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Common Stretching Mistake Runners Make


Filed Under (Corrective Exercise, Exercise Rehabilitation, Fitness, Run Injuries) by Rick Kaselj on 20-07-2013

Here is another post from the draft folder of EFI.

It targets runners but it is applicable to anyone that does calf stretching.

~ Rick


I just wrapped up the Injury Free Running course, and one great little point came up during the class.

==>  CLICK HERE to watch the video a Common Stretch Mistake Runners Make

We had a student, we assessed her running by observing her running. Then we looked at her range of motion, functional strength, and core strength.

Then we started implemented the corrective exercise program.

When we were doing the gastroc stretch, what we found was when we initially did the gastroc stretch she didn’t feel the stretch at all. Even though the results of her assessment showed it was tight.

A lot of times I end up seeing this with clients.

You see this with many people that stretch their calf, especially runners.  Many times the toe out is a common compensation strategy in order for the ankle to get greater range of motion in dorsiflexion.  With this compensation, the runner avoids the part of the calf that needs to be stretched (the lateral head of the calf).

They’ll do the gastroc stretch that they usually do, and they won’t end up feeling any kind of stretch.

Normal Calf Stretch – with right foot toed out.

The first thing I do to correct them is to make sure that that back foot is pointing straight ahead.

Right Foot Straight Ahead – For many people this will target the calf.

Another way that I can intensify the stretch and focus more on the lateral gastroc is if I get them to bring the heel out. That ends up focusing more on that lateral gastrocs, and they oftentimes will get a better calf stretch. For many people the lateral calf/gastrocs is tight and needs to be stretched.

Toe In – Internally rotating in the hip and focusing more on the lateral part of the calf. For many this will lead to a stronger stretch.

Side View of the Toe In Stretch – No rotation in the back knee and the body is in a straight line.

There you go, give that a go.

The first step is to correct the client and move the foot so the toe is straight ahead.  After this correction, you get feedback from you client to see if this changes the stretch. If there still is not a stretch, you can move the foot in by rotating at the hip. That will make the stretch more effective.

A program that I put together to balance out the body to help with running is called Corrective Exercises for Running Injury-free. You can check it out here.


Rick Kaselj, MS


3 Ways Runners Can Stay Injury Free with Jon-Erik Kawamoto


Filed Under (Fitness, Run Injuries) by Rick Kaselj on 01-10-2012

3 Ways Runners Can Stay Injury Free
By Jon-Erik Kawamoto, MSc Kin(c), CSCS, CEP

It’s difficult to get runners in the gym. However, numerous studies show improved running performance and reduced injury risk when runners include strength and/or plyometric exercises to their endurance program. Most fear that if they lift a weight, they will instantly turn into the Hulk, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Let me see if I can change your mind.

The Science

The review paper titled Effects of Strength Training on Endurance Capacity in Top-Level Endurance Athletes, discusses concurrent strength and endurance training in highly trained endurance athletes (Aagaard & Andersen, 2010).

Previous research in this area is equivocal. Some studies show improvement in endurance performance while others have found an attenuated cardiovascular response.

Aagaard and Andersen (2010) found that the benefits of endurance training and the benefits of strength exercises for runners were both seen without any negative effects to endurance running performance in moderately-trained to elite top-level athletes. The muscle size did not change and capillary density was not affected.

What worked was a heavy resistance strength training protocol.

This is what they found:

  • improved neuromuscular communication (rate of force development and maximal voluntary contraction)
  • increased tendon stiffness,
  • increased the percentage of Type IIA muscle fibers

“…strength training can lead to enhanced long-term (>30 min) and short-term (<15 min) endurance capacity both in well-trained individuals and highly trained top-level endurance athletes, especially with the use of high-volume, heavy-resistance strength training protocols.” –Aagaard & Andersen (2010)

Other studies have found that adding plyometric training to a running program improved running economy with no negative effects to the cardiovascular system (Paavolainen, et al., 1999; Saunders, et al., 2006; Turner, et al., 2003).

