Dr. Mark’s Video — “The Principles of Natural Running” (470,000 YouTube Views)

Posted on 06 May 2013

For the past 12 years, I have dissected and modified hundreds of pairs of shoes, taught running form clinics around the country, opened a minimalist store in my home town of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, directed races (from 5K fun runs to marathons), got local children excited about running, and most importantly listened with all my senses –starting with my bare soles –as I developed into a healthier and stronger runner.

Yet unless runners understand the important principles of the gait cycle, or running movement, it can be difficult to know how to make the personal (and go-it-slow, gradual) adaptation to natural running.

Natural running is best shown barefoot!

Still, it bears mentioning: natural running is not a brand or specific method, but rather what humans have done for millions of years.

Although this video might appear technical in a few places, the information can be easily learned for all runners. Also included in the video are some simple drills that will help you run natural.  Feel free to share this video with others!

I want to especially thank all who have helped me on my journey as a runner and teacher.  Many are mentioned in the credits. This list is in no way all inclusive as I learn something everyday from runners and colleagues.

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146 Responses to “Dr. Mark’s Video — “The Principles of Natural Running” (470,000 YouTube Views)”

  1. Ramesh Kamath says:

    Very helpful Dr. Mark, thank you! “Natural Running” is encouraging me to get back into enjoy running. Considering the weather outside, I’ve been doing ( for a couple of weeks) some deep water running to build strength, develop proper technique and endurance. Would you have any suggestions for this way of training/preparing for Natural running?! Thank you again!

    • Todd says:

      you forgot the the quads are also a primary anti-gravity muscle just like glute max.

      • MarkC says:

        so true, esp strong vastus medialis to stabilize knee and help prevent the dreaded internal rotation of femur in stance. Mark

        • Carol says:

          Yes, the vastus medialis does stabilize the knee but it helps resist a valgus stress/strain on the knee. Internal rotation of the femur in stance phase is natural. It is in the absence of adequate hip extension and weak VMO that the “dreaded” valgus occurs.

    • beverley spencer says:

      thank you!

      Are the principles the same for walking, either barefoot or shod? What about breathing while walking and arms?

      thanks if you have any ideas!

    • Gloria says:

      Thank you for the great Video!! Should you wear socks with the barefoot shoes? I want to get a pair? What should I start out with?

      • MarkC says:

        Gloria,

        i rarely wear socks but that is a preference. Thin socks are fine and good for cold and blister prevention until skin fully adapted….and socks are good in the cold :) I have a pair of Injinji painted with Plasidip for some fun cold barefoot type running and this is fun.

        Mark

    • Filippo says:

      Mark, thanks a lot for this video.
      I’m writing from Italy, I started running barefoot (moreover with minimalist shoes) since january this year. Unfurtonately here nobody runs barefoot.
      I’ve a acke for 7 days in the left Achille tendon. The right foot hasn’t got any pain. I know that I’m making a mistake somewhere in the left leg.
      Would you please help me? In which cases the Achille tendon has pain? Where do I have to pay attention?
      Thanks in advance
      Filippo

      • MarkC says:

        Caio Filippo,

        Difficult over email but doing eccentric (lengthening) stretched of the achilles can reorganize the fascia and the tendon in a more healthy and functional way.

        Mark

  2. Again, Nice job!
    Well explain, easy to learn…

  3. Ken Ziejewski says:

    Thank you for this excellent video!

  4. Kent Kurfman, PT, DPT says:

    Wow! That’s about the most clear, succinct explanation of running mechanics that I’ve seen in a long time – Great job!

  5. Thanks again, Mark, for a very nice resource. It does get technical and I think the PDF version will be helpful if it has a glossary as well. Kudos!

  6. Jason Kehoe says:

    Mark,

    What a fantastic video! We will be showing this to our athletes for sure as we try help them become better natural runners. You’re looking fit and strong, well done again!

    Jason
    ChampionsEverywhere

  7. Jimmy says:

    Thank you Mark. This is by far the most informative video I have seen regarding proper/good running form. It answers many questions for me and has shown me that the way I am running is fairly natural with just a few adjustments. This is an excellent video to watch daily to help improve my form and also to motivate me.

    Once again Thanks.

  8. Barefoot Dyay says:

    thanks for putting this out.

  9. Emily Garrard says:

    Excellent instructional video, especially the drills. Thank you.

  10. Devery Andrews says:

    Great information for somebody like myself who is trying to learn how to be a more efficient, injury free runner, thanks Mark!

  11. Ramesh Kamath says:

    I’m just returning to running after a twenty year absence. Barefoot running technique appeals to me and I’ve been doing some of the drills and strengthening exercises mentioned on this website. Been also doing some deep water running in order to develop and build a proper running form – any suggestions or exercises for deep water running that can help me prepare for running outdoors in the Spring?! Thank you Dr. Mark et al….

    • MarkC says:

      Ramesh, if you are in the pool make sure your focus on the “push” and not the “lift” of the legs. Drive yourself out of the water with strong push down and back with glutes…like the trampoline drill in the video. Mark

  12. Sergio Rocha says:

    Awesome work, Dr. Mark. Nicely done and covers everything one should know about how to run bare, properly and efficiently.

    Best,

    Sergio

  13. Mary Lindahl says:

    Awesome video Mark!!! Thank you!!!

  14. Mark,

    I am so encouraged when I see websites and videos of such high quality that are obviously based on sound research and years of clinical experience. I am a physical therapist in Santa Cruz, CA that is passionate professionally and personally regarding running. It is great to see people like yourself, The Gait Guys, Jay Dicharry, Steve Magness, Pete Larson, Blaise Dubois, Bryan Heiderscheit, and others are shifting the paradigm in the prevention and treatment of runners. I have started a blog that is very heavyly influenced by motor control and motor learning. The first post was in August and I am going to post again soon regarding the importance of trunk stability and the roll of the diaphragm. I am going to try and attach an unedited version to see what you think, sorry for the rough edit.

