Thursday, September 06, 2007

Some Basics On Jogging/Running

It seems trite and needless to go through the process of trying to understand jogging and running. We all know it to be as germane to living as breathing and talking. One does not think about it, one simply does it.

So second nature, one does not need to study and understand how it is done properly, right.? And even worse, for some know-it-all third party to lecture one on how to do it properly, right?

Wrong.

And I see the tenable proof most times I jog in public places like parks and trails where enthusiasts gather and practice their physical exercise rituals. And not straying far from the family tree, even from members of my own family.

Jogging/running is definitely not rocket science, but it does not mean that everybody who jogs or runs does it right, based loosely on prevailing conventional wisdom; or if one wants to get technical, based on what medical practitioners believe how it should be done properly to maintain the integrity or health of one’s body parts.

Where does one kibitzing busybody start? Attire? Shoes? What about the act of jogging itself?

Okay, let’ start with the action of jogging. Let me ask the first question. Which part of your foot touches the ground when you jog? Heel or ball of the foot?

I have seen many joggers, not only clumsy beginners but well-toned, well-muscled and young experienced joggers, hit the ground, asphalt, macadam road, or grass with the balls of their feet and speed away like a spirited steed, for the next 2 or 3 miles. If they could, without causing immediate injury.

Because this would be one greatly possible way to cause foot injuries, or maybe be responsible for the painful collapse of one’s foot arches.

Unless one is sprinting, meaning running for short distances like 100 or 200 meters, week-end jogging warriors are advised to let the heel of the foot take the full brunt of the impact as the foot travels the ground. The reason being that the entire body is then positioned best to absorb the shock generated by the striking foot with the full impact of the body weight behind it. Allowing the small and delicate bones of the ball of the foot and the arch to take on the initial impact would be reckless and negligent. Many may be able to get away with foot injuries, but the good likelihood is that over time, one is unnecessarily inviting unwanted foot injuries or problems. Be reminded of the thousands of times your feet have to go through this process even for just one jogging session.

What about shoes? Well, in the not too ancient times, we would not have this discussion. Modern man ran or jogged barefoot, or on whatever foot cover was available. He did not have many choices then.

But then again time and/or degree of civilization have not been the only inevitable constraints I suppose since for example, I heard that in the boot camps of the armed forces of most countries, recruits are still made to run or jog on their heavy-duty combat boots with full gear on their backs. But that’s an entirely different subject.

But we now live in a very modern world, too focused and absorbed with developing technologies to make life easier and longer, healthier and as pain-free as possible.

And in this regard, the athletic shoe has been more than blessed with all possible and current technologies applied to its shape and construction, not only to protect the overall integrity of the foot but also to assist it perform its functions better; and to specialize it for whatever myriad of functions required to be done. Whether for walking, running, playing basketball, tennis, football, soccer, etc. So to date, the shoe has become not a foreign contraption, but a well-fitted and seamlessly attached extension of the human foot.

Thus, weekend jogging warriors, learn about your most unique feet and try to fit them properly into the many utilitarian features of the countless arrays of athletic shoes available out there. There is one out there for your most proper fit, Cinderella! Take the time to learn.

Your flip-flops, your comfy leather mocs, or maybe even, your haughty “orthopedic” shoes, have no rightful place in the jogging/running tracks or trails. Try your level best to learn about pronation and supination, or eversion and inversion. About the proper heel support and torsion-resistant soles. Because the very sedentary nature of the life of bi-pedal man has almost made this a prerequisite for good living. The very unique evolutionary advantage of being upright and being mobile on two rather than four peds has somehow been stymied by the physicality-free ease of civilized living.

And oh, after all the sweat and aches of getting through this neat and enlightening preparation, please tie your shoelaces neat and tight. The manifold and exhorted benefits of your new pair can only work if they can become an integral part of your foot, and not some dangling member chafing in the wind every time you lift your foot.

And lastly, attire is entirely optional. One needs only witness the annual Bay to Breakers run in San Francisco for proof.