Lastly, a study with female cross-country runners, found that supplementing the running program with strength training (not plyometrics) also led to improvements in running economy (Johnston, Quinn, Kertzer, & Vroman, 1997).

Having said that, I know you’re tying up your runners and heading to the gym, but before you go, make sure to apply these 3 tips to ensure you stay injury free in the gym…and on the track.

1) Learn the difference between the squat and hip hinge pattern

The barbell back squat is traditionally seen as a “basic” lift; however, most runners perform this lift incorrectly.

Top 3 Problems Runners Have:

  1. Insufficient depth
  2. Rounded back
  3. Valgus (inward) knee

Technique Fix Tip: THE GOBLET SQUAT

• Hold a dumbbell in front of your chest lengthwise with your elbows pointing downward
• Sit in between your feet while keeping your chest up/out
• Squat ass-to-grass with your hip-crease below your knee-crease
• Finish with your elbows on the inside of your thighs
• Allow your torso to lean forward slightly to maintain balance over your mid-foot
• Do not allow your back to round forward – stay tight and strong in your core throughout the exercise

Over several weeks, progress to the heaviest dumbbell you can find. Not only is this challenging for the legs, but the core and spinal erectors get a great workout too. I recommend all runners be able to perform perfect heavy Goblet Squats before attempting barbell front or high-bar back squats.

You can trust the motor pattern, mobility and stability with deep Goblet Squats will help you achieve your goals of increasing strength in your legs and hips while also increasing core stability.

On to the hip hinge…

This movement pattern is essential for performing perfect Deadlifts, Olympic lifts and Russian Kettlebell Swings. For optimal utilization of the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, back extensors), the hip hinge with zero back flexion/extension is imperative to improve athletic potential and running performance. Being able to tap into the posterior chain will also help reduce injury risk associated with distance running.


• Stand with your feet 8-10” apart
• Place one hand on your low back and one on your stomach
• Slightly bend your knees
• Push your hips back, back, back while you bow forward – you should feel tension in your hamstrings as you reach 90 degrees at your hips
• Use your hands to feel if your back starts to round
• Stay long and tight in your core and keep your chest out

Learn and own this movement. Apply it to your training – a great exercise for runners is the Romanian Deadlift. Hold a loaded barbell with a double overhand grip in front of your thighs. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keep the bar close to your legs and perform the hip hinge as described above. Once the bar passes your knees, return to the standing position. To build strength, perform sets of 5 or less with at least 2-minutes rest between sets.


Being able to move through the hips will develop strong-ass glutes and hamstrings while sparing the spine and knees.

2) Correct for muscle imbalances

Due to the nature of the running stride (especially at slow paces), the body and joints move through a particular range of motion over and over again. This highly repetitive nature results in common muscle imbalances to form in runners compared to non-runners.

If you are looking for a great resource on muscle imbalances, make sure to check out Muscle Imbalances Revealed:

Shirley Sharmann (2002), in Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes, writes that runners typically have overdeveloped hamstrings and typically weak hips. Weak hips can lead to a host of injuries, not only seen at the hip joint, but also at the knees. Runners with weak gluteus maximus muscles are prone to hamstring strains whereas runners with weak hip abductors and hip stabilizers have been shown to be prone to lateral knee pain.

Before going on runs, make sure to activate the glutes in your warm-up. My favorite drill is the Super Dog, an exercise I got from fitness expert, Nick Tumminello. Kneel on a mat and bring one knee to your chest. Extend your other leg and rest your upper body on your elbows. Bringing your knee to your chest flexes the hip and prevents lumbar extension during this exercise. Lift the straight leg upward, while trying to extend your hip. Perform 12 to 15-reps per side and perform two sets.

Another great warm-up drill for runners involves activating the deep hip flexors. Lie on your back with a mini-band wrapped around your feet. Bring your knees to your chest. Keep one knee held tight with your stomach while pressing the opposite leg away. Hold the end position for 5-seconds. Perform 8- to 10-reps per side.