    Thank you for the great work!

    Jeff Moreno, DPT, OCS

    RUNNING FROM THE INSIDE OUT – 360 degree core training for runners, a shfit in the core training paradigm

    Videos:
    Roll of the breathing and the core in running. (need to word differently)

    Above are two amazing runners Carl Lewis from the past and Matthew Centrowitz, the future of US distance running. These two amazing runners are examples of having high levels of abdominal stability and control. This enables them to produce efficient force into the ground resulting in speed and endurance respectively. Runners first need to understand the function of the core along with what muscles make up the core before they can take full advantage of their roll in supporting and controling movement from the inside out.

    The core muscles function to prevent excess movement in all planes of motion being acted on the body by gravity. These muscles provide a stable base so the arms and legs can do their job in producing and transferring force to the ground efficiently and effectively. Every muscle, 360 degrees surrounding the body from the shoulders to the pelvic floor represents the core, and each one of these muscles, big and small, play a role in providing an environment of stability. A paradigm shift needs to occur in our treatment and training of runners from the inside out and 360 degrees surrounding the core. It is essential that every athlete understand that not one of these muscles ever works in isolation, therefore, why are they often trained in isolation? The core represents a team of muscle that co-contract to provide stability and control. The co-contraction of these abdominal muscles in runners is analogous to an orchestra comprised of many musicians with different instruments, but each with a common goal to produce an environment that is highly controlled and always in harmony with each other.

    One of the most important, if not the most important, muscles in the core is the diaphragm. The diaphragm is not thought of as a muscle and is often forgotten and undertrained in all athletes. The diaphragm has two major roles. The first role is to help in respiration and secondly to help stabilize the core through an increase in intra-abdominal pressure. Like any muscle the diaphragm can function optimally or suboptimal. For, runners the ability to efficiently bring oxygen into the system and provide trunk stability is essential if you are an elite or recreational runner. This is based on many factors, but one I will discuss for the purpose of this article is the line of pull of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is most efficient for respiration and core stability when the spine is in neutral. A neutral spine is a spine that maintains the normal curves of the spine. PICTURE OF NEUTRAL SPINE. In order to achieve a neutral spine the thoracic spine must be flexible/mobile in all planes. Motion always goes to the point of least resistance. Therefore, if the thoracic spine is stiff and our pattern of breathing is dysfunctional that will force motion to occur excessively at the lumbar spine and pelvis leading to a poor ability to control the core when running. When the spine is neutral correct breathing patterns can occur and better control of the core can be achieved. NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE T/S AT THIS POINT Reduced expansion of rib cage. Visually, this can be represented as two rings lying parrell to each other, one ring comprised of the rib cage and the other comprised of the pelvis. For a runner, this can lead to better oxygen intake and utilization and a more efficient transfer of energy to the ground ultimately increasing the economy of running.

    When training the core the focus first should not be on strength but rather to develop proper neuromuscular control in supine, sitting, standing, walking, and finally running all with the goal in maintaining a highly stable neutral spine. All too often my colleuges and I are asked for “Core” exercises routinues that will produce strength to prevent injury. What our clients and patients soon learn is that each walk, run, and day at work is a core exercise. Core development is different for every patient and does not stop once you leave the gym or after a hard tempo run. Like running, it is a skill that needs to be intentionally developed overtime. With poor posture and poor movement patterns we loose the skill and ability of the nervous system to communicate automatically with these muscles. Therefore core training and work/life should be focused on regaining these proper patterns in order to develop a highly stable core. As we practice bracing of the core, which turns on all the muscles surrounding the core, you will need to be first consciously competent before you can be unconsciously competent. What this means is that as you become more skilled at activating the core correctly the brain will develop a motor program that allows the core to work automatically overtime. The Gait Guys developed the acronym S.E.S for developing proper movement, which stands for skill, endurance, and strength in that order. As runners, we often want the strength first before we have developed the skill and endurance of the movement pattern. You must understand that the body will always do what you ask of it. For a runner, that means getting from one point to another in a given time or distance. If strength rather than skill is developed first for a runner, the runner will inevitably be less efficient and ultimately lead to a pelethera of lower extremity compensations and dysfunctions.

    Remember, the function of the core is to create a foundation so that the arms and the legs can be highly mobile and generate force. Therefore, exercises like sit-ups or back extensions that move the core away from a neutral spine position should be de-semphasized. Exercises that promote control and stability of the core like planks, side planks, single leg dead lifts, chops, and single leg standing with opposite leg movement should be emphasized. The purpose is to increase the skill and endurance of the core to maintain a neutral spine under force and with movement.

    Specificity of training must be estabilised first and foremost. Just like a coach will not train a 1500 meter runner the same as a marathoner, we as health professionals need to understand every patient, client, and runner is different and can not be given a set of exercises without them first developing the skill to perform the movement or exercise correctly. Remember, your body will always do what you ask of it but that does not mean just because you ran 10 miles or performed 100 sit-ups that it was performed correctly. Anybody can perform a plank, but can it be done correctly so that all the muscles surrounding the core are working together and in the right pattern to allow for proper control and breathing. There are examples of individuals who walk into our clinic daily who are objectively strong, but are unable to walk or run without pain and dysfunction. If you are a runner with one injury after another and do not live on the central coast of California find a health professional in your area that understands gait and running mechanics and most importantly understands the importance of proper breathing patterns and its affect on the core.

    So, lets together as runners who want to run injury free start shifting the paradigm in core training from the inside-out 360 degrees.

    Enjoy The Process!

