My first love: Track & Field

1993 Ontario Championships (Canada)

I went to the track tonight. The only one in Perth, Western Australia. I’ve been in and out of the sport for the last 28 years. It has made an incredible impact on my life in every sense. I went tonight, just to observe. It was like going back in time almost 30 years ago.

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WA Athletics Stadium (2016 World Masters T & F Championships)


Seriously, it’s like nothing has changed… from a physical, technical and biomechanics point of view. If only I knew then what I know now I would have been able to take better care of myself in my beloved sport. Sigh.

Today, as you know, I help athletes with their bodies, and adore it to bits, because I don’t want them going through what I had to endure. Unnecessary injury is no fun!

Unfortunately, everything I did when I started running years ago is still being repeated today. It’s crazy!!! It has nothing to do with the athletes, the parents, the coaches (mind you, if you are a coach, it’s your job to look at the latest research!). It has to do with dissemination of information… and the power of marketing. There’s incredible amounts of research that have not reached the majority of the public and the athletic community. It’s sad because a lot of athletes with injuries today could have been 100% avoided.

Here are just a few things I saw when I got there:
*Just remember I understand many people might not know this*

1. Cushioned shoes. And I mean CUSHIONED shoes. All athletes at the track young and older were wearing cushioned shoes.  Now, I understand: cushion, support, comfort, etc. ‘We need these to be able to run without injury’. Hhhmmmmm….. no. Our feet are cushioned A LOT with our very own FAT PADS, our feet provide us with incredible support, and are supposed to be comfortable because we use them everyday and don’t abuse them [well, I’m pushing it here, because we all abuse our feet, malheureusement]! 

Shoe companies do such an incredible job marketing/selling shoes for kids and adults that we don’t see the truth behind the lies. Running shoes only developed a cushioned heel starting in 1963, made by Asics. Before that, all running shoes were flat! It was the slow demise of runner’s health. Today, 60-70% of running shoes are practically high heels.

If running shoes are not flat, meaning the toes are the same height as the heel, many injuries can ensue, over time. Especially, when kids are developing their feet in the first place. A fully formed foot takes about 18 years!

That’s right, it takes their entire childhood to develop their bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons in the feet. The only way to develop a foot properly is to have that foot be able to SENSE things around its environment. Shoe companies do a fine job at telling us all the opposite!

Did you know there have been HUNDREDS of studies on kids feet with several studies including thousands of subjects (yeah! like that’s a lot of kids!)? In ALL cases children whose feet developed mostly unshod (no shoes) had healthier feet. Every time a child wears shoes {especially with bells and whistles} they are compromising the growth and development of their feet. Now, I am not telling kids/athletes not to wear shoes, I’m just saying athletes need to strengthen their feet too.

What about winter, rain, rocks, dangerous glass!!! Yes, shoes are great for protection! We absolutely need them. And And AND AND AND make sure that all of their shoes are super flexible, flat, and roomy so they can wiggle their toes in them. Any other bells and whistles actually compromise the feet. 

“But what about flat feet?” All human beings were born with flat feet! Children develop arches from their muscles NOT bones. Wearing shoes compromises the development of their arches. Allow them to move, move, move, move as much as possible with their feet, up until adulthood and throughout their lives.

“My athlete pronates! The shoes provide the support.” No, the shoes don’t. They further the foot pronation of the athlete. Sure, sometimes a band-aid is needed (using support temporarily); but, rarely. It just requires the athlete to work their feet out more, MORE, and not let their feet be weaken in a thick shoe.

“My athlete suppinates!” Same thing applies. If the athlete wasn’t in such a cushioned and/or ‘supported’ shoe s/he would run differently. Try running suppinated barefoot. It’s hard to do! It hurts! It’s important not to cast/brace athlete’s body parts for the sake of their sport, nor for the sake of their health. *And, we are not talking about performance shoes. When athletes race, they need to race. Appropriate shoes for appropriate conditions. Yet, racing spikes are specific to racing. I urge athletes not to wear them all the time.*

“My athlete runs heel to toe, it would hurt if s/he went in flat shoes.” Well, s/he would have to run differently if s/he ran in flat shoes. It’s always relative.

It’s simple. Changing the environment can change the biomechanics of the runner.

No shoe can fix a foot problem. It will only initially alleviate the symptom… then debilitate the foot further.

2. Sitting around before the practice starts. Some athletes just sit for 30 minutes to an hour before practice waiting… in a very poor position too! It doesn’t take much to sit properly. We need to teach our athletes to do this for the health of their spines, shoulders, neck and more! Let’s all sit on our ischial tuberosities (sit bones) please. Pretty please! 

3. Drills before and/or after practice. Lazy laissez faire attitude. Why Why Why WHY do drills if athletes are going to do them without precision. Do it well…. or don’t bother doing them at all. It’s like washing the dishes with dirty water. It’s not going to do anything. 

4. Overstriding: Shin splints, plantar fasciitis, knees, hips, low back…. need I say more. Coaches- just look to see if your athletes are over striding. It doesn’t take much and it will make a MASSIVE difference in injury prevention.

5. Contact time (foot time on ground). Some of the athletes could’ve had tea and cookies at every foot contact it was so long. Athletes are stopping themselves at each and every step. How time consuming. How exhausting. How inefficient. And to think, they could have run many seconds faster per lap! 

