Fixing foot injuries and issues

Foot pain can often linger and become a chronic injury. Prevention is a must for all runners before you get injured. These tips will help you prevent AND fix foot injuries.

4 effective and natural steps to fixing your feet and keeping them healthy:

  1. Wear Correct Toes to renew, align and strengthen your feet.
  2. Wear Altra shoes which allow your feet to spread and move naturally.
  3. Follow a Wholicious Living nutritional lifestyle to reduce inflammation and pain and speed up the healing process.
  4. Learn low impact, efficient and pain-free running and walking technique. It’s amazing how many people I’ve helped with a couple simple exercises.

feet

-Damian Stoy is a professional ultra marathon runner, founder of Wholistic Running, biomechanics specialist, running coach and has been injury-free for over 10 years.

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Community, support, faith and losing my Self

My passion and love for running and community continues to grow!  I really enjoy racing for it encourages my Self-Realization.  For me, races aren’t about competition, time or winning.  They are about meeting new friends and deepening existing friendships, pushing my limits, breaking my boundaries, being inspired by others and doing what I love to do.  Racing is an exploration of my Self and this place we call home, Earth.  I am so grateful to the wonderful family of running friends I have and being able to run.

I recently ran Bozeman’s Run to the Pub Half-Marathon and didn’t have any goals other than to have push my boundaries and have fun.  And did I ever!  I had such a great time chatting with other runners, checking out goofy costumes, cheering runners on and enjoying a beautiful day!

I do have to admit, I was surprised at how fast I ran and how effortless it was.  The past five months I have run an average of 2-3 days a week.  By far, most of it at a 8-12 minute/mile pace with 1 day of speedwork in 5 months.  But somehow during the race, I ran over 13 miles at almost sub-6 minute pace finishing at 1:19:54.  I keep asking, “how is that possible?”.  I believe it is a result of my very efficient technique, relaxed mental state and overall health from eating well and practicing yoga.  Chi Running continues to amaze me!

Six days later I ran the Buffalo Run 50K on Antelope Island.  This gorgeous island is on the Great Salt Lake and has unique geology, plants and bison on it.  Not to mention being surrounded by water and magnificent, towering mountains all around.  My goals for this race were to have fun and again, push my limits.  I went into the race feeling ill prepared and under trained.  Running 20-35 miles a week for 5 months is not great preparation for a 50K.  But I relied on my efficient technique, mental strength and health to guide me along.

The few days prior to the race, I was having stomach issues.  I wasn’t able to eat much or as well as I would have liked.  The morning of the race wasn’t much better.  I didn’t eat much breakfast but hoped I could rely on Chi to sustain me during the race.  As we began to race, I had the privilege to run with many close friends.  Some from Bozeman, some from Wyoming and Utah and others from surrounding states.  We goofed around and I said awkward comments and bad jokes.  I loved it!  Running with friends is very special to me and we laughed and enjoyed the magic of another day on this beautiful planet.  I ran the first lap (about 16 miles) completely with two good friends.  We were feeling really strong that first lap.  About a mile into the second lap I started to pick up the pace relying on Chi, efficiency, gravity and relaxation.  I focused on less effort to go faster.  A strange concept for many but it really works.  Relaxation equates to speed.  After a mile, I took a wrong turn to hear a friend yell “wrong way” and was teased for my mistake.  My excuse:  “I was in the zone!”

I continued to push my limits and relax even more.  I found this deep place of peace and freedom.  After the second aid station, I proceeded to get lost once again but this time for real.  I took a wrong turn and ran up a ridge to find myself looking hundreds of feet down to the correct trail below.  I stopped to assess the situation, breath and prepare for the adrenaline and joy of bombing down the mountain.  I finally got back on track, losing about 5 or 8 minutes in the meantime.  I passed a few runners for a second time, each of them asking “what happened?”.  My response, “I was in the zone!”.  My poor excuse for not paying attention.

I continued to push the pace, running as fast as I could while relaxing.  I’m amazed at how effective this can be.  I began to have pretty severe stomach and digestion issues.  After mile 20, I wasn’t able to consume any calories or liquids.  This can have devastating consequences, especially considering the heat of the day.  75 and sunny, which for a Montanan in March feels like an oven.  I was able to sneak a couple Hammer Gels and luckily Endurolytes saved the day which prevented me from cramping.

I ended up finishing with a smile on my face and the lack of ability to walk straight because of severe low blood sugar and dehydration.   I asked the EMT’s to keep an eye on me so I didn’t pass out or get lost once again.  A little Mountain Dew fixed everything within minutes.  Totally gross but I was so out of it that it tasted like heaven in my mouth.

My second lap split was about exactly the same as my first lap, I actually sped up the second half since I got lost.  I was very happy about this and how well I ran.  I finished in 4 hours and 21 minutes for 4th place.  Not bad for a Montanan in March with very little training.  Chi Running continues to amaze me!

So really, what do I love about racing?  It’s the community, support and love that abounds at races.  Especially at ultramarathons.  Egos are checked at the door and we are grateful for doing what we love.  I suggest volunteering at or running an ultramarathon and I guarantee you will be inspired.  Over and over again actually!  I’ve run quite a few and continue to be amazed and inspired by the stories of others and seeing others overcome personal struggles, pain and mental boundaries.  I look forward to my next race, whatever it may be.

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Reduce fatigue, race faster and perform better

Damian Stoy is a professional ultra marathon runner, biomechanics specialist, respected coach and nutritional consultant.

You may believe that you need to train harder and very often to perform well.  However, I train infrequently and perform very well (see my race results) because I run smarter not harder and I use these tips I am sharing with you now.  Eating well and an efficient running technique can greatly reduce fatigue, improve your performance and make for a more enjoyable running experience.  