    Jeff Moreno, PT, DPT, OCS
    Precision Sports Performance
    http://www.prefitpt.com
    http://www.prefitpt.com/blog/

    • MarkC says:

      Jeff….huge post and you are 100% on it. Neuromuscular and timing. this is where minimal and barefoot help. Feet send signal to inner core to stabilize immediately to “fire the cannon”. yes the neutral spine is how we elolved. the pelvis does have a slight forward orientation for many reasons- better leverage from glutes, proper position of discs, balance. Mark

  15. Dr. Mark, Thank you for the great advice. As a chiropractor practicing in Portland Oregon I see many patients with running injuries and am a strong advocate for proper running form. The video was informative and complete and I will certainly be sharing it with my patients. Your essential features of natural running are spot on, and the trampoline training exercises will be a hit with my patients. Thanks again for the great information.

  16. Robert Dizes says:

    Mark great video, really breaks the natural form done nicely, thanks for sharing. Bob

    • MarkC says:

      you go Bob…share the word with St Louis Runners. it was fun catching up at XC Nationals. We’ll post the video of the 70yo barefoot runner in 15 degree weather. i think he won his age group. Remember his name? Mark

  17. Ezra says:

    Excellent video! I learned a lot of things I’ve sort of heard about in regards to running but never had fully explained. You excellent form helped me see some areas where I can improve mine. You are an amazing runner! I will do these exercises.

    Thanks for all the work it took to make this video. It will help a lot of people!

    Ezra

  18. Jasiu says:

    Thank you Dr.Mark. Great video. It’s nice to have something like that to show to the people who ask about proper running technique.

  19. Great video. Looking forward to the chance to try to keep up with you soon!

  20. Michael says:

    Thank you so much for this excellent video! I went out for a run and attempted to apply your instructions as best I could. It was the first time in a more than a year at barefoot running that I felt everything was in synch and actually moving.

  21. Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  22. I have been studying and practising goodformrunning dot com and posetech dot com. If I look at your great video I still see the feeds landing in front of the pelvis is there a reason for this? What do you think of the two website and there running techniques?

    I am recovering from a serious runners knee (2,5 months down) and I am staring again with all focus on the technique used.

    • MarkC says:

      Jelle,
      the feet need to touch down a little in front but the MAXIMUM LOADING is under the Center of Mass as the fram shows with the curve. watch any elite runner….they touch down a little in front, load the spring, and recoil. Pose teaches “lift hamstring”. i respectfully disagree. Mark

  23. Erik says:

    Perfect! Thanks.

  24. Linda Martin says:

    A very well demonstrated and explained video. Most useful.
    (Physiotherapist)

  25. Mark Stephens says:

    Great video Mark. Hope this finds you well. Thanks for sharing (also appreciate you taking time to come to USU and teach our students!!)

    Best,
    mark.

  26. AxeS says:

    Absolutely amazing Dr.Mark. You’re my hero!

  27. Paul says:

    Great video. Just a question: I notice that your head is a bit pointed down to the ground. Why ? Is it voluntary ? If you observe others excellent runners, their head is not pointed down.

  28. runbei says:

    Wonderful – a pleasure to watch. Dr. Mark has running form to die for.

    Better yet, he talks about natural running in a way that is serviceful, natural, and proves itself but doesn’t preach – I can’t imagine his work offending anyone.

    At 70, I’ve tested his form ideas and find they deliver as indicated: more speed, rhythm, and enjoyment with less effort. I’m grateful.

    These concepts blend nicely with elite master’s runner Pete Magill’s plyo and hill drills for older runners – not to mention Arthur Lydiard’s hill exercises, and Barry Sears’s ideas on increasing FTII muscle fibers using heavy deadlifts. (See http://www.bearpowered.com, and Keith Livingstone’s wonderful Lydiard training book, Healthy Intelligent training.) At my age, I wasn’t really able to run comfortably with the flowing form that Dr. Mark teaches, until I did a bunch of work with drills and weights to reanimate my fast-twitch fibers (no more old-man shuffle).

    • MarkC says:

      Runbei
      wow…thanks! i am presenting on Lydiard for 21st Century at the Boston Marathon. all Arthurs principles are dead on in the mdern world. the plyo and hills his runners did traned the strength and elasticity needed to run. i hope I’m still springy at 70. use it or lose it they say . Keep using it and report back. Good to have validation we can all learn at 70.

      Mark

  29. Thank you for this very helpful insight to running with more efficiency. As a PT/Feldenkrais teacher, I am so interested in the explorations of teaching movement efficiency with looking at the whole person. I will pass this on to my clients and students and also recommend for you the book the ART OF SLOWING DOWN: A Sense-able book on running by Edward Yu. Warmly,
    Stacy Barrows

    • MarkC says:

      Stacy,

      i would love to learn Feldenkrais and from the practitioners of this, what we teach is aligned…and yes running with a smile is the way to go for longevity.

      Thank you.
      Mark

  30. Perry Blackmore says:

    Great video Mark.

    At 3:50 you say, “Do not push when the foot is loaded”. Could you expand on this a little. Surely one has to push in order go anywhere:-)

    • AxeS says:

      Perry,
      Review video at 6:55 – 7:06. “Now pretend your going to someone a kiss”. Just that slight tilt from the ankles sends the force vector from your spring loaded tendons forward. You are not using your muscles to push at all, gravity and and your tendons are what are moving your forward. If you were to tilt slightly backward you would begin moving backward as well, without ever having to “push” yourself backward.

      • MarkC says:

        Perry,

        this is a common question and concept. We are applying a force to the ground when we run…you have to do this. when the force vector is applied slightly behind (with slight lean and hip extension)- you go forward. a force is always applied to the ground. gravity moves us down.

