All movement, whether it is walking, running, dancing or lifting, requires balance and symmetry to do it safely. What we measure in gait labs look at things the eye cannot see- specific forces, timing of phases of gait which are fractions of seconds, and the differences from right to left. One of the simplest principles of staying healthy and injury free is maintaining balance in all planes, front to back and side to side.
We too often see elderly folks fall and runners sustain injuries which could be prevented by daily maintenance and balancing the body. The highest level athletes are always balancing at the end of the day, and are especially tuned to this if there is any pain or discomfort in their bodies. They do not focus on treating symptoms; they figure out the cause and address it. Witness Bode Miller training in his 5 Fingers. Despite multiple injuries and surgeries, he has worked his body back to balance and just accomplished being the oldest Alpine Medalist in history. If not for a minor mistake and suboptimal conditions for his style, he would have won Gold in Downhill, too.
At Two Rivers Treads we have had the privilege of developing the educational content and doing initial testing of the TrueForm Runner motorless treadmill here in Shepherdstown. We received the first production model to introduce to runners and walkers. Our friends Jeff Vernon, Robin Desjardin, and Brian Weinstein essentially "created the concept" in the garage, but it took many engineers and research and trial to refine and perfect it. Brian leads a family owned machinist company in Connecticut.
With Two Rivers Treads employee and functional movement specialist Paul Koczera we have taken the TrueForm Runner to largest running expo in Austin, to the leading running researchers, major footwear companies, Olympic athletes and to CrossFit Headquarters in Boston.
Our own experience with the fun machine as well as what we have seen in the store watching adults and kids run and play convince me that this is a fitness tool that will thrive. Like a unicycle, you must be smooth and balanced and find a rhythm. All movement is a rhythm and dance requiring mostly unconscious neural pathways to create and sustain the movement. Watch the children and be like them, they get it almost immediately.
Here are a few features of the TrueForm Runner which make it unique:
You set your own rhythm and pace- not try to keep up with a motored belt
You cannot overstride with a foot landing way out in front. You will stop moving.
You engage the powerful muscles in the posterior chain (the glutes especially)
It will never wear out with 180 precision sealed bearings
Paul Koczera, exercise specialist and USA World Team Trialthlon member Laura Bergman, and I have created a 40 video education series for viewing on their site www.samsarafitness.com/
I learned a great analogy last week at West Point from one of the geniuses of Sports Science Dr. Peter Gorman. He developed a gait analysis system called OptoGait which we are bringing into the US Air Force. Peter knows his stuff, he invented the Heart Rate Monitor 30 plus years ago. His analogy is athletes get DRUNK (dramatically reduced utilization of normal kinematics) and need to "sober up" before training hard again. This makes a lot of sense and the system allows athletes to see real time what they are doing and make subtle corrections in motion to restore balance. We will have an OptoGait System in Two Rivers Treads within the month for our community to experiment with.
Come try out the TrueForm Runner, get some simple instruction and find your rhythm and balance at Two Rivers Treads.
For a fun 2 minute video watch this www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiZWVcKJe5w
Now if you simply want to improve balance with no tools just go run on the ice and snow. We have had plenty of this in the Endless Winter. Snow running works balance and form as is really hard to over-stride with the lack of friction. You learn to run closer to your center, take shorter steps, master uneven footing, and play. Get out now for a jump start as there is less than 30 days till spring.