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Three day symposium discusses running

By Staff | Feb 4, 2011

(Journal photo by Ron Agnir) Dr. Mark Cucuzzella speaks at ‘The Re-Evolution of Running: Discover Pain Free Movement for Life’ seminar Jan. 28 at the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown. Running experts from around the region and world listen during the first night of the three-day conference, which strives to promote an atmosphere where ideas and techniques can be exchanged in order to more efficiently treat and ward off running injuries.

Family physician and Freedom’s Run director Dr. Mark Cucuzzella and other leaders in the running industry promoted pain-free running at a public clinic to kick off a three-day symposium Jan. 28 at the Bavarian Inn.

Citizens from Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and the Eastern Panhandle braved the snowy roads to hear advice from physicians, innovators and running enthusiasts in a program Cucuzzella dubbed, “The Re-evolution of Running: Discover Pain Free Movement for Life.”

The event is part of a three-day conference during which industry leaders will discuss the best evidence and practices to prevent and treat running injuries.

“We’re doing something different,” Cucuzzella said. “People wouldn’t be here unless they were doing something different for their cause.”

Danny Dreyer, a panelist, was a familiar name to most attendees who had read his best-selling book.

Dreyer wrote “Chi Running,” which promotes proper running mechanics. The ultra-marathoner came across the technique through the practice of Thai chi.

“It’s a matter of being mindful of how you move your body,” Dreyer said. “My job as an instructor is trying to help people set the reset button on their body.”

Dreyer said it’s important to approach running injuries by getting to the cause of the injuries. He said once one understands his or her injuries, one won’t have to worry about them again because their bodies will start listening to signals to live “more organically.”

Bill and Amy McKitrick of Charles Town came to hear what the panelists had to say. Amy, a physical therapist who has treated runners and is a runner herself, connected with Dreyer’s methods.

“What rings true with me is the mechanics, the body mechanics,” she said. “That’s what makes sense to me.”

Bill, a runner for the past decade, came to the clinic in an interest of becoming a more efficient runner. But he admits there was a lot of difference of opinions.

“There was a lot of ground covered as far as topics but not a lot of actual data to back up different claims,” he said.

One of those claims was the debate over the best running shoe to wear, Bill said.

While body mechanics, gait analysis and cadence were among topics that were discussed at the Jan. 28 event, shoes were on the mind of panelists and attendees alike.

Minimalist and barefoot running was popular among some, but Dr. Craig Richards, a barefoot runner himself, stressed there are no definite studies indicating one way or the other what type of shoe is best to prevent injury. Richards suggests taking it case by case.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said, letting attendees know if they aren’t getting hurt with the shoes they are wearing, don’t worry about switching shoes.

Inwood resident Melinda Phares, who has yet to try minimalist shoes, was glad to hear the varying opinions.

“I’m very much a skeptic,” she said.

Phares said the naturalist shoes are supposed to be worn on natural surfaces, and when she steps out of her house all she sees is asphalt and concrete.

“That would work in an ideal world, but we don’t live in an ideal world,” she said.

But Patrick Fore, also of Inwood, looks at trying new shoes as a science experiment. The shoe is the variable; if you change the shoe, you change the outcome.

“The only way to find out (what works) is just to try,” Fore said.

Fore originally got behind the biomechanics of the feet and the minimalist shoe movement when he visited Cucuzzella’s store, Two Rivers Treads, for a pair of shoes that would accommodate his foot injury. Last week’s event was just the start of Cucuzzella’s bigger goal. He wants to use his store as an epicenter for education.

Though the viewpoints may vary, Cucuzzella wants to take what he learns from the individuals at the conference and teach others in the community.

“That’s the biggest goal at our store,” said Tom Shantz, Two Rivers Treads employee. “Not to sell shoes but to educate the community.”