        Mark

        • Perry Blackmore says:

          Mark,

          When I run barefoot on smooth and/or wet roads, I notice that my feet slip backwards slightly on takeoff. Is this a sign that I am “pushing” inappropriately? This is especially the case when I try to focus on extending the hip via the glute muscles.

          Cheers Perry

  31. Jamie says:

    What is name of product you use to tether to the post for trampoline drill?

    I just started barefoot running about three weeks and I find your video really wonderful. Very smooth running! I am deaf so I use YouTube’s Audio Transcribe to Caption and it not perfect translation but I do get it most of time. You might want to add caption manually (not hard to do) to have perfect translation for deaf runners :) Thanks Jamie

  32. MarkC says:

    I think Jeff Moreno who made the amazing comment above describes it perfectly…it is a stiff and strong spring effect.
    http://prefitpt.com/blog/2011/11/15/how-to-run-understanding-the-phases-of-running-2/

    Mark

  33. Pam says:

    Mark,
    Excellent video – I ran in motion control shoes and have gone to minimalist recently. I have problems with a Morton’s Neuroma and not sure how to deal with it, some Dr.’s actually suggest “stop running”! WHAT, no way. Suggestions? Thank you -

  34. Jamie says:

    Thanks, I just ordered “active cords”. How often and how long should I do trampoline/rebounder drill with “active cords”?

    About adding caption for YouTube videos, you can do manually or you can use software like “Movie Captioner” http://www.synchrimedia.com/ which makes adding the captions process much easier and quicker.

    Keep up the great work! Thanks

  35. Perry Blackmore says:

    I’m still struggling a little to understand exactly what we are aiming for at that moment before the foot leaves the ground to commence the recovery. I understand that Chi running, slide 163 of your Running Education slide pack, and most barefoot runners advocate lifting the heels instead of pushing off. But this seems to be at odds with extending the hip advocated in the video. I did 10km barefoot today, focusing on loading the foot and extending the hip. The result – some of the nastiest blood blisters on my forefeet I have had in my 30 year running career and 6 months of barefooting. It seems to me that in lifting the heel, you are trying to release the pressure on your foot early which is the opposite to extending the hip.

    • MarkC says:

      Perry,

      this is a great question and points out some of the differences between learning barefoot and then developing a stride that allows you to gain more speed. you can load really light with barefoot techniques which even teach to kind of lift the foot even before fully loaded. this is safe, fun, gentle….and all good. WAY better than heel strike. But to get faster and more efficient you must use you gluts and extend the hips. this is the most efficient use of the spring (foot). load it FULLY and all the release. do not left foot off prematurely. the blisters indicate friction…curious if you have good moblitity in ankle and big toe. hope this helps and the feet will toughen :) Keep on it.
      Mark

  36. Matt Perkins says:

    Dr. Mark,

    The video is a remarkable, yet simple teaching device, which I have studied countless times now. Runners, including myself, haven’t given enough thought to “how” they should run, and instead just run.

    My question is, how does natural running diminish / solve current injuries? Or does natural running simply effect fewer injuries?

    I have a nagging case of Achilles tendonitis that will not go away with rest. So, after studying your video, and researching every professional / amatuer study and opinion on recovery, I found that long, static stretching, and running barefoot seemed to neutralize my tendonitis. But I ran much slower. Now, being off for 5 weeks might be the reason, but if I run naturally, will my speed be comprised, even if I am in minimalist shoes? Or, is the trade-off to speed a decreased disposition to injury?

    For example, I ran 4 miles barefoot and in Vibrams. I felt only a very slight pang in my Achilles. This occured after I took about 100 steps in shoes (and wincing, had to take them off and run barefoot). I am first concerned about fixing my injury, and second, about the power I can generate for marathons and beyond.

    I greatly appreciate your resources, and any futher advice you might have.

    Matt Perkins

    • MarkC says:

      Great questions Matt,
      natural running is NOT about speed at least at first. but rather it is about learning how to better move your body and by the more natural movements you “reset” and get stronger in the process.
      ultimatley once the movement is ingrained you can apply some power and get fast.so the really mellowand happy pain free runs are what matters.enjoy them. We just posted a front page article on the lost art of fartlek….read that.
      Mark

  37. Holly says:

    Hi Mark,
    I’ve had a recurring injury to my quad (vastus lateralis) and have been in PT twice in the last 9 mo. We’ve been focusing on strengthening my glutes + hips. I have also been working on my stride by watching the chi running + good form running videos. My overstriding + heel striking has been greatly reduced. I watched this video yesterday and tried it during my 4 mi tempo run this morning. It definitely made me faster – my cardio could not keep up! The part about opening my stride behind me makes sense. My question is about my glutes – again, I am continually working on strengthening them – should I be conscious of tightening them while I am running? Or not necessarily? Will they automatically fire if all of the other pieces are in place? (By the way, I run in Brooks Launches-a step down from my motion control shoes before – and walk/hang out in Altra Intuitions)Thank you so much for the helpful video, podcasts + your time! I really appreciate it!

  38. Mauro says:

    Hi Mark,

    this great video is helping me a lot in my work as shiatsu practitioner and “health oriented” running coach. And, no need to say, here in Italy a name like yours is an added value!

    Thanks a lot!

    Mauro

  39. Dale Barnard says:

    Thanks for the helpful video. I’m really curious about something. I’m new to natural-form running, but everything I’ve read and videos I’ve watched always say that when your foot swings in front of you, the toes should not be pointed upward. In the video–especially in the slow-motion part of it–the runner clearly has toes pointed upward. Also, the runner seems to land virtually flat-footed whereas most other videos I’ve been watch show a slight forefoot landing. Could anyone clarify this for me? Thanks!