3) Be smart when choosing your exercises

Not all exercises are created equal. The Iron Cross is a common warm-up exercise seen at track and field meets which attempts to warm-up the hip flexors while dynamically stretching the hamstrings. Here, the runner lies face up with his or her arms out to the sides. One foot is brought to the opposite hand with a straight leg. This warm-up exercise forces lumbar rotation and flexion upon a fixed torso, which is a recipe for disc disaster. Dynamic loads directed to the spine in this nature are unsafe and may result in injury.

Instead, perform the Knee-Hug Crossover Lunge. This drill works on hip range of motion while activating the legs and hips in the standing position. This exercise will have more functional carryover to running and be more effective at warming you up compared to the Iron Cross. Plus, the dynamic rotational load is removed, thus, sparing the spine.

Stand tall and hug one knee – feel a stretch under your thigh and into your glute. Release the hug and with control, step the same leg backwards, diagonally behind your stance leg. Some refer to this as a “curtsey” lunge. Keep your shoulders and hips square – you should feel a good stretch in your hip. Stay tall and drive your front foot down to stand back up. Repeat on the other side and perform 10 per side, twice, before your run.


Jon-Erik Kawamoto, MSc Kin(c), CSCS, CEP is a Personal Trainer and Freelance Fitness Writer based in St. John’s, NL, Canada. He is a regular contributor to many major health and fitness magazines such as Canadian Running, Men’s Fitness, and Oxygen. Jon ran track and field for 9 years with 15:13 and 32:15 personal bests in the road 5-km and 10-km races respectively. You can reach Jon and read more of his work at  www.StrongerRunner.com.




Aagaard, P., & Andersen, J. L. (2010). Review: Effects of strength training on endurance capacity in top-level endurance athletes. Scand J Med Sci Sports , 20 (2), 39-47.

Johnston, R. E., Quinn, T. J., Kertzer, R., & Vroman, N. B. (1997). Strength training in female distance runners: Impact on running economy. J Strength Cond Res , 11, 224-229.

Paavolainen, L., Hakkinen, K., Hamalainen, I., Nummela, A., & Rusko, H. (1999). Explosive-strength training improves 5-km running time by improving running economy and muscle power. Journal of Applied Physiology , 86, 1527-1533.

Sahrmann, S. A. (2002). Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Mosby.

Saunders, P. U., Telford, R. D., Pyne, D. B., Peltola, E. M., Cunningham, R. B., Gore, C. J., et al. (2006). Short-term plyometric training improves running economy in highly trained middle and long distance runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research , 20 (4), 947-954.

Turner, A. M., Owings, M., & Schwane, J. A. (2003). Improvements in running economy after 6 weeks of plyometric training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research , 17 (1), 60-67.


Huge thanks, Jon.

If you would like improve your speed and accomplish the sport goals that they desired, you can check out Adam Kessler’s Run Faster Method:

Rick Kaselj, MS


Which Side-Lying Exercise Targets Gluteus Medius the Best


Filed Under (Fitness, General, Gluteus Medius Exercises, Hip Injury, Hip Pain, Run Injuries) by Rick Kaselj on 04-05-2012

This weekend, I am teaching Exercise Rehabilitation of the Lower Body courses.  This is where I talk about exercises for knee, hip, ankle and foot injuries.

Before heading to teach, I thought it would be a good idea to see what is new in the research when it relates to the lower body.

Here is a paper that stood out on injuries and exercises:

Hip Muscle Activation in 3 Hip Exercises in Runners


What The Researchers Looked At

It is thought that PFPS and ITBS is caused by weak proximal muscles leading to dynamic valgus of the knee.

Dynamic Valgus is defined as:

“..a malalignment characterized by pelvic drop, which is inferior movement of the contralateral side of the pelvis during single-legged stance; femoral adduction and internal rotation; genu valgum; tibial internal rotation; and hyperpronation, and it occurs when the hip muscles cannot overcome the external torque caused by gravity acting on the body’s center of mass.”

