Why you need to learn to squat before you run

running knee supportEach year I volunteer to marshal a 10 kilometre cross-country fun run which is put on as a fundraiser for a local school. I always really enjoy the event as it an opportunity to observe how a large sample of people move. The runners at the front of the field move incredibly well; making the motions appear fluid and efficient with no wasted effort. It comes as no surprise to me that the further down the field you get, the more knee supports you see being worn by the runners and the more difficult and painful the effort of running appears to be.

This year I decided I would keep a mental note of the proportion of those runners wearing knee supports who exhibited out-turned feet as they ran. It wasn’t difficult for me to remember the proportion because it turned out to be 100%. Continue reading

Why it’s a bad idea to use aids and supports in exercise

bad supports in exerciseSupports can help make exercises easier to perform, encourage people to do more exercise and boost your confidence. But they don’t help your body move properly, they ingrain a crutch in your movements that you should be working to avoid.

There are many types of different supports such as using insoles in a shoe, or wearing an elastic support for your knees. The idea behind insoles is that they makes it easier to maintain an arch in your foot so they effectively do the job of your hip rotation for you. And if something is replacing the job your body should be doing, your body isn’t learning to do it effectively itself. In a case like this, the hips rely on these aids and do not get stronger. See this article about fallen arches for an explanation of how you should be training your hips to create the arches in your feet.

For those who have become reliant on supports, we recommend you implement a “phased reduction” of your use of these aids. If you rely on aids during everyday life, like insoles, try taking them out during squats. Then stop using them for incrementally longer periods in the day. Gradually remove them from your life. In this case, as long as you continually practice external rotation from your hips, you will be fine.