    • MarkC says:

      Dale,
      great question and one we hear all the time. the key is where the foot loads and not what part touches first. get the foot closer to center and not out in front. load with the FULL foot. what touches first probably does not really matter. the motion is elastic and just need to load the spring (the arch).
      Mark

      • Peter says:

        Great video, I’ve watched it many times and go back to it periodically to further improve my running form. I wonder about something not explicitly mentioned in the video: people often talk about the importance of (driving down) the big toe, but nobody says what that means when you run : do you actively press the toe into ground (which seems to make the foot more stable), which stiffens the toe so that it bends less on toe-off, or not? I’ve noticed you can keep the (rest of the) foot relaxed while doing this, and it seems to stop pronation. but is it useful? thanks.

  40. John Andersen says:

    Dr. C, Heartfelt thanks from my whole family on your website and this video. I can say that thanks to you, my wife and I are returning to proper running form with proper shoes and we threw away our 5 year old’s previous pair of “running shoes”!! They were terrible.

    I am curious about your take on post exercise stretching. I have read your site extensively and was just curious what your typical stretching was like after a run. I noticed that Sock Doc seems to not recommend stretching injured areas, but I presume stretching after exercise is still a good thing?

    Again, thanks for helping to change the paradigm!
    -John Andersen
    Crozet, VA

    • MarkC says:

      John,
      congrats on your progress and getting on the monkey bars (taking up a challenge)!
      right on with the kids shoes in the recycle bin. see our post on kids shoes in k”kids” section. on the stretching wee this video which can give you some clues if you need to stretch
      http://youtu.be/YtICeFOKjIs
      Running Times April article by Jay D and I help clarify. if you have enough range of motion…no need to stretch. if you do not…neet to get the efficeint range of motion. Most really tight in hip flexors and cannot get leg behind them enough.

      Best,
      Mark

  41. Jimmy says:

    Hi Mark.

    I find your video and explanation an excellent teaching aid. The only area have a problem with in my running is when I run down a steap hill. I normally land with and almost flat foot (on the flat and uphill), but this is impossible when I run down a hill with a certain gradiant and I end up running more fore foot and wondered what your thoughts are on this and how you run down steap hills.

  42. Mark,
    Great video! I’m doing the best I can to spread the word here in Frederick. Teaching a series of classes from the Talley Rec. Center while simultaneously working on my own comeback. I tell people I no longer have a choice. I’ve got to be in proper form! Wish I had known all this 20 years ago. Thanks for all the guidance you have provided!

  43. HowardM says:

    Dr C
    Great video – query – been working with my cross fit coach on getting into the natural stride – have chronic pulls in gastroc soleus x 12 years. Coach and I feel like the natural stride will help defeat the pulls – which appear to be caused by heel strike with twisting foot motion. Is there a good training drill to help the muscles “learn” the new motion and avoid injury??

    Many many thanks!!

    • AdamK says:

      Howard, try doing the drills shown in the video to “learn” the motion. That is why he put them in the video.

  44. Laurel S. says:

    Dr. Mark

    A picture is worth a thousand words. Thank you so much for the great video. I hope to video my own stride and use this as a reference to see where I need to make changes. I was a cyclist for 10 years, turned triathlete. I hated running and didn’t believe I could do this because I was injured constantly. Last year my husband and I started the transition to minimal running. We saw your initial video, and that is when I began to believe I could make this transition.

    Now I enjoy running! I’m not super fast, and learning the technique is an on-going process. But thank you for providing these great references that are informative and inspiring.

  45. Jennifer H says:

    Thank you for taking time to share this. I am a Shiatsu Therapist and over the past decade have seen many many crammed unhealthy feet. Have always been an advocate of barefeet! With running though I started training in a high heeled shoe and couldn’t get past 8 kms without my feet cramping. Gone barefoot and no cramping at all. I seem to have good balance now and met the requirements for barefoot. I have the VFF and the Merell gloves. My question is, would it be safe to run my 1/2 marathon in them now? My calves get a bit tight by 14 kms. We have videod my gait and based on your wealth of info I appear to be running correctly? Thoughts? Thx!

  46. Ed says:

    Mark, do you recommend stretching after running? How do you cool down?

    • MarkC says:

      Ed only stretch if you have a mobility restriction. see the videos in Strength/mobility. i do lots of short sprints and light plyos which is like stretching. Mark

  47. josep says:

    hi mark

    have you posted the pdf version yet? i’m looking for it but i can’t find it

  48. Michael says:

    Thank you for an excellent video! I saw myself in the “backseat runner” section, and I wondered what drills or what advice you could give me to take advantage of the force vector forward.

    Mike

    • MarkC says:

      Mike,

      do the run with tether and scooter…fun stuff!

      Mark

      • vinicius says:

        Thanks I will try those.

        Do you know if hill running can also improve “backseat” running?

        I have recorded myself running few times and I have got the feeling that I do the proper movement forward but just before landing my feet I tend to lean a bit backwards, most likely to avoid the impact and that leads to a “backseat” runner or walking-like position.
        I am trying to improve it but it has been difficult. I usually watch your video or elite kenyan runners as for comparison, and I noticed that just before landing elite runners lower legs are in a negative angle to the ground whereas I tend to stretch my lower leg, then land on my forefoot (I do barefoot running) and move all my body down to give it time for my foot to move just under the hips and avoid impact…
        Any suggestion would be great appreciate.
        Thank you again for the amazing film and keep up the great work on natural running…

  49. Igor says:

    Hello Dr. Mark,

    My name is Igor and I am a CPO (Certified Prosthetist & Orthotist).
    Today, by accident, I just came across this site and after some reading and seeing your video, which I found very interesting, I would like to ask you a few questions:
    Without doubt, our feet are not designed to walk on the usual flat surfaces that we walk nor to use the shoes we usually wear, but I am not sure if we are designed to run marathons barefoot, specially on surfaces like the one shown in the video. Do you have any studies showing that this method is more efficient (maybe gas tests)? Also, because of the reasons I mentioned, I would be afraid that in long term stress fractures may occur, do you have any feactures about this?