Very cool stuff – try repeating that five times.

The research they did was straight forward.  They used 20 distance runners from a local running club.  They looked at the EMG (electromyography – electrical recording of muscle activity) of gluteus maximus (GMax), gluteus medius (GMed), tensor fascia late (TFL) and anterior hip flexors (AHF) during these three exercises:

  1. side-lying hip abduction
  2. side-lying clam exercises – it is thought that it focuses on strengthening the abductors and external rotators of the hip
  3. side-lying hip abduction with the leg externally rotated – it is thought this exercise targets GMax better than other exercises

Cool Stuff in the Introduction

As I have said before, I love reading the introduction to papers.  There are always great stats and nuggets of information in there.

  • 19% to 79% of runners will sustain a lower extremity injury
  • The knee, lower leg and foot are the most common running injury areas
  • The most frequent injuries in runners is patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) and iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), injuries to the gluteus medius muscle (GMed), and greater trochanteric bursitis.
  • TFL and GMed contribute to hip abduction but TFL also helps with hip flexion.
  • VERY IMPORTANT ==> “authors of cadaver-based anatomical studies have demonstrated that beyond 40 degrees of hip flexion, the GMed no longer functions as a primary hip abductor.  In more than 40 degrees of hip flexion, the GMEd functions as an internal rotator, and hip abduction is performed by the deep external rotators.”
  • VERY IMPORTANT ==> 40% of maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) is needed in order to obtain strength gains.

Exercise Set Up

Here are some exercise set up points that stood out:

  • Tempo – 60 beats per minute with a metronome with 1 beat concentric, 1 beat eccentric and 4 beats rest.
  • Hip Abduction – They limited people to 35 degrees of hip abduction.
  • Pelvis Neutral – They prevented any pelvis movement by using a blood pressure device in the lower back area.
  • Resistance – 5% of body weight.
  • Clam Exercises – It was done with 45 degrees of hip flexion and 90 degrees of knee flexion.  The top leg was lifted to a point of 25 degrees to the horizontal.

The Results from the Research

  1. Side-lying Hip Abduction – GMed (79.1% MVIC) was more active than TFL (54% MVIC), AHF, and GMax
  2. Side-lying Clam Exercises – AHF (54.2% MVIC) was more active than GMed (32.6% MVIC), TFL, and GMax.
  3. Side-lying Hip Abduction with the Leg Externally Rotated – TFL (70.9% MVIC) was more active than  GMax (31.7% MVIC), GMed, and AHF.

Rick’s Comment on Things

Very interesting stuff.  It highlights how side-lying hip abduction should be the focus when targeting GMed but ensure that hip abduction does not pass 35 degrees and lower back does not flatten.

Also remember that there is a difference between body weight and resistance exercises.  This research showed that with resisted side-lying hip abduction, GMed had a 79.1% MVIC while other research showed when it was just body weight it had 46.06% MVIC.

The point about 40% MVIC in order to see strength gains is a key thing to remember as side-lying clam exercises and side-lying hip abduction with the leg external rotate did not meet these requirements when targeting GMed or Max.

Where to get more information: McBeth JM, Earl-Boehm JE, Cobb SC, Huddleston WE. (2012). Hip muscle activity during 3 side-lying hip-strengthening exercises in distance runners. J Athl Train. 2012;47(1):15-23.

Where Should You Put the Tubing Around Your Knees in Order to Target Gluteus Medius the Best?

What The Researchers Looked At

The researchers wanted to look at designing a progressive rehabilitation program based on muscle activation.

They looked at the “Monster Walks” and “Sumo Walk”.  Within each exercise they looked at tubing placement at the feet, ankles and knees.

They looked at 9 healthy male subjects and their muscle activation in the hip and torso.

The Results from the Research

  • Tensor fascia latae (TFL) – demonstrated an increase in activation when you moved the band from the knees to the feet but there was no difference between the ankle and the foot.
  • Gluteus medius – demonstrated an increase in activation as you move from the knees to the toes.
  • Gluteus maximus – was only active when the tubing was wrapped around the feet.
  • External Rotation of the Hip – when the tubing was wrapped around the ankles or feet, this lead to greater external rotation of the hip which lead to greater gluteus medius and maximus activation.

