test with a brisk walk and a session of stepping onto a 300mm box. None got even close to 4G's, in fact 2.1G's was the maximum force received. Suggesting that the older we are the more careful we become.
With these implications Dr Jon Tobias, professor of rheumatology at Bristol University, leading the research, suggested that "while impacts of less than 4G could help adults maintain bone mass it is unclear at this stage as to how much force below 4g would be needed. His results also led him to believe that young people and healthy adults could show great gains in bone density by running.
Sprinting, jumping off a 375mm box and jumping back onto it, hopping in place, were all shown to increase bone density and strength. There have been other studies done on women aged 25-50 years, which have shown significant increases in bone density after hopping 10 times twice daily over a four month period, with a 30 second interval between hops. This experiment was taken one stage further to show what happened after increasing the hopping to 20 times daily all at one time with 30 second intervals. Not surprisingly the increases in bone density were greater from the later of the two experiments.
The unfortunate catch in all of this is proposed to older individuals who may not have been doing any high impact exercise. Their circumstance may not allow them to impact their bodies to the extent required to make gains in bone density. This is bound to have a detrimental effect on their overall bone health. Research by Dr Tobias and his colleagues is ongoing and they hope to better understand the levels of impact required to benefit all ages and abilities in the future.
The important thing to remember here is your level of understanding before undertaking any form of "high impact" exercise. This is especially important if you have any joint issues where a properly qualified sports physician would be best consulted. For me, just like Dr Tobias "I plan to keep running till my joints wear out".
Colin McPhail says this to Dr Tobias "If you look after your joints by using your body as a spring, in the words of Dr Jim Stoxen, you will make them last and not wear out". So these kind of reports are all good and when we start to put things into a flowing prosepctive they start to make sound advice which will allow us to enjoy life as we grow older. Lets face it we are all destined to live longer if we avoid obesity, now one of the greatest killers on the planet. Get out there and jarr your bones but use your springs to prevent the shock from reaching the joints, avoid the foods that damage and use some of the natural foods that are available in abundance, live happy, live long, live injury free, balance your life.
How Runners Can Avoid Plantar
If you have plantar fasciitis and have been told by a doctor to wear a stability shoe,
orthotics, and never go barefoot, do yourself a favor and immediately switch to
another doctor, preferably one who has read about how the foot functions, and not
just knows all the names of the bones, tendons, muscles, and ligaments.
I speak from experience, since I was given this advice by a well-meaning podiatrist
when I had plantar fasciitis over a decade ago. After he finished telling me of the dire
consequences which would affect my feet if they were not externally stabilized, I
asked him how long I would have to follow his program. His answer was simple: for
I wisely didnt follow his instructions, but I did do a little research about feet and the
maladies which affect them, and then I did some more fact-finding, and I never really
stopped my quest because what I discovered was fascinating: barefoot populations
do not have the foot problems that afflict people who wear supportive shoes. In fact,
the characteristics of traditional shoes are often the most harmful, but which sound
the most positive and comforting: supportive, stable, and cushioned. These features
are actually the ones that are the worst for the strength and health of your feet.
So much of what I was reading was different from what I had been taught that I had
to suspend my previous beliefs about shoes. So, although I knew that weak feet
were obviously more prone to dysfunction, I initially found it difficult that high-quality
shoes could be the major cause of this weakness. If I had been more systematic in
my thinking I would have realized that injuries associated with running had not
decreased, despite all the the technological advances advertised by the major shoe
One of the most common foot problems, both for runners and the general population,
is plantar fasciitis a (de)condition that seems to have reached almost epidemic
proportions, since it eventually affects one out of ten U.S. residents. Among certain
populations, including runners, those who stand for long periods of time, the
overweight, and sedentary, the rates are much higher.
Eventually I found the evidence overwhelming and was willing to enter a finding for
the prosecution: traditional shoes are the major source of maladies affecting the foot
and a significant contributing cause of other structural problems further up the chain
of movement. I was now able to ask one major question and give a simple and
accurate answer. But before we get there, lets go into some detail about the exact
nature of plantar facsiitis.
The plantar fascia is a broad band of connective tissue stretching from the front of
the bottom of the calcaneus (heel) to the phalanges (toes). Its purpose is to transmit
stress through the foot by acting as a truss to help support the weight of the body
when standing and to stabilize the foot and improve its function as a lever as part of
the windlass mechanism while walking, running, and jumping.
Plantar fasciitis (PF) is an inflammation of the plantar fascia caused by excessive
stress. The major symptom is pain of varying intensities near the origin of the tissue,
right where it attaches to the calcaneus. The dysfunction or excessive stress is
caused by the foot being forced to operate in an unnatural way and without the full
muscular capacity that is often caused by the construction of traditional (rigid,
heeled) shoes, both running and casual. A shoe with a difference between the
height of the heel and forefoot immediately places the foot in a weaker mechanical
position by shortening the effective length of the plantar fascia and the Achilles
tendon which, in turn, forces both to become overworked. Depending upon the
frequency, duration, and intensity of the exercise, the plantar fascia can become
Q. What can you do to maintain or retain healthy feet and avoid plantar
A. Be barefoot or wear minimal shoes for as many activities as possible.
Just like minimal running shoes minimal casual shoes should fit the anatomy and
function of your feet. With no restriction of its natural range of motion, the foot is able
to maintain its strength, balance, flexibility, and responsiveness. The truth is,
theoretically we should always be barefoot, but in todays world that is not always
possible of feasible. Fortunately, by wearing minimal shoes, almost all of the
advantages of being barefoot are preserved.
Several companies (Vibram FiveFingers, Merrell, Altra, Skora, Xero Shoes) make
excellent minimal running and athletic shoes, but there are relatively few companies
that make true zero-drop minimal casual shoes. In addition to Merrell, two footwear
brands excel: The first is Vivo Barefoot. This company, which is part of a larger U.K.-
based corporation, Terra Plana, makes approximately ten models of minimal casual
shoes, half for men and half for women. Some have laces and others are slip-on
models, but all are lightweight, flexible, and very comfortable. The other is a fairly
new U.S.-based company called Lems, and their zero-drop casual shoes have
ample-sized area for your entire foot.
Each step you take with a minimal shoe, no matter what the activity, allows you to
strengthen your feet and reinforce proper patterns of movement
This essay originally appeared here: http://motioncenterstl.com/minimal-casualshoes-