    Summarizing, this method seems to improve the biomechanics! I am very surprised by what you showed, but I am also concerned about the related physiology and anathomy. I would like to know more!

    Thank you very much!
    Igor

  50. Fenn says:

    Great video Mark. I am trying to learn how to run again without injuries (my calves always give me a problem) and your video is a great help.

    Do you have anything on your website that gives a good breakdown between Natural Running and Chi Running- Differences, Pros & Cons, etc.

    Thanks for all of the great info and for your service to our country.

    Go Army! :-)

  51. jill says:

    I am relatively new to longer distance running (for me that’s 10-13 miles) and was fortunate enough to have a local store owner refer me to your video. Very informative and lots to digest. I am really enjoying running but experience pain in my feet once I get up to 6ish miles. Symetrically 2 of my toes in each foot go numb (the two next to my little toe) and I experience pain in the top arch/lower ball of right foot. Trying new shoes, seeing a chiropracter and working through this. My legs feel great! I really want to run longer distances and hope this does not stop me. Any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Jill

    • MarkC says:

      Thanks Jill for the note. tough to tell on email but most size their shoes too small. if you measure an 8 for example you should be in a 9.5 to allow toe splay and foot srpead when you run. get a minimlaist shoe with a large toe box.

      Mark

  52. Jonathan Seeds says:

    Thank you for the great content. Over the past 9 months, vids like this have inspired me to start running for the first time in my life, doing it slowly and minimally from the get go. I’ve gone from couch for about 30mpw and love it.

    I notice your toes point straight ahead, during the whole gait cycle. My toes point outward (maybe 10-15 degrees) when I walk and run – especially slowly. I’ve been experiencing knee pain (front of- and inside of knee) lately after 10+ mile runs and believe it may be related.

    Could this ‘duck-footedness’ be something I should worry about? Is it correctable? or should I just rest more and adapt?

    -JS

  53. Lorne Terichow says:

    I noticed in the video you land quite flat foot and over-stride whereas someone like Ryan Hall also advocates landing in a similar fashion however lands underneath his hips. Are you suggesting over-striding is “proper” running form?

    Lorne

    • MarkC says:

      Lorne,

      without force plates there is no way to tell if i or anyone else is overstriding. the video is about principles…i am far from perfect and Ryan Hall runs way better than i do for sure.
      thanks for viewing.

      Mark

  54. Lorne Terichow says:

    At 1:51 into the video it shows you over-striding (as usual) and heel striking. Is the heel striking because you are getting tired and it’s natural to land on the heels or is it okay to land on the heels in the first place because you are eventually going to do it anyway?

    Lorne

  55. alan says:

    hello dr. cucuzzella,
    sounds very italian to me. i am italian.
    i discovered your blog via a podcast you made with the sock doc.
    i have just watched your video and it helps me a lot to understand the mistakes i am doing. i am transitioning from conventional running to barefoot. for six months i have mostly walked in vff on hikes and trails , then i begun running a little and i had real problems with my calves (already strong though since i live in the dolomites and all around here is steep ). i realized then that striking full forefoot is very tasking on calf and achilles so i begun to strike the ground midfoot and it helped a lot.
    i see in your video that you really land on a flat foot (i tried it last night on the snow and i could see improvement in cadence and demands on the achilles).
    my question is:
    am i at risk of striking with my heels if i land so flat or is it just a matter of form that will improve and be automatic in time?
    thanks, alan

    • MarkC says:

      alan, thanks for the note. really does not matter if midfoot, forefoot, or heel lands first as long as you are springy and land close to center …as we show in the video. keep learning!

      mark

  56. Grant says:

    Thanks for the great video Mark. Just discovered your website and I’m learning loads from it. You make running look so fluid and easy. That’s where I want to be!
    Keep up the good work.
    Peace.
    //G

  57. Tom Rinderle says:

    Dr C., I’m in my 60s but have tried to start running again, but I have a lot of problems with heel spurs. Any suggestions?

    • MarkC says:

      Tom, heel spurs in themselves are not an issue (most have them if they live long enough), but rather plantar fasciitis. several things can contribute and good to have someone assess your feet/lower legs and running form. Mark

  58. Lance says:

    Dr. Mark,
    I’m curious if you cold elaborate on the difference between the POSE method and what you teach. While Romanove does not support the active driving forward of the knee you seem to present an equally interesting apposing theory. Also, in a response above you stated that you do not support Romanovs hamstring approach, yet in another video you posted at 2:30 :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpnhKcvbsMM

    it seems you’re doing just that… O.o ??? Are you combining the “Pull” as Romanov calls it WITH an active knee drive in your form?

    The proof is in the pudding as they say and seeing you run is just that, so obviously I’m missing something.

    Lastly, any advice for trailer runners?

    Thanks again for all the great work.

    • MarkC says:

      Lance thanks for the note. everything works in harmony and all runners are different. in principle the glutes are the engine room and provide the propulsive push and power. the hamstring too is active, it has to be as are the quads to stabilize the leg on the ground and to add to propulsive force. most of the hammy and hip flexor motion is passive though unless you are running really fast. when running fast there is an active knee drive forward to kick up the elastic component. mellow running not too much of this going on. so mix it up, play with different patterns a bit, and see what best for you.
      Mark

  59. April says:

    When you run, is it alright to land on the balls of your feet and then barely touch your heel? That is how I’ve been running but I’m worried it’s hurting my ankles.