Rick’s Comment on Things

I was talking about this last weekend during the Exercise Rehabilitation of the Lower Body courses.  I am glad I dug this up and finally read this.

I think this info will help bootcamp instructors, personal trainers, senior fitness leaders and rehabilitation professionals.

Darn, I love research.

Where to get more information – Cambridge ED, Sidorkewicz N, Ikeda DM, McGill SM. (2012). Progressive hip rehabilitation: The effects of resistance band placement on gluteal activation during two common exercises. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2012 Mar 29. [Epub ahead of print]

Here is a resource for gluteus medius exercises. It is the video presentation that I did on Gluteus Medius Exercises:


That is it, have a great day.

Rick Kaselj, MS

If you enjoyed the above article, here are some of my other research reviews:


Best Exercises for Shin Splints


Filed Under (Exercises for Shin Splints, Fitness, Run Injuries) by Rick Kaselj on 28-02-2012

As you know, I just finished up the Injury of the Month focusing on shin splint exercises.

Creating the program was a lot of fun and it is always great to look at what I do, what I have learned working with people with shin splints and compare this with the research.

I wanted to highlight a few very cool things that I learned when it related to exercises for shin splints.

Before I get into the details, let’s start with a definition of shin splints.

What are Shin Splints?

Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) is an overuse injury or repetitive-stress injury of the shin area. Various stress reactions of the tibia and surrounding musculature occur when the body is unable to heal properly in response to repetitive muscle contractions and tibial strain.” – Galbraith 2009

There was a lot of reference to Medial Tibial Stress Styndome (MTSS) in the research.  Along with MTSS, there were 13 other names that referred to shin splints.  Now that is a little confusing.  It would nice if everyone stuck to one.

Now that we have the definition out of the way, here are a few things that I learned about shin splints when digging in the research.

Orthotics Increases Your Risk of Getting Shin Splints

This was a bit of a shock.

This statement took a little figuring out.

We all know that with medications, they all have side effects. Medication will solve one problem but often times creates another.

It looks like orthotics are the same. The use of orthotics may solve one problem but increase your risk of getting shin splints.

Very interesting.

Let me dig into things a little further.

Athletes that use orthotics have a greater risk of getting shin splints (Hubbard 2009).

Something to keep in mind if you are an athlete or work with athletes.

In military recruits, about 4% of them will get shin splints (Herring 2006).  This is a lot of people that are injured.  The military has spent a lot of money on research, trying to find out what to do for new military recruits that enter basic training.  The recommendation that the research came up with was to use a shock absorbing insole in order to decrease the risk of shin splints.

Remember, if you are a runner, when your running shoes hit about a 250 to 500 miles, the

absorption of the shoes has decreased by 40%.

All of this makes sense looking at the definition, above.

Summary of Shin Splints and Footwear:

  • A rigid orthotic increases the stress on the shin area which increases the risk of shin splints.
  • The boots that military recruits are given and the  surface they mainly walk on is very firm which leads to increased stress on the shin area, which leads to greater risk of shin splints.
  • Lastly, looking at runners, as the mileage increases on their shoes, there is less shock absorption which leads to greater stress on the shin and an increase in shin splints.

No Evidence for Shin Splint Stretching

I was kind of surprised about this, but there was no evidence supporting shin splint stretching or tibialis anterior stretching.

Very interesting.

Plus there was no evidence on the benefit of foam rolling the shins for shin splints.

That being said, I did include them in the Shin Splints Solved program.

I put them in stage 1 of the program as I feel they are good for countering the tension that builds up in tibialis anterior and helps with pain management.

The Best Exercises for Shin Splints are….

This was another surprise for me.

The most common recommendations that people are given for shin splints is to stretch the shin, roll the shin and decrease training but that is not a long term solution.