What causes fatigue when you run?

Energy inefficiency:   The most effective way to have a less fatigue when you run is to reduce energy expenditure. If we can run more efficiently, we can run faster and farther with less effort and more joy. Running can literally be easier.  An efficient running technique reduces energy expenditure and increases performance. Damian teaches efficient running technique for runners of all levels.  He also offers online coaching and online video analysis with individualized technique guidance plans..

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Oxygen debt:  Muscles require maximum oxygen to function optimally.  How do we increase our oxygen capacity?  One way is consuming adequate iron.  Iron, a component of hemoglobin, is what transports oxygen throughout the body.

Foods to consume daily for optimal iron levels in the blood:  chlorella, blackstrap molasses, dark leafy greens

Metabolic waste buildup:   Waste products build up in the muscles causing fatigue (i.e. lactic acid).  Having a healthy body pH is crucial for overall health but also to handle the excessive waste products accumulated during running.  An alkaline body will feel much less fatigued during a race than an acidic body.

  •        Alkalizing foods:  Fruits and vegetables, wheatgrass
  •        Acidifying foods:  Meat, excess protein, dairy, sugar, alcohol, coffee

Impact and stress on muscles:  Impact causes injury and fatigue during races.  Reducing impact is crucial for increased performance especially for longer distances but is helpful for all races.  The best way to minimize impact is an efficient, low impact running technique. 

Inflammation:  Excessive inflammation also causes fatigue.  We can reduce inflammation by going into a race with a ‘healthy’ inflammation response.  Consuming omega-3’s and other natural anti-inflammatories daily helps decrease inflammation during races.  I recommend flax oil and Tissue Rejuvenator daily.  High daily antioxidant levels as well as during a race reduces muscle damage and fatigue.  Incorporate goji berries, wheatgrass, fresh juices and lots of fruits and veggies for high levels of natural antioxidants.

Pre-Race:  I taper/rest 7-21 days before a race, depending on the specific race.  You can rarely rest too much but you can train too much before a race.  As I taper for a race, I also make sure I’m eating plenty of alkalizing foods including fruits and veggies.  I make sure to have sufficient electrolytes in my body by consuming Endurolytes for a few days before a race.

Race:  The morning of the race, I eat very little.  People are surprised to hear I eat a banana or two and that’s it before a 50 mile race.  I don’t want my digestive system taxed during the race.  If prepared properly, my body should have plenty of stored glycogen already.  Please be advised, I am pushing myself harder than the average runner and therefore am very picky.  Also, do not try any new food right before a race.

An easier and lower impact running and walking technique

Damian Stoy is a professional runner, coach & founder of Wholistic Running. He offers personalized Online Coaching and Injury Prevention Plans. Find out more HERE.

When you run, do you feel like water flowing down a mountainside?  Is it effortless, easy and peaceful?  Are you rarely or never injured?  I ask because running can be all the above and pain-free.

Think of the last time you rode a non-motorized scooter. To propel yourself forward, you would place your foot flatly underneath you and kick back.  Of course you wouldn’t reach your foot out in front of you with a straight leg, heel strike and then kick back to propel yourself.  It doesn’t work because an extended leg acts more like a brake. But this is exactly what I see most runners do. And when I say most, this MOST likely means you.

This is what I see most runners doing with their feet and legs and the same is exactly true when I see people walk!  The jamming impacts your knees and back and you are running as if you are constantly applying a brake instead of letting gravity do the work for you.  The only way to create movement is to push off with the back leg which wastes energy and causes fatigue.

So what exactly are most runners and walkers doing (think you)?  With their legs, they are reaching out in front of them.  They may or may not heel strike and usually land with a pretty straight leg and sometimes with a locked out knee.  This results in a lot of excessive impact (think of the jamming of the scooter) and needless running related injuries.  What is important is where the foot lands in relation to your hips or center of mass.

This is how many people run.  Notice the foot landing in front of the hips and heel strike creating excessive impact especially on the knees and back.

A more efficient, less impactful and more natural way to run is to have the feet land mid-foot and underneath the hips.  The faster you go, the more they will actually land behind your hips, same as when riding a scooter.

Proper running technique.  Notice how the feet land underneath or behind the hips just like how children run.

Please don’t think you accomplish this by thrusting the hips forward when you run.  You accomplish this by leaning slightly from the ankles with proper posture allowing the legs to open behind you.

I teach a very effective way for runners to easily learn how to run in a way that is more natural, reduces impact and therefore, reduces injuries.  Because you are using gravity instead of your own energy, you’ll also run more efficiently, easier and have more fun!

So much attention is being made about heel striking and how it is ‘bad’.  It is, but what is more important is where the foot lands in relation to the hips.  It is almost impossible to heel strike if your feet are landing underneath your hips.

For a more efficient, low impact way of running, try these quick tips: 

Have your feet land more underneath the hips.  You can accomplish this by having a shorter stride or higher cadence (steps per minute). Think smaller, shorter steps.  You will not lose speed because you can open up your stride behind you and relax to increase your stride length therefore your speed.  Also, with good posture and long spine, think of leaning from the ankles and letting gravity pull you forward.  The key is not leaning from the hips or head.  You may not get it right away and feel the difference at first, but ideally you will progress gradually.

Poor technique resulting in fatigue and injuries.  Don’t lean from the hips or neck.  Proper alignment, an engaged core and good posture is key.

Barefoot running can accomplish some of these goals.  But still, many people run poorly and have poor posture resulting in fatigue and injuries while barefoot running.  Also, I have some runners who come to me saying they have practiced running technique and it has made running more difficult.  The problem is that they are doing the technique incorrectly without knowing it.  This is why it is important to learn from an experienced teacher and runner.

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