  60. EvaJ says:

    Well, I just completed my 2nd Half Marathon. I did PR, but I was hoping for a better time. My question is about BPM. I have seen in many sources referring to 180 BPM, how do we determine BPM we should be running at or how can we gauge what our BPM will be as a beginner in Half Marathons?

  61. Joey says:

    Dr. Mark,

    Thanks for this video, and other info / vids from you. I have found that I run with pretty decent form. I’ll begin practice soon, but I’m recovering from a bad ankle sprain (over 8 weeks ago), and I still have sharp pain on the inside of the ankle. It doesn’t hurt when I walk, or ride a bike. Strangely enough, I feel it when the pain wakes me up while turning over in bed, or adjusting my body on the couch, without any real strain on the ankle, almost hanging loose.

    Is there some testing I can have done to see what damage remains inside my ankle? X-rays (twice) are all negative. As you can imagine, after missing one (Pittsburgh) marathon already, I am itching badly to get back at it! Any advice you have on ankle injuries would be welcome.

    Again, thanks very much for your advice.
    Former AF enlisted.
    Joey

  62. Tom V says:

    Dr. Mark, thanks so much for doing all this for us. I’m very new to “natural running” and just started running again about 6 weeks ago, so forgive me for a question that might be obvious. I’m trying to fully understand the mechanics of what you term as “spring loading”and using that instead of “pushing”. Can you, as best you can, go into details of the difference? I think I understand, but I’m not sure. How does your body recoil? Is it a natural reaction? Is it more like a jump or spring forward vs pushing off the toe? I appreciate your time.

    Regards,
    Tom V.

  63. Eddie says:

    Hello:

    Thank you for the resources you provide. I am a 53 y.o. old male who jogged marathons in my late teens to early 20s before giving up on it b/c of chronic ITB/knee pain, after trying orthotics and other popular, but for me, ineffective remedial approaches.

    Recently, minimalist shoes and style have helped me resume slow jogs w/o pain. I am delighted as I had, decades ago, reached a point where even a block or two would be too painful. In the past few weeks I’ve jogged, (albeit at the speed of a brisk walk,) 8-10 miles a couple times, w/o pain. I’m amazed and delighted…and confused.

    I have been influenced by an approach that teaches pulling the ankle up. Your video discusses, IIUC, driving the knee forward and NOT pulling the ankle up (w/ hamstring.)

    Can you PLEASE elaborate on this distinction or direct me to a link ?

    Thank you very much !

    Eddie

    • MarkC says:

      Eddie, yes the ankle recoils and do not actively pull it up. post coming soon on this topic.
      We are not teaching the Pose method, just teaching folks to feel their own elasticity and use it.
      Mark

  64. Greg says:

    I am a new runner and have tried to improve my technique with your video. I have been feeling the most comfortable and productive when I am doing “the twist” like the dance while running. I usually run on an indoor track or treadmill with a variety of slopes setting. Is this the elasticity feeling you are talking about, I have been trying to focus on using my glutes and hips while running.
    Thanks,
    Greg

  65. Ray says:

    Dr Mark

    Thank you for your enlightening video on natural running. Your video has given me great insight on the running motion and how to be efficient and fast. After watching your video and applying your running principles on my first long run of 20 kms for the week, I have never had more fun and felt I could have go another 10k’s. Hills which I normally struggle to run up were speed humps as I bounded up them. My running partners all commented on how my much faster I was running and my heart rate was averaging much lower than usual.
    Your video has changed my running and I’m very excited about my running future

    Thanks again

    Ray

  66. Ricky says:

    Its really incredible that more people haven’t caught on to the minimalist movement by now. Does anyone have an opinion on completely natural barefoot running vs using barefoot type shoes? What do you miss by using the shoes?

  67. Thierry Bordet says:

    hi,
    while trying to see if my stride is correct, as i have no professional who can guide me, cannot find one in my area, i decide to do some light painting photos in order to see if i could tell something or not.
    Not sure if this could give you ideas, but have a look at the photos below comparing minimalist strike (well my attempt at one) and other picture with heel strike.
    Maybe an expert like you could take similar pictures and we could see a better comparison.
    If you look at impact zone and 100%, it seems that you see the shock to the foot coming in stronger. Or am i imagining things?
    i was surprised, i was expecting the head to move more in the heel strike, but seems about the same to me

    natural strike
    http://absolutemotions.com/run/natural.jpg

    heel strike
    http://absolutemotions.com/run/heel.jpg

    i was trying to send you this via mail to not block the site, but the ad for the race in Costa Rica is blocking the menu and i can’t find a way to reach you directly

  68. Gopal says:

    Great instructions. I’ve never really been a heel striker. But I still get injured every year after doing good for some of the year. My worst fault is I’m a toe striker, especially my left foot( although my right also strikes).
    1 problem is my right hip is higher than my left. Any suggestions to avoid toe strikes?
    Thanks.

  69. Keith says:

    Wow! What a difference this video made. I’ve been a barefoot runner for over a year (I actually wear Fila Skeletoes, when I found out they were going to stop making them I bought several extra pairs to keep me going for years). Last November I ran my first marathon, as a heel striker! I almost didn’t make it and actually had to get physical therapy to recover. Then I started forefoot striking. I’ve been going good but was so slow and I couldn’t speed up. Then I watched the video and realized I was a back-seat runner, all my power was going up and down and wasted. Now, running is so much more pleasurable and I’m starting to go faster than I’ve ever been able. Thanks!

  70. james says:

    In my research on natural/barefoot running I constantly hear, run more on the forefoot.
    The video to me clearly shows a flat foot strike and in a couple of the slow motion frames almost appears to show a very slight heel strike.
    Great video but Im more confused than ever. Your drills show a forefoot strike but your running appears very flat footed to my eye.
    Any thoughts or am I seeing it incoreectly?