It makes sense.

If running hurts, doing some stretching is not going to lead to having your shin splints go away and get you back to running again.

The stretching and rolling will help with initial recovery and pain management but will not be the key thing to get you back to running.

If you search the internet for exercises for shin splints, you will see stretching and toe wiggling exercises are the preferred exercise.  (Note – Just because it is the most popular recommendation does not mean it is the right recommendation.)

In a 2008 study by Dr. Debbie Craig, she recommended to “increase the strength and endurance of the soleus muscle.”

This is hard to do with stretching, foam rolling and toe wiggling exercise.

But you can do it with plyometrics.

Recommended Exercises for Shin Splints

  • Doing stage 1 exercises that focus on recovery, pain management and introducing plyometric movements.
  • Moving onto stage 2 exercises which focus on strengthening the ankle, challenging the hip and performing exercises that prepare the body for plyometrics.
  • The last stage (#3) is introducing plyometrics exercises.

There you go.  A new exercise program for shin splints.

References for Exercises for Shin Splints

Here are the references for what I talk about above.  In Shin Splints Solved, I have a full list of the 18 research papers that I referenced in the program plus there are links to the abstracts and a few of the full articles, for those that like to dig in the research (like me).

Craig DI. (2008). Medial tibial stress syndrome: evidence-based prevention. J Athl Train. 2008 May-Jun;43(3):316-8.

Galbraith RM, Lavallee ME. (2009). Medial tibial stress syndrome: conservative treatment options. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2009 Oct 7;2(3):127-33.

Herring KM. (2006). A plyometric training model used to augment rehabilitation from tibial fasciitis. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2006 May;5(3):147-54. 

Hubbard TJ, Carpenter EM, Cordova ML. (2009). Contributing factors to medial tibial stress syndrome: a prospective investigation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Mar;41(3):490-6.

I hope this was a benefit to you as much as it was a benefit to me.

If you are interested in the Shin Splints Solved program you can check it out here.

Just a reminder of what you get with the Shin Splints Solved program

In the Shin Splints Solved Program you will get:

  1. A comprehensive video presentation that gives you all you need to know when it comes to shin splints and tells you what you need to do to overcome shin splints.
  2. A researched back exercise program with over 29 shin splint exercises with descriptions and photos.
  3. Then you will get videos of all of the exercises which will show you how to do the exercise right so you can get maximal benefit from the program.

That is it, have a great day.

Rick Kaselj, MS


Traditional Shoes vs. Minimalist Shoes


Filed Under (Achilles Tendinitis, Achilles tendinosis, Achilles Tendonitis, Fitness, Run Injuries) by Rick Kaselj on 04-01-2012

Traditional Shoes vs. Minimalist Shoes

In the last few years there has been an ongoing debate in the running industry regarding footwear. At one extreme are the barefoot and minimalist running shoe proponents who argue that no shoes or at most, shoes with minimal structure, are best. On the other end are experts who hold that the traditional thick soled, cushioned shoes are optimal for injury prevention.

Traditional Running Shoes

Until the 1970’s running shoes were manufactured with flat, thin-soles. Indeed the current growth in popularity of minimalist shoes can be seen as a case of old becoming new again.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s running shoe construction began incorporating thicker soles with elevated heels. The rationale for adding cushioning in the midsole and motion control features in running shoes was to absorb impact forces and control movement, specifically pronation, of the foot.

This rationale however was probably misguided. Cushioning materials in shoes actually increases overall leg stiffness (Bishop et al. 2006). Some leg stiffness is beneficial to running well but excessive leg stiffness may be a factor for increased risk of injury (Hewett et al. 2004).

A review study by Richards et al in 2008 concluded that the prescription of “pronation control, elevated cushioned heel (PCECH) running shoes to distance runners is not evidence-based.”

Additionally, a study by Ryan et al in 2010 showed that motion control shoes had the highest incidence of injury in their research group, regardless if the wearer had highly pronated feet or not.