6. Arm swing: please please please relax your arms. No need to have the hands at the ears or criss crossing a meter over :) 

7. It’s one thing to run ‘tall’ and quite another to thrust your ribs forward like you are crossing the finish line every stride of the practice. Keep your chest down, relax! You don’t need low back injuries, breathing problems and shoulder issues! 

This is only an excerpt of some notes I took, a tip of the iceberg… my first 5 minutes at the track!!!

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Terry Fox Athletic Facility. My adolescence was spent at this track!

Your first step to recovery

I talk about the feet a lot! And, for good reason :) The feet are the furthest away from your brain (central nervous system) and your heart (circulatory system). If you are not getting information, efficiently and effectively, to and from the feet, your entire body will be compromised.

For example, as athletes we use our feet constantly in sport. It doesn’t matter whether you wear shoes or not [swimmer or runner, basketball player or Indie car racer, kayaker or bobsledder] I promise you, your feet are used and abused. Ninety-nine percent of athletes do not provide enough recovery movements, exercises, and/or mobility to their feet.

A simple test to tell if you are truly taking care of your feet is this: Interlace your fingers in between your toes. Try to go to the bottom of the toes and fingers (knuckles touching as an analogy).

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1. Can you do it?
2. How easy was it for you?
3. Based on your answer to 1 and 2 how much tension does your foot hold? Why would your foot need to hold onto any tension in the first place? How tense are your hands? Can you move each finger without any issue? Why is that not the same with your toes?

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You are more than welcome to roll out your feet, stretch your feet, move your feet, go barefoot, get a massage! Your feet are just as important [in fact I would prioritize them] as any other part of the body. Give ’em some love.

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FOOTPLAY

My playground today! How do you workout your feet. The whole “if you don’t use it you’ll lose it” about muscles is true. Be good to yourself and use your INTRINSIC foot muscles (muscles that have attachments only within the foot) for a change. Everyday we are in shoes that brace our feet and teach us to mostly only use our EXTRINSIC foot muscles (muscles that have an attachment in the foot and an attachment on the leg (fibula, tibia or femur).
You CANNOT expect your feet, ankles, knees, hips, back, also calves, hamstrings, shins, thighs to “get better” without taking care of your FEET.


You can have the MOST beautiful house in the world; but, with a shitty foundation, it will fall, eventually. Only time will tell. You can blame your parents, your age, or whatever you want; but, until you cReAtE an environment that allows you to change your health nothing is going to happen.
How many unique positions can the foot hold? 8.38X1036 That is 8,600,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 foot deformations. ~ by Katy Bowman. If you think wearing orthotics alone will fix your feet…….. think again. It’s all about Making Movement Matter :) IMG_0512 IMG_0511 IMG_0507

Scenario of an elite runner

1990: Plantar fasciitis (4 months)
Prescribed orthotics.
1991: Shin splints
1993: Plantar fasciitis (16 months)
Different orthotics
1995: Severe back pain (2 months)
1996: Switched sports
[ankle sprains galore in between the years]
1999: Knee pain
2001: Running again
2001: Stress fracture
2002: Beginnings of hallux limitus
2003: Massive toe pain
Prescibed different orthotics and a rigid foot pad.
2006: I have had enough!
I made the executive decision to start to mobilize and stabilize my feet.
It took me TWO years to have the strength and flexibility to do whatever it is I wanted with my feet. TWO YEARS. Two years to be able to walk barefoot without pain. And yes, it was worth every single solitary second. You know why??? Because EVERY single injury/pain that I had previously what DIRECTLY related to my feet. I know a LOT about the feet and how they can transform your entire body!!!!! I am not saying you have to get rid of your orthotics. I am saying you need to take care of your feet to take care of your ankles, knees, hips, low back and everything really.
You might say to yourself, I have nothing wrong with my feet why should I go. Trust me, your feet aren’t perfect because you are actually reading this post. AND the last place on your body you want to hurt is your feet. They affect every single cell uptown… meaning your entire body! OMGoodness you might say. Yes, it is OMGoodness.

Unduck Your FEET

Most people duck their feet.

Why? Because a huge part of the population sits, exercises, moves and/or holds themselves in positions that externally rotate their lower leg bones (tibia and fibula). Yes, bones move just like every other living thing in the body. And wearing shoes! Well, people rigidify the mucles/connective tissue, joints, ligaments (anything LIVING) within the foot. The inability for people to use their feet properly is exactly the reason why many of them have foot/ankle/hip/muscle tears/knee/back problems in the first place.

How often do you duck your feet? For me personally, I am much better than I was before… but I notice it when I do a full squat (my feet creep out), when I am tired, when I sit down in a horrible posture and don’t pay attention to any of my body, when my legs are up in the air (while I’m lying on the ground). How about you?

I’m talking about the feet; at the same time, it can be mentioned about any part of the body… We develop as humans exactly how we carry ourselves and move ourselves. People complain about certain parts of the body as they age and blame it directly on age… however, it has nothing to do with age. Your body adapts perfectly to the exact body you ask it to be.

Today, take note of how you “use” your body throughout the day. It’s not easy. How about- how do you eat? How do you drive? How do you walk? How do you talk on the phone? Think about some easy things… and see if you might want to “modify” your use of the body. You only have it once :)