    • MarkC says:

      James,

      it is more about the entire movement and getting foot to ground closer to your center (not overstriding). it really is not critical what part of foot strikes first. this varies based on speed and terrain. thanks for watching!
      Mark

  71. Dimitrios says:

    Dear Dr. Marc
    I think that this video is a huge success and needs to be watched by EVERYBODY in the field of running as it condences your hard-earned knowlegde in a very consice way!! Bravo!!
    I count 28 marathons anywhere between 3h10 and 5h30 and feel that after applying all those you said I am going terribly faster now than i have ever went-i am surprized of myself!
    I have some difficulty on mastering the same technique on downhill though, as i feel going reeeally fast and inconsiously have to “break” myself with overstriding
    Any insights of that?

    • MarkC says:

      Dimitrios,
      thanks for the kind words and congrats on your success. work on “running over the ground not into the ground”. glute activation is the key

      Mark

  72. Robert says:

    I’ve enjoyed your video and website.

    I am in a 12 week training program for my first marathon in Feb. I will be on a 53′ sailboat for eight days in Jan. I am looking to do what I can to maintain my running plan (generally 6 days per week).

    I was thinking to buy the Active Cords running tether and attach it to one of the masts. Does that sound logical? Do you have any other running suggestions for such limited quarters? I do plan on working my core and swimming when I can.

    Thank you
    Robert

    • MarkC says:

      Robert another good stationary “running” type activity is using a step and doing step up and step downs. this develops coordination and endurance. Active cords or any bungee type cord good too. mix in some burpees. then sit on the deck with a glass of wine and enjoy Mark

  73. roulette says:

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    I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking
    and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will talk about this blog with my Facebook group.
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  74. Kehau says:

    Hi,

    Thank you for this video! This helped me so much! I’m two weeks into the idea of barefoot running and really like the idea but was having difficulty implementing it. I have experienced more aches since trying to start barefoot bc I wasn’t understanding how to do it correctly. I think I get it now after your video though.
    I’m wondering if you can tell me a few things:
    1- is there any sort of guideline on how to transition? I’m training for a 15k right now and dont want to put that off too much but I’m not sure how to transition in a healthy way. I follow Hal Higdons training guidelines for training. I didnt want to lose my mileage but I cant go very far barefoot yet without losing my form bc I’m not used to it. Should I do barefoot on my off days? I have only heard “go slow” for transition but I’m hoping to find more specifics than that.
    2- tips on shoes? I was looking at xero shoes. Thoughts?
    3- input on finding a coach or tools for that sort of thing just to make sure I am doing the form correctly like I think I am?

    Thank you so so much! I really appreciate it.

  75. Karin says:

    Dear Mark,

    Thank you for your clear explanation and video.
    I’m a physical therapist from the Netherlands and would like to show your video to the patients in the practice where I work.
    Is it okay if I do a voice-over in Dutch with some extra information?
    You wrote that we’re free to show your video to others, but since I would do a Dutch voice-over I would like your permission.

  76. Stephane says:

    Hello Mark, great video.
    I have a question where can I find the strap as you tear around your waist in the exercise with the trampoline ?
    is what this accessory a name ?
    Thanks
    Stephane (France)

  77. Natasha says:

    Hi

    I started barefoot, injured myself from doing too much too soon I guess. Stopped running for about a month & have restarted with a couch to 5k program. I was training for a 15k before & am now starting over.
    Do you evaluate videos if people running at all? I have filmed myself & am trying to see where to improve. I feel like I’m landing on the outside edge of my foot & rolling inward. I used to heel strike badly then started “prancing” & doing too much on my balls of my feet which resulted in injury when I first started barefoot. I’m trying to find a happy medium but landing flat footed usually ends up with loud steps which I understood would be incorrect – as tho I am slapping the ground.
    I’m wondering if I should just go back to how I ran before since I had no injuries that way (heel striking). I was up to a 10k & wanted to do a marathon eventually. When I started learning about form I thought I should change my form sooner rather than later if I wanted to get through a marathon. I feel silly saying I don’t know how to run but that’s apparently what’s going on. Haha.

    Thoughts? Thank you!!

  78. Apichart says:

    Hi Mark,

    I’m a barefoot runner in Thailand. I am also an admin of a facebook fanpage community for barefoot runners in Thailand, called “RunFootBare”, which we give out tips and teach people how to run properly. Your video is my no.1 source of running education and I’d like it to be translated into Thai, so I need your permission.

    We have a big barefooter’ s community here in Thailand who are interested in natural running. I hope one day can bring you in real person to Thailand giving out speech and lectures.

    PS. I also own a company that represents VIVOBAREFOOT and SKORA shoes in Thailand.

  79. Mohnish Bisht says:

    Hi Mark,

    Ever since I have understood the idea and benefits of barefoot running to improve form, I have studied many articles and website but your video on natural running is something that i have watched more than anything. There are lot of information out there so it is ver confusing. I myself practice barefoot one day week for a short distance but I’m still not able to understand the right biomechanics. My question to you is , do you push off or pull when you run barefoot. With so many information like Chi running, Pose running where they talk about pulling the lift I find it confusing. When I run and try to pull/lift my leg, i don’t find my hip flexors working. I feel my hips are not working at all but when u push off , the hip extension come in play. But having said that , I find my cadence to me more when i’m pulling my leg.
    Sorry for the long question.

  80. JimmyM says:

    I’ve watched this video dozens of times and it’s the best instructional running video I’ve ever seen by far. Check out Steve Jones in the 1984 and 1985 Chicago Marathon’s, he has a very similar running style. Really cool. Thanks Dr Marc.


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