There is good evidence that the shoe construction of the last thirty years or so has not accomplished what it was originally intended to do. Injury rates in runners today remain as high as ever.

Minimalist Shoes

Since Christopher MacDougall published Born to Run in 2009, there has been tremendous growth in the number and styles of so-called minimalist shoes. Virtually every major shoe manufacturer and a number of smaller upstarts now have minimalist shoes.

These shoes were designed to mimic how the foot functions barefoot. Generally, running barefoot will cause a runner to land with a flatter foot (De Wit et al 2000).

In addition, Lieberman et al. (2010) found that if a barefoot runner lands with a forefoot landing there is no impact transient (a very rapid rise in impact forces) as compared to landing heel first in shoes. It should be noted however that Lieberman and his group do not claim that heel striking in and of itself causes injury.

Minimalist shoes share the following characteristics:

  • They’re lightweight.
  • They have a flexible upper and sole.

  • They incorporate less or no cushioning material in the mid-sole.
  • And there is less difference between the heel and forefoot height (also known as heel drop). Traditional shoes have a heel drop of 11 – 15 or more mm while minimalist shoes have a heel drop under 10 mm.

Traditional Shoe 

Heel Drop

Minimalist Shoe Heel Drop

Within the minimalist shoe category are three main sub-categories:

  1. Barefoot-style shoe. This shoe is the most minimal in structure with no cushioning, a zero-drop (heel and forefoot are level) and the thinnest sole. Examples include the Vibram Five-Fingers and the Merrell Trail Glove.
  2. Minimalist shoe. These shoes have some cushioning in their midsole, small or no heel drop and a wide forefoot allowing the toes to be splayed. Examples include the Altra brand shoes.
  3. Transition shoe. These shoes are most similar to traditional running shoes but are lighter, more flexible and have a lower heel drop. Examples include the Nike Free, Saucony Kinvara or the Brooks Pure models.

Take Home Advice

Currently, neither the minimalist side nor the traditional side can conclusively say their method of shoe construction is superior in regards to injury prevention. More and more studies are being done with minimalist shoes and it will be interesting to see the data.

In my opinion as a coach I think most runners could benefit from some amount of running in minimalist shoes. However caution must be taken in how quickly and how much a runner transitions away from a regular, traditional running shoe.

There will be a wide range of individual variability in adapting to a more minimalist style of running. A runner’s experience, ability, strengths, weaknesses, injury history and psychology are all factors to consider.

The choice of running shoe style needs to be part of a well-thought out training program. If a runner has been relatively injury-free and is content with their performance in traditional shoes I see no reason to push them into minimalist shoes.

On the other hand, if a runner has had repeated injuries and setbacks with traditional shoes it may be time to transition to a more minimalist shoe.

My advice would be to first look for a shoe with a wide toe-box to accommodate splaying of the toes during running. This will facilitate proper function of the big toe. Less cushioning and more flexibility are other characteristics to look for. Lighter shoes will help improve running economy.

I would be more cautious in regards to heel drop. Going to a zero-drop shoe for many runners will be put too much strain on the Achilles tendon and lower posterior chain. Look for a 4 – 8 mm heel drop initially.

Use the shoes indoors during strength training sessions first and then try them for short runs and running drills. Build the mileage gradually. Some runners may adapt to where they can run with minimalist shoes all the time. Others may only be able to progress to using them for shorter runs.

But keep in mind that shoes, whether traditional or minimalist, are not a solution by themselves. Runners need to incorporate strength training, multi-planar mobility drills and technique exercises into an individualized conditioning program that includes adequate recovery and sound nutrition.

Vancouver Running Symposium

If you’re interested to learn more about this topic and are in the Vancouver area on January 26, I invite you to attend the Vancouver Running Symposium.

An expert panel consisting of a sports medicine doctor, physiotherapist, pedorthist, coach, shoe designer and a podiatrist will be debating the role of traditional shoes vs. minimalist shoes.

Full details and the RSVP form can be found at Vancouver Running Symposium.

Curb Ivanic
, MS, CSCS is a Vancouver based trainer, running coach and experienced ultrarunner. He is the creator of the Core Running system and has coached hundreds of runners from beginner to elite over the last 12 years. You can contact him through CoreRunning.com .


Big thanks to Curb, that was great.

I very much recommend that you do what you can to make the Vancouver Running Symposium.  It looks great.

If you are looking for a fitness education course focused on working with the recreational runner, you can check out:

If you are looking for resources to help you run injury free, you can check out:


Here are a few other articles on running that may interest you:


Injury-Free Running Fitness Education Course


Filed Under (Exercise Rehabilitation, Fitness, Fitness Education, Run Injuries) by Rick Kaselj on 20-12-2010

Injury-Free Running

Within a year, 65% of runners will be injured to a point where they will need to reduce their training. This 7-hour session will allow participants to develop an understanding of the mechanics involved in running, how to assess the runner, training and recovery techniques and dynamic warm-up exercises. In addition, exercise rehabilitation of common running injuries like IT band syndrome, hip flexor tightness, plantar fasciitis and shin splints will be covered. This course is designed for fitness and rehabilitation professionals that would like learn how to train their clients to run injury-free. Join Ironman finisher and outdoor adventurer, Rick Kaselj, as he helps to keep you and your running clients injury-free.



  • The mechanics of running
  • How to assess runners
  • Run training and recovery techniques
  • Dynamic warm-up exercises will be discussed and demonstrated
  • Exercise programs for IT band syndrome, hip flexor tightness, plantar fasciitis and shin splints

Please note: During the class we will perform running and joint assessments. It is important to wear clothing that allows for an accurate running assessment and joint assessment. Please wear shorts or biking shorts, and a t-shirt or sports top along with running shoes.

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#1 Running Injury Mistake Run Leaders Make


Filed Under (Exercise Rehabilitation, Fitness, Fitness Education, Hip Injury, Knee Injury, Knee Pain, Low Back Pain, Run Injuries) by Rick Kaselj on 17-01-2010

I just finished up my winter run with my son and my dog.

While I was running I started thinking about the number one mistake that run leaders make with their clients when it comes to running injuries.

I will get to the number one mistake, but first let me give you a little background.

#1 Running Injury Mistake Run Leaders Make

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Corrective Exercises for Running Injury-free


Filed Under (Corrective Exercise, Exercise Rehabilitation, Fitness, Run Injuries) by Rick Kaselj on 27-10-2009

Corrective Exercises for Running Injury-free (Webinar)

Running is one of the most popular recreational activities amongst adults but most will have to stop due to an injury.  Along with a solid running program that prevents over training, there are a number of key exercises that a fitness professional must include in a recreational runners program in order to keep them running injury-free.  In the corrective exercises for running injury-free webinar, the fitness professional will learn assessment techniques and exercises to keep their clients running injury-free.

What you will learn in the Corrective Exercises for Running Injury-free webinar:

– Learn postural dysfunctions that lead to running injuries
– Understand how which movement assessments can be used to help keep runners running
– Discover the key exercises that a runner must perform in order to run injury-free


Note – If you can not attend the specific, registrants will be given a personal copy of the recorded webinar.

To REGISTER click “Add to Cart” button:


Rick Kaselj – MS., B.Sc., PK, CPT, CEP, CES

Rick Kaselj specializes in exercise rehabilitation, post-rehab, active rehabilitation, exercise therapy and corrective exercise. He works in one-on-one and group rehabilitation settings, training people who have been injured at work, in car accidents and during sport activities. His clients and group exercise participants include a wide variety of individuals from healthy and special populations.  Rick has given over 233 presentations to 4531 fitness professionals and consumers across Canada while continuing to work in rehabilitation centers, physiotherapy clinics, fitness clubs and personal training studios.  Rick recently completed his Masters of Science degree focusing on corrective exercise and therapeutic exercise for the rotator cuff.  To reach Rick or learn about his exercise rehabilitation courses please visit http://www.HealingThroughMovement.com